Recipes,  Reviews

Making My Own Burgers, Review of the Maverick 5501 Grinder, and a Giveaway!

I have long wanted to try grinding my own beef to make hamburgers from scratch. This desire grew stronger after seeing the movie Food, Inc.; I haven’t been able to eat commercially ground beef, and more specifically, a fast food burger since. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a hamburger in the last 2 years, but when I want a burger, I usually make one at home with organic beef (albeit imported from Australia, so not exactly local). Since I’m a do-it-yourself kinda gal with a healthy dose of “Type-A” personality thrown in, I thought I’d opt for a little more control over my burgers and make my own from scratch.

A little while ago I was approached by Pleasant Hill Grain, a Nebraska-based company which specializes in quality kitchen equipment and supplies who asked if I wanted to try their Maverick 5501 Meat & Food Grinder. I already have the meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and I thought it would be interesting to compare the functionality of the two grinders.

Maverick 5501 Meat Grinder


The Maverick Meat Grinder

Out of the box there was something I immediately knew I was going to like about this grinder. It has a much lower profile than the KitchenAid. In order for me to get enough leverage to push the meat into the grinder on the KitchenAid, I have to stand on something (2 thick phone books to be exact) because once it’s set on top of a 36″ high counter it’s just too tall for me to use comfortably. The Maverick is about 6″ lower and thus, much easier for me to use.

The machine comes with three different sized grinding dies; 1/8″ (fine), 3/16″ (medium) and 5/16″ (coarse) as well as a kefka attachment, a sausage stuffer attachment, and cookie dough extruder with 5 shapes. It has a 575 watt motor, which is larger than the basic KitchenAid stand mixer, and should grind over 23 pounds of meat in only 10 minutes. It can be used for grinding vegetables, cheese and nuts too. I’d love to know what people make with ground vegetables or ground nuts in bulk.

The grinding function works like a champ, without ever slowing down. There’s a reverse feature (something the KitchenAid does not have) but I never had to use it. I cut up the meat into chunks the size of the tube, layed them out on a tray in the freezer until almost frozen (don’t try it frozen solid) and they slid though the grinder in a matter of minutes. I formed the ground beef into 5 oz portions and then pressed it into a round cookie cutter ring the size and thickness of a typical burger so the patties would be “pretty” and cook evenly (see below for photos).

For people who are going to be grinding a lot of meat (10 lbs or more to make a big batch of sausage, for example) the Maverick would make much shorter work of it. The KitchenAid works well for small batches, but the motor seems to tire after a while when running it for a long time. The Maverick just keeps going. For someone who is serious about making sausage or grinding your own meat or vegetables for a large family, at about $100 this would be a very good investment.

The sausage stuffing function works just fine, very similar to the KitchenAid. We made Kielbasa Polish style smoked sausages (to be detailed in a later post) and they came out great. We also made a 5 pound batch of Italian sausage and it was very quick and easy.

A note about the beef:

Once the grinder arrived I was faced with the dilemma of what cut of beef to buy for my burgers and really, what kind of beef; commericially raised? grass fed? organic? I did a little research and the most typical cut of beef used for those grinding their own for burgers is the chuck roast because it’s well marbled and usually fairly inexpensive. Some people also recommended mixing in some short ribs for extra flavor. Others add extra beef fat or sometimes even pork fat. A good juicy burger its usually 20-25% fat.
Keep in mind, the typical hamburger meat used in fast food is not coming from a single cut of meat, but rather all the scrap meat off many different cows, mixed with fat and well, I’m not going to get into the rest of it because I don’t want to turn you off compeltely.

I wish I could say I found amazing-grass-fed-organic-locally-raised -beef for my burgers, but alas I did not. That magic combo of beef continues to be elusive to me, at least in a manner I can afford. Using the Australian organic ground beef as my benchmark for cost $3.99 per pound, it was hard to consider paying substantially more for meat I was going to grind up into burger. What I ended up with was a well marbled 2.5 lb piece of chuck roast from my local market for $2.99 per lb and honestly, the end product was really very good.


