Curderburger for your thoughts

On October 15th, for one day only, Culver’s plans to release the Curderburger. Instead of waiting, I made my own.


I didn’t expect to write about two fast food copycat recipes/sandwiches in a row, but because of timing and what some real writers would call an “editorial calendar,” here we are. Let’s Curderburger and enjoy it.


The April Fools joke 2021. A big fried cheese curd in a bun.

A Wisconsin based burger chain known as Culver’s shared an April Fools’ joke on social media earlier this year that jokingly announced The Curderburger. Cheese fans across the land got excited.

If you don’t know what a fried cheese curd is, congratulations; you’ve never been hungry in a bar in the Midwest of the United States. Cheese curds themselves are young unaged cheese — typically cheddar — that is separated from the whey. Instead of packing that cheese up and molding it into huge wheels, it’s chunked up into small pieces and sold immediately as cheese curds.

The Midwest delicacy known as fried cheese curds, takes these fresh curds and batters or coats them in breadcrumbs and they are fried to order. Much like the more well-known mozzarella stick, you end up with a crispy exterior and a tender, slightly melty interior.

The feedback from the comments on the April Fools’ joke convinced Culver’s to follow through and create a Curderburger. They’ve announced that it’s coming October 15th, at a Culver’s near you!

The original joke concept was just a big ole fried cheese curd in between a top and bottom bun. But Culver’s concept brought to life is their Deluxe butter burger with a fried cheese curd disk placed on top of the burger patty. Witness the following promo photos and action shots for the Curderburger coming out on October 15th.

The Curderburger promo photo.
A real-world version of the Curderburger. I think Dan Higgins/USA Today has credit for this photo.

It appears that Daniel Higgins/Green Bay Press Gazette gets credit for the real world Curderburger above.

If you want to know more about how Culver’s makes their burgers, this video should be instructive.

Culver’s is pretty good for a fast-food burger, but this is NOT what most Wisconsin butter burgers are actually like.

[side discussion/rant on butter burgers]

A Wisconsin butter burger often has scoops of butter on top of the burger patties before the patty is sealed up and then everything below gets all buttery. The only butter in a Culver’s “butter burger” is a spread of butter on the top bun before it gets toasted. That’s just fine, but it’s not what you’ll find at other burger joints in Wisconsin. I must stand up for my northern Wisconsin neighbors. Many burgers around the world are served on butter toasted buns. That doesn’t make them a butter burger.

Maybe one day I’ll attempt a Wisconsin butter burger for a blog post. I’ll make sure my doctors are all alerted before I start down that path, though.

[/side discussion/rant on butter burgers]

I’m going to use the techniques in that video plus all the promo photos and make a Curderburger.

A disk of cheese curds

Somehow, I opened this bag from the bottom because it’s chaos in sandwich land.

First, we need a big ole fried cheese curd patty.

My goal was to make disks out of cheese curds and then coat them in breadcrumbs and fry them just like normal people do.

At first, I thought that I would just coat some curds in an egg wash and then freeze them all together in a disk. The more I thought about it, it seemed that this would never really make a solid disk.

My second plan was to melt the curds and then shape them into disks. I had never melted cheese curds before, but about 30 seconds in the microwave does the trick. Turns out, lightly melting the curds and pouring the slightly melted cheese into a ring mold in the freezer for an hour will give you perfect disks of cheese curd ready for frying.

Here’s a two-photo slideshow of that process.

Then I lightly coated my curd disks in breadcrumbs and fried them. Culver’s uses breadcrumbs and not a batter so that’s what I did.

1 hour and 35 minutes
Fried cheese curd disks

Q: What's better than a bunch of fried cheese curds?
A: A bunch of really big fried cheese curds.

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Two fresh fried cheese curd disks.
A cross section of a fried cheese curd disk.
A big ole frying cheese curd hockey puck.

I made two different colors of curd disks because I spare no expense bringing you sandwich content.

Once you have your frozen disks of formed cheese curds, you coat them in all purpose flour, then run them through an egg wash and then coat with seasoned breadcrumbs.

Fry all your cheese curd pucks for 2-ish minutes at around 375 degrees F and you’re left with nice crunchy, soft in the middle cheese curds to turn into Curderburgers.

