The Oklahoma Onion Burger Legacy

Anybody Know Where to Get a Good Onion Burger?

Hamburger toppings come and go, but none have become as ubiquitous and as loved as onions. In Oklahoma, onions aren’t just a topping – they are an integral part of the burger experience and a legacy from bygone days.

“Onion burger” was a lovely sound to my foodie ears, and while I wasn’t quite sure what they were, I knew I wanted one.

Katie Johnstonbaugh, author of Food Lovers’s Guide to Oklahoma, encountered onion burgers when she first moved to Oklahoma. She describes her first  experience — a visit to Bunny’s Onion Burger — in her blog.

Onion burger was a lovely sound to my foodie ears, and while I wasn’t quite sure what they were, I knew I wanted one,” she said in the post.

Bunny's onion Burgers
It’s fun to sit at the bar at Bunny’s and watch the grill man create an onion burger

After trying one? She was hooked — the onions hard-seared into the meat, the stringent oniony perfume… the flavor. Now, Katie gives Best Burger Review readers the low-down on this unique and tasty part of Oklahoma’s food story.

Fried Onion Burgers, The List

Many years ago in Oklahoma, near the Great Depression, restaurants decided to stretch their buck by adding onions to their burgers when they tossed them on the flat grill. The result was that folks LOVED the flavor addition of grilled onions. The onion burger was invented and has stuck with us here ever since. There is even a giant celebration in El Reno, Oklahoma, each year devoted solely to the onion burger where the world’s largest onion burger is created and served to the public.

There are many local places in Oklahoma to get a great onion burger today and the tell-tale smell left on your clothing and hair is a dead giveaway you’ve been to one of them! It’s a small price to pay!

Some of Katie’s favorite places to grab a great onion burger (in addition to Bunny’s) around Oklahoma are:

Tucker’s – Their small but gratifying menu consists of a single or double premium onion burger hand-formed from fresh meat from Creekstone Farms right here in Oklahoma. There is also a turkey burger that is perhaps the best I’ve had at a restaurant. But then, there’s the “Mother Tucker” which is over one pound of fried onion burger goodness (triple beef and onions). (Review)

Tucker's Onion Burger
Tucker’s – Beef Onion Burger (100% All-Natural Creekstone Farms Black Angus Beef)

Claud’s Hamburgers, in Tulsa – If you can locate the small white building located away from main street Peoria Avenue in Tulsa then you’ve found a diamond in the rough my friends. Opened in 1954, Claud’s has been frying up onion burgers for over fifty years the same way. They smash them onto a flat griddle with some chopped onions, top them with American Cheese and serve them with some great hand-cut French fries or homemade cole slaw.

The “El Reno Trinity” – Sid’s Diner, Robert’s Grill and Johnnie’s Grill – Everyone is loyal to one of these three in El Reno, and they will fight you to the death over their opinion. Robert’s, in my opinion has bigger burgers and you get more for your buck, but you won’t go wrong in any of these places.

(Ed. Note: You can find a recipe for Sid’s Onion Burger in Saveur).

(Photos courtesy of Dishin & Dishes)


Katie JohnstonbaughKatie Johnstonbaugh is the creator of the food blog, Dishin & Dishes, a TV food personality for Freedom 43tv, and author of Food Lovers’s Guide to Oklahoma. Find out which burger Katie secretly loves in our Burger People interview.

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