Mississippi Slugburger

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I'm showing you my take on one of America's strangest hamburgers, and certainly the hamburger with the strangest name. But don't worry, this is 100% mollusk free. The name comes from the fact that these used to cost a nickel–and in the past, the slang term for nickel was "slug."     

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 10 mins
6 slugburgers

If you've seen our Prison Meatloaf video, you know I have no problem adding lots of cheap, starchy filler to a recipe to stretch the meat content, especially when the results are so satisfying and delicious. So, when I discovered the Slugburger after a viewer's request, my first thought was, I really need to make this. Well, actually my first thought was, I'm glad this doesn't have slugs in it. Anyway, the point is I knew I'd love it, and I did. A lot.

As I mention in the video, the earliest versions used dried potato flakes, and if I we had easy access to those I'd probably have given that a try, but today's instant mashed potato flakes have like two dozen ingredients. So, I went with the more modern version, and used fresh bread crumbs, which provide the same neutral flavor, and cost-saving bulk. Texture-wise, I love how the not-too-fine bread crumbs crust up in the pan, and even though we are sacrificing beef content, I think that crispy, caramelized goodness more than makes up for it.

I did add some seasoning to the mixture, since we're not in the middle of a full-blown depression…yet…but, I think these would be just fine with nothing more than salt. And of course you'll garnish your Slugburgers as you see fit, but the classic bun dressing of yellow mustard and pickles was perfection. So, whether you make these because beef prices are so high, or you just want to see the look on your guests faces when you tell them you're making Slugburgers, I really do hope you give these a try soon.

Mississippi Slugburger
Mississippi Slugburger. Chef John


  • 7 slices potato bread

  • 1 pound ground chuck

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying, or as needed

  • 6 hamburger buns, split

  • ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard, or to taste

  • ¼ cup dill pickle slices, or to taste

  • 1 pinch chili powder, or to taste (Optional)

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste (Optional)


  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees F (80 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Ingredients to make Mississippi Slugburger.


  2. Cut the crusts off the bread slices. Place slices on the prepared baking sheet.

    Crustless slices of white bread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.


  3. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until dry and toasted, about 45 minutes.

    Oven toasted, white crustless bread slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.


  4. Transfer toasted bread to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you reach coarse crumbs.

    White bread crumbs in a food processor.


  5. Place ground chuck, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder into a bowl. Add bread crumbs. Combine with your fingers, breaking apart the meat.

    Ground beef mixed with breadcrumbs and seasonings in a white bowl.


  6. Dampen your fingers with water and form mixture into hamburger patties.

    Mississippi Slugburger patties on a white plate.


  7. Heat ¼ to ½ inch vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place a patty into the pan and turn heat down to medium. Cook until well browned and crusty, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining patties, adding more oil if needed.

    Mississisppi Slugburgers cooking in an cast iron skillet.


  8. Remove from the pan and serve on hamburger buns with mustard and pickles; sprinkle tops of patties with chili powder and/or cayenne if you like prior to serving.

    Mississippi Slugburger topped with pickles, served on a white plate with a side of chips.

Chef's Notes:

You can use 8 ounces of store-bought coarse fresh bread crumbs instead of making your own. I used 7 slices of Orowheat® potato bread, but any white sandwich bread will work. The Orowheat® is a large slice, so if someone is using the smaller square sandwich loaves, then they will probably need 12 slices. Removing the crust is optional, but I think makes for a better crumb.

You can prepare these patties ahead and chill until ready to cook; or they freeze very well.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

268 Calories
15g Fat
16g Carbs
16g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 268
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 736mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 16g
Potassium 269mg 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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