Recipe Review

I Tried the Oklahoma Onion Burger and It’s Pure Perfection

published Aug 13, 2022
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Oklahoma onion burger.
Credit: Meredith Schwartz

A well-done onion smash burger is worth traveling for, but I have yet to take a trip to Oklahoma — the birthplace of the original flat patty piled with thin, caramelized onions and a slice of American cheese. Instead, I’ve waited in long lines at pop-ups in New York City and journeyed to landmark New Jersey joints to enjoy my fair share of top-notch versions. And while a trip to Oklahoma isn’t in the books at the moment, making Kenji Lopez’s recipe for the state’s smash burger certainly is. 

Get the recipe: Oklahoma Onion Burger

How to Make an Oklahoma Onion Burger

Before heading to the store for ingredients, there are two essential tools you need to master these burgers: a very stiff spatula (preferably metal, with no grooves) and a flat-top griddle, cast iron pan, or carbon-steel skillet. Got it? Okay, now we can get into it. 

To make the burgers, form one pound of ground beef into four even balls. To prep the onions, use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice a large onion into paper-thin strands. Then fire up the griddle over medium-high heat. Before adding the beef, gently press the balls into patties about three inches wide and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Top each patty with a pile of onions — yes, pile! (They will wilt down as they cook.)

Once the griddle is extremely hot, add the patties onion side-up and press them down with the spatula to smash them. Hit the onions with some salt and cook for one to two minutes, until a crust forms around the edges of each patty. Carefully flip the patties onion-side down and add a slice of cheese on top of each patty.

Place the bottom of the bun over the patties with the top half resting over the griddle to warm through. This process steams the buns and infuses them with the sweet onion flavor. Cover the griddle and cook for another one to two minutes. Slide the patties off the grill and into the buns, and enjoy! 

Credit: Meredith Schwartz

My Honest Review of This Smash Burger

Put simply, this burger is a 10/10. The technique Kenji lays out in this recipe is foolproof for a juicy, perfectly seared burger with delicious, almost nostalgic flavor. The onions are sliced incredibly thin so they aren’t overly pungent. They’ll shrivel up and become perfectly caramelized in mere minutes over the high heat, adding a touch of sweetness. Overall, the burger is so good, you’ll want more than one — so plan on doubling the recipe! 

Credit: Meredith Schwartz

Tips for Making an Oklahoma Onion Burger

  1. Use tongs to press down the spatula. Use tongs over the spatula to press down into the patty. This will help you press more firmly without burning your fingers on the spatula.
  2. Don’t forget the salt. Once the burgers are cooking, everything comes together quickly. If you’re working on a grill, don’t forget to bring the salt outside with you because you won’t have time to go back inside for it once the patties are added.