6+ Key Differences Between Hamburger And Hamburger Steak

Hamburger and hamburger steak are different: one is a sandwich, the other a steak with gravy, made from different cuts of meat and served differently.

differences between hamburger and hamburger steak

A hamburger steak looks like the hamburger we put between two buffers (typically bread, but not always). But, they are two entirely different things. 

You could turn a regular burger patty into a hamburger steak by adding some gravy, but why would you want to?

Let’s look at the key differences between hamburger and hamburger steak and how the word steak makes the biggest difference.

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1. The Grade of Meat

Both hamburger patties and hamburger steak come from a cow and consist of various cuts of meat. But, when you add steak to the word hamburger, you’re looking at a better grade of ground beef

Hamburger. Ground beef that is turned into a juicy cheeseburger is typically made from trimmings and larger cuts of beef.

Hamburger Steak. It is most commonly ground from chuck, sirloin, round, and brisket. 

What is the highest quality ground beef?

Ground beef is naturally juicy and full of yumminess. And ground chuck is the highest quality ground beef you can find because it contains 15-20% fat and is cut from the front of the cow’s shoulder.

You can use ground chuck for all sorts of recipes because it is not as fatty as your average ground beef. You can even buy it in a tube to save money.

2. The Way They’re Served

Hamburger. It is basically a sandwich. It is a hunk of meat between two pieces of bread. 

Hamburger Steak. Typically it comes smothered in a gravy or sauce.

Why do they call it hamburger steak if it’s different than a hamburger?

The citizens of Hamburg created a dish with minced meat shaped into the shape of a steak. And they served it with gravy and sides.

It became known as the Hamburg steak. German immigrants brought the recipe with them to other countries, including the US.

3. Fat Content

The more prime cuts of the cow have less fat than ground beef. It makes hamburger steak denser and less flavorful, which is why it is often swimming in gravy.

Is hamburger just ground steak?

Hamburgers typically contain ground meat from the trimmings and primal cuts and not from prime cuts of beef.

What are steak burgers, then?  

It is no wonder meat gets confusing. A hamburger can be a steak burger, but a hamburger steak better not be a beef patty.

The steak burger was first sighted in 1934. It is a sandwich type that is made using just steak. 

4. Oddly, Hamburgers Are Healthier

Research shows that ground beef is digested faster and does a better job increasing the protein that circulates in the bloodstream.

What that means is that the protein from hamburger meat is more bioavailable than that from steak.

Is hamburger steak and Salisbury steak the same thing?

Hamburger steaks don’t typically have fillers, which makes Salisbury steak what it is.

Other than gravy, ground steak is usually seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper because of the meat’s robust taste.

Salisbury steak relies on breadcrumbs, onions, eggs, and sauces to accent the ground beef’s taste.

FAQs about the Differences between Hamburger and Hamburger Steak

Does sirloin make good hamburgers?

Sirloin is super expensive, but it is well worth the extra bucks if you are looking for a robust flavor. Ground beef consisting of sirloin has tons of fat that keep it from drying out.

A combo of sirloin and half chuck is more affordable for the best hamburgers and still has that juiciness you want in a burger.

What is hamburger steak?

Chopped or minced steak is the same thing as a hamburger steak, just ground up. A hamburger steak is made with ground chuck, sirloin, round, and brisket.

Is ground steak better than hamburger?

Ground steak works for hamburger steak because you have a sauce or gravy that hides the fact it has little fat content for flavor. It will completely dry out if you cook it too long.

For most anything else, you will want to go with ground chuck. And certainly, when you want a juicy cheeseburger, stick with ground beef.

How do I get hamburger steak to stick together?

You have a couple of ways to make your beef stick together to make the perfect hamburger steak.

Vegan Meat Binder

Canned, drained, and crushed black beams and chickpeas work as great binders and can add flavor while not taking away from the taste of the beef.

Non-Vegan Meat Binder

If you’ve ever inherited a hamburger steak recipe, you likely know that egg makes a great minder.

It is recommended you add one egg yolk per pound of ground sirloin.

How do I keep hamburger steaks from falling apart?

So, a meat binder helps ground meat stick together, but sometimes they still want to fall apart while we’re cooking it. 

Let’s look at some other ways to keep your hamburger steak from falling apart.

  • The colder the ground beef, the more it will stay together. Keep it cold by freezing the patties.
  • Focus on preparing and cooking your hamburger steak. Distractions will give the meat a reason to act up.
  • Try not to flip your hamburger steak very much, if at all. You are protecting its juiciness and taste.
  • Grilling a hamburger is fine and dandy, but a hamburger steak is better cooked elsewhere.
  • Try to avoid using liquid ingredients. The added moisture will convince your ground meat to fall apart.

How do I keep hamburger meat together for my hamburgers?

Ground hamburger meat has the fat content to keep it glued together better than ground sirloin. It means it takes fewer tricks to keep it from falling apart.

Hide a pat of butter in the center of the raw hamburger patty. It helps enclose that beloved moisture and helps it stick together.

You can use a butter-like spread or one with olive oil if you’re watching your fat intake.

What are good binders for my hamburger patties?

Hamburgers are less delicate than hamburger steak. You can use all sorts of binders without worrying about it taking away from the beef.

  • Eggs (of course)
  • Wheat flour
  • Crack crumbs
  • Oatmeal
  • Gelatine (it’s a science thing in cooking)

How do I make the perfect beef patty?

  1. Throw two pounds of ground beef into a bowl. The higher the fat content of the meat, the juicier the patty.
  2. Mix in your seasoning and veggies. (If you’re making a hamburger, keep it simple with salt and pepper – ditto for veggie burger.)
  3. Dampen your hands with a bit of water. It will keep them from getting sticky.
  4. Shape the ground beef into equal-sized balls.
  5. Push your thumb down into the balls. Make sure they are thicker around the edges than in the middle.
  6. You are making small intentions in the center of the balls with your thumb. You are doing this so that the center doesn’t swell and cook unevenly.

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