Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

When we go camping, burgers are usually on the menu, and today we’re making classic Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers! Also known as Depression Burgers, these juicy burgers are made with 80/20 beef, then topped with mounds of thinly sliced caramelized Spanish onions and melted American cheese.

Photo of Jason holding his Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger

What is an Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger or Depression Burger?

Oklahoma fried onion burgers originated in Oklahoma during the Great Depression in 1929. They are said to have been invented by Ross Davis, who owned a diner called the Hamburger Inn.

Davis was looking for a way to stretch his meat budget during those tough times. He came up with the idea of adding a mound of paper-thin slices of Spanish yellow onions to his burgers. Once the meat was browned, he’d flip it with his spatula and smash the onions into the burger. The fried onion burgers were a hit with his customers, and they soon became a popular dish in Oklahoma and along Route 66.

Oklahoma fried onion burgers are made with a beef patty that is topped with a generous amount of fried onions. The onions are typically cooked until they are soft and caramelized, and they add a lot of flavor and moisture to the burger.

Depression burgers are still a popular dish in Oklahoma, and they can be found at many restaurants and diners throughout the state.

El Reno is where you are most likely to find the dish. In fact, the town hosts its annual Fried Onion Burger Festival in May of every year. The event includes the cooking and assembly of an 850-pound onion burger!

Photo of the Best Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger on a wood platter

Where Can You Order Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers?

You can find Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers at restaurants and diners throughout Oklahoma, and along Route 66. If you happen to be in Oklahoma, here are some places where you can sample them:

Sid’s Diner in El Reno, Oklahoma. This is the place where depression burgers were said to have originated. They have been serving them since 1929, and they are still one of the most popular items on the menu.

Johnnie’s Grill in El Reno, Oklahoma. This restaurant is known for its huge and juicy triple-meat Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers. They are made with a half-pound beef patty and topped with a generous amount of fried onions. Optional add-ons include lettuce, tomato, slaw, chili, bacon and jalapenos.

The Food Dude’s Burger Joint in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This restaurant has a wide variety of burgers, including a depression burger. Their Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers are made with a quarter-pound beef patty and topped with fried onions, American cheese, and your choice of condiments.

Robert’s Grill in El Reno, Oklahoma. Located on Bickford Avenue, they serve up classic Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers. Their depression burger is made with a half-pound beef patty and topped with fried onions, American cheese, and your choice of condiments.

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers with gooey cheese and onions

Oklahoma Onion Burger Ingredients

Here are the key ingredients of a depression burger:

  • 80/20 beef patty
  • Paper-thin sliced yellow onions
  • Yellow mustard
  • Bun
Covering the burger patty with sliced onions

How to Make a Fried Onion Burger

The following are the steps on how to make an Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger:

  • Slice half of a yellow onion into paper-thin slices. A mandoline works well for this.
  • Form the beef patty into a 4-inch circle. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Set your flat top grill to medium heat. Grease generously with oil where you’ll be cooking.
  • Add the beef patty to the grill and top with the pile of thinly sliced onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the burger is getting nice and charred.
  • When the burger is cooked on the bottom, flip the burger so the onions are underneath. Using your spatula, smash the meat into the sliced onions.
  • Top the burger with 1-2 slices of American cheese. Cover with a dome or foil so the cheese melts.
  • While the cheese is melting, toast your bun on the grill.
  • Once the cheese is melted, place the burger and onions on the toasted bun. Serve with plenty of yellow mustard, or your desired condiments.
Frying the onion burgers

Here are some tips for making a depression burger:

  • Use a good quality beef patty.
  • Don’t overcook the beef patty.
  • Cook the onions until they are soft and caramelized.
  • Use a good quality bun.
  • Add your favorite condiments.
Photo of Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger with cheese and grilled onions

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Photo of Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger with cheese and grilled onions

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

Recipe by Jason Hill – CookingSessions.com
When we go camping, burgers are usually on the menu, and today we’re making classic Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers! Also known as Depression burgers, these mouthwatering burgers are made with 80/20 beef, then topped with an abundance of thinly sliced caramelized Spanish onions and melted American cheese.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced Spanish yellow onions
  • 1-2 slices American cheese
  • 1 good-quality bun
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard

Instructions
 

  • Slice half of a yellow onion into paper-thin slices. A mandoline works well for this.
  • Form the beef patty into a 4-inch circle. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Set your flat top grill to medium heat. Grease generously with oil where you’ll be cooking.
  • Add the beef patty to the grill and top with the pile of thinly sliced onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the burger is getting nice and charred.
  • When the burger is cooked on the bottom, flip the burger so the onions are underneath. Using your spatula, smash the meat into the sliced onions.
  • Top the burger with 1-2 slices of American cheese. Cover with a dome or foil so the cheese melts.
  • While the cheese is melting, toast your bun on the grill.
  • Once the cheese is melted, place the burger and onions on the toasted bun. Serve with plenty of yellow mustard, or your desired condiments.
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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