Skip to Content

This article contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Ditch The Bun And Eat A Burger Bowl With Rice

Do you love burgers as much as we do? If so, you need to ditch the bun and eat a burger bowl with rice. It sounds odd but it tastes so good. And, as a bonus, our burger bowl recipe is gluten free!

Closeup of a burger bowl with rice

While constructing our tuna poke bowl recipe we wondered – “What else would work in rice bowl?” Chicken Fajitas? Sure. An omelette? Of course. (Admittedly, the Japanese already have that on covered.)

Cheeseburgers? Why not?

It’s not that we don’t love bread. We do. But our carb horizons expanded once we’ve discovered the utter wholesome goodness of Japanese short grain rice. Japonica rice, commonly called sushi rice, has a satisfying bite and nutty flavor. Sushi chefs have used high quality rice to elevate raw fish. Why couldn’t we use sushi rice to do the same for burgers?

Burger Bowl with Rice with a tan napkin and fork
Could there be a better lunch than a burger bowl? It’s loaded with all the burger flavors we love.

During a normal workday, hungering for lunch and tiring of salad, we noticed a leftover hamburger sitting in the fridge. Before we knew it, our first cheeseburger bowl was born.

In this dish, rice brings the burger components together in a magnificent mishmash where familiar flavors integrate to create something straight out of taste memory.

Burger Bowl with Rice birdseye view with a fork on a white napkin
We have just one thought every time we make a burger bowl at home: Get in our bellies!

We get that this re-imagined burger dish may sound silly or even weird. However, once you’ve plowed through one burger rice bowl (with either chopsticks or a fork, your choice), you’ll be wondering where it’s been all your life.

And, in a way, creating this unique burger and rice combo will give you a greater understanding of how to build flavors in any recipe.

Burger Bowl Ingredients

Mise en Place for a Burger Bowl with Rice
Burger bowl ingredients are the same as burger ingredients, minus the bun of course. We use ground beef, rice, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomato, pickled red onion, sliced dill pickle, ketchup, yellow mustard, salt and pepper.

Eating a burger in a bowl instead of on a bun is no sacrifice. You get satisfying protein from the beef, vegetal crunch plus sweet and sour flavors from the pickle and onion, sweet umami from the ketchup, fresh tomato flavor from (duh!) fresh tomatoes, pungency from the yellow mustard and rich salty depth from cheddar cheese.

You can call it deconstructed or even misconstructed. We call it lunch. It’s as fun to make as it is to eat. Here’s what you need to make it:

  • Ground Beef
  • Rice
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Tomato
  • Red Onion
  • Dill Pickle
  • Ketchup
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Ground Beef

Ground Beef on a white plate
Buying the correct ground beef blend is key in this and other burger recipes.

When cooking any burger, we recommend buying ground beef with at least 20% fat. If you, like us, live in place where American beef is difficult to find, you can have your butcher grind meat to your specifications.

You CAN use a premade burger patty but only if its of excellent quality. For ease, we like to mold and cook a single six-ounce patty in a cast iron pan. We then split the patty to feed two people. You can easily double the recipe to feed four but you’ll need to make two patties. We cook the burger to medium for this rice bowl dish but you can cook it to your preference.

Pro Tip
Replace the ground beef with ground turkey or even a veggie burger if you’re not a beef eater.


Japanese Rice on a white plate
Koshihikari rice is our preferred rice for all rice bowls.

We love short grain Japanese rice. It’s available at most Asian markets (and some better supermarkets) and it’s worth a splurge. If you can find Koshihikari rice – buy it. It’s the best quality Japonica rice available.

That being said, while it’s not quite as good, you can also use everyday long grain white rice if that pleases you or if Japanese short grain rice isn’t readily available where you live.

Buy a bag of Koshihikari rice from Amazon if you can’t find it locally.

Adding Sea Salt to Rice before cooking
Adding sea salt to rice before cooking is a must.

We choose to cook our rice in a rice cooker but you can also cook rice on a stove, following instructions on the rice box or bag. Generally, you’ll use a stove ratio of 300 grams of rice to 375 grams of water.

If you use a rice cooker, like a Zojirushi, follow the machine instructions for Japanese rice. Once the rice is finished, run a fork or rice paddle through the rice to fluff it up and cool it down slightly.

