Keeping Up With Mrs. Smith

When a perfectionist moves into a fixer-upper…

Western Burgers

Print Friendly

Now that I am back from my two week hiatus, I feel the urge to share the Gospel:

“Go ye therefore and make disciples of all cooks, teaching them all I have commanded ye concerning Western Burgers and surely Western Burgers shall be eaten always to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:16-20 (Roughly Translated Version)

Even though my Momma bore five VERY different children, my brothers and sisters all have this in common:


So…what the heck is a “Western Burger” you ask?

Well, lemme start from the beginning….

In the beginning, my Grandma was the food director for the local school district.  One day, Grandma came across a recipe titled “Western Burger” which was essentially a heap of seasoned ground hamburger wrapped in dough and baked.  Appreciating the simplicity and efficiency of the dish, Grandma promptly incorporated them into the school menu.

Since my Momma was in high school around the time of my Grandma’s decision, she was, in turn, one of the many students who were served a “Western Burger” for lunch that year.

Unfortunately, she thought they tasted dry and bland.  Nevertheless, since Momma like the concept of the dish, she began experimenting with the Western Burger idea at home.  She found that adding tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the ground beef made it more moist and flavorful and that yeast dough was softer and more appealing.

Thirty years later, my Momma is still making Western Burgers and her children still request them when they come home to visit.

As for the school cafeteria, I think they stopped serving Western Burgers.

As for the rest of the world, they remain uninformed about the potential awesomeness 0f Western Burgers.

As for me, I have decided to share the good news of Western Burgers with you today!

You owe me BIG time for this, just so you know. :)

Western Burgers

Basic Hot Roll Dough Recipe

In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of very warm water.  Stir to mix and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3 Tablespoons shortening in 1 cup of hot water or milk.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/12 cups of flour, 3 Tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.

By now, your yeast should look like a small science experiment.

Dump the yeast mixture and the shortening/liquid mixture into the flour mixture and give a hearty stir.

Once the mixture is well incorporated, add 1 cup of flour at a time until the dough becomes stiff.

Cook’s Note: Depending on how dry the air is, you may need to add a little more or a little less flour. 

When your dough forms into a ball as you stir it, dump it out onto the counter.

Now it’s time to knead!

First, I pull up the top corner of the dough.

Then, I fold it over to meet the edge.

Next, I press away and into the dough with my great big man-hand.

Finally, I rotate the dough and repeat the process over and over for about 8-10 minutes until dough springs back when poked.  If the dough begins to stick, add a dusting of flour as needed.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with a towel and set in a warm, draft-free area.  Allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough in and divide into twelve balls.

While dough is rising, prepare the meat filling…..

Western Burger Filling 

This filling has similar flavors and textures to a Sloppy Joe only not as sloppy or tangy or tomato-yFeel free to experiment with your own flavors, though!

Add 1 pound ground beef, 1 small chopped onion, a Tablespoon diced bell pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning to a large skillet and saute over medium-high, stirring occasionally.

Add 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauceand 1 small can tomato sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.  Allow mixture to cool slightly before assembling burgers.

Burger Assembly

Take one dough ball and roll it into a circle about the length of your beefy man-hand.

Cook’s Note: When rolling out the dough circle, continue to flip the dough circle over after every couple of rolls.  This helps it maintain its stretched-out form.

Next, add a couple tablespoons of cheese.  I used Colby Jack, but Momma typically uses American cheese.  In the end, I think I should have used American cheese, too, because it melts better and has a smoother texture.

Next, top cheese with about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture.

This next part is important so pay attention: Bring two sides of the dough circle up and pinch ends together.  Next, bring the opposite sides together and pinch until you have a small bundle that looks similar to this:

Place the bundle seam-side down on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake burgers at 375 degrees 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden.

I prepared these lovely specimens this weekend in the home of my wonderful friend, Kelly.

Then I served these lovely specimens to my wonderful friend, Kelly, and her family.

Little did I know that across the state, Momma was preparing these lovely specimens, too!

I think this is your sign from God, folks.

And the sign reads: Eat More Western Burgers!

Bread?  Good!

Cheese?  Good!!

Meat?  Good!!!

Western Burgers?  GOOD!!!