Make sure everything is very clean; your hands, all attachments, even rinse and pat dry the piece of meat you will be grinding before cutting it.
Chill everything and do it in batches, keeping everything as cold as possible to prevent bacterial growth.
Make sure the meat is well chilled before putting it down the grinder for stuffing sausages. This will make the process much easier; as the meat warms up, it sticks to the sides and makes it harder to process.

The Giveaway:


This contest is now closed


Pleasant Hill Grain has offered to give away one of the Maverick 5501 Grinders to one of my readers. All you need to do to enter is visit their web site and take a look at what else they have to offer. Then come back here and leave a comment with what else you’d like from them, besides a grinder. They have a lot of cool stuff from dehydrators, to grain mills, to mixers and bake-ware. They even carry commercial meat grinders if you are looking for something bigger. My choice (besides the grinder) would be their food saver machine, something I’ve always thought would be useful in the kitchen.

The contest is open to US and Canadian residents. Pleasant Hill Grain will ship the Maverick 5501 Grinder directly to the winner, no PO Box addresses please. The winner will be drawn at random and announced on Monday, January 24th, 2011


  • Ayngelina

    Oh I want want want this! I have always wanted to grind my own meat – is that weird to admit?

    I once had a food saver but never used it but I’ve also always wanted a Vitamix.

  • KevinQ

    I could definitely see myself using the Lincoln Foodservice Heavy Baking Sheet – I need more quality ovenware.

    If you cook your burgers in a pan, you should try Cook’s Illustrated’s recommendation to loosely pack the meat in your hamburger patty – leave lots of nooks and holes for burger juices to run up through the burger. Very tasty, very juicy burger, that cooks up really fast.


  • Vanessa

    Those burgers looked fantastic and this blog (as always) has inspired me to try this too.

    As for my “wish list” item, I would love to have the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Home Bakery Mini. I’m impressed by the small footprint of the bread machine and the size of the resulting product.

  • Fanny Farkas

    The Vitamix is high up on my wishlist. I already have a food saver and don’t find it as useful as I would like it to be.

  • Elliott O

    I’d love a good rice cooker – I think I’d be more likely to do rice more often if it was a “set it and forget it” thing.

  • Gabriella

    I would definitely like to have a food saver. It’s something that I have been looking at for quite some time. I also love your meat grinder; I wouldn’t mind having one of those, too. Congrats on your new kitchen gadget!

  • Foodelf

    I love the look of the meat grinder and I agree with you that it would probably run circles around the KitchenAid attachment, mine’s about read to fall apart. I ‘d also choose the Cuisinart Supreme Ice Cream maker.

    Have you decided to keep the Maverick?

  • Myra

    Nice review of the meat grinder. And those are some good-looking burgers! I’d pick the food dehydrator because I enjoy gardening and storing the extra to eat in the colder months.

  • Loweeel

    DEFINITELY the electric smokehouse in Stainless. That this is awesome. If I don’t win (as seems likely), I’ll definitely be getting my own Maverick!

  • Panzey

    I would love to be able to grind my own meat. I’ve been so disappointed in the recent purchases of ground beef and would like to develop my own recipes for ground beef, sausage, etc. Looking through the products on the Pleasant Hill Grain several items caught my eye: the pressure cookers, bread/pizza stone but I could really use the food saver, also.

  • Sharon Miro

    OK, I betcha I am disqualified from this, but here’s my comment: really, I adore my Kitchen Aid–and K’s is the same professional grade, but this grinder did run circles around it. As we get more into making saugages, burgers etc, we have found that some of our favorites don’t work as well as we would like.

    Of course, there is always the hand grinders to use if you want upper arm excercise!

  • Cardamonbraid

    I would go with a KoMo mill………..I never can find the type of grind and flour that I need when the urge to bake hits me…….I especially like the wooden looking design as it has a look that transends the change in styles……..I have a house that is quite old. I like to be as modern as possible but it is important to me to also keep the look and feel of the house as it might have looked back in the day……..

