I made Ina Garten’s caramelized-onion burgers, and the easy recipe was perfect for a late summer cookout

Ina garten caramelized onion burger
I tried making Ina Garten’s recipe for caramelized-onion smash burgers and they were easy and delicious. Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images; Erin McDowell/Insider

Ina Garten has come up with multiple different burger recipes during her decades-long career.
Ina garten eating a burger and a photo of the author smiling
Ina Garten eating a burger (left) and the author. Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images
Ahead of Labor Day weekend, I decided to give one of her burger recipes a try. The recipe for smashed hamburgers with caramelized onions called to me because of its simplicity — a number of the ingredients I needed were already in my pantry. Plus, unlike other burger recipes, I didn’t need a grill. 

I recently moved into a new apartment, meaning my cooking utensils and pantry staples were severely lacking. However, I had most of the things I needed to start cooking — a testament to Ina Garten’s flair for simple, yet delicious, recipes. 

The first step in the recipe is preparing the caramelized onions.
Red onion slices cooking in a black pan
Red onion slices. Erin McDowell/Insider
The recipe calls for two medium red onions, thinly sliced.

All in all, this recipe only requires a few basic ingredients. You can find the full ingredient list and recipe instructions on her website here.

I added 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a large nonstick pan over medium heat and then added the onions.
Red onion slices cooking in a black pan with a wooden spoon
Red onion slices cooking. Erin McDowell/Insider
Garten says it should take about eight to 10 minutes for the onions to start to brown. I liked that this recipe didn’t require a grill, making it apartment-friendly for this New Yorker on Labor Day weekend.
While the onions were browning, I began preparing the burgers themselves.
A package of lean ground beef
A package of lean ground beef. Erin McDowell/Insider
The recipe calls for a pound and a half of ground beef with 20% fat. I easily found this at my local grocery store for $US5.31 ($AU7), which I thought was an excellent deal considering I was able to feed four people with it.
To make the burgers, you season the meat with Colman’s mustard powder, black pepper, and kosher salt.
Colman's mustard powder, black pepper, and kosher salt on a counter
Colman’s mustard powder, black pepper, and kosher salt. Erin McDowell/Insider
I had never used mustard powder in a recipe before but was excited to see if it would add more flavor to the burgers.
I mixed together the ground meat and seasonings in a glass mixing bowl.
Ground beef in a glass bowl
Ground beef in a glass bowl. Erin McDowell/Insider
This was so much easier and simpler than adding an egg or a ton of other ingredients like many celebrity chef burger recipes require.
I shaped the meat into four burger patties and placed them on a plate in the freezer, per Garten’s instructions.
Four uncooked hamburger patties on a paper plate in a freezer
The burger patties in the freezer. Erin McDowell/Insider
The chef says the burgers should stay in the freezer for exactly 15 minutes, so I set a timer to make sure I wouldn’t go over or under the mark. I assumed this step was to help the burgers keep their shape when I added them to the cast-iron skillet.
After adding a teaspoon of sugar to the onions and letting them caramelize for a few minutes, I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
A person holding a bottle of red wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar. Erin McDowell/Insider
Garten explains this step is to help deglaze the pan. 
After less than a minute, my onions were lightly caramelized and ready to add to the burgers.
Caramelized onions in a black pan
Caramelized onions. Erin McDowell/Insider
I took them off the heat while I waited for the burgers to be ready to add to the pan.
I heated up a couple of tablespoons of oil in my trusty cast-iron skillet and waited for the burgers to be done in the freezer.
Oil in a cast iron skillet
Oil in a cast-iron skillet. Erin McDowell/Insider
While this recipe does call for two different pans, it doesn’t require many extra bowls or equipment, which I greatly appreciated when it was time to clean up.
I placed the burger patties down in the cast iron and made sure not to move them once they made contact.
Burger patties in a cast iron skillet
Burger patties. Erin McDowell/Insider
Each burger patty should be about an inch thick. While all my burgers weren’t the exact same size, I figured I did a good enough job and was able to use every last bit of the meat mixture.
To put the “smash” in “smashburger,” I pressed down firmly on my burgers with a spatula.
Burger patties in a cast iron skillet with a spatula
Burger patties. Erin McDowell/Insider
This definitely would have worked a little better with a metal spatula, as Garten suggests using, but I made do with the one I had in my kitchen. In the end, the burgers turned out well.
After the burgers had cooked on one side for three minutes, becoming perfectly crispy, I flipped them over and added my toppings.
Hamburgers cooking in a cast iron skillet with caramelized onions and cheese
The hamburgers cooking in the cast-iron skillet. Erin McDowell/Insider
I grated some Gruyere cheese to top the burgers and added the caramelized onions on top. Then, I placed a lid on the skillet to allow the cheese to melt completely and finish cooking the burgers.
After about two minutes, my burgers were done.
A person holding a burger
The finished burger. Erin McDowell/Insider
Garten suggests using sandwich potato rolls, such as Martin’s, for the burgers, so I did just that.
When I cut into the burger, it was perfectly medium rare.
A person holding half of a burger
The finished burger. Erin McDowell/Insider
I’m admittedly not the best at telling when burgers are done to my liking, but Garten’s timing worked out perfectly.
The burger blew me away – it was juicy, flavorful, and the onions added the perfect amount of sweetness.
A person holding half of a burger
The finished burger. Erin McDowell/Insider
This recipe is great for grill masters and burger novices alike, as you only need a few ingredients to get a delicious burger. Even my roommates were surprised by how tasty these simple burgers turned out. 

I’ll definitely be making these burgers again for an easy dinner or even a summer party with friends.