Contest Winners

Our New Favorite Burger Takes a Cue from Meatloaf

September 13, 2018

We’ve partnered with Ajinomoto Co. Inc. to bring you our latest contest—your best umami-rich recipe. Read on for all the savory, delicious details.

With our latest contest, we asked you all to bring the flavor—the fifth flavor, to be precise. Umami: that super savory richness that has you thinking about a dish long after your last bite.

And you answered. Loudly. We received more submissions to our umami contest than for any other contest this year.

Shop the Story

Mrslarkin's Umami Meatloaf Burger took the prize, and turned our world upside down. Think: Deeply tender patties that borrow a trick or two from meatloaf—milk! bread! minced alliums!— topped with a ketchup so packed with umami-flavor that it's ruined us for all other condiments.

Photo by Rocky Luten

We caught up with long-time community member and umami contest winner Liz, to get the lowdown on her burger:

You added this recipe to Food52 in 2010—do you remember how and why you developed it?

Oh, yes! I developed it for the meatloaf contest that year. From my recipe headnote at the time of creation:

There are not many stovetop meatloaf recipes out there to inspire me, but recently, I watched Giada dig into an umami burger on one of her shows. Which led me to thinking, "Hmmmm... I wonder..." White On Rice Couple has an umami burger recipe on their site, so I found some inspiration there, too.

What are some other favorite burger recipes?

I’ve got a Horseradish Roquefort Burger here on the site that is really delicious. But one of my recent favorites is cooking burgers sous vide, which makes for the juiciest, most perfectly cooked burger you’ve ever tasted.

You've contributed almost 200 recipes to the site! What are a few you're most proud of, and why?

Whoa! That’s a lot of recipes. I’m proud of all of them! But my Chubby Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie is probably one of my favorites—I make them every week. And my scone recipes—they are very yummy and bring me joy.

What's your most splattered, stained, dog-eared cookbook?

James Beard’s American Cookery. Please don’t dog-ear your books! That’s one of my pet peeves. I must’ve been a librarian in a previous life.

And your can’t-cook-without kitchen tool?

Oh, there are so many kitchen tools I love. Wooden spoons, spatulas, sharp knives, cutting boards. But one of my all-time favorites has got to be the bench scraper. It can easily cut through a cold stick of butter, or divide any dough into smaller pieces (like pasta, or scones), or use it to scoop/shovel up chopped veggies. Whack a clove of garlic with it—pretty awesome. I could go on.

Are you a savory or sweet breakfast person? (Or, gasp, not a breakfast person at all?)

Oh, there’s always breakfast. And I’m team SWEETS, all the way. Something buttery and flaky, and a hot cup of coffee (cream and sugar). That said, the occasional fried eggs, toast and bacon is a-okay with me.

You’re on a desert island and you can have one dessert. What is it?

Since it’s probably gonna be hot on said desert island, I’m going with ice cream sandwiches made with my chubby chewy chocolate chip cookies, which technically, is two desserts in one. Yay, me! Does this qualify?

Sure does!

Umami, Explained

Share your congratulations for Liz in the comments!

We've partnered with Ajinomoto Co. Inc. to celebrate the fifth taste, and its many, many culinary applications with a series that's all about umami. You can also learn more over at the Umami Information Center.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MrsWheelbarrow
  • HalfPint
  • inpatskitchen
  • mrslarkin
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


MrsWheelbarrow September 13, 2018
Liz Larkin, you are a national treasure.
mrslarkin September 14, 2018
Aw, shucks, Cathy! Thanks for that.
HalfPint September 13, 2018
Congrats! That burger looks fantastic.
mrslarkin September 13, 2018
Thanks, HP!
inpatskitchen September 13, 2018
Congratulations Liz!! Love the Q & A!!!
mrslarkin September 13, 2018
Thank you, Pat!