The Mayo Trick For Chicken Burgers That Are Actually Juicy

Think back to the last time you had a delicious burger. It probably wasn't just the general flavor that made it so tasty, but also the juiciness of the actual patty. When it comes to burgers, you never want the meat to be tough or dry, which is precisely why ground chicken isn't nearly as popular an option as ground beef. So why is it that chicken burgers are so dry?

According to Bon Appétit, it all comes down to its composition. Chicken is a naturally lean meat with a much lower fat-to-protein ratio compared to beef. Because protein tightens when it cooks, when there's no fat to break it up it leaves behind a very tough piece of meat. Less fat also means less moisture, so a dry patty is inevitable when you use ground chicken. To counterbalance the toughness and dryness, Bon Appétit recommends adding breadcrumbs or bacon, while Frontier Natural Meats suggests mixing in a liquid such as milk. However, what's more effective than all these ingredients combined is none other than mayonnaise.

Why does adding mayo result in juicer chicken burgers?

If you're cooking a whole chicken, you can't exactly add in all the missing fat and moisture that prevents it from being juicy. But with ground chicken on the other hand, you can easily mix it in. Mayonnaise, according to The Burger Guru (via Washingtonian), is the best additive, because it's a rich source of both fat and moisture. It also doesn't render down into a puddle of liquid, unlike other forms of fat, like bacon or butter.

As for its flavor, The Burger Guru notes, you don't have to worry about the mayonnaise overpowering the taste of the meat, but if you'd rather avoid the condiment at all costs, Wonder How To shares that full-fat Greek yogurt is a viable substitute. With either option, the fat acts as a natural flavor enhancer (via Gizmodo), so in addition to improving the juiciness of your burger, it also makes the chicken taste better from a molecular level.

How much mayonnaise should you add to ground chicken?

When making traditional burgers, experts (including Guy Fieri) agree that ground beef that's 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat will yield the juiciest outcome (via HuffPost). The same principle applies to burgers made with chicken — you definitely want some fat, but you don't want to go overboard with it either. Therefore, The Burger Guru shares (via Washingtonian), you'll want to use two tablespoons of mayonnaise for every pound of ground chicken. For best results, stick with a mayonnaise brand with a high-fat content such as Duke's or Whole Foods, and save the light mayo for a different occasion.

Once you've measured out the proper amount of mayonnaise, simply mix it in with the ground chicken, per Wonder How To's guidance. Before shaping them, however, you'll want to let the mixture rest in the fridge for a good hour or so. Then, when you finally cook up your chicken burgers, they'll be juicier than ever.