The Best And Worst Burger Toppings

Here at Mashed, we love a good burger as much as the next person. With that said, we understand that there are certain elements to a top-notch burger that can make it soar above the rest, but there are also elements that can make it plummet and quickly turn unappetizing ... and that's putting it nicely!

That's why we've made it our mission to curate a list of toppings that usually work well on burgers, as well as toppings that you should probably skip. Yes, many of these toppings are standard, but some of them as you'll soon find are rather shocking. Bear in mind that this list is totally subjective, meaning you probably won't always agree with our opinion. Still, we're confident you'll find at least one new way to top your burger. As for whether you'll like it, well, you'll just have to find out for yourself. Stick around to see which burger toppings are amongst our favorites and which we'd rather not have layering on our beef patties. Let's jump in!

Best: Fried egg

Often referred to as a "royal" burger, topping a beefy patty sandwich with a savory fried egg is nothing short of spectacular. Indeed, at first blush, placing an egg on a burger may seem excessive at best and gross at worst! But honestly, neither is true. This protein-packed satiating meal has just the right combination of flavors to make it satisfying but, oddly enough, it doesn't quite taste like a breakfast burger.

So, what does putting a fried egg on your burger taste like? Think of it as adding another layer of umami depth to the burger, increasing its richness more than any amount of cheese or extra mushrooms can. Not only does the flavor of the egg amplify the burger, but the texture is enhanced as well. The velvety layer of the egg contrasted against the ruggedly coarse texture of the meat makes for a uniquely comforting mouthfeel that's hard to duplicate with any other topping. It's all this and more that leads us to believe that fried egg is quite possibly one of the dreamiest burger toppings available today. Yum!

Best: Grilled onions

Honestly, does this even need explaining? Don't get us wrong, we're always down for crisp raw onions on our burger; in fact, the more the merrier as far as we're concerned. With that said, there's something about that tantalizing caramelized sweet flavor you get from sautéed onions that, when paired against the umami flavors of burger meat, simply cannot be beaten.

Now, we understand that most places don't offer their burgers with grilled onions, but when they do, you should definitely go for it. Burgers that most often sport this savory sweet topping are usually those advertised as "BBQ" burgers. But don't worry, the fun doesn't stop there. Some establishments like Five Guys offer grilled onions as a topping, free of any additional charge.

If you aren't able to find grilled onion-laden burgers at a restaurant, grilled onions are just as easy to whip up and throw on a burger at home. Simply add a little butter to a pan, throw some diced onions in, and cook until golden brown. You can also toss in vinegar for the complexity of flavor. Do it the next time you want a burger — we promise it's worth a try.

Best: Peanut butter

No, this isn't a prank, nor is it a joke. We're totally serious when we say that peanut butter on a hamburger rocks. But we know you'll only scoff and laugh at our ignorance. Peanut butter adds its own dimension that other toppings simply do not. It isn't a cool and creamy condiment like mayo, doesn't pack the tanginess of mustard, and lacks the sweetness of ketchup. What peanut butter offers is a rich flavor that isn't the least bit greasy, making for the perfect complement to other wonderful burger toppings, including thick bacon, smooth cheddar, and deliciously grilled onions.

Can you find this option everywhere? Goodness, no. But some joints like Culver's and a few others seem to have caught on, with some burgers even featuring a smear of jam to make things even more interesting. And though these peanut buttery offerings don't always hang around long at fast food and restaurant locations, rest assured that eating peanut butter on a burger is indeed a thing, and tastes quite delicious despite your doubts.

Best: High-quality cheese

Yes, we know that most of us have our taste buds trained to crave standard American cheese slices on burgers, and no, we aren't judging anyone for that. In fact, we too think the creamy mildness of American cheese is a-okay for use on burgers, but what if we told you there are better, higher quality, bolder cheese varieties out there to help you spice things up?

As you likely already know, there are a variety of cheeses you can choose from when it comes to topping burgers, but one thing that can make your sandwich really stand out is to use high-quality cheese. Cheeses like Muenster, pepper jack, and yes, even a classic slice of cheddar can do wonders for a burger that might otherwise be bland. If you really want to amplify your meal, try a mixture of cheeses: pepper jack with Colby or cheddar with Swiss really works well under the bun.

