With any hamburger, the burger patty should be the star of the show, but it enters a whole new flavor town if you pimp it up with some amazing toppings. I’ll run through some of the most popular hamburger toppings in this best burger toppings guide and if you think I have missed anything, or you have a personal favorite you think should be on this list, let me know in the comments section.
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There are many different varieties of onion and many different methods of adding them to a hamburger. Some people add onions to the patty mix, and some even add them do the bun before baking. But it’s as a burger topping where onions really shine. Below I list a few of the great options for adding onions to your burger, or you can read our best onions for burgers guide for a more detailed list.
- Onion Rings
- Grilled Onion
- Raw Onion
- Fried Onion
- Picked Onion
Having salad on a burger isn’t just to make it feel a little healthier, it also makes it look more appealing, taste nice and adds a little extra crunch.
Lettuce – Shredded iceberg lettuce is my personal favorite, closely followed by romaine lettuce. But whichever lettuce you use it has to be extremely fresh. No topping makes a burger look unappetizing as much as wilted brownish lettuce does. And lettuce is added to a burger more for the crunch than the flavor, so it has to be fresh to get that.
I prefer shredded lettuce as on numerous occasions I have seen someone bite into a burger and their teeth not slice completely through the whole lettuce leaf, so when they pull the hamburger away from their face the lettuce slips out with sauce and toppings going everywhere. Yes, this is normally children, but I have seen it with adults also. Have a look at our best lettuce for burgers guide for more options.
Tomato – Nothing makes a burger look sexier than a bright red slice of juicy tomato poking out the burger bun. It’s probably the most classic and iconic or all toppings the world over. But you don’t have to add tomato as a big disc-like slice, I much prefer my tomato diced and added to a raw salsa than as one single slice.
Cucumber – A few slices of cucumber is another great burger topping. But you have to be careful when combining toppings. As if you already have the very popular tomato and then add cucumber, both of which are mostly water, you start to risk the integrity of your hamburger structure. If too much water/liquids soak into your bun it will quickly fall apart.
A good option for adding the great flavor of cucumber without the risk of too much water is to scope out the middle section with a spoon, as this is the part with the most water. And then cut the fleshier part of the cucumber into long, fries like sticks.
Carrot – There is only one way to add a bit of carrot to a burger, and that is shredded. And don’t add too much. Carrot is added more for its vibrant color and to add a little extra crunch. Most of the time carrot will be in a burger via coleslaw, but you can just as easily add it with your own salad mix.
Cabbage – Cabbage is another ingredient you normally find as a hamburger topping simply due to the fact it is in most claw recipes. But it’s also a good substitution to lettuce and has a nice crunch. I normally go for red cabbage with my burgers.
Peppers – There are a crazy amount of peppers available, with a race between growers for the hottest pepper. I like spice in my burgers, but I wouldn’t go crazy with Komodo Dragon Chili Pepper. Normally I have pepper in a burger via a hot sauce or in a rub mix (something like ground cayenne pepper). If I do decide to add some raw pepper it’d just be a couple of slices of jalapeno or chili pepper diced up into a salsa.
Pickles and Relish
The world has a love-hate relationship with pickled food. Certain burger toppings, like lettuce, people can take it or leave it, it’s just not that important. But pickles, you either love it on your burgers or hate it. It’s the one item that people will open up there burger to hunt down and remove. Thankfully I love pickles and relish, and think they should be added to all burgers in some form. Below are my favorite vegetables to pickle. And just so you know, pickling your own veg is super easy – anyone can do it.
Something coleslaw is a side dish and sometimes it’s a burger topping. It’s an easy way to get several different vegetables and sauce onto a burger in one easy topping. I have a friend that says he can tell the quality of a burger joint simply by tasting their slaw. Many places put little to zero effort into their slaw, it’s an afterthought or a space filler. Don’t be one of those guys. No below average store-bought ready-made slaw is going to give your burger the wow factor, but many of the great online recipes for making your own slaw will. You’ll be glad you made the extra little effort.
Bacon. I’m not sure much more needs to be said. I’m sure we all know someone that will happily have bacon on his bacon with a side order of bacon. So yes, bacon is a great burger topping. Some people even like to grind up a little bacon into their patty mix. As the saying goes, bacon makes everything better. When I add bacon I like to top it with a sweet sauce, like maple syrup or a sweet BBQ sauce.
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The one topping that means a hamburger is no longer a hamburger – transforming it into a cheeseburger. Cheese is so iconic on a burger I don’t even think of it as a topping anymore, it’s more of a requirement. The only decision isn’t should I have cheese or not, but what cheese should I have. Well that’s a question that needs its own article, so follow the link to read our guide to the best burger cheese.
Burger joints secrete sauce or magic sauce is a closely guarded secrete. Why? because a great sauce is what turns an average burger into a memorable burger. A bun is generally just used to hold everything together, without much taste. The other toppings are easily identifiable and can be replicated. The patty is beef. So it’s all down to the sauce for one burger joint to set itself apart from the competition.
Big Mac sauce is an example of a sauce people have been trying to recreate for years (thankfully you can just buy it in a store now). This sauce turned a cardboard tasting patty into a world-famous burger. So selecting the right sauce for a burger is mega important. And there are hundreds to choose from. Have a read of our best sauce for burgers guide for some ideas.
Salsa, Chutney and Jams
Bacon jam, onion chutney or a fiery salsa. All great options for burgers. Adding one of these selections to your burger you can bring a bit of sweetness, spice or crunch to a burger very easily. The only problem is the number of burgers you’ll have to eat in order to try out all the variations in combination with the other toppings mentioned to find your perfect burger.
The superfood avocado is a great addition to burgers as it makes you feel you’re being healthy. You’ll normally see it in burgers in the form of guacamole. But it’s also a great burger topping if you just slice it up and place it on top of your burger. Whenever I use avocado in a burger I always sprinkle a little dry rub on it to give it a massive punch of flavor.
Eggs are amazing on burgers. You can’t beat having that bite that bursts the yoke and it runs all over the burger and soaks into the bread. Unfortunately, having an egg on a burger isn’t that easy for backyard grillers who only has grill grates to cook on. You’ll either need to invest in a side burner, some little cast iron pans or griddle (a grill mat could also work as a griddle).
There will be no convincing some people that fruit on a burger can be a good thing. It’s a bit like pineapple on a pizza, some people will never accept it. I like Hawaiian pizza, so I was easily sold on fruit on a burger. So when I was first offered a grilled Hawaiian burger with teriyaki sauce I didn’t think twice. It was delicious, so don’t fear the unusual and just take a bite.
Pineapple – As I just mentioned, a ring of grilled pineapple with teriyaki sauce works amazingly well on a hamburger.
Apple – A few thin slices of apple and blue cheese on a burger is something you’ll not forget in a hurry.
Cranberry – Bacon and cranberry sauce on a burger is probably the easiest of the fruits to get a skeptic to try.