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Does a burger need a topping?

OK we have discussed best burgers but what about toppings? I had a burger with Stilton on top last week and it was really great ,but did I miss what a burger is? I went to another burger place the next day lettuce ,tomato and onions and char grilled I though what is better......Now I ask you CH what is best

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  1. A lonely burger with just ketchup just doesn't seem right. Same for just a plain cheeseburger with no adornments.

    Yes, I think at least one topping, sometimes more, are needed.

    Onions in some form are a personal "must" - crisp raw slice, warm caramelized or crunchy fried onion rings -- no matter, but there *must* be onion.
    Pickle slices make a big taste and crunch improvement.
    If we're going on from basics, then cheese is next, followed closely by bacon. The cheese must be melted on the burger, NOT the bun, and the bacon MUST be crisp, but not shatteringly so.
    Lettuce is optional, but must not be limp shreds à la McWhoozits, nor frou-frou romaine leaves; this is the natural province of iceberg lettuce.
    Purely from my own personal taste, I feel tomato slices totally unnecessary when either ketchup or other tomato-based condiment is planned. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcsheridan

      re: Tomato - I feel that ketchup or other tomato-based condiments are just poor replacements for a very lightly salted and peppered slice of a big Beefsteak style tomato (no Romas or other shrimps need apply.)

      Do agree with you on the lettuce, though - big, crisp cold slices of iceberg are the best, especially if you put them between shallow bowls in the fridge so they take on the bowl shape - this makes them perfect to hold in the "wetter" ingredients like mustard and relish without them squishing out of the bun.

      Also with you on the onions - my grandmom made an onion relish that was wonderful, but slices, chopped, caramelized - love 'em all.

      Cheese, not so important to me - I like it, but don't need it. Same with bacon. Sometimes I just want to taste the burger.

      Two things I never put on a burger at home are mayo or ketchup, which seem to be on all FF burgers. I will occasionally add a dab of HP Sauce (think A-1 but thicker) if I'm eating frozen burgers. Some BBQ sauces aren't bad either, if I'm desperate.

      1. re: FrankD

        Just an FYI- Notley Que BBQ catering recently started bottling their own sauce-it's by far superior to anything I've ever had.

    2. I personally believe a burger needs cheese. It can be cheddar, swiss, pepper jack, bleu, boursin, or even on certain days american cheese food product. I just don't enjoy a burger as much if there is no cheese.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        I agree with this. Even if the meat is not seasoned or well prepared, cheese can make it better or at least manageable. My favorite toppings are caramelized onions and thai chilis/jalapenos, melted cheddar, ketchup and mustard. Yum.

        1. re: mojoeater

          I don't ever put cheese on a burger (ala cheeseburger), BUT I make a BleuBurger for my wife on the grill at least once a week.

          I mix the ground beef (85% lean) with a little Allegro marinade and mix in crumbled Bleu Cheese, form the patties and grill until the chees is melted throughout the burger (unfortunately, this means a medium rare to medium burger, not rare as we prefer)

          1. re: bagelman01

            Then it's not a topping... it's $20/lb hamburger helper :) I do bleu on top, shortly after the flip, because bleu takes twice the time to melt as havarti, swiss, etc, and I get a nice rare burger.

        2. My burgers usually have a bottom..............
          I don;t like most condiments. I hate ketchup and am allergic to mustard.

          Last night I made burgers on the grill for the family.
          I grind my own beef. I mixed in some soy based marinade and formed the patties and let them all marinate in the fridge for 4 hours. Cooked the burgers rare for myself and wife, medium for the daughters.

          I sauteed (until well done and carmelized to a dark brown color) some mushrooms and onions (chopped quite small). Then I grilled the bottom
          half of a good hard roll.
          I made a bed of the onions and mushrooms on the roll half, and the burger was placed on top.
          I ate with a knife and fork.

          1 Reply
          1. a really perfect grilled medium rare burger ~ maybe just some worchestershire

            1 Reply
            1. re: laliz

              Yes I mix worchestershire in with my ground beef. Top with carmelized onions and I am set to go. I also like the new thick worchestershire sauce to put on top. mmmmm

            2. I just don't love burgers. I say they more you put on it the better it gets!

              1 Reply
              1. When I was young all i would eat was burger and bun. Nothing else. Plain (ok, some salt.) I still like them that way, but as I have grown older my appreciation of various toppings has grown as well. But a really good piece of ground beef, a minimum of seasoning, on a really good bun or bread... thats good eating.

