Many have claimed to invent the humble hamburger – so many in fact that its date of invention ranges from 1885 to 1905! Today, the burger is renowned around the world and has featured on menus from fast food sites to Michelin star restaurants. This month, our experts tell us how to make the best-ever burger and how to maximise sales with a sumptuous range of sides.

ANNIE SPAZIANO: Owner, Annie’s Burger Shack

We serve 34 different burgers, each available in vegan, veggie and meaty – we’ve always done that. We want to be a restaurant where anybody is able to come along and have the same thing as everybody else. I call our burgers comedy gourmet, in that they are filled with ingredients which are carefully chosen and combined to give a different experience and tell a story.

Our most unusual – yet one of our most popular – burgers is the Elvis burger, which has peanut butter and jelly on it, while another is named after and inspired by Lemmy from Motorhead and contains our own Jack Daniels-flavoured mustard. We also have a burger named after Johnny Vegas, which includes Lancashire black pudding.

BING-YU LEE: General Manager, Kikkoman UK

For me, it’s all about adding unusual salads with umami rich burgers. By using Kikkoman naturally brewed soy sauce in a side dish such as our fruity cucumber and carrot salad with mango, you get an intense hit of umami. You can use it in both the burger and drizzle it over salads too!


Skin-on Fries offer a great alternative to standard thin fries. We also recommend red slaw or naked slaw and beer battered onion rings are also a crowd favourite. There’s a lot of great bun-less options too, large sliced beef tomato, portobello mushrooms or potato rosti are fun ways to mix it up. For more traditional offerings, corn wraps and gluten free buns offer safe alternatives. Burgers in doughnuts instead of buns are also popular.

Explore the whole menu to look for possible inclusions. Peanut butter and bacon jam is great in a burger. Mushrooms and hash browns from breakfast work just as well in a lunch or dinner burger offering. Cheese-filled Portobello mushrooms and meatless patties are very popular at the moment.

ANETA JARZMIK: General Manager, Hard Rock Cafe Manchester

The Hard Rock Burger is a legendary creation that combines bold flavours and classic ingredients. To make a banging Hard Rock Burger, start with a juicy beef patty seasoned with a special blend of spices. Top it off with a slice of melted cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and our signature BBQ sauce for that extra indulgence. For added freshness, add lettuce, tomato, and red onion.

Recommended sides to accompany our legendary burgers are seasoned french fries or onion rings. These crispy delights complement the burger perfectly. For those with allergies or dietary restrictions, we offer gluten free, dairy free and many other alternatives.

KAREN HEAVY: Brand Manager, Kerrymaid

The ‘smashed burger’ is the latest Stateside trend to make its way to the UK, with its juicy patty with crispy caramelised edges adding extra flavour. We’ve worked with our chef partners to create the ‘Smashed Bacon Cheeseburger’ for caterers, utilising Kerrymaid Original Slices or Kerrymaid Vegan Slices to provide the ideal American Cheese to blend the patties together.

Upscale meat options are trending with over 40% of consumers expressing interest, so we’d recommend outlets experiment with different cuts of meat to cater for those looking for an indulgent burger experience.

MONTY STONEHEWER: Head Chef, Monty’s Inn

The Spicy Prawn & Sesame Burger at Monty’s Inn is served with Fermented Chilli 1000 Island Sauce, chips and in a fresh brioche bun. It works really well because it’s a modern twist on the classic prawn cocktail with Marie rose
sauce – it’s incredibly moreish and packs a punch in flavour.

Our sauce uses fermented chillies, caramelised onion, mayonnaise and ketchup. It’s the perfect balance of umami with sweet, savoury heat and spice – guests love it because it’s different and unique and they love the spiciness. It is perfect as it is with classic fries. You don’t want any other strong flavours with it.

KIRSTIE MATTHEWS: Insights & Marketing Manager, Macphie

The rise in popularity of home delivery apps means consumers are become more accustomed to getting exactly what they want, when they want it. Being able to offer personalisation is important. Stocking ready-to-use, versatile sauces allows you to offer a twist to your burgers and side dishes, without adding complexity back of house.

For example, a good cheddar cheese sauce can transform the humble hamburger into something more exciting but can also be used to make a loaded fries side dish or an indulgent macaroni cheese which, inspired by the USA, is becoming a more popular side order.

ZAC BARD: Chairman, World Avocado Association

Barbecuing avocados is a simple process that can add a new level of flavour and texture to burgers. Simply cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and brush with a little bit of oil. Place the avocado halves flesh-side down on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes until grill marks appear. Then, flip the avocado over and fill the cavity with your favourite toppings such as grilled shrimp, salsa, or cheese.

TOM GROGAN: Director, Lemon Pepper Holdings

At Wingstop, we’re all about bold flavours, so when we launched our chicken burger to market last year, we simply called it The Big Flavour Burger. Our burger is made up of two of our crunchy chicken tenders, piled with delicious coleslaw, pickles, and our famous ranch dressing – all essentials for a fried chicken burger.

The choice is then over to our customers as to how big they want to go on flavour – they can begin with our mild, sweet Hawaiian flavour (sweet & tangy citrus) or dial all the way up to our spicy Atomic flavour, which is the hottest we’ve got. Of course, we encourage pairing burgers with our house fries, washed down with a cold beer or Freestyle soft drink.

LIV KITCHING: Senior Marketing Manager, Violife Professional

Our Juicy Lucy burger is made of two plant-based patties stuffed with Violife Tex-Mex flavour grated – so delicious and oozy when cut! Adding plant-based dishes to your menu doesn’t mean having to find eye wateringly expensive ingredients, in fact, just taking your top sellers and crafting a plant-based version can be the gateway to expanding your menu, and your customer base.

Layer up your salads with flavours and textures to create some excitement. Mix with peas or beans, pastas, grains or even fruits. Bring it all together with oils and dressings, pickles and seeds. Violife Procosiano can be grated or shaved on for additional umami flavour. The combinations are endless, and seasonality is key.