Patties: The Ultimate Guide to Terminology, Variations & Serving Styles

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 1, 2022

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A patty, in American, Australian and New Zealand English, is a flattened, usually round, serving of ground meat or meat alternatives. The meat is compacted and shaped, cooked, and served. Patties can be eaten with a knife and a fork in dishes like Salisbury steak, but are typically served in a sort of sandwich called a “burger“, or a hamburger if the patty is made from ground beef.

The patty itself can also be called a burger, whether or not it is served in a sandwich, especially in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the term “patty” is rarely used.

In this article, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to patties, covering everything from their origins to their ingredients and serving suggestions. Let’s dive in!

What is a patty

What’s in a Name?

Patties are a beloved food item that can be found all over the world, and they go by many different names. Here are just a few of the most common terms used for patties:

  • Beef patties: Made from ground beef, these are the classic patties that most people think of when they hear the word “patty.” They’re often served on a bun with cheese, lettuce, and tomato, and are a staple of fast food restaurants everywhere.
  • Soy patties: These patties are made from soy protein and are a popular vegetarian and vegan alternative to beef patties. They’re often used in veggie burgers and other meatless dishes.
  • Chicken patties: Made from ground chicken, these patties are a healthier alternative to beef patties and are often used in sandwiches and salads.
  • Meat patties: This term is used to describe any type of patty that is made from meat, including beef, chicken, pork, and lamb.
  • Veggie patties: These patties are made from a variety of non-meat ingredients, including tofu, tempeh, and wheat gluten. They’re often used as a vegetarian or vegan alternative to meat patties.

The Shape of Things: How Patties are Formed

Patties come in many different shapes and sizes, but the most common shape is a flat, circular cake. Here are a few things to know about how patties are formed:

  • Ground meat is the most common ingredient used in patties, and it’s usually mixed with other ingredients like breadcrumbs, eggs, and spices to give it flavor and texture.
  • Patties can be formed by hand, but most commercial patties are made using a machine that shapes the meat into a specific size and shape.
  • Some patties, like chicken patties, are mechanically separated, which means that the meat is separated from the bones using a machine.
  • Veggie patties are often made using binding agents like eggs or wheat gluten to hold them together.

A Brief History of the Patty

The patty has been around for centuries, and its origins can be traced back to English and French cuisine. Here are a few key moments in the history of the patty:

  • The word “patty” comes from the French word “pâté,” which means “pie.”
  • In the 19th century, the English began using the term “patty” to describe a small, flat cake made from meat or fish.
  • The first commercial patty product was introduced in the United States in the 1930s, and it was a beef patty that was sold frozen and ready to cook.
  • Today, patties are a staple of fast food restaurants and can be found in a wide variety of flavors and styles.

The Many Variations and Serving Styles of Patties

Patties come in many different forms, but the most common type is made from ground beef. However, pork, chicken, and even bacon can be used to create a unique flavor. Some examples of variations include:

  • Beef and pork mixture
  • Ground chicken with white rice
  • Bacon and beef mix

Serving Styles

Patties can be served in a variety of ways, depending on the area and local cuisine. Some popular serving styles include:

  • Traditional style: topped with grilled onion and served with a side of rice
  • Fast food style: served with a sauce and a side of fries
  • Japanese style: inspired by the dish “hamburg steak,” topped with a sauce and served with rice
  • Local style: unique to certain cities or areas, such as the “Loco Moco” in Hawaii, which is a patty served on a bed of rice and topped with gravy and a fried egg

History and Origins

The history of patties can be traced back to the butcher shops of Europe, where ground meat was sold in small, fresh portions. The technique of mixing ground meat with other ingredients to create a unique flavor was also applied in Europe. However, it was in America where the patty really took off and became widely popular. The following are some interesting facts about the history and origins of patties:

  • The term “patty” is synonymous with the term “burger” in some areas
  • The first fast food restaurant to serve patties was White Castle in 1921
  • Patties are classified as a type of sandwich
  • The popularity of patties is due to their quick service and availability

Unique Techniques and Ingredients

The following are some unique techniques and ingredients that can be used to create a delicious patty:

  • Using a mix of ground meats to create a unique flavor
  • Adding certain spices or herbs to the mixture
  • Topping the patty with a specific sauce or gravy
  • Grilling the patty to create a smoky flavor
  • Serving the patty with a specific side dish, such as coleslaw or mac and cheese (like this smoker recipe)

From Meat to Vegetables: The Commercial Production of Patties

When it comes to producing patties for commercial distribution, there are a few different methods that can be used. The most common way is through the use of machines that are specifically designed to produce patties in a variety of forms. These machines can produce patties made from meat, poultry, fish, and even vegetables.

The Process of Production

The production of patties begins with the mixture of ingredients. Depending on the type of patty being produced, this mixture can include a variety of different products. For example, a hamburger patty might be made from ground beef, while a chicken patty might be made from ground chicken. Vegetable patties can be made from a mixture of potato, pumpkin, carrot, and other vegetables.

Once the mixture has been created, it is sent to the center of the machine where it is designed to complete a series of processes automatically. These processes include forming the mixture into the ideal patty shape, and then manipulating the patty to remove any abnormal bumps that may have been caused during the forming process.

Output and Distribution

Once the patties have been formed and manipulated, they are boxed and sent out for distribution. Patties can be seen in their raw form, or they can be frozen for later use. The machine is capable of producing patties in small or large quantities, depending on the needs of the customer.

Types of Patties Produced

The machine is capable of producing a variety of different patties, including:

  • Hamburger patties
  • Chicken patties
  • Fish patties
  • Shrimp patties
  • Vegetable patties

Each type of patty is produced in a similar way, with the machine molding the mixture into the ideal shape for that particular type of patty.


Patties are a delicious food item found in different forms around the world. They’re usually made of ground meat, but can also be made of vegetables or fish.

They’re usually shaped like a pie and served with a specific dish, like burgers (here’s how to reheat them) or sandwiches, but can also be served as a side dish, like in the case of the loco moco.

So, now you know what patties are and how to eat them!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.