A guide machinery for burger or patty making (and food forming)

If at any point you would like to discuss any issues or concerns you have regarding food forming or burger making then please contact us via enquiries@cibamat.co.uk or call us on 020 3488 8364 (we are open 8.30am - 5.30pm Mon - Fri).

There are lots and lots of different ways to make a burger from manual efforts that are as quick as the operator to fully automated lines churning out thousands of burgers an hour. The options below refer to making traditional meat burgers but also anything plant based that needs forming into a shape such as veggie burgers, falafel, cannelloni fillings, fish cakes etc.

Whilst the method of forming the patty will have an effect on the texture of the end product ultimately the quality and type of ingredients will be more important than the machinery used.

Here is our quick guide to some of the options we know about (and please tell us if there are ones we’ve missed we love our burgers).

Manual

The simplest way to make burger is to shape it purely by hand. Only yesterday I was in a factory where 4 or 5 workers take the product and form the patty purely in their hands. More common is using a manual press such as those made by La Felsinea and Sirman (both Italian brands). There are a few advantages of this method. Importantly it means the meat cannot be overworked so should produce a lighter more tender product. Also the press won’t breakdown which means you can guarantee making the burgers whereas any of the machinery below will at some point breakdown (see our article on the one guarantee that comes with all machines). Although the person who is supposed to be on production line may not turn up or be off sick. Also the manufacturers of the very big automatic equipment (see lower down) describe their machines as producing a product ‘like homemade’ must mean that ultimately the best burgers are the ones that are made by hand.

The disadvantages of this method is fairly obvious. It is labour intensive and slow in comparison to machinery. For example one butcher recently commented to an engineer when his machine broke down, ‘I hope you can fix it otherwise all of us will be pressing burgers the whole of Saturday’. Also getting a uniform product is difficult because it means weighing out the mince in equal batches (even more time consuming) or guessing (no two products will be the same weight).

There are certainly a lot of butchers out there making burgers this way because they feel the quality of the product isn’t compromised.

Semi Automatic

There are a number of machines on the market that fall into this range and in my opinion an excellent option for people who are selling their burgers direct to the end user such as restaurants, hotels, burger vans etc who want to sell a premium product and have complete control over the product they sell.

There are two ways of doing this and involves an attachment fitted directly to a piece of machinery. Pintro and Sheerline offer an attachment which fits to a sausage filler and pushes the product into a mould which is manually removed by the operator. In much the same way La Felsinea produce an attachment for their mincers which does a similar job although they offer a semi automatic and fully automatic option.

This method is undoubtedly quicker than a manual press and produces a uniform product. The La Felsinea option also allows the burger to be formed immediately the meat is minced whereas in all other options the meat is minced in advance before being formed.

The disadvantages are that it is still relatively slow compared to other automatic options.

Automatic

This next range is the most popular amongst those supplying large amounts of burgers such as catering butchers, factories etc. The manufacturers claim these machines are capable of producing around 2000-8000 burgers an hour although I am sceptical with all of these sort of stats because I bet they don’t include reloading the machine, refilling burger papers, getting the product packed and are dependent on the size of the burger. But you get the idea - they can do a lot.

Machines in this sector include Formatic, ABM and Gesame.and all of them them consist of a hopper where the meat is loaded and the paddles are used to push the product downwards. The Formatic and ABM machines use a similar way of producing the burger by using a drum to form the shape and a wire to cut off the excess whilst Gesame machines press the product into a plate which is then pushed upwards (a bit like an upside down manual press)

The major advantage of going automatic is that you can produce a lot of burgers which look and weigh pretty much the same hence this is most popular method for anyone who needs to produce a reasonably high volume. Equally you can get different moulds to make almost any shape imaginable including meatballs

The disadvantages are that the product has to be cold (around 0°C) otherwise the meat can smear and also by putting it again through another mixer it is once again ‘working’ the product so it can become tougher. Once you get to this level of production it is imperative you have a contingency plan in the event of breakdowns and spare parts can be expensive.

Fully Automatic

The big beasts of the burger making world these machines are generally attached to vacuum fillers and make around 9000 burger an hour (again subject to size). My first thought about these is wow we eat a lot of burgers in the world if we need machines like this!

The likes of Frey, Handtmann, Reiser, Rex are the main manufacturers in this area.

The advantages of these systems are not only the large volume but that every portion is exactly the same weight and size.

The disadvantages are fairly obvious too - they cost a lot of money and they need to be maintained. Again spares aren’t cheap and largely you need specialist engineers to undertake the work.

We hope that helps show you some of the options available however if you would like a more in depth discussion to answer your questions or concerns then please contact us via enquiries@cibamat.co.uk or call us on 020 3488 8364 (we are open 8.30am - 9.30am Mon - Fri).