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"'The Menu' Cheeseburger" Has Audiences (And Me) Drooling All Over Themselves, And It Couldn't Be Easier To Make In Your Own Kitchen

It's the most beautiful burger I've ever seen, and as it turns out, it's also the most delicious.

As someone who a) writes about food for a living and b) can usually be found perched in front of his TV when he's not doing that, I literally jump for joy when food-centered shows and movies get released. Needless to say, when Searchlight's dark comedy The Menu was first announced in 2022, I just about fainted.

ralph fiennes looking at chefs plating in the menu

Now that it's streaming on HBO Max, I'm happy to report that the film surpassed my already-high expectations. But to be perfectly honest, I went to bed tossing and turning over something altogether unexpected after my initial viewing — something that had absolutely nothing to do with the extravagantly plated dishes, the stellar ensemble, or the objectively clever writing. The element of the film that's been living rent-free in my brain ever since? A cheeseburger. In the context of the movie, it brought a tear to my eye and a tiny, embarrassing droplet of drool to my lap, and I've been craving it ever since.

chef pressing down on cheeseburger in the menu

If you haven't seen The Menu yet, don't worry. I won't spoil anything for you about the significance of this burger. But let's just say that I'm not the only one who wanted to reach through the screen and grab that burger for myself.

need everyone who's watching The Menu for the first time to know that you're required to buy a cheeseburger afterward

Twitter: @sairated

The thirst — or should I say hunger — was real.

Just saw The Menu, which was excellent, and had to get a cheeseburger immediately after. If you know you know… #themenu @TheMenuFilm

Twitter: @RaidersLostPod

Like, it even had non-burger eaters talking.

I don’t even eat cheeseburgers but damn that cheeseburger in The Menu made me want to eat a cheeseburger

Twitter: @JackMovies17

So what did I do? I did what any ol' food writer would do, and I reached out to the film's studio to figure out how the hell they made a simple cheeseburger look this viscerally appetizing. Luckily for me, they were more than willing to share.

The set of The Menu was stacked with major players in the food world so the courses (and actors who "prepared" them) would look as legit as possible. Case in point: Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn worked with the team to bring the menu to life, and the creator of Netflix's Chef's Table, David Gelb, consulted with the filmmakers to create those impeccable shots of each course. The pro responsible for the burger, in particular, was Savannah, Georgia chef John Benhase, who is a partner at the street-food destination Starland Yard. And if everyone's collective cheeseburger frenzy is any indication, it's pretty evident that he knows how to make a great one.

chef dominique crenn on the set of the menu

Chef Benhase told BuzzFeed exactly how to make these mouthwatering burgers, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've cooked them up multiple times since receiving the recipe. The exact number, however, I would be embarrassed to admit. They really are that good.

Here's how to make 'em just like they did on the set of The Menu.

First, the ingredients. Here's what you'll need according to the chef himself:

1 tablespoon butter, 6 ounces ground beef, two slices yellow american cheese, seasoned salt, burger sauce of choice, pickle chips, thinly shaved yellow onion, sesame seed bun

You'll also need two particular pieces of kitchen equipment: a heavy-bottom skillet that's not nonstick, like cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel; and a sturdy steel burger flipper. For the latter, the thinner the better.

make sure you have a sturdy steel burger flipper and a heavy bottom skillet

STEP #1: If you have a vent over your stove, turn it on. You'll need it. You can even open a window! And if you just so happened to want to unplug your smoke detector for the time being, that also wouldn't be the worst idea. Just remember to plug it back in later.

Things are about to get a little smoky.

STEP #2: Prep your burger balls. As Chef Benhase puts it: "Burger balls are key." (Aren't they just.)

3 ounces of burger meat being shaped into balls

Once your burger balls are shaped, you can actually pop them on a plate and put them into the freezer until you're ready to cook them, as long you'll be ready in 15 minutes or less so they won't, you know, freeze. As the chef says, the colder the meat, the juicier it'll be.

burger balls on plate in the freezer

STEP #3: Get your buns nice and buttery and toast 'em. Over medium-low heat, melt the butter in your skillet and add the buns, cut side down. Toast them until they turn golden brown, about 2–3 minutes, and reserve until you're ready to plate.

toasting buns on the skillet

STEP #4: After wiping out the excess butter and sesame seeds in your skillet, crank up the heat. Like, a lot. You'll want to heat up your skillet to the point that a droplet of water actually beads up and dances around the skillet instead of immediately evaporating, like so:

STEP #5: Pop your cold burger balls onto your skillet and smash them. No need to add oil!

smoky skillet with burger balls on it

I've found that the best method for smashing your burgers is to place a small sheet of parchment paper over each burger ball, place your sturdy flipper on top, and press the back of your flipper into the burger balls until they're flat. The parchment paper will peel right off the burgers, and your flipper won't get stuck to the ground beef.

pulling parchment paper off of smashed burger on skillet

STEP #6: Season the raw side of the burgers generously...

seasoning on burger

...and lay the thinly shaved onions on top of each. When they did this in the movie, I was wowed. And in real life, it makes such a huge difference in the flavor department.

shaved onions on top of burger

STEP #7: Once the first sides have been seared for about 2 minutes, you'll flip them. "When flipping, you want to really scrape to make sure you don’t lose any of the crispy bits," Chef Benhase instructs.

crispy crust on burger

STEP #8: Add your American cheese to the top of each burger. To make it just like they did in The Menu, make sure the four corners are slightly hanging off the sides of each patty. As the cheese melts, it'll start to give you those "fried egg edges," the chef says.

american cheese placed on top of burger

STEP #9: While the cheese melts, add your pickles to the bottom toasted bun and slather your burger sauce of choice all over the top bun. I used a 1:1 ratio of mayo to ketchup here, and it was delish.

burger buns with sauce and pickles on either side

STEP #10: As soon as the cheese is melted and turning golden brown at the edges, remove them from the skillet and onto your prepped burger bun. Really scrape the bottom of your skillet so you don't lose the onions or crispy cheese bits.

crispy golden brown edges on burger

Stack the patties, add the top bun, and you're ready to eat.

author holding the burger in hand

In the looks department, not bad at all, if I do say so myself.

the menu burger vs the author's burger

Between the crunchy crust on the outside of the burger patties, the gooey cheese, the crisp pickles, and the pillowy-soft buns, it's also a textural masterpiece. I mean, I could cry over that crust.

crust is really crispy on the burger

And juiciness? Delivered. (And then some.)

burger juices below the burger on a white plate

When I say it's easily the best burger I've ever had, I tell no lies. Sometimes simple truly is better, and The Menu's cheeseburger is bona fide proof of that.

Whether or not The Menu ends up winning any awards this year, let me assure you that this burger is Oscar-worthy. If you try it out for yourself, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below. And if you decide to stream the film after reading this post, do "future you" a favor and make sure you have some burger ingredients on hand. You will be very, very glad you did.