A Super-Simple, Maybe-Crazy Way to Make a Mess-Free Burger

July 11, 2017

Take a look at these six burgers and tell me what they have in common:

They all look delicious, you shouted at the screen. I want them all tonight, you bellowed.

Both may be true, but focus on the buns: The buns in all six of the burgers have been disconnected, severed into two separate entities. The bottom bun shoulders the majority of the weight; the top perches precariously on top. It's shoddy architecture that reminds me of rock balancing, or a jaunty newsboy cap. To keep everything contained, you'll need a toothpick or a confident grip. Ingredients are bound to tumble. Your white pants are in jeopardy.

Open buns but do not split hinge.
J. Kenji López-Alt's "Fake Shack" Recipe

What's a neater way to assemble a burger and decrease the chances of spillage? Don't slice the bun all the way through. Instead, leave the two halves connected, as if they were a hot dog bun.

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This isn't my idea: It's a signature move at Shake Shack, where they leave their Martin's potato rolls hinged. With the bun left whole, you don't have to worry about keeping the sandwich perfectly horizontal to your plate in order for sauces, cheeses, and vegetables to stay in place—when you tilt the burger to eat it, any on-the-run fillings will just fall into the bun cradle. Convenient cleanliness!

We were mistaken when we separated our buns in the photos below:

But it's not only the fillings that'll stay in their seat. In an Eater article on How Martin’s Potato Rolls Became the 'It' Burger Bun, Shake Shack's culinary director explained that the "small 'hinge' of bread [helps] better catch juices from the patty." Resist slicing all the way through!

You can still toast or grill the conjoined buns, but there is, of course, one major disadvantage. Cram a ton of stuff onto the bun and you'll risk breaking that delicate hinge when you fold it over. But burger purists—those adamant about not diluting the sandwich with all the hottest accessories (bacon jam, caramelized onions, potato chips, unicorn dust)—will be satisfied by the required minimalism.

So what do you do? Do you leave the burger buns hinged or slice all the way through? Tell us your preference in the comments below.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Darlene
  • Bobby Lucas
    Bobby Lucas
  • gandalf
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Darlene July 12, 2017
The hinge wouldn't work for me. I like a big juicy burger with lots of toppings - preferably bleu cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, maybe some avocado. What DOES work for me is using a bun substantial enough to hold all the goodness and not fall apart within seconds of picking it up. I'm still on the search for the perfect bun, but my usual go to is a Kaiser roll. Second, I never put the burger directly on the bottom bun. After toasting the bun and applying my condiment of choice, usually mayo or aioli, I stack lettuce, then onion, creating just enough of a barrier to catch the juices from the burger and tomato above, thereby allowing the bottom bun to serve its intended purpose and hold up from first bite to finish. That's how I like it anyway!
Bobby L. July 11, 2017
I grew up eating my hamburgers between two slices of Wonder Bread...
gandalf July 11, 2017
I've been there myself!