Let’s take a moment to think about some of our favorite burgers and why we like to eat them.
For those of you who are lucky to live on (or travel to) the West Coast, you may say In-N-Out’s beauty is the two thin patties of 100 percent American beef smashed together with fresh tomato and lettuce on a homemade bun. For all of you East Coasters, you may believe that Danny Meyer’s custom-blend burger topped with gooey American cheese is that much more incredible because of that incredibly long line you just waited on. And there’s even the McDonald’s Big Mac (we know there’s some of you out there who love it), which has some unyielding power over us when we wrap our hands around one in the late-night drive-thru lane.
But all three of these burgers have one very important thing in common — a special sauce. For the McDonald’s patty, the sauce is nameless and is slathered on your burger every time; at Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack location, it gets a name (Shake Sauce) and comes without asking on their Shack Burger. And lastly, at In-N-Out, it’s called their Animal Sauce, and it's not even listed on the menu (but thankfully the majority of America knows to order it, anyway, and you can now buy it packaged and bring it home).
The point we’re trying to make here is that with almost every great burger comes a great special sauce. While many of you may be traditionalists and stick to the good old ketchup-and-mustard routine, we believe that a special sauce has the power to elevate a burger to a whole new level of goodness, and that includes your homemade creations, not just the ones found on some of our favorite store-bought burgers.
Looking back on our 50 Best Burgers recipes, we noticed several burgers that had a special edge to them because of their sauce. It got us thinking. With grilling season upon us, we want to make sure we have everything in line to prepare the perfect burger — from the beef blend to the bun, right down to the sauce.
In order to craft our special sauce, we took a look at some of our favorite ones mentioned above, as well as some new versions we came across during our journey to find the 50 of the best burger recipes. To help us with our recipe, James Beard Award finalist Andy Husbands, barbecue guru Chris Hart, and food write Andrea Pyenson (also known as the authors of Wicked Good Burgers) gave us a few pointers that are important to remember when concocting an original recipe. This list of tips is meant to inspire you when you make your own special sauce at home, or even when you’re trying to replicate one of your favorite store-bought kinds. Check out what these burger masters have to say about dousing your burger perfectly in sauce, and look to some of our favorite burger recipes with their own sauce for inspiration.
Anne Dolce is the Cook editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce