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Ree Drummond’s Oklahoma Onion Burger Recipe

    Ree Drummond's Oklahoma Onion Burger Recipe

    You should “sooner” rather than “later” sample this Oklahoma onion burger.

    The American people (and citizens of the world), The state of Oklahoma have been withholding important information from us. If you aren’t from Oklahoma, you probably haven’t had the pleasure of eating a real Oklahoma onion burger.

    We discovered this burger gem (aka The Pioneer Woman) because of our favorite Oklahoma girl, Ree Drummond. She just uploaded a picture of herself devouring one of these magnificent burgers at a local Oklahoma diner on her Instagram stories with the hashtag #IYKYK (if you know, you know). Apologies, Ree, but we don’t know; maybe it’s time we did.

    There may be a different trademark burger recipe in every state, but one glance at this juicy burger was all we needed to try to make it ourselves.

    So, tell me, what exactly is an Oklahoma onion burger?

    While a cheeseburger with caramelized onions may sound basic, this one is anything but, thanks to its generous layering of onions and typical American cheese. The unique preparation method is what sets apart the Oklahoma onion burger (and they probably use some of these burger tips too).

    Oklahoma onion burgers are smashed burgers instead of traditional burger recipes that call for shaping the patties before cooking. Smashed into a blazing hot skillet with a grill press or big metal spatula, the ground beef in an Oklahoma-style smash burger with fried onions is seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with a mountain of paper-thin sliced onions.

    First, the meat is seared until a friendly crust forms (thanks, Maillard reaction), and then the steak is turned so that the onions may cook in the beef drippings until they are caramelized and somewhat crunchy. Put some American cheese on top, put it on your favorite soft hamburger bread, and be ready to chow down on a real treat.

    The backstory of the Oklahoma Onion Burger

    The legend of the first onion burger in Oklahoma states that it was created in the 1920s when the Great Depression rendered meat too expensive for most Americans.

    Ross Davis, the proprietor of the Hamburger Inn in El Reno, Oklahoma, needed to find a method to increase the volume of his burgers while decreasing their costs, so he began crushing onions (which were inexpensive) into the meat while it cooked.

    His dish was an instant hit, and the rest, as they say, is history. Some of the most excellent onion burgers in Oklahoma may still be found in El Reno, a little town outside of Oklahoma City, at places like Sid’s Diner and Robert’s Grill. If you ever find yourself in Oklahoma, remember that it’s against the law to steal someone else’s hamburger.

    Oklahoma Onion Burger: How to Make It


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    • You’ll need 1 pound of ground beef (we suggest 80/20 ground chuck).
    • An Onion, White, 1 Large
    • Two to four hamburger buns
    • One Tablespoon of Butter
    • A sprinkling of salt and pepper
    • Similar to mustard, but yellow
    • Fried dill pickles
    • Additional condiments of your choosing


    Step 1: Onion Slicing

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    Cut the onions into thin strips using a mandoline set to its narrowest setting. Putting aside.

    Pay attention to your finger placement! Slicing with a mandoline requires an exceptionally sharp knife. Use the protection that comes with your mandoline slicer or a pair of cut-resistant gloves to protect your hands. You may also use a sharp knife to cut the onions into thin slices if you don’t have access to a mandoline. Keep in mind that the leaner you are, the better.

    The second step is to form the meat into a shape

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    Form four small meatballs by dividing the ground beef in half. The most common burger failure is handling the meat too much.

    Thirdly, mound

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    Prepare a grill pan (or electric skillet) by heating it over medium heat. Then, when the grill is heated, melt the butter and add one beef ball. Using a substantial amount of salt and pepper, immediately season the meat and then pile it on a mountain of thinly sliced onions.

    Four, break things apart

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    Press the onions into the burgers as you flatten them with a cast-iron grill press or a wide metal spatula. Maintain the pounding until the burgers reach a thickness of about 1/2 an inch. Use the leftover three burger balls and onions in a second round of cooking.

    To complete Step 5, you will flip

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    Let the patty’s first side brown to your liking and the edges crisp. Turn the burger carefully, so the onions are below the patties. Cook until the onions are caramelized, and the burger is done to your liking, pressing once more halfway through.

    Construct (Step 6)

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    Place them between the buns when the patties are done (we used two because why not?). And finish off with the condiments you choose for your burger. Read on to discover the preferred toppings for these burgers amongst locals in Oklahoma.

    Preparing an Oklahoma Onion Burger for Service

    Our investigation revealed that locals in Oklahoma prefer plain burgers with just a touch of mustard and pickles (here are some of our favorite pickle brands to add). The meat and onions are the dish’s main attractions, so don’t try to compete with their flavor.

    Oklahoma onion burger experts seemed divided on the issue of whether or not the bread should be toasted. Some people preferred their burgers over toasted buns because of the added taste and crunch. Some people seemed to like covering the burger with the top bun as the cheese melted; they claimed the steam from the onions made the bread nice and toasty and gave it an additional oniony flavor.

    In our case, we toasted the buns. The toasted bread provided much-needed structure for these super-juicy cheeseburgers, which we devoured with relish. We believe that any approach would be practical, though. There’s no need for a bun at all… If you don’t want the Pioneer Woman to know, that is. Yes, you do!

    Burgers got you down? If you’re looking for the best burger recipe, you shouldn’t miss this.

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