Brisket Trim Burgers: From Grinding to Eating!

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
November 17, 2022

While brisket trim makes for wonderful ground beef for an All American burger, I opted to go a different route.

Rather, I combined elements from a pastrami sandwich (which is brined/corned brisket) with the idea of a "burger." Meaning, I used horseradish cheese, pickled red onions, and toasted sourdough bread.

The result was a burger recipe I'll use for years to come.

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What You Need to Grind Brisket

kitchenaid meat grinder attachment

In order to grind your brisket trim into ground beef for burgers you need:

  • A meat grinder - I personally use Kitchenaid's Metal grinder attachment for their stand mixer.
  • Sharp Knife - To remove excess hard fat as needed.
  • Food Scale - This is used to weigh out the burger patty portions to 6 oz. or to portion your fat/lean ratio.
  • Bowls - To collect the grind in.
  • Parchment Paper - Both for pressing out your patties and for covering the burgers when you place them in the refrigerator.

If Your Trim is Already Frozen

In terms of timing, you need to schedule accordingly:

Day 1: It takes roughly a day for the meat to thaw in the refrigerator. Keep in mind, you want the meat to still be somewhat frozen but malleable; This makes the lean meat easier to grind without smearing the fat.

brisket trim thawed

Day 2: You're grinding the thawed meat and then weighing and shaping them into patties. You're then placing the patties in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours to set back up. Cover with parchment paper to help prevent oxidation (going from a red hue to brown).

Day 3: You're taking the patties out of the refrigerator and cooking them.

If You're Trimming and Grinding the Same Day

The only difference from the above process is that you should partially freeze the meat before sending it through the grinder.

Aside from the food-safety aspect, freezing the trim for 30-45 minutes prior to grinding allows it to pass through the grinder easier. The warmer the meat becomes, the harder it is for the grinder to slice.

This is especially true for the fat, which can start to melt and smear, making a mess and potentially clogging the grinder.

A Quick Tip: I'd even suggest putting the grinder parts in the freezer for 1-2 hours before grinding; The metal plate, the blade, the hopper, and auger.

I even know folks who simply leave these parts in their freezers at all times.

Entirely thawed meat that's ground with a room temperature grinder will result in a mealy/pulpy mess with no separation of fat/lean; This also cooks and tastes as bad as it sounds.

When grinding, the meat and fat should come out of the plate in distinct holes and you'll see visual separation of fat and lean meat.

If you start to see a wet mass forming at the plate, you'll likely need to remove the plate, remove the auger, and clear the blockage. At that point I'd even suggest putting the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Fat Ratios?

The biggest benefit of grinding your own meat is that you get to control the amount of lean meat and fat.

Depending on the grade of brisket you initially trimmed, the intramuscular fat content will be more than enough (like with choice or prime). However if you trimmed a select grade brisket, you can add hard fat as needed.

filtering brisket trim

Personally, I find 70/30 to work well for brisket trim burgers.

Technically, you could use a scale to ascertain these values, however, for something like backyard burgers I'm just eyeballing this; A safe amount is between 20-30% fat to 70-80% lean.

I personally like to sort through the trim; I'm looking for pieces of hard fat with no lean meat and separating them into piles. I then save the hard fat to be rendered down into beef tallow.

bag of excess beef fat

Say I did need to add more fat to the grind, I now have an entire bag of hard fat at my disposal.

When trimming a whole packer brisket, a good portion of the trim is going to be hard fat taken from the exterior of the meat. The meatier portions come from the mohawk, the rounding of the brisket flat and point, shaping the flat, and from the edges.

If you were to grind all of the exterior hard fat with the lean meat, you'd likely create a grind that's far too rich.

Grinding the Brisket

I got my grinder setup (Kitchenaid with Grinder attachment) and used the coarse grinding plate.

I'll be doing two grinds because brisket has lots of connective tissue, and typically after two grinds, it's at the consistency my Family likes to eat.

If you're also using the Kitchenaid setup, I used the 2nd speed option the entire time.

Here's the trim after one grind:

brisket trim after first grind

Here's the trim after a second grind:

brisket trim after second grind

As you can probably tell, the 2nd grind is way more reminiscent of a typical burger grind.

In the first grind, I'd suggest running your hands through to see what I mean in regards to connective tissue; You'll likely see shreds of muscle fibers still bound together.

Creating Brisket Patties

To preface this section:

The grind we're creating above is completely different from store-bought hamburger meat.

The reason I bring this up is because in this recipe, we're not creating thin smash burgers; What will happen if you attempt to "smash" these is they'll fall apart.

Commercial, store-bought hamburger meat is ground much finer which further releases the protein myosin - which happens to be sticky.

When you grind beef, you're effectively damaging the meat fibers - the more you damage or work the meat, the stickier this protein becomes.

