Hamburgers are a beloved American favorite. Whether you’re looking to grab a quick bite from the nearest drive-thru or you’re all dressed up for some fine dining, the classic burger is featured on almost every menu.
The origin story of the hamburger is one of controversy, as many American cities claim to be its founder. But regardless of where the dish was born, it can be concluded that the original burger consisted of nothing more than a slab of meat between two slices of bread.
As the sandwich evolved throughout the years and the hamburger bun was created, many fast food chains added game-changing personal touches, creating the OG burger toppings we all know and love — cheese, lettuce, onions, tomato, ketchup, mustard and sometimes bacon.
And while these toppings transformed the way we eat our hamburgers, it seems as though the personalization of the sandwich has mostly declined since adding its original few toppings. Sure, popular burger chains like In-N-Out and Freddy’s have crafted their own secret spreads and sauces in lieu of generic ketchup and mustard, but that can’t possibly be as creative as it gets, right?
As a devoted burger fanatic, I am constantly in search of the perfect hamburger, but I’ve found that abiding by the basic burger toppings is restrictive when it comes to crafting the best possible sandwich. Still, I would never have realized the endless possibilities of hamburger personalization had I not stumbled upon the bizarre PB&J Bacon Cheeseburger at a small barbecue joint on my way home from a camping trip.
If you’re questioning whether you read that correctly, I can assure you that you did.
The idea of a peanut butter and jelly hamburger frankly sounded well, gross to me too. But because I was in a burger rut and also happened to be craving a PB&J sandwich, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a go — and I’m so glad I did.
While the jelly aspect wasn’t my favorite, ordering my first PB&J bacon cheeseburger warmed me up to the idea that yes, peanut butter absolutely belongs on a burger. And there are so many other fun ways to personalize your hamburgers that I had never considered before. Here are some ways you can leave the mundanity of burger-eating behind and make each of your hamburgers into a taste-testing adventure.
The Luther Burger
Named after singer songwriter Luther Vandross, this doughnut bacon cheeseburger certainly isn’t the healthiest means of jazzing up your meal, but it looks seriously delicious and it’s the perfect, most magical meeting of sweet and savory.
Whether you plan to use a glaze doughnut from the nearest gas station, or you’re feeling fancy and want to incorporate a Krispy Kreme, be sure to slice it in half and toast the inside in a drizzle of bacon grease.
This dish may not be the best for your arteries, but it will certainly bring more joy to your burger-eating experience.
The Walking Ched
Another hamburger that offers a unique bun replacement, The Walking Ched is a deliciously cheesy burger featured at Des Moines, Iowa’s Zombie Burger. This undead-themed restaurant is a hole-in-the-wall burger joint in Iowa’s capital that specializes in quirky hamburgers and cereal shakes.
The Walking Ched is my personal favorite on the menu because it is a combination (and possible overkill) of two of my favorite dishes. With a crispy bun made of ooey gooey, fried mac and cheese, this hamburger features some of your favorite burger toppings alongside a giant scoop of — you guessed it — more mac and cheese. And the salty crunch of the added bacon is the perfect contrast to the buttery, cheddar pasta.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed with all that mac and cheese? That’s okay, the menu offers lots of other adventurous hamburger options aside from The Walking Ched.
The Egg Burger
This one is pretty self explanatory, though quite unexpected. Fried eggs go surprisingly well on hamburgers, especially when paired with a nutty Gruyère.
Cooking the Gruyère and Egg Burger is the perfect way to upgrade your usual hamburger and impress your friends and family at your annual cookout.
If you don’t feel like incorporating a whole new recipe into your typical burger routine, you can always try adding a simple fried egg to your usual hamburger — and you can cook it however runny or well-done you’d like.
The PB & Egg Burger
Here we have my go-to burger order and quite possibly my favorite dish of all time.
I discovered this hamburger while ordering from the burger bar at my campus’s dining hall, and I’ve never looked back since. The earliest layout of this cheeseburger consists of a toasted pretzel bun with a glob of peanut butter spread across the top, some lettuce and onions inside and topped off with a runny fried egg.
Since then, I’ve evolved my creation and found that peanut butter tastes better as a sauce. Just melt a spoonful of peanut butter on the stove, add some butter, brown sugar, and crumbly bacon bits and stir until it’s melted and will easily pour atop your burger meat.
If you’re thinking that this sounds revolting, you are valid. The PB & Egg Burger is a pretty overwhelming sandwich with many flavors that don’t seem to be too compatible. However if one day you’re feeling courageous enough to try it, you might also find that it’s your new favorite dish.
Who says that hamburgers are limited to only their original seven-or-so toppings?
The burger can and should be a highly customizable dish that welcomes all different flavors and toppings, no matter how un-burger-like they may seem. And even though many exotic burger options aren’t available on most menus, you can always try them at home.
Have fun, be creative and remember that there is no food too strange to incorporate into your summertime cookout dishes.