Maybe when you think of burgers, you think of standing over a smoking grill in the summer sunshine but Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers go about things a little differently. They’re a burger that’s allll about maximum flavor surface area thanks to a super-thin patty and plenty of stringy, delicious onions that are cooked until they just cross the line from pungent to sweet. All you need is a hot griddle (or cast iron skillet) and a few ingredients – see how to make them below!
This isn’t a thick, juicy patty. This is a smaller portion of ground beef that’s pressed into a hot griddle as flat as you can get it so that you get as much surface area as possible for the Maillard reaction to occur. (That’s the chemical reaction where proteins and sugars transform into something delicious, and that’s all you really need to know.) What that means is that yes, it’s a thin patty, but it’s maximum flavor. (And you can always go ahead and use two patties per burger if you’re so inclined.)
The onions are what really set this apart from a basic smashed burger though. While you’re browning one side of the meat, you’ll pile thinly sliced onions on top so the onions start to steam. Then, you’ll flip the burgers, onions and all, so the onions are on the bottom and they can have a chance to caramelize while the other side of the burger browns. Another little trick is to pile the buns on top while the patties are in the skillet so they can steam in some of those onion vapors.
Serves 4 | 10m prep time | 10m cook time
1 large white onion, halved and sliced as thin as possible
12 oz 80% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 slices American cheese
4 brioche hamburger buns, buttered and lightly toasted
FOR THE SPECIAL SAUCE:
1/2 cup mayo
3 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup dill pickles, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon pickle juice
Dash of hot sauce
Using a paper towel, brush vegetable oil onto a large cast iron skillet or griddle. Heat over high heat until smoking lightly.
Form beef into four 3 oz balls. Press balls of beef down into skillet or griddle with an offset spatula, using the flat-edge of a second spatula to press the first spatula down until you can flatten meat no more. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. (If using a skillet, work in batches and cook only 2 patties at a time.)
Working quickly, arrange onions evenly over patties and press down with spatula to embed onions in meat. Let cook undisturbed until burgers are well-browned, about 2 minutes.
Carefully flip burgers over so onions are now on the bottom and let cook until onions start to soften, about 1 minute.
Top with cheese and top bun. Place bottom bun upside-down on the top bun so it can steam in the onion flavor.
Once buns have softened, transfer bottom buns to a plate. Lift onions, burger, and top bun together and transfer to bottom bun. Serve with special sauce and enjoy!
To make special sauce, stir together all sauce ingredients and chill 30 minutes.