Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger Recipe

Learn how to make the best traditional homemade Oklahoma Onion Burger!

This classic American fried onion burger recipe is one of my family’s favourites to cook on a hot griddle or in a large nonstick pan.

Quick & easy Oklahoma Smash Burgers are ready to serve in just minutes. The recipe features simple and affordable ingredients and is beloved by both kids and adults.

You’ll love feasting on our flavourful Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe featuring minced beef, white onion, American cheddar cheese, mustard, ketchup, sliced pickles, and hamburger buns.

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What Is An Oklahoma Onion Burger?

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers, also known as Oklahoma Burgers and Oklahoma Smash Burgers, are an American culinary legend.

Facts are facts, onions and beef are a match made in heaven! Nowhere is this culinary truth more appreciated than in Oklahoma, home of the fried onion burger, a burger that is as much onion as it is meat.

According to legend, the original fried onion burger was invented by Ross Davis in the 1920s at the Hamburger Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It was conceived of during The Great Depression as a way for local diners to extend the beef supply as meat prices were unaffordable to many. Filling up the space between the hamburger buns with onions was an inexpensive way to stretch out the meat.

Oklahoma Smash Burgers are uniquely prepared with a mountain of thinly sliced yellow or white onions piled on top of a ground beef patty before smashing on a griddle. The key to success is slicing the onions paper thin, using a mandolin or food processor.

Authentic Oklahoma Burgers feature a perfectly seared thin smash burger patty with fried onions cooked right into the meat. Most recipes include sliced pickles, mustard, cheddar cheese and a potato bun. Hamburger buns also make for a fine substitute and ketchup can make an appearance too.

Oklahoma Onion Burgers never include lettuce, tomatoes or fancy ingredients like blue cheese or sauteed mushrooms. Oklahoma Smash Burgers were born out of simplicity during the The Great Depression and should stay that way. Don’t try to make this one gourmet!

Traditional Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger recipe ingredients.
Traditional Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger recipe ingredients.

What Is A Smash Burger?

Round balls of ground beef are placed on the hot griddle before being pressed down forcefully with a spatula into their final flat shape, maximizing surface contact with the pan to promote efficient browning. This gives smash burgers their desired crispy and crunchy exterior.

The key here is once the burgers start cooking, within 10 seconds of being smashed thin, all smashing activity must stop, in case you press out fat and juices that have started to liquefy inside the patties. You need to work quickly from the time you smash the patties to the time you add the onions on top of an Oklahoma Burger.

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Oklahoma Burgers are prepared with ground beef patties, thinly sliced onions and cheddar cheese slices.
Oklahoma Burgers are prepared with ground beef patties, thinly sliced onions and cheddar cheese slices.

History of Burgers

The hamburger first appeared in the 19th or early 20th century.

The modern hamburger was a product of the culinary needs of a society rapidly changing due to industrialization and the emergence of the working class and middle class with the resulting demand for mass-produced, affordable food that could be consumed outside of the home.

Culinary historians suggest that either the Texas, USA or Germany (via the port city of Hamburg) was the first place where two slices of bread and a ground beef steak were combined into a “hamburger sandwich” and sold.

We like to believe the German tale speaks the truth. Minced meat was a delicacy in medieval cuisine as red meat was usually restricted to the higher classes. Russian ships brought recipes for steak tartare to the port of Hamburg during the 17th-century.

During the first half of the 19th-century, most northern European immigrants traveling to the New World departed from Hamburg’s port. New York City was a common destination for ships traveling from Hamburg, and various restaurants offered Hamburg-style steaks to attract German sailors. The steak frequently appeared on menus as a Hamburg-style American fillet.

Shortly after its creation, the hamburger quickly included its typical trimmings such as onions, lettuce, and sliced pickles.

The Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger is a classic recipe developed in the South Central region of the US. Its popularity in Oklahoma has expanded across the States and can be ordered at diners, burger shops and family restaurants across the country.

Other Burger Recipes You May Enjoy…

Cook this Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe in a non stick skillet not on a barbecue grill.
Cook this Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe in a non stick skillet not on a barbecue grill.

Travel to America by Eating An Oklahoma Burger at Home

I love traveling to America!

As a professional food and travel journalist I’ve had the opportunity to eat my way through award winning restaurants and historic markets across the US.

I’ve forked my way through memorable meals in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and District of Columbia.

What I love most about traveling throughout America is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The Soul Food dishes in New Orleans and Savannah are unique to what you might find on restaurant menus in Portland, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu or Detroit.

