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Caramelized onion burgers are juicy and flavorful, smothered with Swiss cheese and rich balsamic caramelized onions. You can whip them up on the grill or the stovetop!

close up front view of caramelized onion burger with fries on white plate

If you love a good burger, you’re in for a treat! These are a just a little bit different, but they really feel special.

Caramelized onions are the part of this recipe that takes the most time. But once they’re made, they keep well in the fridge for about a week!

With a touch of balsamic vinegar, the sweet and tangy flavor of rich, buttery caramelized onion really elevates these burgers. Slightly nutty, gooey melted Swiss cheese and a sprinkling of fresh peppery arugula take them over the top.

It might be an oxymoron, but these burgers almost feel fancy, lol!

Easy Caramelized Onion Burgers Recipe

Ingredients

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), please see the recipe card below.

Balsamic Caramelized Onion:

ingredients for balsamic caramelized onions
  • Butter – we use a little butter for richness and to help prevent the onions from sticking
  • Onion – my favorite type of onion to use to make caramelized onion is yellow onion, but white onion, red onion, and even sweet onion will all work
  • Water – when caramelizing onion, it’s helpful to add a splash of water if the onion starts to stick to the pan or starts to scorch instead of caramelize
  • Salt – to enhance the flavor
  • Balsamic vinegar – the sweet/tart fruity flavor of balsamic vinegar is the perfect offset to rich, sweet caramelized onion; essentially, the acid in vinegar helps balance the flavor profile

Burgers:

burger ingredients
  • Ground chuck – ground chuck is around 20% fat content with about 80% lean meat
  • Worcestershire sauce – just a little bit of this robust condiment adds a ton of flavor
  • Garlic powder, salt, and black pepper – these simple pantry staple-ingredients season the burgers perfectly

Other:

ingredients for caramelized onion burgers
  • Buns – buns are optional; to keep the carbs down you really won’t miss them
  • Sliced Jarlsberg cheese – or any Swiss cheese you like
  • Fresh arugula – this is optional, but the peppery bite of arugula pairs well with the richness of caramelized onion and the robust flavor of burgers

How to Make Caramelized Onion Burgers

Make the Caramelized Onion

how to make caramelized onions
  1. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion.
  2. Cook the onion until it is deep golden in color, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water when it starts to stick to the pan, or when it starts to get too dark. Adjust the heat down as necessary so the onion doesn’t burn. This is the onion after cooking 10 minutes.
  3. This is after cooking 20 minutes.
  4. This is at the 30-minute point. The onions are beautifully caramelized.
  5. Once caramelized, stir in the salt and balsamic and cook about 1 minute, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Remove from the heat.

Make the Burger Patties

how to make burger patties out of hamburger
  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and use your hands to combine.
  2. Shape the meat into 4 patties.

Grill the Burgers

how to grill burgers

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill the burgers for 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on your desired level of doneness (the USDA recommends cooking burgers to an internal temperature of 160F for food safety reasons). Top with the cheese and let it melt.

If you want to toast the buns, you can open them and grill until there are char marks (about 20 seconds).

To serve, put the burgers on the bottom buns, top with caramelized onion, arugula, and the top buns. Enjoy!

To Make These Burgers on the Stovetop

No worries if you don’t have a grill, you can easily make these burgers on the stovetop!

A heavy-bottomed skillet (such as cast-iron) works well, and you’ll want the pan pretty hot (about a medium-high heat level). For full directions, please see my recipe for Cast Iron Burgers.

Storage

Store leftover burgers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. And make sure to refrigerate them within 2 hours of cooking! You can read more about the food safety of burgers on the USDA website.

burger with caramelized onion and swiss cheese

What to Serve with Caramelized Onion Burgers

You can serve these gourmet burgers with any side dishes you’d serve with regular burgers! Here are a few ideas:

front view of burger cooked to medium doneness with bite taken out

Caramelized Onion Burgers FAQs

What Type of Cheese is Best for Burgers?

This is a matter of personal preference because just about any kind of cheese that you can slice that melts well is great for a burger.

The only types of cheese I try to avoid for burgers are crumbly cheeses, because they don’t usually melt well, and it’s harder to get cheese crumbles to stay on top of burgers!

Here are a few cheeses that are great on burgers:

  • Swiss cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • American cheese
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Provolone cheese
overhead view of spread of gourmet burgers with caramelized onion swiss cheese and arugula

What Kind of Ground Beef is Good for Burgers?

I like to use ground beef with a slightly higher fat ratio of 85/15 or 80/20 (usually ground chuck), instead of a leaner fat ratio of 90/10 or 93/7 (typically ground sirloin).

This is because a higher percentage of fat yields a more juicy, flavorful burger. And quite a bit of the fat cooks off while the burgers are grilling anyway.

However, you can absolutely use a ground beef with a lower fat content if that fits better into your lifestyle and eating!

What Temperature do You Grill Burgers?

You grill burgers at medium-high heat (around 375F) to high heat (approximately 400F).

The length of time that it takes to grill burgers will depend on your desired level of doneness. I usually cook 1/3-pound hamburgers for about 4 minutes per side for medium-ish doneness. Note that the USDA recommends cooking burgers to an internal temperature of 160F for food safety reasons.

More Burger Recipes to Try

caramelized onion burgers served with french fries on dark wooden table

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Caramelized Onion Burgers

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Caramelized onion burgers are juicy and flavorful, smothered with Swiss cheese and rich balsamic caramelized onions. You can whip them up on the grill or the stovetop!

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Ingredients
 

Caramelized Onion:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 extremely large onion peeled and thinly sliced (about 5 cups sliced)
  • 1/4 cup water slightly more or less as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Burgers:

Other:

  • 4 good-quality buns split and toasted
  • 4 ounces sliced Jarlsberg cheese or any Swiss cheese you like
  • 2 cups fresh arugula

Instructions
 

For the Caramelized Onion:

  • Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion. Cook the onion until it is deep golden in color, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water when it starts to stick to the pan, or when it starts to get too dark. Adjust the heat down as necessary so the onion doesn’t burn. Once caramelized, stir in the salt and balsamic and cook about 1 mintue, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.

For the Burgers:

  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and use your hands to combine. Shape the meat into 4 patties.
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill the burgers for 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on your desired level of doneness (the USDA recommends cooking burgers to an internal temperature of 160F for food safety reasons). Top with the cheese and let it melt.
  • If you want to toast the buns, you can open them and grill until there are char marks (about 20 seconds).

To Serve:

  • Put the burgers on the bottom buns, top with caramelized onion, arugula, and the top buns. Serve.

Notes

  • To Make These Burgers on the Stovetop: No worries if you don’t have a grill, you can easily make these burgers on the stovetop! A heavy-bottomed skillet (such as cast-iron) works well, and you’ll want the pan pretty hot (about a medium-high heat level). For full directions, please see my recipe for Cast Iron Burgers.
  • Storage: Store leftover burgers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Once caramelized onion cools to room temperature, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1burger | Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 142mg | Sodium: 1259mg | Potassium: 566mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 650IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 370mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Burger with Caramelized Onions, Caramelized Onion Burger Recipe, Caramelized Onion Burgers

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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