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What can I use instead of a burger press?

There are many reasons why one may need an alternative to a burger press when making hamburgers at home. A burger press is a handy kitchen tool that helps shape ground beef into evenly sized patties with nicely tapered edges. However, if you don’t have a burger press, don’t worry! There are plenty of easy household items and techniques you can use instead to make picture-perfect hamburgers.

Why Use a Burger Press?

Before discussing replacements, let’s first go over why a burger press can be useful:

  • Creates uniform patties – Burger presses allow you to make patties all the same thickness and diameter for even cooking.
  • Prevents sticking – The pressing action of a burger press seals the edges to prevent sticking to the grill or pan.
  • Saves time – Pressing patties takes less time than hand-forming each one individually.
  • Makes fun shapes – Some presses can imprint fun designs or make square patties instead of round.

So in summary, burger presses take the guesswork out of sizing patties and give them a nice finish. But you can achieve similar results without a specialized tool.

Use a Pot Lid

One of the easiest things to use in place of a burger press is a heavy pot lid (cast iron works great). Simply follow these steps:

  1. Lightly grease the inside of the pot lid.
  2. Grab a ball of ground beef and place it on the center of the lid.
  3. Put another pot lid on top and press down firmly until the meat flattens out into your desired thickness and diameter.
  4. Carefully lift the top lid and scrape the flattened patty off onto your work surface. Add any seasonings.
  5. Repeat with remaining meat and stack patties on a baking sheet or plate, separating layers with wax paper.

The weight of the lid does all the work for you. The rim sizes on different lids allow you to make anything from slider-sized patties to large quarter-pounders.

Advantages of Using a Pot Lid

  • Presses patties evenly
  • Easy to clean greased surface
  • no cost – Uses items already in your kitchen

Disadvantages of Using a Pot Lid

  • Not as fast as using multiple burger presses
  • Limited on diameter sizes based on your pot lids
  • No fun shape imprinting options

Overall, a greased pot lid is an excellent burger press substitute in a pinch. Let’s look at some other household items you probably have on hand.

Use a Cutting Board

A wooden or heavy plastic cutting board provides a sturdy pressing surface for flattening burger meat. Here is a simple pressing method using a cutting board:

  1. Place a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on the cutting board.
  2. Scoop a ball of ground beef onto the center of the paper/wrap.
  3. Cover with an additional sheet of paper/wrap.
  4. Use your hands or a second cutting board to press the meat down gently to desired thickness.
  5. Remove the top layer of paper/wrap and neatly trim edges with a knife or cookie cutter if desired.
  6. Carefully slide the pressed patty onto a plate, separating patties with wax paper.

You can press several patties at once by spacing the meat balls out on the parchment before pressing. The paper/wrap prevents sticking.

Advantages of Using a Cutting Board

  • Produces uniform patties
  • Easy to adjust thickness as you go
  • Can make multiple patties at once

Disadvantages of Using a Cutting Board

  • More time consuming than using a burger press
  • Edges may not seal as tightly
  • Limited on diameter size by the board’s surface area

The cutting board method gives you more control over the shaping process for pressed patties with crisper edges.

Use a Ring Mold

Ring molds, also called biscuit cutters, are an often-overlooked burger press alternative. Here is a simple process for using a ring mold to shape patties:

  1. Choose a ring mold or biscuit cutter in your desired patty size.
  2. Grease the inside surface of the mold lightly.
  3. Press the ring mold down into a ball of ground beef to cut out a perfect patty circle.
  4. Eject the patty from the mold onto your work surface.
  5. Gather up the remaining meat pieces and repeat the process until all meat is used up.
  6. Assemble patties on a baking sheet or plate, separating layers with wax paper.

Advantages of Using a Ring Mold

  • Uniform shape and size
  • Clean cut edges
  • Fun round patties
  • Range of diameter options

Disadvantages of Using a Ring Mold

  • Takes more effort than pressing
  • No tapered edges
  • Can’t press multiple at once

Ring molds do require actively cutting each patty, but create a consistent look. The diameter options are limited to the size of biscuit cutters you have.