It's important not to overwork the patty - that includes forming them into balls and then into patties.

To Create Patties:

If you use a burger press to shape patties with, you can feel free to use it here. Personally I don't own one and just use parchment paper and a scale.

A typical burger patty weighs around 4-6 oz; I opted to use 6 oz.

I took my ground brisket and formed them into balls. I then placed these on my food scale to ensure each was roughly 6 oz; Again these don't need to be exact, if you're +/- 0.2 oz, it's not a huge deal.

weighing brisket patties

I then used my parchment paper and pre-flattened them into burger patty shapes; I repeated this process until I was out of trim.

Here's a photo of the first four brisket burger patties, as you can see they're roughly the same size, meaning they'll finish at around the same speed.

brisket trim patties shaped

To reiterate: Don't overwork your patties! You're just shaping them into flattened meat discs.

Putting the Patties in the Refrigerator

Now that we've weighed and shaped our patties, we're putting them into the refrigerator for 12-24 hours so that they can set back up.

Similar to the above, if you don't allow the patties to re-shape and setup, they'll likely fall apart on you.

Here's these patties roughly 12 hours later:

brisket patties next day

If you did want to use them the same day, I'd recommend refrigerating for at least 2 hours; You could even opt to stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Prepping Your Condiments and Ingredients

As I mentioned above, you could easily just use American cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions and call it good. The ground brisket will result in one of the best burgers you'll ever eat.

For this recipe I opted to combine elements from a pastrami sandwich and incorporate them into a brisket hamburger.

To accomplish this I did the following:

  • Used sourdough bread as apposed to a hamburger bun.
  • Used pickled red onions for the vinegar/brine component.
  • Created a spicy, mayo-mustard, cracked peppercorn spread.
  • Used horseradish cheese.

The above are all components you'll find in a stereotypical pastrami sandwich.

Pickling Red Onions

Something I do often is quick pickle things like red onions and pickles at home in small mason jars. The process is incredibly easy and most importantly, cheap.

pickled red onions

To do this all you need are:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Red onions
  • Water (to par-blanch the Red onions)
  • Whole peppercorns

Start by bringing your vinegar mixture to a simmer. Combine in medium sauce-pan 1 teaspoon Morton's kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of white sugar, 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar; Ensure the soluble ingredients dissolve.

Peel your red onion and thinly slice them. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Place the sliced onions in a fine mesh strainer and pour hot water over the onions and allow the water to drain.

This helps to mellow out the pungency of the red onions.

Put the par-blanched onions in a mason jar. Pour your brine into the mason jar and add a few peppercorns. Allow these to marinate for around 30 minutes to an hour or even a day in advance.

You can also refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

The Spicy Mayo-Mustard Spread

While brisket burgers are already fairly rich due to the fat content; Mayo makes for a great burger and the fat will also pair well with the sourness of the pickled onions.

I combined in a small bowl:

  • 2 Tbsp Hellman's Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp of Maille Old Style, Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • Several shakes of Frank's Red Hot - adjust to your liking
  • Several cranks of freshly cracked peppercorn

Mix together.

Essentially we get a bit of heat from the Frank's, freshly cracked peppercorns, and old-style whole-grain mustard. We also get a bit more tang and richness from the mayo.

Sourdough Bread

A typical pastrami sandwich is made with sourdough and I almost always have Sourdough at home; The brand I typically use is Freihofer's Premium Italian Bread.

sourdough bread

Use whatever sourdough brand you like, make your own, or if possible use sourdough burger buns.

I also opt to toast the bread towards the end of cook when the burger is almost done.

Horseradish Cheese

A typical pastrami sandwich is served with horseradish. To incorporate this element, I added some horseradish cheese to the top of the burger.

grated horseradish cheese

For this recipe, I grated up some Cabot Horseradish cheese.

In hindsight, I should of looked for horseradish cheese slices, just for the sake of melting.

My cheese still melted to some extent but not as well as I would of liked. Granted, it still added the horseradish element I was after.

Cooking the Burgers

For this recipe I used my Blackstone griddle as it works wonderfully for these types of burgers, especially in regards to crust formation. Alternatively, use a cast iron skillet or similar flat top cookware.

In my opinion, the crust is one of the best parts about these burgers and all of these cooking surfaces create wonderful crust.

Get Your Cooking Surface Hot

This is yet another reason a burger will fall apart - people will put their patties onto the cooking surface prematurely; You want the cooking surface to be hot.

Heat results in the maillard reaction of amino acids and reducing sugars; It's the same reason crust forms on a steak when you sear it in a cast iron skillet.

Don't Smash Your Patties

Take your patties out of the refrigerator and place them on the hot cooking surface. Use a spatula to lightly tap on the surface of the burger.

