17 Toppings That Prove the Most Important Part of a Burger Is Not the Burger

June  3, 2016

You can do whatever you want. Make a beef burger! Make a chicken burger! Smash it to a crisp! Make a burger out of tofu or black beans or turnips! (Do not make a frozen veggie patty.)

But here's the truth: The most exciting part of a burger isn't the burger itself—it's the stuff you pile on top. And I know a burger is different than, say, a rice bowl, but the same principle applies: It's pretty boring until you start getting wacky with the toppings.

Here are 17 toppings we think are—yes—tops:

There are barbecue potato chips on this burger! Take notes.

We're thinking of the Srirachannaise here—but go ahead and slap some fries on there, too.

Slide half a grilled peach or apricot (and maybe some prosciutto, too) onto a burger and never look back.

What's your preferred burger topper? Give us some ideas in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Smaug June 3, 2016
Of course, you could also look at it as buggering up a perfectly good sandwich with a lot of excessive and unnecessary side issues.
702551 June 3, 2016
Yes, it's really about the A.) meat and B.) bun. As a matter of fact, I think the easiest/most reliable way to judge a burger is by the bun. Only a handful of burger joints care enough to offer a really, really good bun (first of all needs to be BAKED THAT DAY). If they don't care much about the bun, they're not going to care about the rest of the ingredients.

Freshly ground beef from whole cuts makes a big difference. Again, only a handful of restaurants do this.

If you have both of those, you have a great burger that doesn't need much more. In fact, if either of these are really, really good, you can enjoy them plain, just like a grilled steak or a slice of fresh bread.

When the ingredients are of the finest quality and really fresh, you don't need much more and often excessive over-the-top flavors will really throw off the balance. So will bland, ersatz items (like American cheese, iceberg lettuce or a pale tomato in the dead of winter). Granted, the iceberg lettuce provides some textural crunch, but it adds zero flavor.

If you really want to improve your already great freshly-ground burger on a superb bun, use good ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, cheese, etc. first.

Oh, and grill over a fire: lump charcoal or wood logs, the fire/smoke adds and extra element that cannot be accomplished on the stovetop. It's why after tens of thousands of years humans still cook over fire.