Painted Doll Burger

July 1, 2014

Author Notes: The Original Painted Doll was the name of a barbecue joint in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago back in my post-college years. They turned out some delicious ribs and such, but for me their piece de resistance was what they called a “Barbecue Burger.” It was huge – almost impossible to get your mouth around – and mysteriously delicious. We could never quite figure out what all was in it. But we knew it wasn’t all beef, if any. Years went by, the Original Painted Doll moved way south, too far to go for a burger, but the flavors have continued to haunt me. So a couple of years ago, I set out to recreate the burger. This is what I came up with. It comes pretty darn close, I must say.ChefJune

Makes: 4 large burgers
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 40 min


Seasoning Blend

  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning blend
  • Olive oil for the cooking pan
  • A couple of tablespoons of your best barbecue sauce
In This Recipe


Seasoning Blend

  1. Break up the bay leaves into small pieces. Process them in a spice grinder until they are all ground up. Add the sea salt and cumin seeds and process until ground fine. Add all the peppers and the nutmeg and blend well in a shaker jar.
  2. You will use two teaspoons of this mixture in your burgers.


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, F.
  2. Heat a small skillet and add the olive oil. Sauté the onion and celery until they are soft and fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Using your hands, mix the meat, vegetables and seasoning together. Divide the mixture into four patties. Actually, these will be more like balls – very thick!
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy sauté pan. When it’s very hot, put a dab of butter in the pan to keep the burgers from sticking. Sear the burgers well on both sides, then coat them with the barbecue sauce and put into the preheated oven to finish cooking through for about 12 minutes.
  5. Allow the burgers to rest for about 8 minutes before serving on burger buns (homemade if you can). Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

More Great Recipes:
Burger|Sandwich|Southern|American|Nutmeg|Pork|Beef|Celery|Cumin|Cast Iron|Fall|Father's Day

Reviews (12) Questions (0)

12 Reviews

Karen October 29, 2017
I remember this place well. My dad used to treat us The Painted Doll all the time. I loved the sauce with our fries soaked in the sauce. Englewood is not the same anymore, but memories will last forever. Painted Doll was a gem in Englewood.
Gwen December 8, 2016
WOW! I was seating here with my Mom at the bank abs suddenly she said she wanted a Burger. I asked my mom did she remember bringing those Burgers home. She said Yes. I instantly thought of Painted Doll and the infamous Burgers. I searched for the recipe and here I found this. Thanks for trying to re-create the Burger! This weekend I will be eating Painted Doll Burgers.
DiMarie T. August 16, 2016
My Sisters Husband Knew The Owner Joe who was Murdered in his home Christmas Eve after Closing for The Night.

He told my brother in law that they used ground Chitterlings and Juice from Chitterlings, Ground Pork Sausage and Beef..Bay Leafs Also.

The Sauce help perfected the taste. My Sister Got it Down Pack!!
Author Comment
ChefJune August 16, 2016
Chtt'lin's!!! Who'd'a thunk?
James M. August 17, 2016
Wow! I never knew that happened to Joe!! I had an unfortunate introduction to him when I was 13, I borrowed my cousin's car and accidentally ran into his Chevy Suburban in front of the restaurant. He never pressed charges, and I thank him today for that! I found out later, He was a great guy!
James M. August 17, 2016
I turned 50 August 13th
Sheila L. April 17, 2016
I've lived in Englewood for over 40 years and I loved painted doll's burgers. It was such an unique taste. I was a teenager then and I thought they would be there forever. I still remember the people who worked there. I hoped this recipe evokes those memories.
Author Comment
ChefJune April 18, 2016
I hope they do, too. The Painted Doll moved out to 105th & Halsted, but I understand that place has closed, too.
Barbara March 24, 2016
My dad treated us to painted doll ribs and burgers every weekend when I was growing up in Chicago. I look forward to trying this recipe soon.
Author Comment
ChefJune March 24, 2016
Wow! I hope you like them.
James M. September 20, 2015
Wow! Thanks for that recipe ChefJune, I grew up a few blocks from The Painted Doll, and remember them well! My family loved their food, and frequently visited there. I'll be using this recipe at my next barbeque!
Thanks Sooo Much!!
Author Comment
ChefJune September 20, 2015
Wow! I never expected to see this kind of comment on food52. I sure hope it evokes the same memories for you that it does for me. Make sure that you make them really thick through, and that you give them enough time to cook.