Grilling up the Best Diner Burger at Home

Making a fat and juicy, delicious mouth-watering diner burger.

perfect diner burger at home

Diner burgers. They just don't make 'em like they used to, diner burgers, the simple succulent greasy fare that has been stolen, transformed and overloaded by steakhouses.

Not to say a steakhouse burger is not a delicious meal, but there is no comparing it to the O.G. burgers produced by American diners.

Diner burgers don't require all the fuss of steakhouse burgers; no lettuce, tomatoes, all that extra jazz, just onions, cheese, and grease. You honestly can’t get a better burger. Not to knock the tried and true loaded burger (show above) but in this case less is more.

Is it unhealthy? Well, yeah.

A diner burger needs fattier meat in smaller amounts than your typical steakhouse burger, what you need is about 4 ounces of 85% lean or less ground beef. You can purchase it pre-packaged, ask your butcher to grind up some fresh or even ground up your own at home. The most common fail when trying to duplicate the diner burger at home is our tendency to purchase lean mean. Whatever you do, make sure you by beef that is pretty high-fat content.

. The most common fail when trying to duplicate the diner burger at home is our tendency to purchase lean mean.

1. meat balls

Get the meat home and using an ice cream scooper separate it into rounds. An ice cream scoop works well because it keeps your patties small. Salt and pepper each round liberally. Some people even add some Worcestershire sauce, not us, but if you want to, go for it. Don’t smash the rounds into patties just yet, though.


2. onions

While they come to room temperature think about onions. Onions are the key to a great diner burger, if you don’t like onions, then the world must be a sad dark place for you. For the rest of us, there are two ways to can caramelize the onions for your burger. You can caramelize them alone before you cook the burgers, or you can throw them in the pan then add the patties on top. The second route means the juices from the patties are will coat the onions. Also if you prefer you can smash the patties down in such a way that the onion fuses with the meat. Make your decision and get your onions ready by slicing a few thin pieces and separating the rings.


3. cheese

Now is the time to get your cheese ready also. Diner burgers are thin and won’t take long to cook. Therefore, you need to be ready to top them off with that delicious phony cheese substitute we all know and love, American Cheese. We know it's not the best cheese in the world, it's not even really cheese, just a cheese product. But we are making diner burgers, not gourmet burgers. Leave the expensive delicatessen cheese in the fridge and unwrap those slices of American cheese.

4. fire up the grill


Now one last thing before we start on those patties...think about your cooking space. Do you really want to fry these up in the kitchen? No, trust us, you don’t. The grease in these bad boys will have every smoke detector in the house going off, and you won’t be able to get the smell out of the drapes for years. Take this meal outside. Get your grill going, but you also need a pan or a griddle. You can’t cook a diner burger on a grate. The best diner burgers on the ones with dark brown crust on the outside (sorry no rare burgers), if you use a grate, not only will you lose a ton of flavor but browning will only occur where the grate lines touch the meat. So get out a griddle or a cast iron pan and warm it up on the grill.

Throw in a bunch of butter and either caramelize your onions and set them aside or leave them in the pan. Now you need to add the beef balls you made up early, but don’t smash them, wait for it.

Set the balls in the pan and using a large spatula smash the burger down into patties. Try to only smash them once. The more you mess with them the more juice you will lose.

After a couple of minutes flip the burgers, you should see a nice brown crust. Wait a couple more minutes, then add a slice of the good ol’ American cheese, cover it up and wait for it to melt.

Finally, you are ready to indulge. Scoop a cheesy-goo covered patty onto a bun, add some onions, maybe a little ketchup or mustard, but that's it. Don’t ruin it by adding a bunch of unnecessary crap, if you're desperate have some pickles on the side, and enjoy.