You can haz America's best cheeseburger
October 26th, 2010
11:45 AM ET
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All National Cheeseburger Day coverage

Chuck out everything you ever knew about making cheeseburgers, and get ready to beef up your burger repertoire.

Named the best burger in America by The Food Network, the 10 o’clock burger from Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta relies on fresh ingredients made from scratch. Executive Sous Chef Jason Paolini showed patrons how to make the famous burger at Taste of Atlanta over the weekend.

“The secret is making everything from scratch,” Paolini says. “We grind our own meat daily, we have a bakery that makes our own bread, we make our own pickles, we make our own ketchup and mustard. That’s what makes it so delicious.”

Don’t have a meat grinder? Don’t sweat it. Paolini gives some tips on how to replicate his masterpiece from home, with as much hassle as you’re willing to sacrifice.

1. Bake your own bread

Holeman & Finch bakes its own bread, and Paolini suggests doing the same at home if possible. If not, buy fresh-baked rolls.

“One of the good ways to tell a good burger bun is if it has some good sponge action, so when you squeeze it, it comes back,” he says. “That way, it will absorb some of the juices from the meat.”

Paolini uses a French-style roll and butters and toasts the inside of each bun before fitting with a burger. He also uses buns that are the same size as the burger patties to ensure that each bite is the same.

“Toast the buns in the skillet, so just the inside of the bread is toasted and the outside is still soft and has that nice bread texture,” he says.

2. Use fresh ground meat

If you don’t have a meat grinder at home (and really, who does?), you should be able to get fresh ground meat from “any decent butcher around town,” Paolini says. The 10 o’clock burger is made from one part chuck and one part brisket, equally distributed.

Each patty should be 4-ounces each, with two patties per burger. “We patty them thin so that when you cook them, all the fat renders out, which creates a good, juicy burger,” Paolini says.

Salt one side of each burger and place salt-side down on a griddle or sauté pan. Burgers should be cooked medium, with the inside of the patty left slightly pink.

3. Add red onions and Kraft American cheese

Once you’ve flipped your burgers and salted the tops, add sliced red onions on top of one of the burger patties and top both with one slice of Kraft American cheese.

“That helps cook the onions a little bit while retaining that raw, crisp flavor,” Paolini says.

But Kraft singles? Really?

“The idea is that it’s a classic American burger,” Paolini says. “We use Kraft American cheese because of the way it melts.”

4. K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid)

Don’t overdo it on the condiments.

“You can get a burger with ten different things on it – mushrooms and onions and lettuce and tomato and foie gras and cheese,” Paolini says. “We wanted to just keep it simple and make it perfect.”

Holeman & Finch adds only red onion, American cheese and homemade pickles to its burgers, with its very own ketchup and mustard on the side.

“If you can find good bread and butter pickles, French’s Mustard and Heinz Ketchup … you’ll come pretty close to recreating it,” he says.

5. Serve with fries and a bubbly beverage

What’s more American than French fries? (Besides, you know, Kraft singles?) Holeman & Finch serves its burger with a side of homemade fries, made from Idaho potatoes.

Add a beer to the palate or wash it down with your standard soft drink.

“The idea is that it’s a classic, so eating a burger and drinking a Coca-Cola out of a glass bottle is great,” Paolini says.

The burger might be “classic,” but it’s certainly not ordinary. It’s just simple.

“Each ingredient can stand on its own,” Paolini says. “You don’t really need more.”

All National Cheeseburger Day coverage

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Filed under: Bite • Burgers • Dishes • Make • Sandwiches • Techniques & Tips


soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. David

    The best cheeseburger in Maine is served at Grunyon's Beanery in Gogs Mills. Heaven on a bun!

    October 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  2. Mark

    I love cheeseburgers. The best cheeseburger around is IN N OUT double-double, their all over California and for 3 bucks you just can't go wrong! Alway freshly cooked I order mine with grilled onions and raw onions and extra tomatoes. Its the best comfort food!

    October 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  3. Dan

    I'm going to make one right now!