Use a Drinking Glass

Simple drinking glasses in your kitchen cabinet can also double as improvised burger presses in a pinch. Here’s a quick method:

  1. Choose a sturdy drinking glass (preferably with straight sides).
  2. Grease the bottom rim of the glass lightly.
  3. Press the greased glass rim down into a ball of ground beef, flattening it into a patty.
  4. Gently lift the glass straight up to release the flattened patty.
  5. Use glasses of different diameters to vary patty sizes.

The weight of the glass does the pressing work for you easily.

Advantages of Using a Drinking Glass

  • Presses patties evenly
  • Simple cleanup
  • Range of diameter options from shot glasses to pint glasses

Disadvantages of Using a Drinking Glass

  • Glass may stick to meat more than metal/plastic
  • No tapered edges
  • Need very straight sides for clean release

Drinking glasses create uniform round patties quite well in the absence of a proper burger press.

Use an Improvised Press

If you don’t have any of the specialized kitchen tools mentioned already, there are still plenty of improvised presses you can put together using household items:

  • The bottom of a sturdy saucepan can act as a press.
  • A small baking sheet with a second baking sheet pressed on top will work.
  • Try using a tortilla press lined with plastic wrap to flatten patties.
  • Place meat balls between two dinner plates and press down.
  • A WWE or George Foreman grill without heat can press patties.
  • Improvise a press between two cutting boards or wooden blocks.

Get creative! Almost any two sturdy surfaces that can be pressed together can form burger patties when greased first.

Shape Patties by Hand

If you can’t find any suitable household items to press with, shaping patties by hand is always an option:

  1. Grease your hands lightly with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Grab a ball of ground beef and gently toss it between your palms to form it into a patty shape.
  3. Place onto a baking sheet and gently press down to desired thickness.
  4. Cup your palms over the edge of the patty and press inward to taper the edges.
  5. Repeat with remaining beef and separate patties with parchment paper.

Hand shaping does take more time and the patties may not be quite as uniform, but it gets the job done!

Alternative Shaping Methods

The previous options focused on methods to directly press ground beef into patties, but there are also some alternate shaping techniques that don’t require a press:

Grill in Meatballs

Skip pressing altogether by grilling the beef as mini meatballs. Skewer them if needed to keep round. The lack of flat surface area gives you more caramelized edges!

Make Meatloaf

For another press-free option, bake the beef mixture in a loaf pan. Then just slice disks off the loaf like burger patties. The binders in a meatloaf recipe help it hold its shape easily.

Stuff in Molds

Fill muffin tins with the ground beef mixture pressed into the cups. Unmold onto a baking sheet and you’ve got perfect burger “patties” ready to cook.

Tips for Making Great Patties Without a Press

To get the best results when shaping burgers manually, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use cold beef – Meat right from the fridge firms up better.
  • Don’t overwork – Handle gently to prevent dense, chewy patties.
  • Make a dimple – Press a dent in the center to prevent puffing up as they cook.
  • Chill before cooking – Let patties rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up further.
  • Get desired thickness – Shoot for 3/4-inch for optimal cooking and juiciness.

What Can I Use Instead of a Burger Press?

Item Pros Cons
Pot lid Even pressing, easy to clean Slower, size limitations
Cutting board Good control, make multiple Time consuming,edges not sealed
Ring mold Uniform shape and clean edges More effort, no tapered edges
Drinking glass Range of sizes, simple Potential sticking, round edges
Improvised press Uses household items Less consistent results
Hand shaping No equipment needed Time intensive, less uniform


While a burger press offers convenience and consistency, plenty of everyday kitchen items can be used in its place with delicious results. Pot lids, cutting boards, ring molds, glasses, improvised presses, and even your hands will shape beef into perfect patties. Just be sure to use chilled meat for easy handling. With a few simple techniques, you can make pressing burgers an absolute breeze without any specialized tools.