  • Traca

    Wow! How cool is that? What a great write up. I have been making sausage for years and I know exactly what you mean about the Kitchen Aid grinder. Mine gets hot and I’m afraid I’m going to burn out the motor with even a 10 pound batch of sausage! Pleasant Hill Grain wasn’t on my radar but I’m sure glad they are now. Great mix of inventory. The VitaMix takes top spot on my wish list. I shifted to margarita’s on the rocks b/c my blender can’t handle even blending ice!

  • Debbie

    I grind my own meat too. I haven’t been able to eat hamburger since I read Fast Food Nation many years ago. I use chuck and it always makes great burgers. I have a kitchen aid also, but I would love to win this meat grinder. I would love to have the The Nutrimill Grain Mill. My good friend grinds her own flour and lets me use her mill on occasion, so that’s what I would get.

    For those that mentioned Vitamix, I have one and I LOVE it.

  • Kel

    I’ve never tried grinding meat… I’ve been eating a TON of burgers lately, though, since that’s the current pregnancy craving 🙂
    So many things on their website are tempting… I think the most, however, is the Viking stand mixer. I don’t have a stand mixer, and as much as I enjoy kneading bread dough by hand I’d love to have a machine do it for me 🙂

  • bean

    Weston Meat Grinder & Tomato Strainer Combo – that would be what i’d get no matter what. i’d probably use both sections on the same day. espec. at the end of the summer when i’m loaded up with tomatoes from my brooklyn garden. choose me!!!

    love your blog by the way.

  • Tricia

    I would love the grinder….I always wonder what else is in the packaged ground beef. I did visit the site and was over whelmed with all the choices….I would love a juicer and one of everything else too.

  • Nick (Macheesmo)

    Awesome! I’ve been thinking about getting the kitchen aid attachment grinder but this looks a lot better in my opinion.

    Besides the grinder, I’d love the meat slicer from their site. Very cool. Then I could get into making cold cuts maybe!

  • Charles G Thompson

    Great post! So interesting and informative. Thanks for all the useful information. I’ve been ready to try my hand at grinding my own meat, and was planning on getting the attachment for my KitchenAid but now I may reconsider that.

    The item I’d like on the Pleasant Hill Grain site is the Vita-Mix Professional Blender — without a doubt!

  • Kim

    This might be the kick in the pants I need to start making my own patties! The meat slicer (commercial-grade for home use) from the PHG website would be pretty awesome to have, too. Always wanted to slice my own deli meat!!

    Thanks for a thorough tutorial on meat grinding- bookmarking this for use in the future when I grind my own meat!!


  • Kathy

    I would like a meat grinder to use not only for human food but to also use in making my own dog food. Several years ago, I started cooking a brown rice/vegetables/protein (chicken, lamb, beef or a combination thereof) concoction for my dogs. A meat grinder would probably help!

  • Vivian

    I want one! I have access to wonderful grassfed beef here and want to start making sausage again. I have the Kitchenaid attachment and yes it is a struggle to do more than 10 lbs of sausage at a time. If I could have one of their other products it would be one of their Grain Mills. I have recipes from home that require toasting and grinding rice as well as other grains, and they definitely have products I am interested in.

  • Becky

    Great article Kristina – I had a hard time deciding what else I might want besides a meat grinder – I think I need to go with the Vita-Mix Professional Blender – have always pined away for one of those. But then there was also the dehydrator – and the vacuum sealer – and my 1970’s cuisinart is yellowed and cracking…and, and… oh, hell – Vita-Mix, my FINAL ANSWER.

  • aimee

    Thanks for this great post. I have been tempted to get a meat grinder after watching Food, Inc. as well. My grandma just has the butcher grind her meat for her at the supermarket. An obvious solution that I had never thought to do.
    Pleasant Hill Grain has so many cool products, it’s hard to choose one. But I have been coveting those Zojirushi Rice Cookers. We don’t have a Vitamix, but got another high powered blender for Christmas and have been using it nonstop since. Highly recommend!

  • tomf

    As I am planting a half-dozen apple trees this spring, the authentic apple press sure would be nice to have a few years down the road.