Once the cheese curds are fried, you’ll want to drain them on a wire rack, or a tray lined with paper towels. You can place your fried cheese curd disks in a 200-degree F oven to keep warm while you make the rest of your burger (don’t put paper towels in a hot oven though, watch out).

The smash burger

Frying curd disks and cooking cheeseburgers at the same time does take a bit of timing. But your burgers will be smash burgers which means they will cook only two or three minutes for a super thin patty.

I’ve covered smash burgers in a post before, and they’re easy as long as you have a hot surface and some way to smash the patty. I attempt to detail the process again in the full recipe down below.

Curderburger assembly time

Here’s the layering process if you’re writing these things down (and you should be):

  • Top bun
  • Butter (toasted on bun)
  • Fried cheese curd patty
  • Smashed burger patty (4 ounces)
  • Tomato slice
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Two slices of red onion
  • Three pickles
  • Bottom bun (toasted)

The toppings going in as bottomings here really gives me a bit of pause, but this is how Culver’s does it, so I did my best to do it as well.

Theirs vs mine

Overall, I think I did a pretty good job, but I won’t really know until I try a real life Curderburger. I will probably update the post at the very bottom after October 15th, 2021, with updates if I get the opportunity to try one.

30 minutes
Fried cheese curd smash burger

Based on the Culver's Curderburger, this is a fully loaded smash burger with a fried cheese curd patty on top.

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I’m going to attempt to try the Culver’s Curderburger on Friday. I’m not sure what the interest level will be or whether things will sell out, but if I get the opportunity I will try one, take a photo and give my review via @beerinator on twitter and @beerinator on instagram. I will also post more details on the new Bounded by Buns facebook page. Check out one of those and follow or like the page for this and future updates.


BREAKING: CURDERBURGER UPDATE

Updated: October 15th, 2021
I got the chance to try an official Curderburger today and it was pretty good. The curd disk was about a quarter of an inch think, where some of mine were closer to a half inch. If I were to make mine again and adjust the recipe I think that’s about the only thing I would change. My homemade bun was lighter and fresher than theirs, but everything else was pretty similar.

The thickness of the curd disk made a pretty big difference in texture. In some bites of the official Curderburger you couldn’t even tell that it was there other than the cheese flavor. The edge bites of the Curderburger were definitely the best parts because you not only got the texture from the smashburger patty, you also got the crunchy fried breadcrumb exterior from the fried cheese curd disk.

Overall, I enjoyed this burger. I would order it again, but I don’t think I’d order it every visit to Culver’s. If the Curderburger was a once a year or seasonal menu item then I would definitely use that opportunity to come back and try one.

An official Culver’s Curderburger. There’s lettuce, red onion, pickles, and tomato under there along with a slathering of mayo. Cheese is oozing out the side of the fried curd disk.
This guy’s name is Curdis. You can get him if you upgrade to a family sized cheese curd. I didn’t need him or the family sized cheese curd order but sometimes things happen for a reason. This was not one of those times because it happened for no reason.

If you didn’t get a chance to try this, I’m hoping that Culver’s brings it back from time to time. Maybe it’ll be a once a year thing they do for #NationalCheeseCurdDay.


Beyond the Impossible

I ate a plant!


We’re writing about burgers again. This time with a twist. Instead of beef we’re pitting Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger against Impossible Food’s Impossible Burger. I bought at least a pound of each and my wife and I went to work testing and tasting.

Beyond Beef = 1 lb at $9.99 | Impossible Burger = .75 lb at $9.99

First off, let’s look at some numbers. I typically use 80/20 (80% lean/20% fat) for my cheeseburgers, but in many comparisons online, you’ll see people compare 90/10 beef with both of these plant based options. If you’re making your burgers at home and you like to buy 90/10 beef, I think this is an honest comparison. But if most of your burgers are consumed in restaurants or takeout, you’re probably getting 80/20 with a higher calorie count than 90/10.

Here’s a table of calorie information:

TypeCalories per ounce
80/20 ground chuck71
90/10 ground sirloin49
Beyond Beef58
Impossible Burger60
Calories per ounce of each

And here’s a table of the pricing I found in the two large stores that I frequent in the Chicago area.

