Illustration via J. Longo (Licensed)
When I first started Bob’s Burgers—the animated Fox comedy about a weird and loving family who owned a struggling burger restaurant at the Jersey shore—a couple of years ago, I had a couple of thoughts. One, it was consistently funnier than I ever expected it to be. Two, I wanted one of those crazy Burgers of the Day.
Rarely shown but always named (except for that one episode where they temporarily disappeared), the Burger of the Day is one of the show’s running gags. The names—which are almost always food puns—appear on the chalkboard hanging near the cash register in every episode just like the revolving owners of the building next to Bob’s Burgers and the rat vans in the opening sequence. The burger names are punchy, cheesy, the puns have the right amount of dad-level humor, and they can get especially silly if Louise Belcher gets her hands on the chalkboard. The puns themselves are created by the show’s writers, and according to Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, it’s one of the main things they’re required to come up with when writing an episode. They’re just as much a background joke as they are insights into Bob Belcher himself.
And that’s only scraping the surface when it comes to the delightfulness of Bob’s Burgers itself. It just wrapped up its sixth season on Sunday with at least two more on the way (with no signs of stopping), but it still has the feel of an underground show in part because its rise in popularity came from word of mouth. The versatility of Bob’s Burgers makes it perfect fanart and mashup fodder. It has sold out concert halls on its live tour, which includes a table read, a Q&A, and standup from the main cast. Tina Belcher is the awkward, feminist hero we’ve been craving. And it even inspired Cole Bowden to start the Bob’s Burgers Experiment, a Tumblr blog where he documented and strived to create every Burger of the Day shown in Bob’s Burgers, which now number in the hundreds.
All Bowden had to go on were the names as he started to tackle the Burgers of the Day, and soon enough, Bouchard noticed. He mentioned Bowden’s blog in a 2014 interview with Vulture, saying, “That is my dream come true as it pertains to these burgers—or, I should say, my dream come true would actually to put out a Bob’s Burgers cookbook based on the Burgers of the Day.”
An official Bob’s Burgers cookbook was announced in January 2015, which was a collaboration between Bouchard, the other Bob’s Burgers writers, and Bowden, and it received additional confirmation in August. Soon enough, the burgers they named and created strictly as puns would really come to life—and we’d all be Teddy, one of the Belchers’ few regular customers.
“For those of us who worked on the show and followed him, Cole’s culinary ambition was thrilling, and his chutzpah was and is inspiring to say the least, but when you read his recipes it becomes clear that primarily what he brings to the table is imagination,” Bouchard wrote in the Introduction of The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers.
And now Bob’s Burgers are a reality. The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book is as bright, colorful, and humorous as Bob’s Burgers itself, and the book captures the tone of the show wonderfully. Many of the burger names rely on cheese puns, and sprinkled throughout are witty comments such as discouraging the use of “no-purpose flour,” informing us that “stretchy mozz rhymes with sketchy thoughts,” and advising us not to touch our belly buttons after handling habanero peppers because well, you never know.
For burger and French fry novices, the cookbook offers a basic guide to making your own burgers and fries—it even bolds the most important steps in the paragraphs for those who skim over it—and many of the recipes are geared toward beginners. Essentially, if you can grill a burger and put it together you’re pretty set, although some of the recipes can be somewhat sparse in their specificity. Most of the ingredients are available in your local grocery store, and if it’s more of a delicacy, like the black garlic in the Bet It All On Black Garlic Burger, it’ll inform you where you can buy it.
On the other hand, it doesn’t seem as though the recipes are in any sort of order such as organizing by episode appearance or the type of cheese used, so if you find a recipe and want to come back to it, it’ll take some flipping through unless you’ve already marked down the page. If non-beef or vegetarian recipes are more your speed, they’re at least grouped together toward the back of the book.
The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book was released in March, and fans have gradually discovered it, like the show itself. But now we’re putting it to use for one of the biggest days of the year for burgers and the people who cook them—Memorial Day.
Bob’s Burgers are supposed to be excellent despite his business constantly being on the brink of failure; on the other side of the coin, Bob’s neighbor and rival Jimmy Pesto runs a successful yet tacky Italian restaurant, but his food is terrible. How do they fare in the real world?
I recruited my Daily Dot colleagues to take on several of the recipes. They may be joke burgers, but the deliciousness is more than real.
Cheeses Is Born Burger
Season 5, Episode 6: “Father of the Bob”
This burger is an efficient monster you can make in about 35 minutes. It’s a savory lover, loaded in gooey textures that parachute down your windpipe: Jarlsberg and Swiss slices, molasses-brown gravy, sauteed mushrooms, diced Roma tomatoes, brown mustard. Only crispy lettuce and a thick bun balance out the protein-shake gob of hot lovin’. The burger is a revelation that’s difficult to botch in the kitchen. (Used a pan, as both of my backyard grills harbor spiders.) The caveat, of course, is that it features hot-button flavors difficult to unanimously please even a cookout of four. It’s also heavy enough that it only pairs well with water and absolutely no fries, dear God are you mad? But if the profile is your shade, ingredients will run you about $27 (even if you spring for the $10, grass-fed patties) and you’ll eat with the fury of a spelling bee champ all weekend. —Ramon Ramirez
Parma Parma Parma Chameleon Burger
Season 4, Episode 20: “Gene It On”
Accented by garden-fresh zucchini and squash chips, this Italian-inspired choice spotlights freshly picked basil and a unique tomato sauce with a guest appearance by blueberry jam (which seemed like it’d be easier to find than the called-for juice). We opted to double the helping of parmesan—melting some straight on the patty in addition to topping the sauce—but otherwise found this recipe delightfully bright and flavorful. We’d recommend serving the panko-crusted zucchini and squash chips with some of the leftover blueberry marinara for dipping. —Monica Riese
Poutine On The Ritz Burger
Season 2, Episode 9: “Beefsquatch”
Poutine may make you think about Canada, but it’s just as much of a heartstopper as anything we have down here. Plus this recipe, which includes French fries, allowed me to test out the process of making your own fries, and a giant sharing fry bowl is a great addition to any party; just look at all of the fry-stealing that occurs during pretty much any happy hour.