Again, you're not smashing the burger, you're just ensuring there is good contact between the burger and the cooking surface.

cold brisket patty on blackstone griddle

After that, wait for the crust to form.

You can let these go for about 3-4 minutes before flipping.

What you're really looking for is crust formation. This will become readily apparent on the sides of the burger, like this:

when to flip burger

From a top down view, we can also see the fat becoming more cohesive, which tells us it's melting/rendering:

flipping burger top view

Here's the burger flipped with the desirable crust:

brisket patty crust

Again, the burger is completely held together. You might notice some cracks, these are actually a good thing. When the cheese melts, it will seep into these cracks and further enhance the eating experience.

Once flipped, place your horseradish cheese on top of the burger to begin melting.

cheese melting on brisket patty

Again, horseradish cheese slices would of been better but hindsight is 20/20.

The Bread and Onions

After your first flip you can put your bread on the cooking surface to toast. In my opinion, butter isn't needed here for the bread/buns; It will toast up just fine without it.

toasting sourdough bread

Something else I did was put the onions on the surface to cook. My goal here wasn't to "caramelize" the onions, rather my intention was to remove some of the vinegar from the equation as it can overwhelm the mouth.

pickled red onions reducing on cooking surface

This worked quite well too as there was the perfect pop of vinegar.

Here's the onions after 5 minutes or so:

reduced pickled red onions

Prepare the Brisket Burger

I'm personally not big on undercooked hamburger so I let these go till well-done or roughly 165F internal. Honestly, the fat content of these burgers being high allows for a juicy burger, even when cooked to well done.

Once my bread was toasted, I took my spicy-mayo mustard sauce and spread that across both slices of bread.

spicy mayo-mustard spread on toasted bread

I placed my brisket burger on top of one of the slices of bread; I put my pickled red onions on top of the burger.

onions on cheese patty

I then capped things off with the other slice of bread.

brisket burger

From there, enjoy your brisket trim burger!

brisket burger

Brisket Trim Burgers

From "useless" trim to burger perfection.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brisket, hamburger
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes

Equipment

  • Meat Grinder
  • Sharp knife
  • Food Scale
  • 2 Bowls
  • Parchment paper
  • Wire mesh strainer
  • Mason jar
  • Blackstone griddle Or similar flat top cooking surface - like a cast iron skillet

Ingredients

For the Burgers

  • Brisket trim

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 tsp Morton's kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp White sugar
  • 3/4 cup Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Large Red Onion

Spicy Mayo-Mustard Spread

  • 2 tbsp Hellman's Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Maille Old Style, Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Adjust to your preference
  • 1 tbsp Freshly cracked peppercorns

Bread and Cheese

  • Horseradish cheese
  • Sourdough bread I use Freihofer's

Instructions

Grinding the Brisket Trim

  • Start by double grinding your brisket trim with a coarse grinding plate. The trim should be still somewhat frozen, but malleable. Similarly, it helps when your grinder parts are cold.
    Brisket trim
  • Weigh out balls of trim into 6 oz and then shape into patties with parchment paper. Do not overwork your meat.
  • Put into your refrigerator for 12-24 hours to allow the meat to setup. If using the same day, put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or even in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Pickled Red Onions

  • Bring distilled white vinegar and soluble ingredients to a simmer and ensure all ingredients are fully dissolved.
    1 tsp Morton's kosher salt, 2 tbsp White sugar, 3/4 cup Distilled white vinegar
  • Slice up your red onion into thin rings.
    1 Large Red Onion
  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  • Put your sliced onions in a wire mesh strainer. Pour your boiling water over your onions in the sink and allow the water to drain.
  • Put the par-blanched onions in a mason jar and then pour your pickling liquid in. Allow these to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour - ideally a day in advance.

Spicy Mayo-Mustard Spread

  • Combine ingredients in a small bowl the day of making the burger.
    2 tbsp Hellman's Mayonnaise, 1 tbsp Maille Old Style, Whole Grain Dijon Mustard, 1 tbsp Frank's Red Hot, 1 tbsp Freshly cracked peppercorns

Cooking the Burgers

  • Get your cooking surface hot - for this recipe I used a Blackstone griddle.
  • Once hot, place your brisket trim patties on the cooking surface and allow a crust to build for 3-4 minutes. During this time I also put my pickled red onions on the cooking surface to evaporate some of the vinegar.
  • After 3-4 minutes, flip the patty and put your horseradish cheese on top and start toasting your bread. Ensure you're flipping the bread to toast on both sides.
    Horseradish cheese, Sourdough bread
  • Once the bread is toasted, spread your spicy-mayo mustard across both slices of sourdough.
  • When the internal temperature of the burgers reaches your desired doneness level (for me it's 165F), put the patty on top of one of the slices of bread.
  • Then put your pickled red onions on top of the burger and cap the whole burger off with the other slice of sourdough. Enjoy!
Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

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