Hamburgers, one of the world’s favorite quickie meals have been around for centuries, dating back to 1880. Whether you’re a fan of simple packaged pre-made patties, home-made ground chuck burgers or takeout, we all view taste as our top priority. A delicious beef or chicken burger piled high with juicy red tomatoes, sharp cheddar and vibrant lettuce surely makes your mouth water. Though store-bought burgers are quicker to prepare, using a meat grinder is a healthier, cheaper and tastier solution.

Pre-Packaged or Hand Chopped?

While purchasing pre-packed ground meat may seem like the ideal choice when trying your grinder for the first time, it doesn’t yield the best results. Packed meat is more difficult to run through the grinder because it’s already been compressed and mixed with fillers. Fresh ground beef cooks juicier, doesn’t shrink and has an all around better flavor than store bought ground meat.

If you’re tight on cash and absolutely must  make dinner using this pre-packed ground meat, then be sure to load the bun with extra cheese, lettuce and tomato for better taste. Hand chopping meat is by far the best method to use and there are a few tricks to remember for the juiciest results.

Keep in Mind

Cutlery: When chopping meat, a durable knife or cleaver is the best option. You want a tool that’s going to cut through the beef quickly so that it remains chilled. It is recommended to chop on a sturdy cutting board and trim away any visible fat.

Chill Out: Keeping both the meat and grinder chilled causes the beef to grind easier and smoother, without the dreaded smearing that results from warmed meats. Prepare your choice of meat in 2 inch chunks, line a cookie sheet and throw in the freezer for 15 minutes before powering up the grinder. Over freezing leads to mushy meat.

How Much: Toss in just enough chicken or beef to cover the blades, pulsing for 15 to 20 seconds at a time. Take note that all of the meat is evenly chopped, paying close attention as to not over chop.

Cleaning: Because meat grinders are used to process raw meat, they must be washed thoroughly. If not dishwasher safe, submerge washable parts in hot water and dish detergent and wash and dry after each use. Note: Smaller parts can be carefully cleaned with a bottle brush.

The Best Meat Grinders

Gideon 8482: Hand Crank Manual Meat Grinder with Powerful Suction Base

Price: $29.95

For roughly the price of 2 boxes of Bubba Burgers, most meat lovers agree that the Gideon8482 is a steal! The unit nicely grinds up pork loin and ground meat for burgers. This is not an electric grinder, so be prepared to put some elbow grease in while preparing dinner. The grinder includes a handy meat pusher so your hands steer free of the coarse and fine grate stainless steel blades. For added stability, suction cups at the base strongly adhere to solid counters so the machine doesn’t shift. This grinder is dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy and germ free. While the Gideon grinder has sharp blades, it’s recommended that meat is pre chopped to one inch cubes for best results. This unit is made of plastic and rings in at under 3 pounds. Its small size makes it the perfect companion for camping trips and cookouts. Though there are a few small issues, the Gideon 8482 makes the list for its versatility, power and price.

Sunmile SM-G33 ETL Electric Stainless Steel Meat Grinder Mincer Max 1HP 800W REVERSE

Price: $79.99

With up to 800 watts of power and the ability to grind almost 170 pounds of meat by the hour, it’s no secret why the Sunmile SM-G33 makes the list. This grinder is supreme at keeping all of the juices where they should be, adequately protecting the machine’s electrical components. Equipped with a stainless steel blade and 3 cutting plates, this grinder evenly grinds meat to make delicious burgers. Though the manufacturer advertises a quieter motor, users have voiced their displeasure with its loud volume. While the machine adequately handles frozen meat, bits tend to end up in between the blades and plate. Customers agree that the Sunmile comes apart easily for cleaning purposes, but is not dishwasher safe. This unit comes complete with a 1 year manufacturer warranty.

STX INTERNATIONAL STX-3000-TF Turboforce 3-Speed Electric

Price: $169.80

The STX International is the cream of the crop, an electric grinder built with chefs in mind. It is designed with 3 settings: low, medium and high and equipped with its very own circuit breaker. The 2 inch feed tube allows for chunks of meat to flow more easily through to the size number .12 grinder. This machine is composed of polished food grade cast aluminum and comes with 3 stainless steel blades and 3 grinding plates. The unit is not dishwasher safe, it is recommended to wash with hot water and detergent and dry immediately to prevent discoloration. The STX International made the list because of its ability to please! Most foodies seem to be happy with the machine’s powerful motor and ability to grind beef, chicken and even venison. This powerful unit includes a one year fix or replace it warranty.

Kitchen Basics 3-In-1 Meat Grinder and Vegetable Grinder/Mincer

Price: $26.95

Another manual unit, the Kitchen Basics 3 in 1 grinder utilizes a hand crank to process and grind meat and fruits. The processor is primarily made of plastic, includes stainless steel blades and is dishwasher safe. The compact size makes limits the devices range and makes it useful for about 2 pounds of meat at a time. Customers love how easily the handle turns and how simple the machine is to use. Evenly toss a pound of chuck into the container and crank the handle while you make your own burger meat! Small but mighty, the Kitchen Basics grinder makes the list for its quickness.