                If i really want to judge how good a burger is, then the fewer "exotic" toppings the better. But if the burger is bad, it really doesn't matter how many great toppings you add, it is still a bad burger.

                At a certain point the toppings/cheese/condiments completely overwhelm the burger. At that point it almost seems silly to even have the burger in there at all.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  A neighbor when I was about 10 or so, had a brother named Phillip who would ONLY eat plain burgers. That is it. As in no other food but a plain burger. He would drink milk too.

                  Well, one night we were all playing outside and I got him to eat a Popsicle! His sister cheered and ran home to tell Mom so he threw it down and pretended he never tasted it, but I knew.... Mygod that was forever ago.

                  I like my burger a little bit busy, but if it gets built up too high and I can't wrap my mouth around it I have to take it apart and re-negotiate toppings.

                2. A burger on a bun without a topping is like a woman at the Kentucky Derby without a hat.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      V, I can eat a naked burger, just fine, but to make it hot, I like green chile, a little mayo to make it slide. No cheese needed to make it all sticky.

                    2. It does for me. It must have cheese, good cheddar or blue or sharp provolone and a thick slice of ripe tomato. In the non tomato season a slice of sweet onion will do.

                      1. My personal favorite way to eat a burger is with the following:

                        Cheese melted ON the burger
                        A slice of perfectly ripe tomato (so I eschew them in the winter)
                        Mayonnaise on the lightly toasted white bread (Yes you read that right, on toast)
                        And sometimes a slice of nice crisp onion, red or sweet onions either way.

                        I mix salt and pepper into the burger meat and cook it really slow to a nice medium. But only with beef I trust which means beef we purchased from a local butcher.

                        I have also been known to stuff two ultra-thin beef patties with that blue cheese-cheddar stacked looking cheese.

                        1. I'm a fan of condiments. Pickles, ketchup, mayo, mustard, thousand island, cheese in any shape or form, fried onions, BBQ sauce, bacon, avacado, lettuce, chili, tomato, mushrooms, you name it, I want it on my burger. Especially the mustard and pickles. I've been known to go back to drive thru's because they didn't put "extra everything" as I requested.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: schrutefarms

                            LOL what drive in do you go to that has avocado ,chili and good mushrooms??? I want to go there Kidding

                            1. re: pikiliz

                              Most places have avocado, and I'm a fan of Tommy's chili, but the mushrooms? Usually have to do those myself :)

                          2. You can put it open-face on a buttered and toasted bun, and ladle lots of chili (preferably bean-less) over it and maybe throw some cheese and onion on top and I will be one happy oinkster. And don't forget to put a bottle of hot sauce on the table.

                            The traditional name for this kind of lavishly-embellished chili burger is "chili size". The name makes no sense at all, but there it is.

                            1. Peanut butter and sweet relish. No doubt about it. Well maybe peanut butter, bacon and cheddar... Or...... Hehehe

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: OH2FL

                                peanut butter Really or are you ribbin me

                                1. re: pikiliz

                                  OMG no, no joke. Gotta try it. Serious. If you use relish, the sweet balances out the salty PB. If you put bacon and cheese w/it, it's just a... ummm... well it's just delicious!

                                  Try it, you'll like it! ;-)

                                    1. re: Scriever

                                      Hehehe. And here I am agreeing with you about ketchup!

                                      Step away from the Kraft and be brave! ;-)

                              2. No matter how good the beef, for me a burger is always improved with cheese,preferably cheddar,but just about any will do.As others have specified,melted on the burger not the bun.Onions,but they must be cooked.Could be caramelized or chopped and sauteed.These are musts.Ketchup is a plus,but not crucial.My favorite burger bun is Martin's potato roll,or an english muffin.No pickles,or any condiments other than ketchup.

                                1. Cheeseburger or no burger. Put whatever you want on top, so long as cheese goes on first.

                                  The burger patty is like a good pizza crust - it's a blank canvas for creative expression (even if it's OH2FL's peanut butter). Though sometimes simple is best. gotta admit, I still love a good salt & pepper seasoned grill burger topped with a slice of Kraft American quartered and stacked. Pop that on the burger before taking it off the grill and it melts down like a pat of butter, oozing over the sides of the patty and into the nooks and crannies of a toasted English muffin.

