California Burgers (On Homemade, Gluten-Free Brioche Buns)

california burger on a homemade brioche bun

I don’t know if it’s because I watched the behind-the-scenes look at a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder photo shoot (actually pretty fun to see how they do it, especially if you’re into food styling) or what, but I’ve been hungering after a burger like mad recently!

My go-to when those cravings strike is usually a protein- and animal-style hamburger at In-N-Out. But I had something else in mind because I had a fresh batch of my new favorite, splurge-worthy baked good to top: brioche buns. From the bottom up, my just-about-entirely-grown-in-California, California Burger consists of:

  • Beef: 85/15 grass-fed beef
  • Cheese: Toma by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. (They’re the ones who make my favorite, gluten-free blue cheese that I talked about last year.) Find it at Whole Foods and Cowgirl Creamery, or ask for it at your local cheese shop. Another couple of options: Wagon Wheel by Cowgirl Creamery or Nicasio Reserve by Nicasio Valley Cheese Company.
  • Bacon: Applewood smoked from Trader Joe’s (They’re a California company, so that kinda counts, right?)
  • Allium: Paper-thin rings of shallot
  • Tomato: Red Zebra heirloom tomato. (A couple of interesting articles were published recently — NPR and The New York Times — which tout the sweet taste of heirloom tomatoes vs. the ubiquitous, “uniform ripening” commercial variety.)
  • Avocado: Hass
  • Lettuce: Red leaf (I just love the black-purple color)

A few bites in, I was all smiles. It was just like one of those $12 restaurant burgers, but homemade. And only a fraction of a cost, even with my kinda fancy ingredient choices. And on a bun, a bun that’s actually gluten-free and a buttery, airy indulgence — so much better than an Iceberg lettuce wrap. (Can you tell I am basically in love with those buns?) And so filling that I didn’t even miss the fries — you can easily skip serving a side dish — score!

Pretty much, summer is off to a scrumptious start!

California Burgers

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 4 homemade, gluten-free brioche buns, reheated and sliced
  • 1 pound ground beef, divided into four patties
  • 1/4 pound cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 pound bacon, cooked
  • 1 medium shallot, cut into paper thin slices
  • 1 large ripe avocado, cut into 1/4″ – 1/2″ slices
  • 2 small tomatoes, cut into 1/3″ thick slices
  • Whole lettuce leaves
  • Peanut oil
  • Salt and black pepper


Cook Patties:

Cook the patties however you like or as follows: Preheat cast iron skillet(s)/griddle(s) over medium-high heat. Once hot, coat with a very thin layer of peanut oil. Arrange patties on the pans, cook for 1 – 2 minutes on the first side. Flip, top with cheese and cook for about 2 minutes more¹.

Assemble Burgers:

Top buns with cheeseburgers, bacon, shallot, avocado, tomato and lettuce. Serve immediately.


¹ The inside will be slightly pink. Please note that consuming raw or undercooked beef may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.

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  • Reply
    Healthy Living Val
    July 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Aren’t Point Reyes cheeses the best? It’s my total splurge cheese for special occasions but I bet Toma was amazing on the burger. And brioche buns – nice!

  • Reply
    Peggy Garbe
    August 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I love Toma, too! This burger looks amazing – the taller, the better in my opinion =)

  • Reply
    heather sage
    August 7, 2012 at 10:40 am

    thanks, peggy! totally agree — always a nice challenge figuring out just how to eat it without creating a total mess :).

  • Reply
    August 9, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Made my mouth water, like crazy and now I have to have a hamburger! 😛

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