Pita Burgers with In-N-Out Sauce

I’ve been wanting to put a big, juicy burger on the weekly meal plan for a while now and it finally happened this week. If I’m honest, I was imagining how delightful a photo of a burger would look on my Instagram feed more than I was actually wanting to eat a burger. As it happens, I am way more impressed by the quality of the burger than I am by the way the photos turned out. Go figure. It’s totally my mistake because in trying to keep my recipe weeknight-friendly, I used a pita to house my patty instead of the traditional hamburger bun. You may not know this…I didn’t…but pitas aren’t pretty to photograph. Live and learn.

Back to the burger. The patties themselves were simple. Ground chuck, salt, pepper and pinch of garlic salt. If you’re going to go big with the toppings, as I did, leave the beef alone so there aren’t too many competing flavors. You want the all around taste of the entire burger to be what you remember, not the overly seasoned beef. I cooked the patties diner-style on an electric griddle. For those of you who think a hamburger simply must be grilled, I’d love for you to give this method a shot. It gave them a really nice, crispy, brown crust.

The big flavor punch came in the toppings…plum tomatoes, butter lettuce, caramelized onions and my take on In-N-Out’s special sauce. You could (and probably should), add bacon to this burger to up the ante even more. You really can’t go wrong!

Pita Burgers with In N Out Sauce

For the burgers:

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil 4 pitas
2 plum tomatoes
butter lettuce
1 onion, thinly sliced
1⁄2 stick of unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

1 cup mayo
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. For the sauce, add the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and slowly cook to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a cast-­‐iron skillet or large heavy griddle pan over medium-­‐ high heat.
  4. Form chuck into 4 balls with your hands. Season balls with salt and pepper on all sides.
  5. Add the canola oil to the heated griddle. Place the burger balls on the griddle and sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Then, using a spatula, press the balls down, flattening them down as you spread them out. You want the patties to be about an 1⁄2 inch thick. Let the burger get a nice char on one side, and then flip so they get nice and crusty brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  6. Half pita bread so that they are half-­‐circle pockets. Spread sauce on both inside walls of pita. Be generous. Add patty, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onions to pocket. Serve remaining sauce on the side. (If your burgers are too large for one pita pocket, cut them in half and make 2 or reserve as leftovers.)


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