    October 30, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  4. Jan

    American "cheese" has to be the most disgusting thing ever invented. How the USDA allows it to even be labeled "cheese" is beyond me. I was behind someone at Subway the other day and he ordered "white American Cheese". I almost gagged! I don't care what you put on a burger to enhance it, but a choice should never be "American Cheese"!!!

    October 30, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  5. Sharon

    American cheese is just gross, slimy and disgusting on a burger (anything else for that matter). Five Guys has pretty good burgers here in Houston.

    October 30, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  6. nijode

    Five Guys chops their onions, saves time but keeps me away. Anybody who makes decisions like that cannot be taken seriously. What else do they do to save money?

    October 30, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  7. Mike

    Sorry, Executive Sous Chef Jason Paolini, but I wouldn't let you RUIN good hamburger with Kraft American cheese, or any other cheese. If the meat is worth eating, cheese cannot improve it. Further, I do not want bread and butter pickles and red onions on any hamburger. They are too sweet. Sometimes I can be in the mood for a thin, dill pickle slices with yellow onion slices (again, red ones are too mild to stand up to dill pickles) and nothing else. If the dill pickles and yellow onion have overwhelmed the hamburger, you have added too many or cut them too thick. Another possibility is mayonnaise, (Kraft or Hellman's will do; I do not want anyone's homemade mayonnaise) Heinz ketchup (again, no Hunt's or home made) crisp chopped lettuce and thin slices of a nice vine-ripened local tomato. Again, nothing else. If you must diguise the meat with too many condiments and extras, save the calories and fat and eat something else. The quality of the meat is the key and you must be able to taste it. The hamburgers should be cooked on a higher heat to char the outside and leave a pink center, like a good steak. A fresh unseeded fresh roll will do. No butter should be used to toast the rolls; if they must be toasted, use a small amount of the hamburger drippings from the pan while the hamburger sits for a minute after being removed from the heat.

    October 29, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  8. Linda

    Our favorites are:
    1 Five Guys
    2 Ruby Tuesday's
    3 Duffy's ( a chain on east coast FL, West palm Beach, Treasure Coast)

    October 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  9. nat eccs

    “The secret is making everything from scratch,” EXCEPT FOR THE PROCESSED KRAFT CHEESE

    yum yum -> CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM CITRATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SORBIC ACID– that IS a tasty burger!!!

    come on at least get some tillamook cheddar up in there...

    October 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • CJ

      Well put.

      November 2, 2010 at 4:12 am |
  10. Druid

    All- Where did RabbeeyeDick go, I was begginning to enjoy his kosher thing. Guess he got tired of gettin' "smoked" Oy!

    October 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  11. Jake

    To Tom- Try grilling some "liberal" meat for your next burger. You have enough of them up there.

    October 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • Mike

      Jake – You obviously don't need to add any cheese.

      October 29, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  12. Tom

    The best burger: grilled in my back yard. The best restaurant burger: Kenny and Zukes in Portland OR. The best fast food burger: Burgerville in Washington and Oregon (Oregon prime beef).

    Other best fast foods: giant burritos, gyros, and sidewalk hot dogs. Gotta live a little, y'know.

    October 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  13. Paula

    Looks like RabbeyeDick is getting steamed. Is that kosher?

    October 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Rabbi Jdizzle McHammerpants

      As long as it's blessed first.

      *blessed*

      October 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
      • Truth@Jdizz

        I thought it had to do with how they kill the pig...?
        ;)

        October 29, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        Oh, yeah. Shows how Jewish I am.

        October 29, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  14. Drake

    To RabbeyeDick- Are you as stupid as your posts make you out to be?

    October 29, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  15. john

    My god people wake up! Buffalo burgers cooked over mesquite served on whole wheat buns are the best and much healthier!

    October 29, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Buffalo Burgers = Mouthgasm.

      October 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
      • RabbeyeDick

        Only in California.

        October 29, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  16. ingsoc84

    Give me a break, THE best berger is made right here in Hackensack, NJ called "White Mama Hamburger" no kidding about the name neither, just "Google" it!

    October 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  17. Frank

    RabbeyeDick- Your post makes no sense, I suspect the burgers you eat are laced with something. And I'm not your son. I repeat, get a job and step up. Buffoon.