Looking to embark on a Oklahoma Burger pilgrimage? You’ll likely want to organize a road trip to visit small town diners and burger shops in western Oklahoma to get a taste for the original recipe.

Thankfully Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers are such a popular regional recipe in America today you can order it on menus across the country at speciality burger restaurants and late night diners.

Once back home from an American road trip you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the iconic Oklahoma Burger and can impress friends and family by making our easy Fried Onion Burger recipe!

Beef patties are cooked over onions so the flavour absorbs into the meat.
Beef patties are cooked over onions so the flavour absorbs into the meat.

My Family Loves Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

My family is obsessed with eating juicy homemade burgers.

My father is well known for his love for grilling burgers at our family cottage in Muskoka during the warm summer months.

Since Oklahoma Burgers are prepared using the “smash burger technique” they need to be made on a griddle, cast iron skillet or large nonstick pan. As soon as the snow flies in November we put our barbecue into hibernation mode. We like to make this Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe over the stove in a nonstick skillet during the colder months of the year to avoid standing outside in the cold.

I knew my parents would enjoy Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers because they love traditional smash burgers, fried onions, quick & easy recipes that are affordable.

We love serving Oklahoma Onion Burgers with cheddar cheese, pickles, mustard and ketchup.
We love serving Oklahoma Onion Burgers with cheddar cheese, pickles, mustard and ketchup.

Cooking Tips

Oklahoma Smash Burgers are quick and easy to make at home.

  • Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers are traditionally made at restaurants on a flat griddle. If you’re making homemade Oklahoma Burgers we suggest using a large nonstick pan or cast iron skillet.
  • We’ve used a large white onion in this recipe but you can substitue for sweet Vidalia onions or Spanish yellow cooking onions.
  • It’s essential to slice the onion as thinly as possible. It’s easiest to use a mandolin or food processor to achieve paper thin thickness. This allows the onions to easily cook into the hamburger patty.
  • After smashing the burger onto the pan quickly add the sliced onions so they appear like a mountain on top. The amount of onions may seem excessive and ridiculous but trust me they will wilt and reduce once you flip the burger as the water content evaporates.
  • After you have flipped the burger patty and 30 seconds before it is finished cooking top the burger with a slice of American cheese or cheddar cheese so it begins to melt.
  • We suggest using medium ground beef not lean minced beef as the fat content in the meat helps cook the onions and adds flavour to the dish.
  • We’ve used a sesame seed hamburger bun in this recipe but you can use the more traditional potato bun if you prefer.
  • Traditionalists serve fried onion burgers with sliced pickles, cheddar cheese and yellow mustard. Add a squirt of ketchup for additional acidity.
Serve Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers with potato chips or fresh salads.
Serve Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers with potato chips or fresh salads.

What To Serve with Oklahoma Onion Burger

We love serving this homemade Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe with potato chips and a fresh salad.

Hosting a special celebration, dinner party or potluck for a crowd? Pair these yummy burgers with some of our favourite side dishes such as Jalapeno Poppers, Mexican Queso, Onion Rings, Nachos and Sweet Potato Fries.

After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe, Jordgubbstårta Gluten Free Swedish Strawberry Meringue Cake, Rhubarb Strawberry Dutch Baby German Pancakes, Flaky Swedish Rhubarb Cherry Pie or Creamy Lemon Angel Pie.

Now you're an expert on how to make the best Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe!
Now you’re an expert on how to make the best Oklahoma Onion Burger recipe!

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How To Make The Best Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger Recipe

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Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

Learn how to make an easy Oklahoma Onion Burger. The classic American burger recipe features fried onions, beef patties, pickles and mustard.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Oklahoma Onion Burger
Servings: 4
Calories: 505kcal

Equipment

  • Large Nonstick Skillet
  • French knife
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Spatula Flipper

Ingredients

  • 1 Large White Onion thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 12 oz Medium Ground Beef 3 oz per smash burger
  • 4 oz Cheddar Cheese Slices (4)
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Pickles
  • 4 Hamburger Buns

Instructions

  • Form ground beef into 4 lightly packed balls approximately 3 oz each. Place beef balls on a griddle or hot nonstick skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Top with thinly sliced onions and flatten so onion adheres and patties measure 4 inches in diameter.
  • Cook onion burgers until crisp around edges, 6-8 minutes. Flip burgers, increase heat to high, and cook until well browned on "onion side," about 2 minutes. Place 1 slice of cheddar cheese on each bottom bun. Place burgers on buns, add ketchup, mustard and pickles then serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 42.1g | Fat: 17.1g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 723mg | Potassium: 461mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 9.9g | Calcium: 269mg | Iron: 18mg

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