Steak burgers are large, flavor-filled hamburgers that are created in a size and style that makes them reminiscent of the type of meat served at traditional steakhouses. The meat used is usually a higher quality or leaner variety than standard ground beef. Spices for the meat may include steak sauces and dried steak seasonings that often are used for other barbecued meats. Steak burgers traditionally are grilled or broiled over a fire, although a cast iron skillet or grill pan also can be used. When served, steak burgers could be large enough to eat on a plate with a fork and knife, or they may be served in a bowl to catch their abundant juices, although a toasted bun is almost always still part of the meal.
A large part of the flavor of steak burgers rests with the type of meat from which they are made. Ground chuck can be used, although a leaner grind is preferred. More often, ground sirloin is used for its beefy flavor and rich texture. Some higher-end burgers can use ground meat from short ribs, porterhouse steaks or even fillet mignon. Additionally, the grind is usually very rough so the meat has some texture and resilience, allowing it to better hold moisture even over the heat of a grill.
Once the meat is ground, it usually is spiced with seasonings that invoke a savory, smoky flavor. Thick steak sauces are frequently used, as is Worcestershire sauce, mustard and sometimes ketchup. A dried spice mix can be patted on the surface of the patties or mixed in with the meat to complement the steak sauce.
When steak burgers are formed into patties, they usually are made thicker than a traditional hamburger patty. They also are generally wider so they eclipse the buns being used. The size of the burgers allows them to endure higher cooking temperatures and to retain more of the meat juices inside.
To emulate some of the flavors of a steakhouse, steak burgers are usually cooked over an open flame. They also can be broiled or fried in a heavy bottomed pan. Some chefs cook the meat slowly until it is almost done and then sear the outside at the last moment, while others attempt to cook the burgers quickly, leaving the inside rare and the outside charred. The end result should be a burger that looks more like a juicy steak than a traditional hamburger.
When served, steak burgers can be placed on a sturdy roll that has been grilled with butter. Large pieces of onion, lettuce and tomato can be placed on top, although cheese is not used on steak burgers as often as it is used on hamburgers. Some people refer to larger preparations of the dish as "knife and fork burgers", because they can easily be too large to pick up and eat without creating a mess.