    October 29, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • RabbeyeDick

      Frankie my son,We eat Kosher Beef,not that processed anal beef you so highly recommend. We are of a higher calling than some one named FrankFurter!

      October 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  18. Frank

    Those of you touting Whataburger and In-NOut (though they are pretty good) are doing so because you are likley low lives that can't afford anything better. They are NOT the best burgers. get a job and step up.

    October 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
    • RabbeyeDick

      Frankie my son,We are on High and shall never drop-Besides Crapo-Burger that you entertain has gone out of business.

      October 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  19. Kim L

    Five Guys, definitely. I think most of the people saying In & Out just haven't had a Five Guys. Their fries are pretty darn good, too.

    October 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  20. txsntv

    Hut's. Austin,Tx. Believe it.

    October 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  21. txsntv

    No burger with Kraft slices can be the best of anything.

    October 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  22. Valerie

    Mustard does NOT belong on a cheeseburger, just as ketchup does not belong on a hot dog.

    Can you tell I am a native Chicagoan? : )

    October 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
    • SammieSosa

      Only when you stand on the roof at SuperDawg!

      October 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
      • Valerie

        Amen!

        October 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  23. Terri

    Oh yeah me too. I have been up all night making my Kraft Cheese from scratch........................This is the best baloney all all time!

    October 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • RabbeyeDick

      Is it Kosher my child?

      October 29, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  24. PDIKEMAN

    KREKLES... Decatur, Illinois.......trust me on this one...and don't forget the fries and a LEMON shake!!

    October 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  25. PDIKEMAN

    When they mention "Kraft American Cheese"...the story lost interest.......

    October 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  26. Jeff

    Wakka wakka wakka.

    October 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  27. True Texan

    Ain't nothin' like a Whataburger,"Just like You Like it".

    October 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  28. Candy Apple

    Your burger suggestion at MOS Burger sounds interesting. I have received a lot of comments about MOS Burger on my website also recently. Gotta get over to Japan and try this burger in the future!

    October 28, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  29. DayTripper

    Of all the burgers I have had around the world, I prefer a burger from the MOS burger chain in Japan. The name is a little odd, but the burger tastes great. Lots of options for condiments. If you are Tokyo, definitely make an effort to visit the Mos Burger!

    October 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
    • Donut

      On a recent trip to tokyo, I tried my first MOS. The flavors, the care, the level of service were all near perfection. And they had nice napkins too!

      October 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  30. jon

    What does the fact that they make their own mustard have to do with a cheeseburger? Maybe I'm missing something here.

    October 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  31. brian

    Yes Kyle, Meers,OK has some awesome burgers & food. In Ponca City, OK there is Mega Burger that is pretty tastey! For corporate, I prefer Braums!!!!

    October 27, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  32. Matt

    Surprised not to see a mention of Shake Shack in NYC (Madison Square Park, or over on 9th Avenue) in the comments. Definitely the best burger I've ever had. It's not that hard to make a pretty damn good burger if you use high-quality ingredients and cook it properly.

    Five Guys is my top choice for a franchise. Haven't been to a Steak+Shake or CheeburgerCheeburger, though. I was underwhelmed by In-N-Out burger, personally. Not bad, but definitely not the best.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  33. Enoch Root

    Miller's Bar in Dearborn MI has an excellent burger. IIRC, it was rated something like #8 in the country by GQ not long ago. I try to eat lunch there at least once per week. I'm told they use Velveeta cheese – whatever they use, their burgers taste great.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  34. byndpst

    the Bracken Cafe has the best burgers in South Texas!

    October 27, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  35. Pearl Nelson

    Brand X in Springville, Utah. Absolutely the best. Sold out of an ancient silver Airstream trailer. That was 20 years ago - don't know if they are still in business. I still dream about their burgers.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  36. FatDan28

    Anyone that wants to check out the best burger's in NYC needs to visit http://www.burgernyc.com. Great site with tons of reviews, rankings, and pictures.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:34 am |
  37. Amy

    The pickles in that picture look WAY too thick for my taste. I'd imagine they would overwhelm the flavor of the burger.

    I like McDonald's burgers, not because of the actual quality, but simply because I grew up eating them and they are a comfort food for me.