TypeMariano’s (Chicago)Target (Chicago)
80/20 ground chuck$4.99 per pound$5.39 per pound
90/10 ground sirloin$5.99 per pound$6.59 per pound
Beyond Beef$9.99 per pound$8.29 per pound
Impossible Burger$13.33 per pound$9.32 per pound
Comparison between two fairly large grocery chains in Chicago. Obviously your stores will be different.

Pricing for each plant-based alternative is sometimes close to double that of regular ground beef. And if you’re eating 90/10 ground beef (or even better, ground turkey) at home, you’re not going to see any calorie benefit by switching to plant-based protein.

What you are going to see in terms of health benefits from plant-based protein is a higher level of fiber than beef, much lower levels of cholesterol and higher levels of calcium and iron. Both the Beyond Beef burger and the Impossible Burger contain no trans fat and their total fat and saturated fat levels are below that of 80/20 ground beef.

Both the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger contain around a quarter of the sodium the FDA (USA) recommends you consume per day. We didn’t notice them tasting overly salty in our tests, but I have heard that some people do notice the higher sodium levels.

If you really want to get deep into the numbers, I found this medium.com post to be very educational and thorough.

Let’s now talk about how I made these burgers.

The burger buns

I baked King Arthur potato buns again. I’ve said it before but this just a great recipe for a burger or hot dog bun. It’s soft and pillowy and it takes a toast very well.

This time I used a technique to flatten the shaped buns prior to the final rise. Normally when I make this recipe I end up with fairly tall and round buns. This is great for some sandwiches, but fast food style burgers are typically not very tall. So I used a technique I learned from a brioche blog post where you are supposed to flatten your dough PRIOR to final rise. You do this with a bench scraper (Amazon affiliate link) or the bottom of a large measuring cup that has been slightly greased/oiled. Twist the flat surface on the dough and flatten as you twist. This gives you a flatter and smoother surface.

You can see what I did and how things rose in this short slideshow.

The plant-based protein

These two “meats” are pretty obviously different visually. Impossible looks a lot more like raw ground beef. Beyond looks a bit like pâté. The Impossible burger just looked a lot better to me since my mind was thinking of ground beef.

They both have an aroma when uncooked that isn’t terrible but it’s not something I expected. Beyond has a stronger aroma. One of the main ingredients in Beyond Meat is pea protein which is where Beyond gets its signature smell.

Cooking both patties could not be easier. The instructions are on the back of both packages. Basically I cooked them exactly the same way. I got a flat griddle surface hot (around 400 degrees F – 200C) and I cooked them 3 minutes per side.

You can view a few photos of the cooking process below.

The sample set

This was the most basic burger I could make with both of my plant-based options. I ended up splitting half of each burger with my wife and we jumped into sampling and discussing.

The ingredients of the sample burgers from the bottom to the top: homemade potato bun bottom, plant based patty, American cheese slice, a thin smear of mayonnaise, potato bun top. The mayonnaise went on the top because my wife was going to add more condiments and toppings and we didn’t want to fight the melted cheese. I ate my two halves just as you see them below.

Beyond on the left, Impossible on the right. Same homemade potato roll, American cheese and a tiny bit of mayo on the top bun.

The Beyond burger tastes more like a veggie burger than the Impossible burger. The Impossible burger gets closer to being a beef burger. My wife felt Impossible sort of had a low effort “pre-formed patty at a cookout” sort of flavor and texture going on. My comments were that the Impossible burger reminded me of a cafeteria burger and definitely a fast food burger.

When you eat the plant based meat alone, you notice that the Beyond burger is not very close to tasting like beef – it’s more like a veggie patty. But when you sear and get a little crust on the Impossible burger, you really do get close to a beef-like texture and flavor.

Beyond Meat also didn’t sear as well, especially compared to the Impossible burger. In this simple example I intentionally didn’t toast my buns so that this wouldn’t trick me into thinking there was seared crust texture when it didn’t actually exist.

I’m going to have a recap with conclusions at the bottom of this post, but first I’ll write about another plant-based burger I made.

The Beyond the Impossible Big Mac burger

The heel, club and crown parts of the bun.