I bribed one of my friends with food to help me cook, which is a good thing because even with her help it still took a few hours to make everything, so if you’re making this for a party, start early or make them the night before. We used Russet potatoes and fried them in vegetable oil instead of the suggested peanut oil before mixing them with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (all measured to taste) and topping it with gravy and cheese curds. Creating the gravy from scratch was a simple endeavor, although I found the recommended amount of black pepper overwhelming; I added in more flour to counter. The fries came out crispy and well-seasoned, but you could just as easily use frozen fries or commandeer a bunch from your favorite restaurant and achieve a similar feat in a fraction of the time.
Once cooked in a regular stove pan and my burger assembled, the Poutine On The Ritz Burger is an expertly crafted mix of salty and sour with Ritz Crackers sprinkled on top, and it works much better than it has any right to (although I wish the cheese curds had melted a bit more). Be prepared to keep leftovers, because this is a lot more filling than it looks. —Michelle Jaworski
Shake Your Honeymaker Burger
Season 2, Episode 3: “Synchronized Swimming”I had about half the necessary ingredients on hand to make the Shake Your Honeymaker burger, so while it's not something I'd approach on a whim, it is something I can realistically consider without feeling like I need to purchase obscure ingredients I'll only use once. I decided to opt for the old-timey version of using a mortar and pestle to blend the dates, garlic, and sherry vinegar into a paste, which provided a more chunky and rustic condiment than a food processor.
My largest flaw was impatience. This burger requires you to caramelize your onions, which the recipe suggests takes a good 20 minutes but I, hungry and bored, fell short of by at least 10 minutes before I decided my onions were good enough to eat. My Honeymaker burger was an easy prep on a pan stovetop, and I used the same onion pan for my meat to make sure it infused with flavor. Construction was sloppy, as the feta cheese I had didn't want to stay balanced on the bun, and once I took a bite everything came spilling out.
Taste-wise, it was too sharply sweet for me to enjoy, the honey meeting the sherry dates in a way that left an unpleasant aftertaste. It's not a bad way to shake up the burger routine, but if you're planning to feed a hungry horde, I wouldn't recommend such a complex and nontraditional take. You'll be stressing about presentation and the flavor blend more than you'll be enjoying a well-done burger. —Rae Votta
Don’t Get Crème Fraîche With Me Burger
Season 2, Episode 9: “Beefsquatch”
Nevertheless, the idea of blueberries, basil, and crème fraîche was appealing. I subbed in a pretzel bun for Vienna roll out of necessity, and added some horseradish to the crème fraîche-basil mixture to give it a little heat. My line cook (aka helpful boyfriend) seared the burger in a pan, as per the recipe, but my meat-bread crumb-squished blueberry pattie was having a hard time keeping it together. The Don’t Get Crème Fraîche With Me Burger would probably have cooked better on a grill, but it didn’t look terrible when the crème fraîche and spring mix were added. Perhaps the pretzel roll was a misstep, because the burger was a little sweet; it needed something else (the boyfriend suggested onions sauteed in honey) to make it taste less like a breakfast sandwich. Maybe a sharp cheese? (I added Sriracha after a couple bites and it did the trick.)
If you’re not a person who is disgusted by fruit in burgers, this would be a fun experiment this summer as a slider or appetizer. You know, a summer burger. —Audra Schroeder
Eggers Can’t Be Cheesers Burger
Season 3, Episode 11: “Nude Beach”
I went into making the Eggers Can’t Be Cheesers Burger thinking, “This would be a great hangover burger” not just because of the egg—which is becoming a more common burger topping. And while I only had a slight headache when preparing it, that was spot-on.
I cooked new burgers for this in a stove pan, although you can probably just take leftover burgers from another one of the book’s recipes instead. (I can’t speak for the burgers filled with other ingredients/cheeses, but I imagine they’ll work just as well.) From there, just cook your egg, which I made sunny side up—over easy would be another good option—and stacking everything in the right order. As soon as I placed my English muffin on top, the egg yolk began to run down. I’ve had a similar burger on many occasions, but the addition of an English muffin and hot sauce to a new classic brought it all eggcellently together.
A new contender for the Breakfast of Champions? I think so. —M.J.
A Good Manchego Is Hard to Find Burger
Season 5, Episode 10: “Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise”
The sharp nuttiness of the aged manchego and zesty bite of fresh arugula play perfectly off the real star of this show: black fig jam, generously spread on the top bun. It would’ve played just as well without the shallots (which I slightly burnt after a last-minute prep snafu), but their caramelization easily ties the whole bite together. We paired this burger with the book’s basic fry recipe (subbing white potatoes for the recommended russet, and with corn oil over peanut), which turned out perfectly salted, if a tad soggy after a few minutes at room temperature. —M.R.
Disclosure: Universe Publishing provided the Daily Dot with a copy of The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book for review.