Pro Tip
Season the rice with a generous pinch of sea salt. Despite what other recipes recommend, vinegar and kombu are not necessary in this recipe.

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Grated Cheddar cheese in a white prep bowl
When it comes to burger bowls, cheddar is the better cheese option.

Cheddar cheese is a classic burger topping whether the burger is inside a bun or on top of rice.

We like cheddar that’s meltable and not aged. American slices or even (mon dieu!) Velveeta would work. You could even go highbrow and use gruyere or blue cheese.

Pro Tip
Grate the cheese from a block using the largest hole of a box grater.

Diced Tomato

Diced tomato in a bowl over rice
Tomato adds both color and juicy flavor to cheeseburger bowls.

The better tomatoes you buy, the better flavor you’ll get. The best ones are available in the summer.

For this recipe, we dice a ripe tomato. Doing so makes the tomato easier to mix with the rice.

Pickled Red Onion

Pickled Rings of Red Onion in a White Bowl
Pickled red onion is the way to go with this recipe. They look and taste better than raw or caramelized onions.

Pickling the onion takes the burn out of the onion and brings out its sweetness.

We slice a medium red onion onion in thin rings. We then pickle the rings by mixing them with about a quarter cup of cider vinegar and a half teaspoon of salt.

Pro Tip
Pickle the onion about a half hour in advance of making this recipe.

Dill Pickle

Dill pickles sliced on a white plate
We’re never fickle when it comes to our love for pickles.

Nothing improves a burger like a quality dill pickle.

We buy our dill pickles in a jar and slice them about a quarter-inch thick.

Pro Tip
You can use relish instead.


Ketchup in a white bowl
You could hypothetically use generic ketchup. As for us, we use Heinz ketchup.

Ketchup is a classic burger condiment that requires no explanation to what it brings to the table.

We, like most Americans, prefer Heinz ketchup when we eat hamburgers. It’s also the brand we prefer in this burger bowl recipe.

Yellow Mustard

Yellow mustard in a white bowl
Leave the dijon in the fridge. Yellow mustard is the best mustard for burger bowls.

Yellow mustard provides an extra bite and pungency that makes the other ingredients come together.

Not everyone tops burgers with mustard. We can take it or leave it ourselves. However, after much experimentation, we’ve determined that yellow mustard completes the burger bowl.

Salt & Pepper

We season our burgers with generous amount of salt and ground pepper. You’ll want to do the same.

Optional Ingredients

You can add your favorite hot sauce. You can add lettuce or even pineapple. You can add a fried egg. You can even add Asian condiments like oyster sauce or gochajang. If you like something on a burger, then you’ll like it in this burger bowl.

How To Make A Burger Bowl With Rice

Assembling a burger bowl is easy and fun whether you’re alone or with friends. We love eating it though we disagree about the best utensil for the dish. Daryl likes chopsticks while Mindi prefers using a fork.

The first step is to mold ground burger meat into a loose ball. Don’t overpack the burger meat or else you’ll create something closer to the texture of meatloaf or a sausage.

Molding ground meat into a ball for making hamburgers
Daryl had the whole world in his hands, or at least our burger bowl’s most important ingredient, when he molded this ground beef.

After you’ve created a ball, flatten the ball to create a burger patty.

We’ve found that flattening the burger in a 4-inch ring mold makes for an excellent shaped patty. You can lightly round out the corners of the patty if you wish. You can alternatively flatten the burger with your palm but the finished burger may not portion evenly.

Molding a hamburger in ring mold
Perfectionists will want to use a ring mold to shape the burger patty. We use one too.

After your patty is formed, create a small indentation in the center with your thumb. This will prevent your patty from turning into a ball. Season it generously with salt and pepper.

Placing an indentation into a hamburger before cooking
Daryl wasn’t opposed to using his thumb to indent this burger.

Heat up a pan, preferably cast iron, on high heat over a stove. Once it’s ripping hot, pour in about a teaspoon of vegetable oil for lubrication.

Place your burger on the hot pan and cook it for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side until about medium to medium well (130°f / 55°c). You can also cook your burger medium rare (125°f / 51°c) or well (140°f / 60°c). It’s up to you.

When the ground beef is cooked, remove the burger and loosely cover it with foil to keep it warm.