                                  My only rule: Don't ruin a burger with ketchup. That's a child's condiment.

                                  1. Personally I like cheese and some minimal toppings (tomatoes, onions, a little ketchup) on burgers. One thing I don't like is when burgers are overly seasoned with the flavor built in. For example, not too long ago I had a "mustard burger" at a popular restaurant in Florida. I couldn't believe how overpowered the meat was by the mustard. I learned my lesson and won't order that again. So, toppings yes, but built-in seasonings/marination, no!

                                    1. For me, a burger *must* have at least cheese, preferably a good quality Swiss. Beyond that, I love good caramelized sweet onions, sauteed mushrooms, garlicky dill pickle slices, bacon, maybe some lettuce, and ketchup spiked with Sriracha. And maybe a fried egg. Not all together, of course, that'd be overwhelming, but some combination of the above.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: DarkRose

                                        Buttermilk Blue cheese, or Smoked Blue, and red onions

                                      2. my favorites would be.... sauteed mushrooms and onions, swiss cheese, and bbq sauce or mayo. or a fried egg, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, mayo. or just lettuce tomato, raw onion, mayo. but it must have something tasty...

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: kubasd

                                          what is the enhancement of fried egg taste wise?

                                          1. re: pikiliz

                                            for one the velvetyness of the oozing yolk. But mainly the bacon cheese egg combo can enhance anything :-) I'm actually not positive, but add an egg to a burger and it is just instantly better to me.

                                            1. re: kubasd

                                              that being said I think that sounds more like breakfast than lunch

                                              1. re: pikiliz

                                                It's very common in northern Europe to get a fried egg on your burger. It is creamy and rich, melds w/ the fat. I always put a fried egg on top of our red chile enchiladas too.

                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                  I recall a bar/resto in Newton, Mass, that topped its burger with a scoop of egg salad. A little different, but it worked.

                                                2. re: pikiliz

                                                  I'll vouch for kubasd and the egg. It's delicious; kind of like steak and eggs, only much better.

                                                  Off the subject - fried eggs also get along great with pizza. Tried it at a local DC spot that served up a seasonal Neapolitan pizza with light/fresh sauce, green tomatoes as topping and one gorgeous over easy egg at center. Bliss.

                                                  1. re: pikiliz

                                                    Tried the egg-n- burger w/bacon/cheddar really better than i gave credit for super kinda creamy real good

                                                    1. re: pikiliz

                                                      yay! a convert! hehe. It's more than a list of its ingredients, it's the sum of its parts.

                                                      1. re: kubasd

                                                        LOL I need to try it now! :) It's like the poor man's hollandaise sauce!

                                                        1. re: OysterHo

                                                          Oy H it's a can of magic( HIGHLANDER)

                                            2. I grew up with the good but messy lettuce/tomato/relish,mayo/ketchup burger and thought it fine.

                                              Then, for a period, I had some "upscale" and "loaded" ones when eating out and thought them fine.

                                              But more recently I find that I like a simple Whimpy "I'll pay you Wednesday for a hamburger today" kind above all others- on-the-thinner-side toasted bun, ketchup, maybe mustard (French's), a butter-griddled patty with some salt, and nothing else. Very pure. I think it the best. No cheese, please.

                                              1. Cheddar cheese on a medium rare greasy cheeseburger is bliss.

                                                If there is lettuce, tomato, and raw onion, great! I don't love ketchup anymore, but I'll mix some of that in there if there's no tomato, along with mayo and mustard.

                                                No bacon, no fillings, nothing in the meat mixture except salt and pepper.

                                                Pikiliz, Charm City has a burger with an egg on it. I'm tempted to try it - I adore runny yolks!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: OysterHo

                                                  I did the volcano I think good good good but lite on topping still gets me beef

                                                2. I have to admit - I still like ketchup on my burgers.
                                                  Now with Hatch Chiles in season, just a roasted chile, cheddar, a bit of ketchup, touch of mustard underneath. Burger cooked Med in cast iron. Buttered bun toasted in the cast iron.
                                                  Works for me every time!