Asian Recipes/ Dinner/ Japanese/ Recipes

Easy Hambagu Recipe – Japanese Hamburger Steak

05/10/2023 (Last Updated: 10/02/2023)

Try this irresistibly juicy and tender Japanese hamburger steak recipe (hambagu). Stuffed with cheese and slathered in a quick and easy demi-glace sauce, get dinner on the table in under 20 mins!

A spoon pours homemade sauce over a hamburger steak.

Why We Love This

Japanese hamburger steaks are stuffed with flavour – literally! They’re a deliciously satisfying meal the whole family will love.

This easy hamburg steak recipe is equally perfect whether cooking indoors on the stove, or outdoor on the grill. Serve them up at BBQs and family gatherings, or freeze them for an easy, pre-prepared meal for another time.

Serve your freshly cooked hambagu with steamed veggies, buttered corn or on a bed of rice for a quick and easy dinner. Or pop them in a burger bun for a classic homemade takeaway.

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And as always, feel free to adapt the recipe to suit your tastes!

Related: Beef Rissoles / Japanese Style Beef Burgers

A fork holds up half a Japanese hamburger steak stuffed with cheese.

What is Hambagu?

Japanese hamburger steaks (also known as hamburg steak, hambagu or ハンバーグ) are a classic example of yoshoku – Japanese adaptations of Western recipes. They’re similar to salisbury steaks or other ground meat patties, but differ in the use of seasonings, sauces and presentation.

In Japan, hamburger steaks are usually made from ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork). Instead of burger buns, they’re often served with Western style sides like steamed broccoli, carrot, and buttered corn.

They can even be served on sushi rice with caramelised onions and a side of miso soup or wafu salad

A popular variation is known as cheese hambagu, topped or stuffed with a melty cheese such as cheddar or gruyere that melts inside the burger as it cooks. 

One of our favourite places to enjoy hambagu in Japan is at 1 Pound Steak & Hamburg Takeru Fukushima, in Fukushima district, a short 10 minute walk from Osaka station. Also, their Takeru Spice Seasoning is the BEST! Our whole family makes us buy a stack whenever we go back.

P.S. Looking for a vegan friendly alternative? Try ganmodoki tofu patties!

What You’ll Need

  • Ground Meat – We often use just beef mince but you can also use a mix of ground beef and ground pork. Feel free to experiment with different ratios to see what works for you. You might be tempted to use lean mince but we recommend choosing a grade with a little more fat content to keep the patties extra juicy.
  • Onion – We love the extra flavour from grated or finely chopped onion. Sub with a tsp of onion powder or leave it out if you prefer. 
  • Panko Breadcrumbs + Milk – This combo keeps the burgers tender and juicy even if you accidentally overcook them! Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) work great, sub with regular breadcrumbs if you need. You can also sub milk with water or nut milk if you prefer.
  • Seasonings – You’ll need salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  • Demi-glace Sauce – This shortcut or homemade Japanese method to make a quick hamburg sauce uses red wine, tomato sauce / ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Deglazing the pan with this mix infuses all the yummy flavour from the leftover beef juices right into the sauce!
Ingredients laid out to make Japanese hamburger steaks and demi glace sauce.

How to Make Japanese Hamburger Steak

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. Pour panko breadcrumbs and milk into a large mixing bowl. Mix and allow the panko to soften for 30 seconds or so. Add in the grated onion and mix again, softening the panko even further.
  2. Add beef mince and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well with your hands until well combined.
  3. Divide meat mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into rough ball shapes.
  1. Optional – Place a piece of cheese in the middle of each hamburger patty
  2. Throw each patty between your hands 10-15 times to get the air out and create a smooth, dense patty. Neatly shape into a thick round or oval patty, around 1 inch thick. Note: They will shrink slightly when cooking, so shape them a little wider than you think!
  3. Place the patties into a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat (no oil required!). Fry 3 minutes per side.
  1. Next pour in the water and cover with a lid to steam for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a couple more minutes until the water has evaporated. Remove the hamburger steaks and allow them to rest.
  2. In the same pan, pour in the red wine, tomato sauce / ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Stir continuously to deglaze the pan, until the sauce thickens, around 2-3 minutes.
A Japanese hamburger steak sits on a place with steamed vegetables.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Onions – If you have a little extra time, try slowly sautéing the onions first. This will add extra caramelised flavour to your hambagu.
  • Patties – Take your time when forming the patties to get as much air out as possible. This is the key to creating the firm yet juicy texture in the cooked burger patties.
  • Storage – Uncooked hambagu will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for a day or two, or in the freezer for a month. Cooked patties will last 2-3 days in the fridge, or can be frozen for up to 2 months in an air-tight container.