As you decide which cheese to use, remember that not all brands are created equal. Be sure to eyeball the ingredients and make sure to pick cheeses from reputable brands for the best taste and texture on your sammie. Different cheese from different brands may yield a totally different eating experience, so ask around, experiment, and see what cheese suits you best.

Best: Bacon

It's no secret that a thick slice of bacon can instantly upgrade a burger, and for that reason, we had to list it as one of the best burger topping grabs. The saltiness of the bacon, paired with its chewy and dense texture, makes for an interestingly appetizing flavor and texture contrast that tastes oh-so-delicious, especially when topped with creamy, high-quality cheese.

Like with several other toppings, the quality of the bacon here really shines, although we suppose you could get away with a cheaper alternative if you really wanted to. But to be honest, thick, rich pieces of premium pork strips can bring a deeper flavor dynamic to your burger than any standard Oscar Meyer slice would. So, if it's available to you, try to explore higher-quality brands to see what they can offer on your next beef burger.

Oh, one more thing. Many types of bacon come in a variety of flavors that can add even more interesting nuisances and taste combinations to your burger you might not have previously thought of. Pepper, maple, and applewood smoked bacon are all great examples of ways you can add subtle flavor and personality to your burger without having to think too hard about it. It's all utter magic on the tongue!

Best: Guacamole

Guacamole on a burger? It isn't unheard of, but it isn't as common as grilled onions and bacon, either. Sometimes referred to as a "California burger," a burger that's graced with avocados or good ol' guac might confuse some. We, too, struggled to believe this could ever turn out good, but to our surprise, adding a bit of avocado to our burger actually elevated the taste of the meat in its own way, and was quite pleasant, if we do say so ourselves.

So, what is it about guacamole and avocados that make burgers taste so great? We think it's the texture and flavor contrast. Avocados aren't known to have an umami flavor, but they do pack a rich, creamy, subtle taste that helps highlight the enticing beefiness of the meat. The results are a cool and creamy flavor mashup that's unique, no doubt, and irresistible to most. Another great way to enjoy the rich, velvety nature of avocados and guacamole on burgers is to add them to your veggie or black bean sammies. We've seen a couple of restaurants pull this off, and we must admit, we weren't disappointed. Although different, try giving guacamole a spin on your next burger, and see if you don't love the personality it brings!

Best: Lettuce

Wet, crisp, and crunchy, lettuce adds a certain level of "roughage" we love. Sure, it's totally basic, but it's toppings like this that make a classic cheeseburger special. In fact, most times you see a burger featured as "deluxe," it usually combines a variety of ingredients along with — you guessed it — lettuce in the mix. We think it's imperative because the cool lettuce cuts the heavy and meaty flavor of the burger in a way that's totally complementary without detracting from its overall taste and texture.

Now, we will say that not all burgers need lettuce to make them shine. Tasty, savory combos like traditional Swiss and mushroom burgers or smokehouse BBQ burger types don't necessarily need crispy lettuce to make it work. Still, we think a classic burger that features the standard ketchup, mustard, mayo, onion, and—dare we say—tomato (shudder), still calls for that lettuce crunch to give it that full-on deluxe burger edge we all love.

Best: Sautéed mushrooms

Sautéed mushrooms are, indeed, one of our favorite ways to top a burger. Unlike other umami toppings like fried egg, sautéed mushrooms add their own unique chewy texture that you just can't find from virtually any other ingredient. On top of the distinct texture comes the savory taste, which only adds to the depth and nuances in the flavor of the meat.

So, what burgers might you find sautéed mushrooms on? Well, that depends on where you dine. Places like Five Guys (oh, how we love thee) offer sautéed mushrooms as a free topping, and even make it part of their "all the way" option, which features many of the classic toppings you'd normally find on a burger. Nevertheless, we would agree that finding sautéed mushrooms on your usual traditional American burger isn't super common. Instead, you'll want to try options like mushrooms and Swiss, and other non-traditional burger offerings to get your sautéed mushroom fix. Just don't forget the mayo! It often provides the perfect tangy yet creamy backdrop to mushrooms and beef that works to take the overall flavor of a mushroom burger to new heights. Delish!

