Oklahoma Onion Smash burgers are incredibly delicious and so easy to make on your flat top grill! This is easily one of my favorite burgers to make for a casual get-together or quick weekday meal. If you have a flat top grill, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s easy and so dang good, you’ll end up eating more than one burger!
Where do Oklahoma Onion Smash Burgers really come from?
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, these burgers grew in popularity not only because they were delicious but because meat rationing during the Depression required innovative ways to stretch out 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 burgers are juicy, and the caramelized onions make the entire thing pop. Never made them before? Don’t worry; we’ll walk you through it.
What you’ll need for this recipe:
-2 medium yellow or white onions
-Ground beef: shoot for 80/20
-A large, sturdy metal spatula
-Potato, brioche, or wheat buns
-American cheese (the good quality stuff)
-Extras like cooked bacon strips, sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, etc. These items are optional.
The key to perfect caramelized onions is to slice them thin. You can achieve this with a sharp knife or mandolin. Start by cutting the ends off of the onion and then cutting the onions in half lengthwise. Remove the skins, then slice paper thin. 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 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 ground beef into 6 or 8 equal-sized balls. Season top portion lightly with salt (remember that the onions contain salt). I recommend an 80/20 ground beef for these burgers. Don’t go too lean, you will need the extra fat for the caramelization process. Also, I find that the higher fat content makes them taste amazing.
Heat flat top grill and add a little oil to the surface. Add a little of the onion, and set the ground beef balls on top.
Using your spatula, smash the balls down to form a patty. You might need to do this twice to even out the patties depending on how thick they are and the width of your spatula. If you want them very thin, use a metal press on top of the spatula.
Cook for a few minutes until onions are nice and brown, then carefully flip burgers over. This is a messy process, so don’t sweat it if there are onion slices that have 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. Assemble burgers and enjoy!
Here are our recommended flat top grills.
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.