Last Update: July 26, 2023
If there’s one thing Thrive Market employees have in common, it’s that we all love food: cooking, taste-testing new products, sharing recipes over Slack (in fact, it’s not uncommon to find a slew of photos from the weekend’s recipe tests in the company’s #gastronomers Slack channel come Monday morning).
So when we were looking for the best burger recipes, we knew our Thrivers would have them — and they delivered, in the form of cheeseburgers with Japanese sweet potato buns, flavor-forward onion burgers, and a pickle-heavy sauce that promises to ramp up even the most basic backyard barbecue burger.
Read on for three of our best burger recipes to try this summer.
James, Thrive Market’s Director of Merchandising for Branded Food, is known around the office as Thrive Market’s resident foodie, so he was our first stop on our search for the perfect burger — and he delivered. “This burger originated in Oklahoma during a time in history where meat was considered expensive, so as a way to make the price better while also adding to the taste, cooks would cook in a ton of onions with a smaller amount of meat,” James says of the name.
Yield: 1 burger
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
For the burger:
3 oz ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)
½ an onion, sliced extra thin (If you have a mandoline, use it! You want to end up with approximately a handful because onions that you can pile on top of the beef as they are really the key here. —James)
1 hamburger roll of your choice
1 slice of American cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
For the special sauce:
Portion the meat into 3-ounce balls slightly smaller than a baseball. (Make sure you do not buy lean ground beef, or else you will not have enough fat to cook the burger. If you do use lean ground beef, make sure to use some oil when cooking the burger. —James)
Preheat the cast iron pan really well, and right before it starts to smoke, toast the buns quickly in the pan. Once the buns are toasted, remove from the pan.
Add two balls of the ground beef to the pan with space between.
To ensure the meat doesn’t stick, use parchment paper between the meat and spatula. Immediately smash the burger with the heavy spatula, pressing the edges of the meat into the pan to get it nice and thin.
Season the patties with salt and then add about a handful of the onions right on top of the meat. Season the onions. This is the only side of the patties that will be seared, so make sure it’s a good sear by ensuring your heat is high enough and you are managing it throughout the process.
Peek to see if a crust has developed, and once you see it, take the spatula and flip the burger with confidence, so the onions are now cooking. Season the other side of the meat.
Add a slice of the cheese, then on top of the cheese, the bottom bun, then on top of the bottom bun, the top bun. That will let the buns steam, warming them up. (The reason the onions need to be so thin is that they need to cook super fast for this method. If the onions are too thick, the burger will be overwhelmed with raw onion rather than cooked, sweet onions balancing out the rich burger. If the onions are thin enough, 1-2 minutes is all they’re going to need to cook. —James)
Once the onions are nicely cooked, scrape up the burger, add any of the add-ons you want, and take the top bun to close up the burger to dig in.
To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving for best results.
“As absurd as it may seem, this burger manifested from a friend sharing a recipe for chocolate cake that was simply dark chocolate melted on a Japanese sweet potato (it’s better than it sounds, trust me),” explains Ecommerce Operations Associate Casey. “This sparked a deep appreciation for the humble Japanese sweet potato. I began passionately enjoying it often.”
He also began brainstorming new ways to use his new favorite root veggie. “One night I awoke with a twilight vision of a cheeseburger with a Japanese sweet potato as the bun. I made it the next day.”
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 1 burger
1 large Japanese sweet potato
2 organic, grass-fed burger patties (like First Light 100% Grass-Fed Wagyu Beef Patties)
1 slice of good-quality cheese, for melting
Toppings of choice (I used Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Buffalo Mayo, pickles, and fresh basil)
Buy the biggest potato you can find. (The potato must be big enough to fit the burger patties, and there’s no guarantee your grocery store or farmers market will have such a special spud in stock. —Casey)
Bake the potato; shoot for slightly undercooked, something like 1 hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the potato in the fridge to cool
Slice the potato into bun-sized rounds (I prefer to peel and compost the skin).
Place the sliced potato “buns” in the toaster on the max setting for 2-4 cycles, until warm and toasty.
Cook your burger patties during this intense toasting process.
Soon after flipping one of the patties, top it with a slice of cheese and cover to melt.
Take the burger patties off the heat and allow them to rest.
Stack the patties on your toasted Japanese sweet potato buns.
Add toppings as you like (I used Primal Kitchen Buffalo mayo, pickles, and fresh basil. —Casey)
Express gratitude for such glorious abundance and enjoy!
Managing Editor, Laura and her husband, David, often make this sauce to top the burgers they make in the backyard of their new home in Pittsburgh. While the sauce itself was David’s creation, he makes a few tweaks to suit Laura’s preferences — and their dog, Frankie, also loves to sneak a taste.
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2-4 burgers, depending on how aggressively sauced you want your burger (And if you want some leftovers to dip your fries in! —David)
2 tablespoons mayo (I like Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo! —Laura)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Half a dill pickle, finely chopped (Feel free to go full pickle, or you can replace with 1 teaspoon of dill pickle juice if you don’t want the chunks of pickle — we call that “Laura style.” —David)
1/4 white onion, finely chopped (If you don’t mind spending more time, you can slice and caramelize your onion instead, but this is for the run-and-gun sauce lords —David).
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine.
Spread as a topping on your favorite burger.
Senior Production Designer, Tim and his wife, Elizabeth, have perfected these family-friendly turkey burgers over the years. Sauteed onion and Worcestershire sauce add depth of flavor, while unexpected oatmeal gives these burgers some heft. “It’s a hearty, moist, and flavorful yum!” Tim says. The name comes from the Ballona Creek bike path in Culver City, where they love to “do early morning bike rides all the way to the beach”.
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 burgers
Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat.
Melt the butter.
Cook onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Mix turkey, oatmeal, egg, sauces, and spices together in a bowl.
Press into hamburger patties.
Cook until done.
(Note: Tim and Elizabeth’s recipe involves making the burgers on the stove, but they’re just as great on the grill.)
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