Western Burgers

Now that I am back from my two week hiatus, I feel the urge to share the Gospel:

“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all cooks, teaching them all I have commanded ye concerning Western Burgers and surely Western Burgers shall be eaten always to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:16-20 (Roughly Translated Version)

Even though my Momma bore five VERY different children, my brothers and sisters all have this in common:


So…what the heck is a “Western Burger” you ask?

Well, lemme start from the beginning….

In the beginning, my Grandma was the food director for the local school district.  One day, Grandma came across a recipe titled “Western Burger” which was essentially a heap of seasoned ground hamburger wrapped in dough and baked.  Appreciating the simplicity and efficiency of the dish, Grandma promptly incorporated them into the school menu.

Since my Momma was in high school around the time of my Grandma’s decision, she was, in turn, one of the many students who were served a “Western Burger” for lunch that year.

Unfortunately, she thought they tasted dry and bland.  Nevertheless, since Momma like the concept of the dish, she began experimenting with the Western Burger idea at home.  She found that adding tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the ground beef made it more moist and flavorful and that yeast dough was softer and more appealing.

Thirty years later, my Momma is still making Western Burgers and her children still request them when they come home to visit.

As for the school cafeteria, I think they stopped serving Western Burgers.

As for the rest of the world, they remain uninformed about the potential awesomeness 0f Western Burgers.

As for me, I have decided to share the good news of Western Burgers with you today!

(You owe me BIG time for this, just so you know.)

Western Burgers

Basic Hot Roll Dough Recipe

1/4 cup very warm water (test water on wrist)

1 scant Tablespoon active-dry yeast

3 1/2 cups flour

1 cup hot water or milk

3 Tablespoons shortening

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

In a separate bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of very warm water.  Stir to mix and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt shortening in the cup of hot water or milk.

In a large bow, combine 1 1/12 cups of the flour, sugar and salt.

By now, your yeast should look like a small science experiment.

Dump the yeast mixture and the shortening/liquid mixture into the flour mixture and give a hearty stir.

Once the mixture is well incorporated, add more flour a cup at a time until the dough becomes stiff.

*Depending on how dry the air is, you may need to add a little more or a little less flour.  Either way, when your dough forms into a ball as you stir it, dump it out onto the counter.

Now it’s time to knead!  Just like the French Bread dough I use for my Calzones, I roll my Hot Roll dough the same way.

First, I pull up the top corner of the dough.

Then, I fold it over to meet the edge.

Next, I press away and into the dough with my great big man-hand.

Finally, I rotate the dough and repeat the process over and over for about 8-10 minutes until a finger poked into the dough springs back.  If the dough begins to stick, add a dusting of flour as needed.

Place dough in a greased bowl and rub oil on top of the dough so that it doesn’t dry out.  Cover bowl with a towel and set in a warm, draft-free area.  Allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough in and divide into twelve balls.

While dough is rising, prepare the meat filling…..

Western Burger Filling 

This filling has similar flavors and textures to a Sloppy Joe only not as sloppy or tangy or tomato-yFeel free to experiment with your own flavors, though!

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (ground turkey also works great)

1 small onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon green bell pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons garlic powder OR 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 small can tomato sauce

Brown meat and veggies over medium-high heat.

Add the next 5 ingredients and stir occasionally until onions turn glossy.  Add in Worcester and tomato sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.  Allow mixture to cool slightly before assembling burgers.

Burger Assembly

Take one dough ball and roll it into a circle about the length of your beefy man-hand.

*Tip: When rolling out the dough circle, continue to flip the dough circle over after every couple of rolls.  This helps it maintain its stretched-out form!

Next, add a couple tablespoons of cheese.  I used Colby Jack, but Momma typically uses American cheese.  In the end, I think I should have used American cheese, too, because it melts better and has a smoother texture.

Next, top cheese with about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture.

This next part is important so pay attention: Bring two sides of the dough circle up and pinch ends together.  Next, bring the opposite sides together and pinch until you have a small bundle that looks similar to this:

Place the bundle seam-side down on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake burgers at 375 degrees until the tops are golden.

I prepared these lovely specimens this weekend in the home of my wonderful friend, Kelly.

Then I served these lovely specimens to my wonderful friend, Kelly, and her family.

Little did I know that across the state, Momma was preparing these lovely specimens, too!

I think this is your sign from God, folks.

And the sign reads: Eat More Western Burgers!

Bread?  Good!

Cheese?  Good!!

Meat?  Good!!!

Western Burgers?  GOOD!!!


21 thoughts on “Western Burgers

  1. Thanks for cooking some great food for us. Everything was soooooo good! I look forward to our next visit. I will try and pick up some new stuff so that I can rival your recipes and we can really make a mess in the kitchen. Take care.

    • Yes, you will need your A-game. I feel a cook-off in the works! haha 🙂 You made some killer dishes yourself. Thanks for all of your hospitality.

    • Really? I thought the sloppy joe-ness of them would scare you away. IN fact, that is why I added the sentence “Feel free to experiment with your own flavors.”

    • OMG!!! You must have been one of the original Western Burger disciples! haha Thank you for sharing your very interesting tidbit…San Angelo of all places! I wonder how far that recipe has traveled. My Grandma’s school district was outside of El Paso!

  2. I also enjoyed the Western Burger back in the 80’s at the school cafeteria in a very small town in central Oklahoma. I was so excited when I googled the recipe and found this!

  3. Did your Mom work for the school district in El Paso, Tx? I have been looking for the Western burger recipe since 1980.

    • You’re close, Sandy! My whole family worked for the Canutillo School District which is where my Grandma found the recipe. Did you enjoy them as a child? THank you so much for reading. 🙂

      • Canutillo? It such a small world! I actually live in Alaska now.
        My sisters and enjoyed Westerm Burgers at our junior high school cafeteria. We all agree that Western Burgers were our favorite lunch meal ever! Several years ago I wrote to the food services unit of the El Paso Independent School district to see if they would share the recipe with me, and no there had ever heard of Western Burgers!
        I have never not been able to find something I needed on the internet, but several searches over the years for Western Burgers has not turned up a single recipe!
        My older sister had a friend who shared your blog with her, and now we aaare sharing it with all of our many friends from El Paso. We all loved Western Burgers. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

      • Wow!!! That is just incredible. My grandma was actually the food manager of CISD and always was on the lookout for meals that saved money and that the kids liked. As schools have gone to more frozen, oven-ready foods, it doesn’t surprise me that they wouldn’t have a recipe. It’s very sad. I miss our school’s chimichangas which they stopped serving in middle school. So glad you are enjoying the recipe!!

  4. I had almost forgot about the western burger in high school, so it brought up more memories of my school lunches.I really loved the school lunches in the 1960s Thank You Joeanna Wilson Ridge

  5. I had went to Ferndale junior high in high point N.C. The food was the main thing that I loved going to school for. Thanks for the western Burger. That and the hamburger pizza buns were so,so good. Bless you for having that recipe.

    • I was JUST talking to a friend the hour you left this comment about how happy I get when someone finds my western burger recipe. Life is amazing. Enjoy and bless YOU for sharing, Joeanna. I thought this dish was only served in the southwest area. Who knew??

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