This air fryer version of the classic regional burger from El Reno, Oklahoma features grilled onions cooked in every possible state. From blackened, to soft and caramelized. The Oklahoma Onion Burger is a timeless piece of Americana that has endured for over 100 years, and is the best burger around.

Hope you enjoy!

the best burger, onions, buns, cheese, and a patty on a white plate


Shopping List

  • Ground Chuck
  • Yellow Onion
  • American Cheese
  • Hamburger Buns
  • That’s it!
ingredients for the best burger, onions, buns, cheese, and a patty on wooden cutting board


Oklahoma Onion Burger?

Welcome friends. Chef Eric here from Home Pressure Cooking.

Today, I bring you my air fryer interpolated Oklahoma Onion Burger. This classic, regional burger hailing from El Reno Oklahoma can be traced back as far as the 1920s. This simple adaptation to hard times resulted in a delicious piece of Americana that has endured for more than a hundred years. Originally called depression burgers, the massive quantity of onions was piled on in part to stretch the available supply of ground beef to feed more people as luxuries like food became more and more difficult to acquire.

oklahoma onion burger on a white plate


The Real Deal

A proper version of this air fryer hamburger would have a ball of meat tossed onto a griddle. Followed by a massive pile of onions. Then it would be flattened or smashed, pressing the onions into the meat.

This air fryer version doesn’t quite stack up to one done on a stove top. But it makes up for lack of proper smashing and thorough browning, by being quick to prepare, and virtually mess free.

knife chopping onions on a wooden cutting board


It’s all About the Browning

To maximize browning I am using a mini cast iron skillet. To get the most out of it we will need to at least double the preheat time. Cast iron is slow to heat up and slow to cool down. It conducts heat poorly, but retains it extremely well because, science!

Air fryers are good at a lot of things. Browning smaller pieces of meat without drying them out is not one of them. This is because the heat your air fryer produces is radiated heat. The heat source heats the air molecules around it, which in turn heat up other nearby molecules. The heat is radiated through its interaction with another medium.

Cast iron is a poor conductor of radiated heat. This essentially means the iron molecules are selfish and want to keep all the heat to themselves. This is why cast iron is very slow to heat up and cool down. This makes cast iron an excellent direct heat source. Meaning the thing you want to cook is in direct contact with the heat source. With this method the heat transfers directly to the food you want to cook. Cast iron retains its heat for much longer providing excellent browning potential, even when a food is very saturated with moisture like animal proteins.

cast iron skillet inside of an air fryer containing a best burger, oklahoma burger



There is no version of this burger that qualifies as authentic. You don’t quite get the same results in an air fryer as you would on a hot griddle. They are surprisingly close. I kept the recipe as basic as I could. I want it to be both approachable to beginner cooks, while providing a starting point for more experienced chefs.

You could actually smash the burger into the cast iron skillet. I have a modified spatula that would make this easy, but I can’t ask a beginner cook to start modifying their utensils.

I have decided that “authentic” is a concept that will only make you miserable the more you try to achieve it. Do what makes you happy folks.

Thanks for reading – Chef Eric



Oklahoma Onion Burger – Air Fryer Hamburgers

Chef Eric
This air fryer version of this classic regional burger from El Reno Oklahoma features grilled onions cooked in every possible state. From Blackened to soft and caramalized.
The Oklahome Onion Burger is a timeless piece of Americana that has endured for over 100 years.
Hope you enjoy!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Comfort
Servings 1 burger


  • Air Fryer
  • Mini Cast Iron Skillet As long as it fits safley in your air fryer basket it should work fine.
  • Spatula
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board


  • 4 oz Ground Chuck
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion (sliced as thin as possible)
  • 1 slice American Cheese
  • 1 Burger Bun


  • Place cast iron skillet into air fryer and preheat to 450 F or 232 C. The cast iron will take a long time to get hot, so double the preheat time.
  • Slice onion as thin as possible. If you have a mandolin or slicer use that. If not just go slow with a sharp knife.
  • Shape ground chuck into an even patty that will fit comfortably in your mini cast iron skillet.
  • GIve skillet a light coating with cooking spray and place burger patty into hot skillet. Then top with sliced onions.
  • Air Crisp for 3-4 minutes. Then flip the burger so the onions are between the skillet and the patty. Cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Turn off air fryer then top patty in this order. Slice of cheese, the top half of the burger bun, then the bottom half of the burger bun.
    Close air fryer and let it sit for one minute, to melt the cheese and warm the bun.
  • Assemble and enjoy.


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Enjoy your burger with some Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries or even some delicious Roasted Potatoes.

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