  • Luke

    What a great site and post. Thank you Becky Selengut. I would put that grinder through the motions. Definetly interested in the RSVP lasagna/roasting pan as well. Our family is due to upgrade our cookware at long last.

  • Sarah Morris

    Great post! I got Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything book for Christmas and he emphasizes “the grinding” of your own meat. I have been interested in making chorizo and other meat recipes. And the Maverick meat grinder would definitely come in handy!
    Went to the PHG website and the other products the caught my attention were the Viking Standing Mixer (so cool looking) and the Tilia Gamesaver Silver Foodsaver Vacuum looks like a great investment!

    Keep up the great posting and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  • Raquel

    Omg I would love a juicer. I have been thinking about fresh squeezed orange juice since last summer when I had my first taste of fresh orange juice at a little cafe in Michigan, where we stop on our way to the orchards for apples and peaches. That was so yum.

  • Carol Peterman

    Now I have a want list as long as my arm! A Vita Mix is on the top of the list followed by a Kuhn Rikon 5 qt. Family Braiser Pressure Cooker. I’ d love a sauce whisk and a new silicone mat too because I’ve managed to put numerous cuts in mine. Much tempting stuff on their site! The Maverick Meat Grinder looks great!

  • Katie

    The Vitamix…it was on my Christmas Wish List…I want to make healthy soups in SO badly!

    The meat grinder would be awesome so I can carry on my family tradition of my Grandpa’s German Sausage! And we have plenty of local grass fed beef here as well!

  • Janet

    My husband and I make our own burger patties as well. We have been looking at a food scale and I like the one that Pleasant Hill on their site.

  • Patty

    What a nice grinder! I am not tall enough either to comfortably use my kitchen aid attachments…

    Someday I want to get the The Excalibur 3900 Dehydrator. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while now:)

    Oh, I have a Food Saver and I use it all the time. I love it!

  • Ash

    Thank you for leading me to that great website! Well, there are lots of items to covet but my top ones are the Zojirushi Induction Rice Cooker and the Viking 7Q Professional Series Stand Mixer.

    Also, thanks for all of your fabulous recipes and beautiful photos!


  • Ryan Schulz

    I want a Vita-Prep. Always have, always will. I also really want a commercial grade stuffer and grinder. I have aspirations of being the neighborhood meat man. This grinder would be a fine place to start though.

  • Liz S.

    I would love to have a grain mill (preferably electric)! I have a friend who has one – grinds her own flour and makes bread from scratch. She swears by it, and I believe her! I too, have a meat grinder for my Kitchen Aid, but it’s always been such a cumbersome task to use it. I would love this little powerhouse!

  • Sandy Shaner

    I’ve lusted after a VitaMix Pro for a long time without being willing to pay the price (even though I have to note that I haven’t really found anything my year-old KitchenAid with the polycarbonate pitcher can’t do).

  • Sarah Whaley

    The grinder looks amazing. Would love to have one.

    I would also like the zojirushi bread maker. I already have their rice cooker, which I purchased in Japan. I’ve had it for about 7-8 years and it’s the best. The best. The best. Once more, the best. So logically, I would think that their bread maker would be a good choice for me as well. 🙂

  • Nina

    We love your blog! The meat grinder looks wonderful. We have been experimenting with drying meat in cardboard boxes with fans, and judging by the results, I know we would appreciate a dehydrator :*)

  • Lucy Inouye

    I love this meat grinder! My mother had a hand grinder when I was a child. I remnember getting it out, screwing the clamp onto our pullout cutting board, and taking turns on the crank with my sibling. With a family of six, hamburger was a big part of our diet, and my mom felt chuck roast was a lot “purer” than ready made hamburger.

    I’d love one of Pleasant Hill Grain’s Kuhn Rikon Lidlifters, but the Bosch Compact Mixer Combo looks great as well.

    One motor and five gadgets sounds lovely in my crowded kitchen.

