Cooking healthy meals can be challenging. Here’s further proof—the Oklahoma Onion Burger. I have only recently learned about these wonders. If you haven’t tried them, you are missing out.
They are delicious. But we are trying to limit our intake of red meat. Or should I say that I am trying to limit my family’s intake of red meat? My boys will eat burgers, tacos, and meatloaf every night of the week if I let them.
I have been reading a lot about the Mediterranean Diet and incorporating more of those principles and recipes in my meal plans. The guidelines of the diet suggest that you limit but not remove red meat. Needless to say, my family was thrilled that I didn’t give up on tacos, burgers, and meatloaf.
So, when I thought about Oklahoma onion burgers, I started to think about making a healthier version. Using a technique I had meant to try for a while, I have found the way.
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History of the Oklahoma Onion Burger
It isn’t fully confirmed, but legend has it that Ross Davis from the Hamburger Inn invented this delicious burger. During the Great Depression, Davis was looking to do more with less, so he added onions and decreased the beef in his burgers. The change was created a great combination. The Oklahoma Onion Burger quickly became a favorite among travelers across Route 66, where Hamburger Inn was located.
The original place has since shuttered, but his other restaurant in Ardmore, Oklahoma remains. There you can still get a great version of this classic. You can also try Sids Diner in El Reno or many other places across the Sooner state.
It’s been said that when times are tough for Americans, they crave burgers. So now more than ever, we need this burger.
How Is It Healthier?
Some may be wondering how a hamburger can be part of a healthy diet? In moderation, red meat is ok, and each burger is only two ounces of meat. The best part is that they are still filling! My hungry husband was full after eating one and a half.
In this recipe, I used grass-fed beef. According to the Mayo Clinic, grass-fed beef has less total fat, more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, more antioxidants, and more linoleic acid, which is thought to reduce cancer risk heart disease. The only downside for grass-fed beef is the cost, although I got it at Costco for $6 a pound. Grain-feed beef at my grocery store was $5.50 a pound not on sale. The nominal cost difference was well worth the benefits.
Like I said before, despite the low amount of beef, these burgers are filling. That’s thanks to copious amounts of onions and a secret weapon. Minced mushrooms stretch the meat even further. You don’t taste them at all. I loved the mushroom meat combination so much I am going to try it in taco meat next!
Healthier Oklahoma Onion Burger Ingredients
So what exactly do you need to make this healthier version? The answer is six simple ingredients.
I used potato buns, but you could use ones with seeds.
While the various types of onions have different characteristics and uses, it does not matter here. Use any white or yellow ones you have or that are on sale. The one thing to note is that you will need about ½ onion per burger. There is no need to worry about the raw onion flavor; cooking will mellow them out and add a delicious sweetness.
A few places follow Cook’s Country lead and suggest that you salt the onions and then wring them out to remove any water. I tried this and didn’t feel it was necessary. The extra moisture was not a problem.
Kosher is the one to use in this recipe. The larger crystals adhere to the meat better and provide a great flavor. The Diamond Crystal brand is best and if you need a substitute, check out our All About Salt article.
To make this healthier variety of the classic, use grass-fed beef. You aren’t using much, and the benefits far outweigh the cost.
Most people use American cheese here, although cheddar would certainly work as well.
I used baby Bella mushrooms, which I find to be a little meatier than white mushrooms but not as meaty or expensive as portobello. If you try another variety or think another one would work better, let me know in the comments. No matter which type you use, you are going with a ratio of 2:1 meat to mushrooms.
These healthier Oklahoma onion burgers are delicious on their own, but they are even better when topped with bread and butter pickles and yellow mustard.
How to Make A Healthier Oklahoma Onion Burger
These burgers cook very quickly, so it is critical to have all of the ingredients ready to go. Start by prepping the mushrooms. Take a damp cloth and thoroughly wipe them clean. Then lay them to the side to dry. Next, place them in a food processor to chop finely. Add the ground beef to the food processor and pulse a few times to mix. You could do this by hand but be sure to chop them finely and mix thoroughly.
Make balls out of the mushroom and meat mixture that are about three ounces each. Slice the onions with a mandoline on the thinnest setting. You want the onions paper-thin. Some recipes include salting the onions in advance to reduce the moisture. I tried that method and found that it wasn’t essential and that the onions’ moisture wasn’t overwhelming.
Next up, gather the meat mixture, salt, onions, cheese, and buns. You want everything ready before you cook.
Heat a cast-iron pan or flat griddle to high/med-high heat. When the pan is ready, place the meat mixture on top and season with salt. Working quickly, cover each ball with onions. Using a heavy spatula, smash the burgers flat. You will need to press hard!
When you see moisture on top of the onions, it’s time to flip. Add a cheese slice to each hamburger and cover each with a top bun. Then take the bottom portion of the bun and place that on the top bun to steam.
The burgers are done with the juice runs clear, just a few minutes.
The finished product is excellent with yellow mustard and pickles. These condiments are optional but delicious.
Tips To Make A Healthier Oklahoma Onion Burger
Since these burgers are thin, they cook quickly. It is crucial to have all of your ingredients ready to go.
A heavy spatula or bacon press makes simple work of smashing the burgers. You want them relatively thin.
Oklahoma Onion Burger
A healthier version of the classic comfort food. This version of the Oklahoma Onion Burger cuts down the amount of beef even more by using mushrooms. You won't taste the differrnce.
- 4 Onions
- 1 lb. Grass-Fed Ground Beef
- 8 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms
- Kosher Salt
- 8 Slices American Cheese
- 8 Hamburger Buns
Using a mandoline on the lowest setting, slice the onions very thin and set aside
Chop the mushrooms in a food processor until fine
Add the meat to the food processor and pulse a few times to mix
Create balls from the meat and mushroom mixture about 3 ounces each
Heat a cast iron pan or griddle on medium high heat
Place the meat on the pan, season with salt, and quickly cover with onions and smash them down flat
Flip over when you see moisture on the onions and they are browned to your liking
Add the cheese slices and place the top bun on it. Then take the bottom bun and place on the top to steam
Cook for a few minutes until juices run clear
These burgers cook quickly so make sure to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.
What Do You Think?
Have you had an Oklahoma Onion Burger before? Who makes the best one? Have you tried to add mushrooms to ground beef? If so, let me know how in the comments below. I would love to hear!
Want to make this another night? Pin the recipe for later!