Best: Jalapeños

If you love spice, you'll adore adding jalapeños to your burger. This is yet another unconventional yet viable way to upgrade your burger, but of course, you'll need to love a good kick in spice to love this one. Jalapeños aren't typically featured on the classic burger; however, you can readily find them on Mexican-style burgers or even true "jalapeño" burgers. A jalapeño burger is usually one that casts a spotlight directly on this fiery topping pick for a truly zingy burger experience. One of our favorite jalapeño grabs, the Crispy Jalapeño burger at BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, features chipotle mayo, pepper jack cheese, and perfectly fried jalapeños. The spice and flavor are all there, and when paired with onion, lettuce, and a thick burger patty, you can expect a flavor experience that isn't quite like any other burger combination we've tried.

Be sure to note that if you're making a jalapeño burger at home, it's completely possible to purchase mild jalapeños for delicious yet subtle jalapeño flavor if you aren't down for heat. Another way to mellow out your jalapeños at home is to remove the pith before eating or cooking. These are the components of the jalapeño that make it the spiciest. Pair it with melty Swiss or pepper jack cheese for creaminess alongside plenty of kickin' jalapeño flavor. You're welcome!

Worst: Beets

Why would we include beets on our list of burger toppings? Is it plausible to even consider such a thing? Well, actually, it is. While foreign to many ears, this is surprisingly a very common topping, especially in Australia. The beets used for the dish are usually of the canned sort and are thinly sliced to top the burger, much like tomatoes would be. Some people go even further by nixing the beef entirely and making the patty out of veggies and beetroot, claiming this type of burger to be insanely delicious despite our reservations.

All in all, we're not sure that we love the concept. Beets have a decidedly strong flavor that might not tickle everyone's fancy. Thus, the idea of highly pigmented wet slices of canned beets staining our burger patties, and ruining our concept of a perfectly tasty classic burger meal isn't quite what we had in mind for lunch. To each their own, as they say. Nevertheless, we're passing on this one.

Worst: Anchovies

Anchovies are often seen as an ever-so-controversial pizza topping. But what if we told you some people actually add anchovies to burgers? As weird as it may seem, it's true. We've found several online recipes advocating for such a burger topping, and have even found a few people praising the taste on Reddit.

Although anchovies and fish sauce may make for great umami boosters, the truth is that for most of us, this is a very weird topping for a burger. The salty robust flavor of anchovies can overwhelm the meat, especially for those of us who aren't so accustomed to its distinct taste. Of course, means can be taken to make the anchovies milder to the palate, and we understand that. Still, we can't fathom downing an entire burger covered in salty fish pieces. But hey, if that's your thing, you do you. As for us, we vote this as one of the more unappetizing ways to top your burger.

Worst: Kimchi

Kimchi is, and forever will be, a hot topic when it comes to smell and taste. Those who have tried this spicy cabbage food staple either love it or hate it; there is no in-between. No matter which side you land on, one thing's for certain and that's that we never, ever, want to see this delicacy lining our burgers.

Yes, there are people out there who can get past the smell of kimchi enough to actually eat it, and that's all good and fine. But adding it to a burger is just plain wrong. Hawksmoor Steakhouse has apparently tried dishing up this interesting flavor combo through the introduction of its own rendition of a kimchi steak burger, and for the most part, it garners split reviews. Still, most view the burger as downright atrocious, as topping a burger with offensive-smelling fermented spicy cabbage virtually ruins everything delicious about the dish in about 0.5 seconds. We'll leave whether you decide to try this topping on your next burger up to you, but unless you're already a kimchi fan, we'd say forget this one.

Worst: Tomatoes

Don't look at us like that. Look, we know that tomatoes come standard on most burgers, and no, we're not mad at those of you who like to top your burgers with this traditional topping. As for us and several others, adding a slice of red, juicy tomato isn't always as tantalizing as it seems, and that is for a variety of reasons. First off, a slice of tomato is cold, wet, and juicy. Some may like the flavor contrast that this brings, but we think this downright ruins the warmth of the burger itself. Biting into a cool, wet slice of tomato against otherwise hot ingredients seems to alter the temperature of the sandwich as a whole, and not in a pleasant way — at least as far as our mouths interpret it.

If that's not enough to convince you, how about the fact that this slice of tomato often distracts from the other flavorful combinations that surround it? For us, the juice and natural squirt of tomato make it harder to taste the cheese, relish the flavor of the meat, and may even compete with the already cool lettuce, making it taste more along the lines of a cold sub than a deeply flavorful, hot, umami burger. We'll leave the final call up to you. But for us, tomato is certainly one of our least favorite burger toppings.