At some point during the testing process I was struck with the idea to make a Big Mac copycat with both a Beyond Meat patty and an Impossible Burger patty. So I had to do it.

Again, I started with two quarter pound patties.

Next I needed special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun. 🎵

I did not have a sesame seed bun, so I had to perform a trick where I split a bun and painted the top with an egg white mixed with about a tablespoon of water. After the top is fully painted, sprinkle sesame seeds (or whatever you want) on top and put the bun in a 375 F degree oven for about 6 minutes. This quick baking process might brown your bun a tiny bit, but what it really does is “glues” your seeds to the bun.

I sacrificed an extra bun to get the middle “club” piece of bun. McDonalds has a name for the three pieces of bun. The heel is the bottom, the club is in the middle and the crown is the sesame seed covered part on top.

I just split a bun and got my heel and crown from that and then my second bun, I shaved off a thin slice of the top and the bottom to get the club piece.

The pickles and special sauce

I finely diced up a yellow onion, shredded some lettuce and secured a slice of American cheese. Then all I needed to complete the Big Mac jingle recipe was the special sauce and pickles. Luckily I have recipes for those and used them.

Here are the pickles:

25 minutes
Spicy MSG pickles

Spicy and dilly and savory pickles are great as a snack or in a sandwich. A great addition to any refrigerator. I based this recipe off of this tweet from Joshua Weissman and added extra spice.

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And here is the special sauce I use:

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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And here’s my finished Beyond the Impossible Big Mac burger.

Beyond the Impossible Big Mac burger: 🎵 Two all-not-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. 🎵 That’s Beyond Meat patty on the bottom and Impossible Burger patty on the top.

An extra

As usual, I made another burger with the last of the Impossible patties that I weighed out. This one was big on flavor with gorgonzola and sweet griddled onions. After this experience, I strongly feel that you could easily pack flavor into a plant based burger with condiments and cheeses and fool someone who didn’t know what sort of meat was in the burger.

Gorgonzola and brown sugar onions on an Impossible Burger patty.

Conclusions

I liked my experience with the Impossible Burger better and think the taste and texture of that protein after it is cooked is more like beef. Beyond Beef seems to end up with a cooked patty that is similar to that of a veggie burger (like Boca Burger brand) or a frozen prepared vegetable burger. This doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it different. If you’re used to bean based or veggie burgers, you might like Beyond better.

I think the biggest adoption issue these plant based burgers face is the pricing. Because the two plant-based proteins aren’t extra healthy and because they are – in some cases – double the price of ground beef or turkey, I don’t see people transitioning in large numbers from beef to plant-based right now. A friend on twitter reminded me that the meat industry gets government subsidies (at least in the United States) and these plant-based alternatives do not fall under that category. Maybe in this future this could change and pricing will be more competitive.

Overall, if you put calories and pricing aside, plant-based proteins are better for our environment than a beef burger. It takes almost 90% less emissions to make an Impossible Burger and requires much less water and land than what is required to produce the same amount of beef.

I have no doubt that in the future (if humans survive long enough) we will be transitioning to more plant-based alternatives in our cooking. I was impressed at how close the Impossible Burger got to replicating a ground beef fast food style burger if it was cooked properly. For me, it’s all about the texture and ground meat seems to be the easiest texture to emulate.

I’m not going to start eating only plant-based alternatives to ground beef, but if changes are made to the products or if new options become available, I will certainly be willing to try them and I will be watching to see where things go for these companies.

Impossible patty, American cheese, green leaf lettuce, tomato, pickles and special sauce on a potato bun.

Check back next week and possibly I’ll make another sandwich or two. Maybe I’ll even eat another plant!?


Carolina on my dog

“I always look for a hot dog wherever I go.” – Martha Stewart


Controversial statement incoming.

I’m one of those people who consider hot dogs to be sandwiches.

That sound you just heard was my friend, JP, reading the last sentence and closing down her internet browser in disgust.


Sorry JP! All the rest of you, please keep reading:


One of my favorite regional hot dog styles is the one from North Carolina where I grew up. The Carolina dog is made up of chili, coleslaw, chopped onions and sometimes mustard (it’s better with mustard). This regional hot dog style is basically considered standard “all the way” in parts of North and South Carolina. If you’ve never had one of these, the chili and the slaw might be different from versions you’ve seen or experienced. We’ll discuss those in full with my recipes below.

The origin of the Carolina Dog is pretty much up in the air. Wikipedia claims that a place in Wilmington NC, called Merritt’s Burger House, has been serving this style since 1958, but there’s nothing else online to back that up. Even the linked article doesn’t really say they’ve been serving this style of burger or hot dog since that time. Melvin’s in Elizabethtown NC, claims that they have been making a burger with chili and slaw for 80 years, but I’ve found nothing really saying when or where the Carolina style hot dog started. We’re going to have to hire some food detectives to figure this out. I’m not the guy to do it.

If you’ve never cooked a hot dog before, Nathan’s Famous has a pretty good guide for cooking hot dogs. I cook my hot dogs on a grill outside or inside on a grill pan or skillet. Nathan’s Famous does tell you that it’s ok to microwave a dog, but not ok to boil one. As a kid I remember a lot of microwaving of hot dogs for quick lunches that didn’t require turning on the stove or oven. I just remember putting a hot dog in a bun and wrapping it in a paper towel. Forty five seconds later I was enjoying a hot lunch (with just ketchup probably).

Here are the ingredients I like to prepare for my favorite hot dogs.

Hot dog potato rolls

Consistent readers already know I’ve talked about the King Arthur’s Potato Bun recipe a few times recently. I whipped up the same recipe again this week, but I shaped them into torpedoes or hot dog shapes.

Here’s a video I made of how I shape dough into that shape. The video is for a longer roll than a hot dog roll, but it’s the same technique. The recipe in the video is for rolls that are similar to my sub sandwich rolls.

I like to make my buns fit my hot dogs. I don’t want any extra bites of just bun if I can help it, so I usually weigh my dough into 80 gram (or even 75 gram) portions. Then I shape that portion into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes (while I shape the rest). Then I flip the ball over, exposing the bottom tucked side to the top and leaving the smooth top on the surface of the counter. This means the smooth part will end up on top when you’re done.

Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle about the length of your hot dog. I make my dough rectangle about a quarter inch thick. Then I roll from the side closest to me away from me to make a log.

Then the most important part is getting the seam sealed tightly by pinching your fingers. Once the seam is very tightly pinched, I flip the dough log so that the seam is on the bottom touching the counter and I roll the log back and forth on top of the seam to flatten out the places where I pinched the dough. Then you place the dough log seam side down on your pan and press it down a little to keep if from being a perfectly round cylinder.

You want to get your dough logs about an inch or an inch and a half apart on your sheet pan. They don’t have to touch, but if you are looking for New England style split top rolls, put them a little bit closer together (like an inch). They will rise to about double after shaping and then rise again in the oven.

Some finished hot dog buns.

Hot dog chili

This is not typical chili. There are no beans, but it’s also not chunky with hunks of meat like Texas chili. Hot dog chili is made from ground beef that’s mashed or chopped and not full of beans or onions. In some recipes hot dog chili is sent through a food processor, but you can do the same thing with a potato masher.

Recipe Card
Hot dog chili

No beans in this chili, but it's perfect for topping a hot dog or burger. This type of chili is also superb for chili cheese fries.

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Hot dog slaw

This is sweeter than the slaw I usually make, but it’s similar to what you’ll find in a lot of Eastern North Carolina barbecue joints or hot dog stands. I enjoy it on occasion and it works really well with the chili, but feel free to omit the sugar entirely if you’re averse to a sweet slaw.

Recipe Card
15 minutes
Hot dog slaw

This is a fairly sweet slaw, but that's what is traditional in a Carolina Dog. You could easily just cut the sugar in half or omit it all together if you want a simple slaw that isn't very sweet.

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The Carolina dog

Let’s put all the pieces together.

Carolina dogs are typically bright red hot dogs with hot dog chili, a sweet slaw and chopped onions. They also often will have mustard added as a fourth item. The wikipedia page for “Hot dog variations” claims that people have been making Carolina style hot dogs since at least 1958.

