Rich, gooey peanut butter is not just for PB&J sandwiches, but if you’re here reading this, you probably already know that it’s perfect in a variety of sandwiches, sauces, candies, and baked goods across the board. But does peanut butter belong on literally everything? Even, say, a burger hot off the griddle? As peanut butter burgers have become an increasingly common feature of pub menus, the dissenters have grown as loud as the fans. Let’s discuss whether this combination is a hit or a miss.
The first time I’d ever heard of this pairing, I thought it was the grossest idea ever. Peanut butter on ground beef? Who does that? One day, a friend encouraged me to try a PB burger at a place called Lockdown Bar and Grill (RIP; I guess a prison-themed restaurant was never destined to last). He swore by the thing, and so finally, I agreed.
The “Elvis Burger” was a spin on Elvis’ supposed favorite sandwich, a combination of peanut butter, banana, and bacon. I figured if I was trying peanut butter on a burger, a banana couldn’t make it any worse. And after my first bite, I was eating my own words.
The peanut butter, which had become hot and melty, became less of a regular burger topping than it did a rich and silky sauce. I never thought peanut butter could morph into something that felt brand new. It was slightly sweet, fatty and smooth, and in concert with the bacon and banana, the burger had transformed into something so decadent and delicious I had to give in to the concept. Any concerns I had that the peanut butter wouldn’t pair with the beef were obliterated; its savory qualities just made the juicy burger that much more flavorful. —Dennis Lee, staff writer
I agree with basically everything that has been said up until now about the oddly complementary flavors of bacon and ground beef. Peanut butter dials the richness of the burger up to eleven, and its slight sweetness plays nice with the meat. A delicious combination, no question. But as I see it, there are two insurmountable issues with the peanut butter burger.
The first has to do with mouthfeel. When I’m biting into a burger, there is typically a layer of condiments between the meat the the bun—something like a tomato slice and/or a leaf of lettuce, plus some ketchup or mayo—that serve as an interlude between the bread and the burger patty, breaking things up with crunch or moisture. Peanut butter, meanwhile, only succeeds in gluing bun and burger together, and the resultant bite becomes one big, sticky bolus that I can’t even describe without getting parched. Never proceed to order this burger without a carafe of water on the table!
Additionally, a peanut butter burger is often served sans pickles, and this is a shame. Without that sort of acidic element, the sandwich can feel a little one-note, even when it’s enrobed in something as divine as peanut butter (my favorite food!). To me, the PB can’t be the main event; it needs to be thoughtfully balanced out with ingredients that can cut through all the richness. Otherwise, I’ll take the peanut butter the way I usually do: on a spoon. —Marnie Shure, managing editor