James Beard's Favorite Hamburger

James Beard

Author and Educator

"I learned this recipe years ago from a magnificent cook named Jeanne Owen, who wrote deliciously about food and cooked even better than she wrote." –James Beard


  • 2 pounds ground chuck or round with a minimum of fat
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter


Pat the meat into a rather flat cake. Grate the onion directly into the center. Add the salt and pepper and carefully spoon the heavy cream into it. Blend well with the hands and form into one large cake or 4 smaller cakes. If you want the meat rare, make the cakes about 1 1/2 inches thick.

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet. When quite hot, add the meat and cook to your favorite state of doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side for a rare burger. Turn once or twice during the cooking process. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you make one large cake, use two very wide spatulas to handle the difficult job of turning it. Serve at once, along with sauteéd potatoes and a tomato and onion salad.


4 servings