When you study other hot dog variations on that page, you’ll learn that West Virginia is very very similar to a Carolina dog. Georgia also often has a dog with chili and mustard or sometimes only slaw. There are other regional hot dogs with chili like the Pink’s Chili Dog from Los Angeles and then you have a Coney dog from Michigan but Coney chili traditionally is made from ground up beef heart instead of regular ground beef.

I like to build my Carolina dogs with chili on the bottom, then slaw and then plain yellow mustard on top. About half of the time I leave out the raw chopped onions. I don’t think raw chopped onions add that much, but feel free to add them to yours.

Here are some of my finished Carolina dogs.

I ate a few hot dogs this week. Here are a few of them.

Split top potato bun stuffed with hot dog, chili, slaw and mustard.

The Glenn and the messiness problems

The Glenn

A friend named Glenn has commented on my hot dog photo tweets before and always recommends to put the mustard underneath the slaw and chili and that will help the hot dog not be so messy to eat. I tried it and named this version: The Glenn.

I do think he’s right, but the hot dog is way prettier with mustard on top. If you want to avoid messiness, build your dog like Glenn does.

Now let’s talk about the next logical step with these ingredients.

Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger

The Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger was first introduced at a Wendy’s in Rockingham, North Carolina. Wendy’s did not invent this style of cheeseburger, but they did a lot to add recognition outside of the small North/South Carolina burger joints and hot dog stands. Here’s a video of ol’ Dave Thomas being introduced to the Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger from back in 1995.

Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, I learned early on that “all the way” for a burger meant chili, slaw, chopped onion and mustard. On family trips to White Lake, NC we’d visit a place called Melvins’ in Elizabethtown. Melvin’s is amazing. The line could be fifty people long and it just flies in minutes. Because they’re so busy and they’re cooking burgers constantly they claim that it takes just 10 seconds to get a burger made to order. They open up at 7:30 am and start selling burgers. No breakfast, just burgers. And the line starts that early too, proving that burgers are a breakfast food.

Since I had the slaw and chili and a leftover bun from Breaded Pork Tenderloin week, I decided to recreate the “all the way” burger I grew up with. I even went so far as to make my burger patty square in honor of Dave Thomas.

My own Carolina Classic burger with a square patty. Quarter pound burger with cheese, chili, slaw, chopped onions and mustard on a toasted bun.

Everything’s better with some pimento cheese

Couldn’t let this opportunity of hot dog buns and chili go to waste without using a little pimento cheese. Make some chili and slaw (and even pimento cheese) to have available for hot dog and cheeseburger toppings at your next backyard cookout! Fourth of July is coming up and so is the rest of your life! Put these easy recipes on your list of backyard necessities for burgers and hot dogs of all seasons.

Chili and pimento cheese dog.

Burgers three ways

I made some burgers and now you get to read about them (and look at them).


Two or three times a year I plan to delve a bit deeper and write about the toppings of the burgers I make at home. This week I made the following burgers:

All three of these burgers are simply 80/20 ground chuck with salt and pepper. I don’t like to mess around too much with spices in my burgers, but you obviously can if you want. That’s up to you. You are, after all, the Tina Turner of your own Hamburger.

Potato Buns

First we need to address the buns. The King Arthur Baking Hamburger Potato Buns recipe is one of my go-to bun recipes. You can use this for longer sub-like rolls or even weigh out pretty small sizes for sliders or hot dog buns. This recipe does require you to have potato flour and special dry milk in your pantry, but I make this bun style often enough to keep those items on hand. It also helps that both of these ingredients have a fairly long shelf life – even longer if you keep them in the fridge. The point of the potato flour is that it absorbs moisture in the dough and it leaves you with a more moist hamburger bun that will stay fresh longer.

Since I was making hamburger buns, I decided to add some toppings to some of the buns. That’s a super easy way to change up your hamburger rolls or hot dog buns. Just prior to baking, simply brush each bun with an egg wash (one whole beaten egg and a tablespoon of water) and apply your bun toppings liberally. I like to use Everything Bagel Seasoning (Amazon affiliate link), but you can use poppy seeds, sesame seeds or even something like dried onion flakes.

Sliced hamburger potato roll.

