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8 Restaurant Chains That Cook the Juiciest Burger Patties

The best burger is all about the technique.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

Sometimes all you want is a big bite of a juicy hamburger. But that is sometimes easier said than done. How many times have you craved a burger, only to be let down by yet another overcooked, dry, and lifeless patty from a fast-food joint? Not even the tastiest toppings or sauce can hide the fact that some burgers fall short of our expectations. But luckily, there are some spots that understand what a juicy burger is supposed to look and taste like, and they make sure that is what they cook up for customers each day.

What makes one burger juicier than the next can be somewhat subjective, though in most instances you are going to want to look for a patty that is cooked through but not dry. That comes from using high-quality meat that is higher in fat content, but it can also come from the various methods restaurants use to cook up a perfectly juicy hamburger. Some chains will choose to add ingredients to their patties to bring out the moisture one chain famously steams its burgers with onions while another uses an unexpected condiment to get the flavor just right. Others will employ specific cooking techniques that add moisture or leave a crispy caramelized crust.

Ultimately, a freshly grilled burger with premium ingredients will get you far, and these chains are beloved by their customers for going the extra mile to produce the tastiest burger possible.

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in n out burger
In-N-Out Burger / Facebook

A West Coast staple, In-N-Out is known for its old-school diner vibes, a "not-so-secret" secret menu, and Animal Style french fries. While the fully-loaded Animal Style fries come with melted cheese and burger sauce on top, In-N-Out also serves an Animal Style burger off of its secret menu that involves a completely different process. This burger in particular is extra juicy thanks to the mustard-cooked beef patty that infuses extra moisture into every bite. If you like your burgers juicy, you may never order a plain burger from In-N-Out again.

White Castle

white castle burger
Photo: White Castle / Facebook

Whether you have one in your hometown or you only heard about them in the movies, White Castle's reputation can sometimes precede it. But do not discount this burger chain so fast, because they have a leg up on their competition when it comes to ultra-juicy burgers. White Castle uses a unique technique in cooking its burgers that most other chains do not: they steam their patties. Each burger patty is steamed atop a bed of onions, resulting in a juicy burger thanks to the added moisture provided by the steaming process.


culver's butterburger cheese and onion rings
Culver's / Facebook

Culver's is all about fresh ingredients, from the signature butter rolls baked fresh in each restaurant to the hand-spun frozen custard made in batches throughout the day. That attention to detail extends to its patties, which are never frozen and are cooked to order. That means your patty does not touch a grill until you place your order, and your ButterBurger is all the more juicy because of that. The buttered bun also doesn't hurt! It is probably why its ​​Double ButterBurger with Cheese was named the Best Fast Food Burger in America by Thrillist.


Fuddruckers burger
Photo: Fuddruckers / Facebook

Fuddruckers says that it's home to the "World's Greatest Hamburgers," which is a bold claim considering the stiff competition from other chains around the country. It is also quite a strong statement when you think about how Fuddruckers almost went extinct in the last few years. So what is it about the burgers served at Fuddruckers that makes it a bit of a dark horse in the restaurant world?

On its website, Fuddruckers tells its customers that its burgers are made with "fresh, never frozen, 100% USDA All-American premium-cut beef." But a premium patty will only get you halfway there. The real secret to Fuddruckers' juicy burgers comes from the fact that it "always grill it to order." Rather than time every burger to the same level of doneness as many chains practice, if you want your meat cooked medium, Fuddruckers will do that.


smashburger smoked bacon brisket burger
Smashburger / Facebook

Smashburger has science to thank for its juicy burgers. The burger chain hand-smashes each patty with its very own uniquely-designed metal smasher, creating what Smashburger describes on its website as the Maillard Reaction. According to the National Library of Medicine, the Maillard Reaction occurs when food is being cooked at high heat, causing a chemical reaction between amino acids. In Smashburger's words, the end result is "jam-packed with mouthwatering flavors, aromas, and crispy caramelization," with the crust of each patty "forcing the juices and flavor in the meat upwards."


whataburger bacon blue cheese burger and fries
Photo: Whataburger / Facebook

The secret to Whataburger's juicy signature burgers comes from the seasoning process, or rather the lack thereof. Whataburger does season its patties, but not until immediately after the meat is placed onto the hot griddle. That way, the dry seasonings do not have enough time to suck out the moisture from the patty, resulting in a juicy burger loaded with flavor.

Shake Shack

shake shack white truffle lineup
Courtesy of Shake Shack

Shake Shack certainly knows a thing or two when it comes to making the perfect juicy burger. It starts with its high-quality patties, which according to its website are a "custom 100% Angus beef blend, never frozen, no hormones or antibiotics ever, humanely raised and grazed in the USA." But what takes those patties and turns them into a juicy hamburger is the method in which they are cooked. According to Epicurious, Shake Shack does not rely on adding any oil to its griddles to keep the burgers flipping. Instead, the fat from each of the patties is used on the griddle to fuel each subsequent burger, meaning each one comes out juicer than the last.

Five Guys

Five Guys Little Hamburger
Courtesy of Five Guys/Facebook

The burgers at Five Guys may be cooked to well done, but do not think that means it is anything but juicy. Per Mashed, Five Guys still delivers a tasty sandwich thanks to the unique multi-step journey each patty takes from the time the order is placed to the time you take your first bite. It starts as a raw patty, so you know your burger was freshly prepared at the time you order. Then, it is pressed on the griddle and allowed to cook all the way through—but not so long that the moisture leaves the patty. The bun for the burger is also hanging out on a separate, cooler grill, ready to hold that juicy burger right as it comes off the grill so no moisture is lost. Add to that the fact that Five Guys' toppings are all included in your purchase, there are a quarter of a million ways to customize your juicy burger to your liking.

Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a freelance writer specializing in all things food, travel, Disney, and theme parks. Read more about Carly