Our tried-and-true favorites for transforming a burger from good to great

Maya Wong  – August 29, 2019

Ah, the age-old question: What makes a great burger? Yes, quality meat is necessary, but so are the toppings. Pickles. Fancy mustard. Not-so-fancy ketchup. American cheese. We call it the Fun Stuff, and it all matters.

Our editors weighed in with their own burger triumphs and horror stories (including a burger with bacon but no cheese to bind it together?!), which brings us to this master list of the most mouthwatering, essential burger toppings. Let’s get started.

Pernicious Pickling Co. Sweet Hot Pickles: Jalapeño Kisses

If you want pickles that are a little sweet but also a little hot, this is the one for you. It’s a mix of thinly sliced cucumbers and jalapeños that you can scoop onto any burger as you please. This jar deserves a spot in your fridge, whether or not a Labor Day grill session is on the agenda.

 

BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil Mayonnaise

We’re just going to say it: burgers taste better with mayo. All you really need is a humble layer of the condiment on a lightly toasted bun, like this healthy-ish one made from cage free eggs and avocado oil instead of the usual canola oil.

 

Kraft Singles American Cheese

Every cheese has its place, and American cheese belongs on a burger. Putting this mild cheese on a charcuterie board is a different story.

 

Sargento Natural Sharp Cheddar Deli Style Sliced Cheese

Flavorful enough to snack on but also a standout topping, Sargento’s sharp cheddar is a certified crowd pleaser. Throw it on a patty while it’s still on the grill and let it melt to oozy perfection.

 

Heinz Tomato Ketchup

We still can’t find a ketchup we like more than Heinz. It’s a classic for a reason.

 

Mustard Girl Stoneground Deli Mustard

Oh, but we love a fancy stone-ground mustard! One Amazon reviewer said it best: Mustard Girl is “wonderfully sweet with a little fire to make it interesting.”

 

D’Artagnan Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon

This popular grocery store bacon is made from heritage-breed pork without any antibiotics or growth hormones. The thinly sliced bacon isn’t too salty or smoky, and has a mild, fatty taste to it.

 

The Baconer Strips

Thick bacon like this one from Berkeley-based The Baconer isn’t for the faint of heart. Bacon is responsibly sourced from pork belly, handmade in small batches, and comes in either maple sugar or smoky paprika flavor.

 

Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic Onion Jam from Stonewall Kitchen

Add a layer of decadence to a basic burger with a spread of roasted garlic onion jam. Add some sautéed mushrooms on top of your patty and you’ve got yourself a gastropub-style burger.

 

Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

This creamier Dijon mustard makes for a great base layer and helps keep burger toppings from sliding. Smooth, timeless, and to the point.

 

Yellowbird Blue Agave Sriracha

This sauce has layers to it. Spice from the peppers! Sweetness from the agave! Drizzle it on its own or mix it into mayonnaise for an easy spicy mayo.

 

Iceberg Lettuce

The only acceptable burger lettuce. Save your Little Gem for a farmers’ market salad.