All American burger

This was a diner-style griddle burger, not a smash burger. I weighed out my ground beef into two 3 ounce portions and formed it into two patties. I typically use parchment paper and use my hands to form a round patty that is wider than my bun. In this case I flattened them into two fairly thin patties. You want to make your patty wider than your bun because the meat will shrink as it cooks. I like to form patties on a scrap of parchment paper because you can use that to flip them onto your hot griddle or skillet.

The ingredients for my All American burger are: two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, … tomato … on a sesame seed bun. The pickles I used were my MSG pickle recipe and the sauce I used here is a super easy sauce recipe I use for burgers and other sandwiches.

5 minutes
Special sandwich sauce

Great substitute for mayonnaise but way more flavorful. Perfect on a burger or even as dipping sauce for fries and onion rings.

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You can add finely diced pickles or onions to this sauce as well. And those seeking a little heat could opt for sriracha or another hot sauce to liven things up.

The All American burger. Two formed beef patties, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Blue cheese and bacon jam

Blue cheese and sweet and savory bacon jam is a great combination of big flavors. I’ve shared my bacon jam recipe before and it is fantastic paired with blue cheese. For this burger I went with a hefty scoop of bacon jam and a wide but thin slice of blue cheese on an everything bagel bun.

You could go with blue cheese crumbles as well, but in my experience those end up falling off the burger and make a bit of a mess. Thinly slicing from a wedge of blue cheese helps your cheese stay in the mix.

Slice of blue cheese, bacon jam on a everything bagel seasoned bun.

Onion all the way

My onion all the way burger is very similar to a smash burger. I wrote about smash burgers a few months ago and most of those tips and tools apply here.

This burger is a lot like an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The burger historian himself, George Motz, can explain what that is better than I can. Here’s a video with Motz for Martin’s potato roll’s youtube channel where he explains and makes an Oklahoma fried onion burger. The simple explanation (if you don’t want to watch the video) is that this is a burger that is smashed and griddled along side sliced up onions.

The main difference in my burger is that I smashed the burger balls into the hot surface with thinly sliced onions. Motz’s recipe tells you to smash the onions into the burger balls forming patties with onions on the top side. Then when you flip, you end up cooking the onions while cooking the second side of the patty. I like to put the onions down first and smash my patties into the already cooking onions. It works great either way though, so experiment yourself and see what you think.

The slide show below shows the simple steps I follow to smash this onion burger.

Why make a burger with one type of onions when you can make a burger with two types of onions? Here’s my onion ring recipe.

Fried onion rings

Crispy and light onion rings are perfect as a side dish or placed inside a sandwich.

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Salt or season your fried onion rings right as they come out of the frying oil.

Here’s my finished Onion All The Way burger. I also used special sauce on this one as well.

Onion all the way burger. Two onion smashed patties, American cheese, two onion rings, special sauce on a plain potato roll.

And that’s it. Three burgers I made that hopefully will inspire you to make some of your own.

Don’t forget that Father’s Day is coming up. If you have the chance to see your Dad, offer to make him a burger. Pretty sure that Dads like burgers. If he also loves to cook burgers, I have several burger cooking tools listed in my smash burger post. Check those out. Next week I’ll be writing about another sandwich. I think this one may contain pork. Stay tuned!


crispy smashburger

Smashing good burgers

Want to impress your friends and family? Learn how to make a smash burger!


A good smash burger gets texture and flavor from the quick searing process combined with the large amounts of surface area contact between the patty and the hot cooking surface. The goal of the “smashing” procedure is to ensure as much meat as possible touches the hot metal causing browning and forming a crust on the meat.

Many of us learned early on that you aren’t supposed to press on your meat while it’s cooking because that would cause it to lose moisture and become dry. This is true. Squishing meat while it is cooking will definitely cause you to lose juice. You can watch this happen if you try it (don’t do it). BUT the smash burger technique requires smashing BEFORE the meat starts cooking. You are simply smashing a ball of meat to your desired thickness (usually pretty thin) and then the meat starts cooking. There’s no moisture loss through this process. Once your first smash is done, you do not want to smash the patty again. Not even after you flip. Only smash once at the very beginning.

For me, this is the best style of burger to cook at home. It’s fast and the texture is perfect. If you make it a double patty smash burger with cheese (which I usually do), the slice of American cheese melts between the patties keeping things moist. You can use other types of cheese but American works the best (make sure you’re buying “American Cheese” and not “American Cheese Product”). You also don’t need fancy meat. I find 80/20 ground chuck works great.

