You Have to Try Ernest Hemingway’s Personal Burger Recipe

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Ernest Hemingway was a man’s man. He was an outdoorsman, war correspondent, great american novelist, and veteran of both World Wars who fished in Cuba, and hunted in Africa. Like every other red-blooded American man, Hemingway was particular about his burgers.

Lucky for us, he left behind his recipe, complete with handwritten notes. It is a fried burger, but as the man says, “There’s no reason a fried burger has to turn out grey, greasy, paper-thin, and tasteless. You can add all sorts of flavors and goodies to the ground beef….Papa prefers this combination.”

Hemingway’s burger, which he called the “Wild West Burger”, is a lot like the man: given to excess, complex, and robust. It is also like his writing: subtle, straightforward, and difficult to put down. This burger isn’t for calorie counters or people worried about cholesterol. This isn’t a burger you will find on Pinterest. This is a man’s burger best served with a cold beer at the end of a hard day’s work.

Hemingway’s Wild West Burger Recipe:


  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 2 cloves minced Garlic
  • 2 Little Green Onions, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Pickle Relish
  • 2 tablespoons Capers
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt and Pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten in a cup with a fork
  • 1/3 cup Dry Red or White Wine
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Note: I have left off Mei Yen powder, which is basically just MSG. If you really want to recreate the recipe mix a pinch of salt, a dash of sugar and a drop of soy sauce to the mix.


Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion and dry seasonings over it, then mix them into the meat with a fork or your fingers. Let the bowl of meat sit out for ten or fifteen minutes while you set the table and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, everything else including wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another ten minutes if possible.

Your choice of red or white wine will significantly affect the taste. I prefer white wine- the flavors are big enough with out a robust red wine in the mix. It seems Hemingway would just use whatever was on hand, which is also a great way to cook.

Now make four fat, juicy patties with your hands. The patties should be an inch thick, and soft in texture but not runny. Warm the oil in your frying-pan until it is hot but not smoking. Drop in the patties and then turn the heat down and fry the burgers about four minutes. Take the pan off the burner and turn the heat high again. Flip the burgers over, put the pan back on the hot fire, then after one minute, turn the heat down again and cook another three minutes. Both sides of the burger should be crispy brown and the middle pink and juicy.

Warm your favorite bun until lightly toasted. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!