Harvey’s Hamburger (Home Version)

Growing up in Canada and the US, one is never too far from a burger joint. I can’t think of any friends who didn’t enjoy a hamburger – be it at home or out with family or friends. One of my earliest memories of a eating hamburgers was at McDonald’s….long time ago when they were actually good! There’s Burger King, there’s Wendy’s, there’s even A & W! Before during after the era of the franchise burger joint also existed the independent – the family-run (usually Greek) burger joint that would offer hamburgers (some pre-made source) or their homeburgers and even a souvlaki!

There is definitely a burger renaissance taking place. You have an endless list of topping options, different burgers for different tastes: sirloin, Angus, Kobe, Prim Rib burger, lean, extra-lean, do you order well-done or rare, do I step out of the box and have a lamb burger or the unthinkable…a veggie burger! There are sliders (small burgers that can be downed in a couple of bites) and there are gourmet burgers: prime cuts of beef ground and formed into patties and accompanied by double-smoked bacon, artisan cheeses, foie gras, heirloom tomatoes, chipotle sauces, cilantro mayo, red pepper relish, pickled onions.

The only other “fast food” I can think of that occupies so many storefronts and exceeds the demands of the burger would be the pizza. Burgers are loved, consumed by kids and adults alike and they are quick, can be affordable (don’t top with foie gras or a lobster claw) and they are most satiating. Out of all the burgers that are on offer here (Toronto and Canada), I’d have to say my favourite is a Harvey’s hamburger. Harvey’s is a household name amongst Canadians, some Americans might have tried this tasty burger and even some other tourists from overseas.

Out of all the burger choices offered out there, Harvey’s is my favourite: it’s a great tasting burger, the service quick, the meals affordable and the burgers are grilled in front of you and the toppings are your standard fare (they have expanded the selection of late). Harvey’s is juicy, it’s consistent and I recently had  one of their burgers as part of a lunch on the fly. Upon tasting the burger all by itself, I noticed that the Harvey’s burger is pretty much a Salisbury steak, served up in burger form.

Based on my tastebuds, memory and scanning some recipes for Salisbury steak, I think I have a good version of the homemade Harvey’s hamburger. The ingredients are very basic, simple and easy to find. You need Worcestershire sauce, slice bread and egg for binding, ketchup, salt and pepper and a packet of dried French Onion Soup mix, the kind also used to make the potato chip dip.

That’s it! No herbs, no other spices. I used a lean ground beef for this recipe as the burgers arern’t too thick and aren’t apt to dry out on you. I’ve also used a ring mold to shape the patties into near-perfect round disks, just like at the burger joint. If you can’t find the French onion soup mix in your area, try grating a medium onion, add some beef stock to soak your bread and you should be able to emulate the same effect (you can also make your own dried soup mix).

The hamburger is a sandwich and like in any sandwich, the choice of a good bread is important. Make your own buns or choose/buy a good hamburger bun. Toppings? The choice is yours but I like to keep it simple, preferring to be able to taste the burger. I like cheese, bacon, tomato, relish, red onions and pickle slices on my burger. How will you have your burger today?

Harvey’s Hamburger (Home Version)

(serves 4)

1 lb. of lean ground beef

1 clove of garlic

2-3 Tbsp. of French Onion Soup mix

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2-3 slices of white (or wholewheat) bread, soaked lightly in milk or water

1 large egg

2 Tbsp. of ketchup

1/4 tsp. of black pepper

  1. In a large bowl, add your slice bread plus 2 Tbsp. of the soup mix, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Mix the ingredients with your hands until they are amalgamated.
  2. Now add your ground beef, minced garlic and large egg and mix well with your hands. Form into a small meatball, cook it off and taste. Adjust seasoning, add more soup mix if needed. Form into uniform, round patties or use a round mold to form into the perfect pattie, just like at the burger joint.
  3. Place in the fridge (covered) to set for at least an hour or freeze for another time.
  4. Pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill. Brush off the residue from the grill surface and you’re looking for a high heat. In the meantime, organize your toppings, condiments and buns.
  5. Grill your burgers for about 3-4 minutes a side. Toast the buns, add cheese on the burger for those that like it (I DO, I DO) and serve with French Fries and a choice of condiments/toppings.

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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

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Peter Minakis

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26 Comments for “Harvey’s Hamburger (Home Version)”

bellini valli


I remember the Harvey’s in Cambridge. My other teenage friends worked there so I had foot long cheese dogs and fries often. In recent years they have changed and become part of a conglomorate so despite the frozen fries their flame grilled hamburgers are still the best (next to a Kalofagas burger of course:D). Do you remember their fresh cut fries and chicken fingers!!! No Harveys west of Calgary.


While I like Harveys, when speaking of Calgary, nothing can hold a candle to the old Peter’s Drive-In.

