Hamburger: What You Might not Know about the Iconic American Dish

Last updated on October 6th, 2023 at 02:32 pm

The hamburger is a beloved culinary icon that represents the spirit of America and has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. While the United States doesn’t have an official national dish, certain foods like are often considered quintessentially American—starting with the hamburger.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the history of the hamburger, exploring its humble beginnings and its rise to global fame. We will uncover interesting anecdotes about its invention, its evolution over time, and its cultural significance. From its roots as a simple sandwich to its transformation into a fast food staple, the hamburger has a story that is as rich and diverse as the country it represents.

Our team at Remitly created this guide as part of our series on traditional foods, in celebration of our global customers.

History and Origin of the Hamburger

The origin of the hamburger is a story that is shrouded in mystery and controversy. Some claim that the first hamburger was made in the German city of Hamburg, while others believe that it was created in the United States. However, most historians agree that the modern hamburger as we know it today was first served in the late 1800s in the United States.

The first hamburger was a simple sandwich consisting of a beef patty, bread, and onions. It was sold by street vendors in American cities and was a popular snack among blue-collar workers.

However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the hamburger gained mainstream popularity. This was due in large part to the rise of fast food chains like McDonald’s, which made the hamburger a staple of American cuisine.

Hands of Chef setting up cheeseburger meal from BBQ grill lunch outdoor at 4th July backyard celebration.

Ingredients and Preparation

The ingredients and preparation of the hamburger have evolved, but the basic components remain the same: a beef patty, bread, and toppings.

The beef patty is typically made from ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked on a grill or griddle. The type of bread used can vary, but a soft and slightly sweet bun is the most common.

Toppings can include cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and sauces like ketchup and mustard. The combinations are endless, and many Americans have their own personal preferences when it comes to how they like their hamburger.

As the primary ingredient in the hamburger, the quality of the ground beef is essential to the taste and texture of the final product. Ground beef is typically made from the chuck or round cuts of beef, which are less expensive and have a higher fat content. The beef is ground to a fine consistency and then shaped into patties.

The Hamburger’s Variations

The hamburger has spawned countless variations, each with its own unique twist. Some popular variations include the cheeseburger, bacon burger, and mushroom burger. Fast food chains like In-N-Out Burger and Shake Shack have also developed their own signature burgers that have gained a cult following.

One of the most unusual variations of the hamburger is the ramen burger. This burger replaces the bun with two patties made from compressed ramen noodles. It was first introduced in New York City in 2013 and quickly became a viral sensation.

The Iconic Status of the Hamburger in American Cuisine

The hamburger has become an iconic symbol of American cuisine and culture. It is a staple at backyard barbecues, county fairs, and sporting events. It has even been immortalized in pop culture, appearing in movies, television shows, and music.

The hamburger is also a source of pride for many Americans, who see it as a representation of their country’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. It has become a symbol of the American Dream, and many immigrants to the United States have embraced it as a way to assimilate into American culture.

Fast Food and the Hamburger’s Popularity

The rise of fast food chains in the mid-20th century played a major role in the hamburger’s popularity. Chains like McDonald’s and Burger King made the hamburger accessible to millions of Americans and helped to standardize its preparation and presentation. They also introduced new variations and flavor combinations, further fueling the hamburger’s popularity.

Today, the fast food industry continues to be a major player in the hamburger market. However, there has also been a growing trend towards gourmet burgers, with many restaurants offering high-end versions made from premium ingredients like Kobe beef and truffles.

Recipe: Classic Hamburger


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Toppings of your choice (cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, etc.)
  • Condiments of your choice (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.)


  1. Preheat your grill or griddle to medium-high heat.
  2. Divide the ground beef into four equal portions and shape each portion into a patty, about 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides of the patties with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the patties on the grill or griddle and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until they reach your desired level of doneness.
  4. While the patties are cooking, lightly toast the hamburger buns on the grill or in a toaster.
  5. Once the patties are cooked, remove them from the grill or griddle and let them rest for a few minutes.
  6. Assemble your hamburgers by placing a patty on the bottom half of each bun. Add your desired toppings and condiments.
  7. Place the top half of the bun on each hamburger and serve immediately.

Enjoy your classic hamburger with your favorite side dishes and enjoy the delicious flavors of this iconic American dish!

Learn More about American Cuisine

American cuisine is as diverse and varied as the country itself. It is a melting pot of flavors and influences from around the world, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of its people. From hearty comfort foods to innovative fusion dishes, American cuisine offers something for everyone.

One of the defining characteristics of American cuisine is its regional diversity. Each region has its own unique culinary traditions and specialties. In the South, you’ll find dishes like fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and gumbo. In the Northeast, seafood is a staple, with dishes like clam chowder and lobster rolls. The Midwest is known for its hearty comfort foods, such as meatloaf, casseroles, and hotdish. And in the West, you’ll find a fusion of flavors from Mexico and Asia, with dishes like tacos, sushi, and avocado toast.

American cuisine is also known for its love of barbecue. From slow-smoked ribs to tangy pulled pork, barbecue is a beloved tradition in many parts of the country. Each region has its own style of barbecue, with different types of meat, sauces, and cooking techniques. Whether you prefer sweet and sticky Kansas City-style barbecue or spicy and vinegary Carolina-style barbecue, there is a barbecue style to suit every taste.

Another iconic aspect of American cuisine is its love of fast food. The United States is home to some of the world’s most famous fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC. Fast food has become a part of American culture, offering quick and convenient meals for people on the go. While fast food is often associated with unhealthy eating, there has been a growing trend towards healthier options, with many chains offering salads, grilled chicken, and vegetarian options.

In recent years, there has also been a resurgence of interest in traditional American ingredients and cooking techniques. Chefs and home cooks alike are embracing farm-to-table dining, using locally sourced ingredients and traditional cooking methods to create innovative and delicious dishes. From farm-fresh produce to artisanal cheeses and craft beers, there is a renewed focus on quality and sustainability in American cuisine.

Whether you’re a fan of classic comfort foods or adventurous fusion dishes, American cuisine has something to offer everyone. Its diverse flavors and culinary traditions make it a truly unique and exciting part of the global food scene. So, the next time you’re in the United States, be sure to explore the local cuisine and discover the delicious flavors that make American food so special.

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