Western Burgers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
You Will Need
  • DOUGH:
  • ¼ cup very warm water (test water on wrist)
  • 1 scant Tablespoon active-dry yeast
  • 3½ cups flour
  • 1 cup hot water or milk
  • 3 Tablespoons shortening
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds ground beef (ground turkey also works great)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder OR 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar
  1. Prepare dough first:
  2. In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over ¼ cup of very warm water. Stir to mix and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 3 Tablespoons shortening in 1 cup of hot water or milk. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/12 cups of flour, 3 Tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt and stir well. Once the mixture is well incorporated, add 1 cup of flour at a time until the dough becomes stiff. When your dough forms into a ball as you stir it, dump dough on counter and knead 8-10 minutes until dough springs back when pressed.
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough in and divide into twelve balls.
  4. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling:
  5. Add beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic and Montreal Steak Seasoning to a large skillet and saute over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce and simmer for 5-7 minutes over medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow mixture to cool slightly before assembling burgers.
  6. To assemble, roll a ball of dough into a 6" diameter circle. Add a couple tablespoons of cheese in the center and top with 3 Tablespoons of meat filling. Fold edges in and pinch dough seams together to secure. Place burger seam-side-down on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat with rest of dough and filling.
  7. Bake at 375F until tops are golden, 15-20 minutes.


21 Responses to Western Burgers

  • This was one of my favorite school lunchroom foods. But the meat mixture is a little different from the one that I ate. Not saying that yours is bad, cause it sounds sooooo good and I’m gonna try it the next time I make them,, but I wanted to add here for everyone the mixture that I grew up on. After someof you try it, let me know what you think if you don’t mind.
    Here it is:
    1 lb hamburger meat
    salt and pepper
    1 onion, chopped (or less for taste)
    2 teaspoonsprepared mustard
    2 tablespoons salad dressing (Miracle Whip)
    1/4 lbcheese, grated (American)
    Cook first 3 ingred together till onions are tender and meat is no longer pink. Drain; Add mustard, dressing, and cheese. Mix together; Now the key is to place in refrigerator overnight . The next day, make your dough and put 2 tablespoons of mixture in the palm of your hand and roll into a ball. Place the ball in the center of your dough round and fold up. Bake as directed in above recipe.

    That’s it. Let me know what yall think.

    • Thanks, Lavonda. Where did you grow up? Never thought to add mayo to the mix. My mom actually made up the filling recipe based on what she felt was in the burger mix.

  • Did your Mom work for the school district in El Paso, Tx? I have been looking for the Western burger recipe since 1980.

    • You’re close, Sandy! My whole family worked for the Canutillo School District which is where my Grandma found the recipe. Did you enjoy them as a child? THank you so much for reading. :)

      • Canutillo? It such a small world! I actually live in Alaska now.
        My sisters and enjoyed Westerm Burgers at our junior high school cafeteria. We all agree that Western Burgers were our favorite lunch meal ever! Several years ago I wrote to the food services unit of the El Paso Independent School district to see if they would share the recipe with me, and no there had ever heard of Western Burgers!
        I have never not been able to find something I needed on the internet, but several searches over the years for Western Burgers has not turned up a single recipe!
        My older sister had a friend who shared your blog with her, and now we aaare sharing it with all of our many friends from El Paso. We all loved Western Burgers. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

        • Wow!!! That is just incredible. My grandma was actually the food manager of CISD and always was on the lookout for meals that saved money and that the kids liked. As schools have gone to more frozen, oven-ready foods, it doesn’t surprise me that they wouldn’t have a recipe. It’s very sad. I miss our school’s chimichangas which they stopped serving in middle school. So glad you are enjoying the recipe!!

  • This is one of our favorite school lunch menu items. I’m glad I now have the recipe to make them at home. Thanks!

  • I also enjoyed the Western Burger back in the 80′s at the school cafeteria in a very small town in central Oklahoma. I was so excited when I googled the recipe and found this!

  • my wife worked in the San Angelo, TX school cafeteria in the 1980′s and they served western burgers as well. Love them

    • OMG!!! You must have been one of the original Western Burger disciples! haha Thank you for sharing your very interesting tidbit…San Angelo of all places! I wonder how far that recipe has traveled. My Grandma’s school district was outside of El Paso!

  • This looks delicious!! Gonna have to try this one!

  • This is “Momma” approved! :)

  • Thanks for cooking some great food for us. Everything was soooooo good! I look forward to our next visit. I will try and pick up some new stuff so that I can rival your recipes and we can really make a mess in the kitchen. Take care.

  • BELIEVE in the POWER of the western burger!!!! It is awesome!!!!:-D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Rate this recipe:  

CommentLuv badge

Never miss a post by subscribing today!

Follow on Bloglovin
The Chicken Chick
A Bright and Beautiful Life
Detours in Life
Find me on