Cast Iron

Classic Diner Burger

October  4, 2022
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

With so many fast food choices we forget how great a really good burger can really be. If you use good technique and great home made ingredients you may find hamburger joints needless except for convenience. Start with good beef. If you want to grind it yourself go ahead but if you know your butcher you should trust him to do a good job. I personally like my beef to be from a cow that I think is the best of both worlds. That is, pasture raised and free choice grain fed. That means if the cow wants to eat grain they can or they can also eat just grass. Talking to the farmers they say they usually go for both equally. It is how I remember beef tasting, which is refreshing. There are lots of farmers out there that do a great job raising wholesome beef that never sees a feed lot. The cut of beef I like for ground beef is chuck. Yes it will shrink because of the fat content but it will also have some flavor because there is some fat. Onion rings or fries are a must. Oh yeah, and to my mind a good burger is a treat and not an everyday occurrence so I don't mind really splurging when we do eat them. - thirschfeld —thirschfeld

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a great classic burger. Cooking the onions and burgers in bacon fat gives them a nice extra layer of flavor. The Thousand Island dressing is much better than any secret sauce. - Stephanie —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Classic Diner Burger
  • For the thousand island dressing:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 hard boiled egg, shelled and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped bread and butter pickles
  • For the burgers:
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 good quality soft white hamburger buns
  • 1 large onion, cut into half inch slices, you should get four.
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • a plate of extra toppings: iceberg lettuce, shredded, American cheese, tomato, and pickles of all sorts
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ground chuck, worcestershire, lemon juice and salt into a bowl. Mix until well combined. Divide into four equal sized patties that are about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Then season the up side with lots of black pepper.
  2. Place a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon grease and the four slices of onion. Season the onions with salt and pepper. Saute the onions until they are soft and caramelized on each side. When they have browned place them on a sheet tray.
  3. Turn the heat to high and gently place the burgers into the pan, black pepper side down. Season they tops with more black pepper. Sear them until good and cararmelized on each side. Remove to the sheet tray with the onions to let them rest. After 10 minutes slide the tray into the oven and reheat the burgers to your desired temperature. I prefer medium rare to medium.
  4. Butter the insides of each bun. Wipe out the skillet and then toast each bun. Assemble the burgers with the onion, Thousand Island dressing and serve.
  5. For the Thousand Island dressing:
  6. Combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until combined.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ariel Lauren Wilson
    Ariel Lauren Wilson
  • healthierkitchen
  • lapadia
  • theicp
  • themissingingredient

25 Reviews

Z June 29, 2017
Hello! Can you cook these on the grill or will they fall apart? Thanks in advance!
Johnny R. May 18, 2013
I love this burger's definitely my go-to when I'm going to grill and everyone always raves about how delicious and juicy the burgers are. Thanks so much for sharing such a fantastic recipe!!
KarenSue March 10, 2013
No bacon fat laying around so I started by pan frying a few pieces, which we then used on top of the burgers. Three teenage boys declared these "the best burgers" we have ever had at home. Skipped the pickles + the hard boiled egg since I didn't have those in the house. Loved the cast iron skillet idea, a perfect use for my under utilized pan! YUM
Ariel L. April 21, 2012
LOVED IT! made in france with comté, cornichons, and la moutarde de dijon...........simply wonderful!
Cranch February 16, 2012
One comment -- it matters what kind of horseradish you use to make the pickle sauce. I put in a tablespoon of Beaver Extra Hot Horseradish, and the sauce just tastes of horseradish. I wish I had followed my cooking instinct which said: put in a little horseradish at a time and taste...
healthierkitchen July 23, 2010
Love your dressing!
thirschfeld July 24, 2010
As a kid it was always my favorite. I don't eat it much now but I made extra and have been eating it on iceberg wedges all week. I think I need to add it back into the rotation.
lapadia July 22, 2010
Hmmm, you mix some lemon juice into the patty mixture, I love lemon with anything and use a tablespoon in my beef stew, never thought to use in my ground beef that!
thirschfeld July 23, 2010
Acids work to enhance flavor. I have a veal stew that has lemon juice added to it at the beginning and end.
theicp July 20, 2010
I had a cookout with my family last night and we used your recipe. These bad boys are the truth. (I can also vouch that I found bacon, sliced avocados, and red onions are all pretty delish on these burgers.)
thirschfeld July 21, 2010
"ahhh bacon", in my best Homer Simpson voice.
Classic is the perfect name for this burger.
thirschfeld July 20, 2010
lastnightsdinner July 19, 2010
This is what it's all about. Perfect.
thirschfeld July 19, 2010
Thanks lastnightsdinner.
dymnyno July 19, 2010
A real classic hamburger!! Love your version of "secret sauce" aka thousand isl. dressing, too.
thirschfeld July 19, 2010
Thanks, can't wait to see your entry because they are always delicious.
dymnyno July 20, 2010
I probably won't enter anything..."Woody" does it the same way I do with the Ohana burger...make a pocket and then shove in some butter and blue cheese and grill to order. This is going to be a tough one...there are so many great burger recipes...I love yours because it is so simple and just perfect...not a lot of "what else is in the refrigerator" ingredients. And, as always , your picture tell the story!
drbabs July 19, 2010
This is almost exactly how we made burgers when I was growing up. (Except I don't like hard boiled eggs in my thousand island dressing...just me).
thirschfeld July 19, 2010
I sometimes leave out the eggs, too, you know you are the one eating it. I always have to laugh when I see hard boiled eggs with Russian dressing.
Lizthechef July 19, 2010
I want one! Love the photo, the classic burger shot, cast iron skillet and all...

thirschfeld July 19, 2010
Thanks Lizthechef, aren't you on vacation?
Lizthechef July 20, 2010
Bakc from vacation but passed on the swordfish theme - and my burgers can't compete here - thumbs up!
mrslarkin July 19, 2010
Oh, my. I can almost smell it. Love this, thirschfeld.
thirschfeld July 19, 2010
Thanks mrslarkin. I am thinking the Roquefort burger looks tasty as well