The hamburger looks great. Serve it up to me without the bun, and you’re in business!



This looks really Good but how much worcestershire sauce is needed? i cant find it in your recipe.. Looking forward to tasting this.:)


I like Harvey’s and all, but the Harvey’s in Fredericton is in a weird spot on the outskirts of downtown, unlike the rest of the fast-food joints in town which are all on or near the same street uptown (which I can walk to from my place, but I choose not to)…so when we were kids, Harvey’s just wasn’t an option – my mother wasn’t going to drive all of the way down the hill just to go there. We really just had McDonalds and Burger King to pick from – my mother hated Dairy Queen’s burgers (they always tasted burnt to her), my dad liked Whoppers (he always got two), and us kids always wanted McDonalds. Eventually we got a Wendy’s. Personally, if I’m getting fast food I prefer a spicy chicken burger of some sort from Wendy’s or KFC (if I go to KFC I can get my combo with poutine, which is a plus), or if I don’t mind a grease overload, I get a Flamethrower burger from Dairy Queen.

Over the last year or so a home-grown gourmet burger chain called “Relish” has opened up in Fredericton (http://www.relishme.ca/). It’s awesome, but the service is kind of slow and the seating is practically non-existent. My go-to burger is the Baja California Burger at the Garrison District Ale House (http://www.thegarrison.ca/) – 1/2 pound burger with Jalapeno havarti cheese, jalapeño, tomato, lettuce, salsa & sour cream. Yum!

Your burgers look sooooooo much better than Harvey’s! Good job! I can totally see Chris going for this recipe the next time we make our own patties.


Looks great! So true that there’s nothing like a good burger. My mom used to put onion soup mix in her burgers too. I sometimes put in a few drops of fish sauce or anchovy paste. Gives them a little something extra.


The onion soup mix was a throw back memory for when I first started cooking…I remember using it for meatloaf and, of course, onion dip with sour cream for potato chips. I’ve come a long way, baby! But I guess sometimes it good to go back for a taste test. :)

We’re reviving our Family Food Fight tomorrow and the challenge is ‘stuffed burgers”.


The burger looks awesome….I’ve seen Harvey’s – I have crossed the border ya know ;o) – but have never eaten at one. BTW, we could be closer to Toronto instead of Brockville in the near future – permanently!


These truly are Harvey-tastic burgers!! I need to make these asap.
Love all the pictures but the bacon picture adds double yum factor :)


Αυτό είναι ένα πραγματικά ζουμερό μπιφτέκι, τέλειο φαίνεται Peter!!!!!!!!
Φιλιά, καλή βδομάδα!!


I’ve had a few burgers like this. The onion soup mix really is great in burgers. It’s a wonderful dirty little secret.

When I first started to readt this post I thought about a recipe I used to make years ago from one of the Frugal Gourmet cookbooks – Greek Hamburgers. They contained red wine and garlic and I don’t remember what else. I’d be curious if you would like it – or consider it Greek. ;-)


I have been tying to copy Harvey’s burgers for years. I am close but I haven’t been able to get that distinct taste of the meat. So I thought I would try this recipe. I made( 6) 1/2 pounders, My wife and I ate one each and will feed the rest to the dog. (sorry) First off, lean meat is not for a good burger, it has no fat. Second the bread in milk is just a terrible filler. I use medium ground mixed with onion powder. garlic powder, worcestershire (lots of it) paprika, egg, ketchup and some other spice that I can’t remember and no filler. I wish I could find out why Harvey’s meat has that distinct flavour. I’ve tried grinding my own meats using a variety of cuts. I even tried contacting the meat supplier pretending my wife had an allergic reaction and needed to know what was in it. That didn’t yield any results. My friends say I make the best burgers but I still say they aren’t Harvey’s. I’ll keep trying but I am running out of ideas.


Hi Don and thanks for your feedback and I am sorry the recipe didn’t live up to your expectations. Since this recipe, I haven’t gone to Harvey’s in awhile as I prefer to make my own burger with 20% fat. Keep on trying and if you find something better (Harvey’s knock off recipe) let me know.


Sorry Peter, I didn’t mean to be so harsh and the comment about the dog may have been misunderstood. I only meant that if I go to the fridge to grab a patty, I will choose ours and rather than throw yours out, our special dog will get a treat. Yours are much better than the local fast foods, just not what we are accustomed to. One last note, when I started using worcestershire sauce the taste of it alone was the taste I was missing in the burgs and I thought I finally had it. Alas when cooked the same taste was lost. I haven’t given up yet. I plan to go to Harvey’s and buy just the patty and cook it to see if it is just the patty. I am sure it is. My next test will be to soak the meat in the worcestershire sauce for a day or so. It just baffles me as to what makes Harvey’s so distinct. Let me know if you come across the secret.
Take care.

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