Fluff the cooked rice and remove from the rice cooker or stove. Lay it evenly in two bowls.

Placing Japanese rice in a yellow striped bowl
Adding rice to the burger bowl is when the fun begins.

Slice the burger into four strips (two for each bowl).

Cutting a burger in half
Daryl flexed his chef muscles when he used a chef knife to slice this burger.

Place the burger strips on top of the rice, leaving room for the other ingredients.

Holding a cut hamvurger over rice
Two burger slices transformed this rice bowl into a burger bowl. Booyah!

Place the remaining ingredients neatly next to the hamburger strips on each bed of rice.

Placing tomato in a rice bowl
Assembling a burger bowl is like painting a picture.

Pro Tip
Place the cheese on top of the rice first if you want it to melt a little.

Extreme closeup of a Burger Bowl with Rice
Hooray! This burger bowl ‘picture’ is complete and ready to eat.

Once your burger rice bowl is arranged, serve it with chopsticks, a fork or even a spoon.

Burger Bowl with Rice mixed up
Mixing up the burger bowl results in maximum flavor. Plus, it’s fun.

Mix it up, dig in and enjoy your loaded burger bowl. It’s now time to chow down!

Burger Bowl FAQs

What is a Burger Bowl?

A Burger Bowl is a deconstructed burger that replaces the bun with rice.

What are the ingredients in a Burger Bowl?

Beef and rice are the Burger Bowl’s two main ingredients. We like to add grated cheddar cheese, diced tomato, pickled red onion, sliced dill pickle, ketchup and yellow mustard to our Burger Bowls. You may want to add additional ingredients to your Burger Bowl.

What’s the best cheese for this Burger Bowl?

We recommend using shredded Cheddar cheese in this Burger Bowl recipe.

What makes this Burger Bowl special?

Our Burger Bowl is both delicious and gluten-free.

Burger Bowl Recipe

Burger Bowl with Rice - pickles in front

Burger Bowl with Rice

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

You won't miss the bun when you eat a burger bowl with rice. The flavors are on point and the mouth feel is great.


  • 6 ounces 80/20 ground beef (ground beef must have at least 20% fat)
  • 5 cups warm cooked rice
  • 50 grams or 1.8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated on the largest hole of a box grater
  • 1/2 red onion cut in 1/4 inch rings and pickled (see notes below)
  • 1/2 large plum tomato, diced
  • 1 pickle, sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste


  1. Shape the ground beef in a loose yet cohesive ball. Do not overwork the meat.
  2. Place the ball in a four inch ring mold or burger mold and flatten into a patty. You can also make the patty by flattening the meat with your palm but it may not portion as evenly. Season one side of the patty with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat a cast iron pan over high heat. Once the pan is ripping hot, pour in one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Carefully place your burger patty in the pan with the seasoned side down. Once the burger is in the pan, season the other side with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook the burger until it's brown on both sides and cooked medium. (The internal temperature should read 130°f / 54°c) This step should take 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  5. Once cooked, remove the burger from the pan. Place it on a plate and cover it loosely with foil to keep warm.
  6. Remove the cooked rice from the stove or rice cooker and stir to fluff. Spoon the rice to create a layer on the bottom of each bowl.
  7. Cut the burger into four even strips.
  8. Artistically place the burger, cheddar cheese pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard over the rice bowls to create a pretty mosaic.
  9. Serve with a fork, spoon or chopsticks.


    • Make two patties if you double the recipe to make four bowls.
    • Optional additional ingredients include avocado, bacon, hot sauce and jalapeño peppers. You can also experiment with different kinds of cheese and condiments.
    • We like to pickle red onion with 1/4 cup of cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. We let the onions sit in the vinegar/salt solution for about 30 minutes before cooking the burger. You should do the same.

Hungry For More Rice Dishes?

Check out our recipes for Arroz de Pato, Cincinnati Chili, Hunan Chicken, Mapo Tofu, Poke Bowls and Yangzhou Fried Rice.

View the latest Web Story.

Pin It For Later

Pinterest image: photo of burger bowl with caption reading "Ditch the Bun! Make a Cheeseburger Rice Bowl"
About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We purchased the ingredients and tools used to create this recipe.

Original Publication Date: July 4, 2023

Skip to Recipe