Oklahoma Onion Smash Burgers are incredibly delicious and so easy to make. This is one of our favorite burgers to serve at casual gatherings and quick weeknight dinners. The cheesy goodness of these juicy beef burgers will keep you coming back for more!
If you have a flat-top griddle, we highly recommend using it for this recipe. It’s easy and so dang good, you’ll end up having seconds!
What is an Oklahoma Onion Smash Burger?
Like the name says–Oklahoma. Legend has it that these juicy onion morsels, also called the Depression burger, debuted at the now-defunct Hamburger Inn in 1926. A few years later, they grew in popularity because they were delicious, and meat rationing during the Great Depression required innovative ways to stretch portions. Adding a heap of onions to a thinner burger patty did just that. There is no arguing that the Oklahoma onion smash burger thrived, and for good reason. These diner burgers are juicy, and the caramelized onions make everything pop. If you’re new to smash burger making, don’t worry! We’ll walk you through each step, and you’ll be a pro in no time!
- 2 medium yellow or white onions
- Ground beef: 80/20, 28-32 ounces (use ground chuck, or a combination of chuck and brisket)
- Potato, brioche, or whole wheat buns
- American cheese (the good quality stuff)
- Extras like cooked bacon strips, sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, pickles, yellow mustard, etc. These items are optional.
- A reliable instant-read thermometer
- A large metal spatula, or smash burger press
Preparing the onions:
How to get perfect onions for these Oklahoma onion smash burgers: The key to perfectly caramelized onions is to slice them thin. You can achieve this with a sharp knife or mandolin. Start by cutting the ends off the onion and then cutting the onions half lengthwise. Remove the skins, then slice them into paper-thin rings. Place sliced onions in a container and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir or use your hands to combine the onions with the salt. Cover the container or bowl, and place into the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Salting the onions will release excess water, making them caramelize beautifully on the grill. Drain onion water, and place sliced onions in a clean cheesecloth or dish towel. Wring out the onions to remove the extra moisture left behind. Put the onions into a clean bowl and set aside until ready to use.
Next, separate the meat into 6 or 8 equal-sized balls of beef. Season top portion lightly with salt (remember that the onions contain salt). I recommend 80/20 ground beef for these Oklahoma onion smash burgers. Don’t go too lean; you will need the extra fat for the caramelization process. Also, the higher fat content makes them taste amazing.
Cooking your Oklahoma onion smash burgers:
Heat your flat-top grill or griddle and add oil to the surface. Add equal portions of the onions, and set the ground beef balls on top of each portion.
Smash the ground beef balls down to form a thinner patty using your spatula or smash burger press. You should do this a few times to even out the patties depending on the thickness of the meat and the width of your spatula. If you want them very thin, use a metal press.
Cook for a few minutes until the onions are nice and brown, then carefully flip the burgers over. It is a messy process, so don’t worry if some onion slices come loose. Instead, wrangle them back to the patty. Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the patties reaches 165 degrees F. Add American cheese a minute or two before taking them off the grill. Nestle your Oklahoma onion smash burgers onto the bottom bun and topping, and finish it with the top bun. Enjoy!
The beauty of smash burgers is that they are customizable to suit your tastes. You can make them simple or dress them up for a gourmet burger experience. Also, you can use different meats like ground pork, turkey, lamb, venison, meat substitutes, and even sausage. Experiment with different toppings, sauces, and cheeses to find your favorite combination.
- Cheeseburger smash: Make this smash burger simple by leaving out the onions. We recommend making two thin cheeseburger patties and piling them into one burger. Use cheeses like cheddar, American, or pepper jack for amazing results.
- Philly-style smash burger: Cook bell pepper strips and onions together, then top with a patty, smash it down, and serve with melted provolone cheese
- Bacon and egg smash: Make it gourmet by serving these onion smash burgers with an over-easy (or medium) egg and crisp bacon.
- Pulled pork smash: Top the burger patty with a spoonful of your favorite BBQ sauce and a good scoop of warmed pulled pork. So easy and super delicious!
- Jalapeño popper smash: Top these onion burgers with grilled and sliced jalapeños, a dollop of sour cream, and the melted cheese of choice!
- Veggie smash: Use a meat substitute like Beyond Beef or Impossible Burger for the patty. Cook on a flat-top grill or cast iron skillet for best results.
- Breakfast smash: Use your favorite breakfast sausage instead of ground beef, and serve with eggs and cheese.
Love Oklahoma Onion Smash Burgers but need the right grill? Here are our recommended flat top grills.
Also, if you like this recipe you are going to love our Butter Burgers!
Oklahoma Onion Smash Burgers
- 1 3/4-2 pounds ground beef 80/20
- 2 medium yellow onions peeled and sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6-8 hamburger buns
- 6-8 slices American cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- condiments of choice
- vegetable oil
- Slice onion into paper-thin slices, place into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of salt and combine—cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap, and place into the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Form 6-8 equal-sized ground beef balls. Season tops lightly with salt and black pepper. The onion already contains salt, so do not over season. Place onto a parchment lined pan.
- Preheat flat top grill for high heat.
- Drain onions of excess liquid. Place them into a clean towel and squeeze out any additional moisture. Transfer to a clean dish.
- Lightly oil griddle surface and set down about 1/4 cup of sliced onions with a ground beef ball on top. Smash the ball into the onion, creating a burger patty. Cook for 3-4 minutes, gently turn and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the patties reaches 165 degrees F.
- Once cooked, assemble burgers and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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