  • Brenda

    OMG – what a great on-line store! I definitely NEED a stand mixer – can’t decide between the Bosch or the Viking. My old mixer is mostly plastic and is not up to the workouts I’ve been giving it lately.


  • David Rowell

    Since I grind a lot of elk meat each year, I think I would prefer one of the larger grinders. The small one looks fine for smaller batches at a time, but I like to crank out 50 pounds or so as quickly as possible.

  • tom

    I really like my food saver but after years of use it is finally on its last leg. The one I see on the sight looks like it is a lot better quality. Oh and of course how could you not want a cider press.

  • Stephen

    Found your site while looking through all the #charcutepalooza blogs. I’ve been toying with the idea of a food grinder attachment for my KA, but your review has me thinking about a stand alone grinder. As far as a different item from Pleasant Hill, it would have to be the Viking Immersion Blender; I can’t believe I haven’t bought one of these yet.

    Thanks for hosting a giveaway!

  • Jack

    The 575 watt motor impressed me for the the size of the unit. Have many ideas for this grinder. Will be placing order for the Grain Mill and several of their grains as well.

  • Helen

    I’m the butcher’s daughter, so I grew up with a boning knife in one hand and a cleaver in the other. We had a large walk-in cooler in our grocery store where we could hang sides of beef and pork waiting to be cut up, so I’ve used a meat grinder, cutlet machine (tenderizer), sausage stuffer, and slicing machine, I guess you could say that I’ve done it all — including chickens. Daddy built his own walk-in smoker and developed recipes for barbecue sauces, rubs, chili, and sausages.

    When daddy passed away, I kept the cutlet machine, but now I wish I had kept all of the equipment. My wish list has always included a stand-alone grinder, so this may be my only chance to get one. As a 68-year old grandmother on a fixed income, I don’t think I can afford to go out and splurge, but if I could, it would be a toss-up between the Maverick 5501 Meat Grinder and the TSM 20 lb. Electric Meat Smoker. Criminy!!!! Who am I kidding?? I’d be happy with anything on Pleasant Hill Grain website.

    Soooo glad I stumbled across your website. I’ve got it bookmarked now!!!

  • Jenny Zelle

    This is a beauty, thanks for the nice write up on it. I’ve been considering getting the KA meat grinder attachment, but this looks far more useful!

  • Trin

    Wow! Love their store! Thanks for the intro.
    I finally settled on the affordable Nesco’s FS-120-T Food Slicer as
    my other want.
    TLR33960 at hotmail dot com

  • Bethany

    How interesting! I have the Kitchenaid attachment and I plan on using it for the first time this week. I bought it in a combo set a year ago so I haven’t had a chance yet! I never even thought about the height thing either… I’m kinda short so I guess I’ll find a stepstool ahead of time. But thanks for that review! The last thing I’d want to do is burn out my beloved Kitchenaid grinding meat so if we find we like the home ground stuff best then I may just get the Maverick. We had bought a quarter grassfed cow a while ago and are officially out of ground beef so I was going to grind up one of the chuck roasts and see how that goes. I think it will work good – your photos look awesome!

  • Ruthie Petit

    I have never seen the Pleasant Hill Website, but now I’m marking it as a favorite! Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets! There were so many that I would love to have! So, the Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press with removable easy to clean plates is my favorite. One I would love at the holidays is the Stainless Steel Corn Creamer, and then there’s the Norpro Herb Multipurpose scissors!
    Don’t know if the contest is still on but I’d love the meat grinder having also watched Food, Inc.!! I stumbled on your website while looking for organic meat choices and I’m glad I did.

  • Michael Roddey

    I’ve been looking for an affordable good quality meat grinder for some time now. The pleasant hill website is excellent. I feel like a kid again looking through the wish-book catalog and dreaming of all the things I would like to have. I’m also looking for a good grain mill like the Nutrimill, but might have to wait until next Christmas. I came across your website performing a search on the Maverick 5501. Great review. Those burgers look excellent. I too wish to grind my own meat since watching and hearing about Pink Slime they add to our ground beef. Please enter me in your giveaway for the Maverick, thanks ….

Make my day! Leave a comment.