There are a few tools that I enjoy using when smashing patties. Here are four items I own that are also all useful in other kitchen applications (all links are affiliate links for Amazon products).

  • If you want to be more precise you’ll need a kitchen scale that works with ounces and grams.
  • I use a finishing trowel for smashing patties. You can get a lot of downward pressure with a trowel and should be able to smash two patties at once.
  • This one is the least important for smashing burgers, but I like having it nearby when cooking most anything on the stove. I bought this Infrared thermometer and use it a lot to know how hot my surfaces are.
  • You will need a good metal spatula to flip your patties. It’s important to scrape under the patty so that you do not lose any of the crispy seared texture that you’re working hard to achieve.

The last item that you’ll need is some sort of pan or griddle. Cast iron works really well here. The main thing to remember is that you’re going to be smashing and scraping so you wouldn’t want to use a Teflon coated pan with metal spatulas. I personally own a Baking Steel griddle that fits over one stovetop burner and I can easily smash two patties at the same time. This is also great for grilled cheese sandwiches or melts, but that’s another blog post for another day.

Check out the recipe below for the procedure that I use for my typical smash burger. Try it and impress your friends!

Ultra Crispy Double Smash Burger view printable page for this recipe

Here's a super simple burger recipe that requires a couple of easy techniques to learn. You could even substitute ground turkey if you wanted something different.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (80/20 is best)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Slices of your favorite cheese (American works best)
  • Hamburger buns and whatever toppings you might require

Directions:

The most consistent way to make any type of burger is to weigh your meat on a scale first. If you don't have a scale proceed to #2. if you have exactly 1 pound (450 grams or so) you'd want to weigh it into 2.65 ounces (56 grams) balls. If you have a pound of meat you should end up with 8 small piles of meat. If you have a scale you can skip #2.

If you do not have a scale, you need to divide your meat in half until you have two pieces. Then divide each of those two in half until you have four pieces and then divide each of those four pieces in half until you have eight total similarly sized pieces. 

After weighing or dividing your meat, make each portion into balls. Do not over work the meat or mix it up. 

Get your skillet or surface hot. If you're using a skillet, don't use a non-stick one or this process might lead you to get it scratched and ruined. If it's a black non-stick skillet, it's possibly covered with a teflon surface and you can scratch it with metal spatulas. Don't ruin your pan. I typically use a cheap infrared thermometer to monitor the surface area of my skillets and flattop surfaces and 400 degrees is usually where I start cooking. 

Place two balls of meat on your skillet or flat top with four or five inches between each ball. If you're using a skillet, you will probably only be able to cook two patties at a time. 

Once the balls hit the hot surface give them 10 or 15 seconds and smash. You're going to want to use a lot of pressure and smash them really hard. The goal here is to get as much surface area of the meat to touch the hot surface as possible. If you have a flat top or a griddle, you might want to use some sort of very heavy spatula or even a clean finishing trowel from your local hardware store. 

As soon as you've finished smashing, this is when we season. Hit the (hopefully) very thin patty with some salt and pepper. You can season again when you flip, but this is when you should do most of the seasoning. 

Cook for 1.5 to 2 minutes on this first side.

Use a sharp spatula and scrape under the patty in order to flip. The goal here is to make sure you don't lose any of the crispies you worked hard to build up with the smashing process. 

Once flipped to the second side, you will want to season and cook for another minute. After you season this side, you should add any slices of cheese you want on the patty. 

If you're making a double (and you should - this recipe is for a double after all) you should stack one patty on top of the other with one slice of cheese between the patties while they're on the heat. Cook another 30 or so seconds and pull them all off the heat. 

Now you have a smash burger patty and the rest is up to you. Add "toppings" or "bottomings" or even eat it without a bun. You're in charge. 

Notes:

If you're doing this with ground turkey, you would want to put some butter or oil on the pan/flat top prior to cooking to give it a little help in the fat department. 

With beef and with turkey you can watch the meat cook almost all the way through before flipping. So if you're concerned about your turkey being fully cooked (as you should be) then you can rest assured that it is after flipping.