What Are Oklahoma-Style Burgers?

There are few indulgences greater than sinking your teeth into a big, juicy burger. It's really no wonder why burgers rank among Americans' favorite foods, as YouGov and Reader's Digest report. The iconic handheld meal typically calls for — at a minimum — a beef patty and a bun. But it can be garnished with any combination of cheeses, veggies, and condiments the heart (er ... stomach?) desires.

The true beauty of burgers is that, much like pizzas, hot dogs, and barbecue, they come in a variety of regional styles. Connecticut has steamed cheeseburgers while Minneapolis is home to the Jucy Lucy, which has cheese in the middle of the patty. Wisconsin birthed the butter burger, and Mississippi has the slugburger, which Visit Mississippi explains is not named after an ingredient but the nickname for a nickel. That's how much the sandwich cost during the Great Depression.

There is one famously humble regional burger recipe, however, that is celebrated for its unique texture and mouthwatering flavor that stem from an aromatic, often pungent-tasting allium. Those who live in or have visited the Sooner State are likely familiar with this savory dish.

Oklahoma-style burgers go heavy on the onions

Onion fans, this burger is such stuff that your beefy dreams are probably made of. Behold the Oklahoma onion burger, which, as you can probably imagine, consists of a meaty patty piled high with the bulbous vegetable, thinly shaved, fried, and caramelized.

The culinary creation came from the Great Depression, an era in which rations were slim and many businesses struggled to make a profit. First whipped up by an El Reno, Oklahoma restaurateur named Ross Davis nearly a century ago, the onion burger was invented in an attempt to stretch the eatery's beef supply as much as possible, according to Illinois Times. As a result, the mountain of onions placed atop the patty not only offered a rich flavor but also gave the illusion of a more substantial meal.

Customers of Davis' Hamburger Inn absolutely loved the hearty dish, and nearly a century later, it remains a top contender for the best burger style in the U.S. The onion burger is beloved by various buffs, including George Motz, J. Kenji López-Alt, and of course, Oklahoma resident Ree Drummond. On a final fascinating — albeit bizarre — note, when noshing on burgers in Oklahoma, it's illegal to take a bite out of someone else's.