There’s nothing more quintessentially American than a barbeque dinner on a hot summer evening. Something about grilled meats (and even veggies) slathered in sauce and served between a bun evokes a weird and inescapable rush of patriotism. Between hot dogs, steak, ribs, sausages, corn and skewers, there is no shortage of options. But my personal grilled go-to is and always will be burgers.
According to IBISWorld, an industry market research database, as of March 2023 there are nearly 92,000 burger restaurants in the U.S. Most of them probably claim that their burger recipe or unique topping combination is the best in the nation. Though it’s impossible to truly declare one recipe’s superiority, certain characteristics definitely elevate some burgers over others. My mom’s classic beef patty recipe, for one, definitely checks all the right boxes. It might not be nationally ranked, but trust me when I say that her recipe encapsulates everything you want in a burger: thick, juicy and full of flavor.
The key ingredient is minced onion. Most burger recipes call for powdered onion, but grilling actual onion morsels straight into the patty imbues your burger with a savory flavor unlike any other. Otherwise, it’s a relatively straightforward recipe with only a couple of main ingredients and traditional seasoning. These burgers can either be cooked outside on the grill or inside on a griddle, making them perfect for both regular hot days and you-couldn’t-pay-me-to-leave-an-air-conditioned-room hot days.
But everyone knows that oftentimes, a quality patty isn’t enough to make a truly mouthwatering burger; toppings are just as important to create that perfect bite. Sure, you can’t go wrong with the classic combo of lettuce and tomato, but I recommend spicing things up with more untraditional add-ons. Here are some of my favorite topping combinations:
- White cheddar cheese, grilled onions and bacon
- Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms and grilled onions
- Grilled pineapple, barbeque sauce and bacon
- Orange cheddar cheese, sliced avocado and a fried egg
- Goat cheese, grilled onions and arugula
And, of course, bun selection is equally important. I typically gravitate towards a traditional sesame-topped white bun or a golden brioche bun, but I’ve also had delicious success with Hawaiian buns and toasted sourdough bread.
But back to the important part: the patty itself. Mom’s simple recipe will ensure that no matter what bread or toppings you choose, your burger will taste like red white and blue heaven.
Classic beef patties
Yield: 8 patties
Time: 25 minutes
- 2 pounds ground beef
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup minced yellow onion
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with a large spoon or by hand.
- Separate the mixture into eight sections for extra thick patties or into 10 for slightly thinner patties. Form each section into a ball, then flatten into a disk slightly larger than your burger buns (the patties will shrink slightly while cooking). Place each patty onto a large plate or serving platter.
- If using a grill, heat the surface to around 400 F. If using a griddle, heat the surface over medium-high heat. Grill the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side. To achieve perfectly melted cheese, place a slice on top of each patty while they cook on the second side.
- Once cooked, move to a clean plate, then serve!
To make your meal extra patriotic, pair your burger with sides like macaroni salad, grilled corn on the cob, sliced watermelon, onion rings and thick slices of apple pie. Happy Fourth of July!