    For actual flavor, I like a small, local restaurant. They have really good, really fresh burgers that taste like something I would make at home.

    My favorite burgers in the world don't exist, anymore. They tore down the restaurant to widen the road, and they never opened it back up anywhere else. :(

    October 27, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  38. Joe Parkmoor

    The half-pound "Fat Eddie" burger for the crazy-low price of just 99 cents at Fast Eddie's Bon Air in Alton, IL. Awesome!

    October 27, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  39. Child, Please!

    What? I can't believe no one has voted for Steak n' Shake's burgers! Shame, people! Shame!!! ;-n

    October 27, 2010 at 9:37 am |
    • Joe Parkmoor

      As far as chain restaurants go, Steak-n-Shake rocks!

      October 27, 2010 at 9:45 am |
    • Amy

      Their burgers are good, but their service STINKS! I finally had to stop going to Steak n Shake, because EVERY time I have gone the service has been horrendous! We've had to wait for 10 minutes for a table in a half full restaurant because no one bothered to acknowledge we were there (and we finally seated ourselves, despite the sign asking us to wait to be seated). The servers have "forgotten" us after we were seated for over 20 minutes. We've gone entire meals without being asked if we'd like drink refills, and that happens almost every time we go.

      And this isn't an isolated incident. It's been at every one we've gone to in 3 states in the last 10 years.

      October 27, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  40. gasly130

    Really? What's with the heading? I hope that's a typo!

    October 27, 2010 at 7:31 am |
    • Amy

      You're new to the internet, aren't you? You've never heard of the "I Can Haz Cheezburger" site?

      October 27, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  41. Daisy

    Wow, everyone is really serious about some burgers.

    October 27, 2010 at 3:35 am |
  42. The_Mick

    This is simply ground beef patted into a patty, served with fresh bread and condiments. NO! Check out my recipe (under "The_Mick") at food.com. Many recipes call for 80% ground beef, but 90-96% works even better as long as you add a panade to it: For a good, juicy patty, for each 1 lb of ground beef cut 2 slices of bread into 1/4" cubes. Douse fresh cubes with 1/4 cup of milk to create a "panade". Some then use a fork to press it into a paste but it's ok as cubes. The panade does two things: 1) it forms a sort of glue that holds bubbles of moisture inside the patty when cooking, keeping it from drying out. 2) it keeps the protein strands in the beef from joining together due to heat and becoming tough and rubbery. Mix the panade into the ground beef along with the following (per 1 lb of ground beef): 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp dry onion flakes, 2 tsp dry Italian seasoning [or sub oregano & thyme], 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper. When forming the 1/4 lb patty, make it slightly thinner in the middle – cooking will level it out. Cook in a lightly-oiled pan or grill at med-low heat and turn over after the first side is browned (about 4 min). Cook the other side until an instant read thermometer measures 160F (about 3-4 more min).

    October 27, 2010 at 3:11 am |
    • Chef Fizzles

      This is a burger article. While I'm sure your meatloaf taste delicious, it is a meatloaf not a burger

      October 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  43. cindy

    There is nothing more delicious than a good, old-fashioned, American hamburger with fries and a frosty Coke. I like the burgers at Five Guys.

    October 27, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  44. THE CAD

    MILLERS BAR in Dearborn Mich....

    October 27, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  45. Stosh

    They lost me at "Kraft American cheese".

    October 27, 2010 at 12:14 am |
    • Amy

      A lot of high-end chefs believe that American cheese is the perfect cheese for a burger. I do, too. I also like cheddar, and swiss if the burgers are mushroom and swiss, but nothing beats American for a regular cheeseburger. (And I really dislike American cheese for most things.)

      October 27, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  46. Mousetrap

    Mos burgers in Tokyo are by far the best! ha[/i]

    October 26, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
  47. Mars

    Five guys Burgers and fries is the way to go! ha

    October 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
  48. CowExploder

    The best burger I've ever had, bar none, was at Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas. $19, though, but it did come with fries (so it was only really $18). Great burger. While I like In-N-Out for fast food, this blows it away many times over.

    October 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  49. Lynn

    Smashburger!!

    October 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
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