FAQs

What are the best sides and toppings to serve with hambagu?

– Steamed veggies – broccoli, carrot and corn are the most typical, but feel free to get creative and use up whatever you have on hand.
Cauliflower cheese
Potato bake
– Hot potato chips, french fries, wedges or mashed potato
– Grated daikon with perilla leaf / shiso leaf
– Sunny-side up egg
Japanese curry sauce
Homemade pasta sauce

What texture should they have?

Unlike some Western style hamburgers, Japanese hamburger steaks usually have a soft, juicy and plump texture from the combination of soaked panko crumbs and steaming the patty when cooking. It literally melts in your mouth!

Variations

  • Sauce – Don’t feel like making the deglaze? Serve them with your favourite simple gravy instead.
  • Make it Spicy – Add a little gochujang sauce in with the patty mixture, or serve with bibimbap sauce on the side.
  • Fry in Sesame Oil – Add a few drops of sesame oil when cooking the patties for extra flavour.
  • Garnish Ideas – Serve with shichimi togarashi, kewpie mayo, karashi mustard, gomashio sesame salt or finely sliced spring onion / green onion.
  • Crumbed Hambagu – Also known as menchi katsu! Crumb the hambagu in extra panko or sesame seeds before cooking.
  • Cook on the Grill – They’re amazing on a regular BBQ or a Japanese style hibachi for yakiniku at home.
  • Hambagu Kare – Serve it on top of Japanese Beef Curry.
Cheese pours out the middle of a Japanese hambagu.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

A spoon pours homemade demi-glace sauce over a hamburg.

Easy Hambagu Recipe – Japanese Hamburger Steak

Try this irresistibly juicy and tender Japanese hamburger steak recipe (hambagu). Stuffed with cheese and slathered in a quick and easy demi-glace sauce, get dinner on the table in under 20 mins!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 4 hamburger steaks
Calories: 457kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Ingredients

For the patties

Optional

  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese cut into 4 chunky slices, to stuff in the middle of the hamburgers

For the sauce

Instructions

For the hamburger steaks

  • Pour panko breadcrumbs and milk into a large mixing bowl. Mix and allow the panko to soften for 30 seconds or so. Add in the grated onion and mix again, softening the panko even further.
    1 onion, 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, ¼ cup milk
  • Add beef mince and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well with your hands until well combined.
    500 g beef mince, ½ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp salt
  • Divide meat mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into rough ball shapes.
  • Optional – Place a piece of cheese in the middle of each hamburger patty.
    ¼ cup cheddar cheese
  • Throw each patty between your hands 10-15 times to get the air out and create a smooth, dense patty. Neatly shape into a thick round or oval patty, around 1 inch thick. Note: They will shrink when cooking, so shape them a little wider than you think!
  • Place the patties into a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat (no oil required!). Fry 3 minutes per side.
  • Next pour in your water and cover with a lid to steam for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a couple more minutes until the water has evaporated.
    ¼ cup water
  • Remove the hamburger steaks and allow them to rest.

For the sauce

  • In the same pan, pour in the red wine, tomato sauce / ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Stir continuously to deglaze the pan, until the sauce thickens, around 2-3 minutes.
    3/4 cup red wine, 4 tbsp tomato sauce / ketchup, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

To serve

  • Serve up with Western style sides such as buttered corn, shredded lettuce, cherry tomatoes, steamed veggies (think broccoli, carrot, bean sprouts) or hot fries, french fries or wedges.
  • Alternatively serve on a bowl of rice with a fried egg on top.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Patties – Take your time when forming the patties to get as much air out as possible. This is the key to creating the firm yet juicy texture in the cooked burger patties.
  • Storage – Uncooked hambagu will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for a day or two, or in the freezer for a month. Cooked patties will last 2-3 days in the fridge, or can be frozen for up to 2 months in an air-tight container.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Hambagu Recipe – Japanese Hamburger Steak
Amount per Serving
Calories
457
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
28
g
43
%
Saturated Fat
 
11
g
69
%
Trans Fat
 
2
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
12
g
Cholesterol
 
98
mg
33
%
Sodium
 
732
mg
32
%
Potassium
 
592
mg
17
%
Carbohydrates
 
16
g
5
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
7
g
8
%
Protein
 
25
g
50
%
Vitamin A
 
182
IU
4
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
128
mg
13
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Easy Hambagu Recipe - Japanese Hamburger Steak

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