This Recipe for Smashed Onion Burgers Comes Together in 10 Minutes

Instead of cooking the onions for your burger separately, smash the raw slices directly into the meat patty to save time and maximize deliciousness. This recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education shows you how.
The Institute of Culinary Education

The hamburger has grown beyond its humble origins. Today you can find burgers made with premium beef and fancy ingredients selling for more than $20 at nice restaurants. If you’re craving something more basic you can have at home, try this recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education. Consisting of ground beef, onions, cheese, and steamed buns, these Oklahoma-style smash burgers come together on your stovetop in 10 minutes.

Oklahoma burgers are made by pressing sliced, raw onions directly into the beef patty. As the meat cooks and crisps up, so do the onions. In addition to boosting the texture and flavor of your burger, this saves you time otherwise spent cooking the onions separately. “Everybody is eating these smash burgers now,” Roger Sitrin, ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor, tells Mental Floss. “This is a smash burger recipe that we include onions in. They don’t have to be cooked—uncooked onions can go into this recipe.”

To make the recipe, start by heating up one teaspoon of canola oil over high heat in a cast iron pan. A flat, even cooking surface is nonnegotiable. “Because it’s a smash burger, you do not want to cook this on a grill,” Sitrin says. “It needs to be a nice, flat surface that you’re cooking these on, and something that’s going to be heating evenly.”

After rolling your ground meat into 4-ounce portions, add them to the pan and press them flat with a spatula. Scatter the sliced onions on top and press them into the meat. Once a couple of minutes have passed, flip the patties and allow them to cook for a minute or so more. The onions should be soft and brown and crispy in spots. Add a slice of cheddar cheese to each burger and top them with the top half of the bun and the bottom bun balanced on top of it all. According to Sitrin, “This allows the bun to get nice and steamy as the burger is cooking in the pan.” Finish by assembling the burgers with the condiments of your choice.

The Institute of Culinary Education serves students from around the globe out of its campuses in  Los Angeles and New York City. To learn more about their courses in the culinary arts and hospitality and hotel management, check out their curricula here.

Oklahoma Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

1 teaspoon canola oil (or another high-smoke point cooking oil)
1 pound ground beef
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 brioche hamburger buns or some other soft bun
Ketchup, mustard, pickles as desired
Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Divide ground beef into 4 4-ounce portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Spread oil over bottom of pan. Add balls of beef and press down with a spatula until completely flattened. Season generously with salt and pepper.

  3. Working quickly, spread onions evenly over cooking burgers and press down to embed onions into meat. Let the burgers cook, undisturbed, another 2 minutes or so until the beef is well browned. 

  4. Flip the burger with care, making sure to scrape up the brown bits from the pan. Allow to cook about 1 minute or until onions are soft. Top each burger with a slice of cheddar and top with the top portion of the bun. Place bottom bun upside-down over top bun to allow it to steam.

  5. When buns are soft, transfer bottom buns to a plate. Add condiments if desired. Lift onions, burger, and top bun together and transfer to bottom bun. Repeat with remaining burgers. Serve immediately.