Bud’s Broiler Burger with Hickory Smoked Sauce

Hamburger with Smoky Sauce

Bud’s Broiler Burger with Hickory Smoked Sauce

It’s Burger Week over at Eater.com, the popular blog network that covers restaurant, bar and nightlife news across 15 metropolitan areas including New Orleans. And on Monday during my daily visit to the Nola.Eater page, I came across a post on Bud’s Broiler. Reading that piece had me thinking back to 1970-something and left me craving a big, juicy burger with a milkshake and fries.

Bud’s Broiler is a New Orleans institution and anyone who grew up in the City has vivid memories of meals eaten there.  Whether they frequented the old Gentilly location on Pelopidas (with a not-so-memorable view of the cemetery), the original City Park Avenue address or one of several other locations, they can more than likely rattle off their favorite menu item by number too.  That’s because this small, local hamburger chain has been cranking out its “original charcoal broiled” burgers from basically the same menu since 1952. We’re not talking fancy schmancy burgers. No. These are classic old-school burgers made with 100% ground chuck (and probably nothing else), cooked over a charcoal flame and served on toasted buns. Topping options are classified by order number and are limited to the basics plus mayonnaise-relish sauce, hickory smoked sauce and chili. My favorite was always a Number 4 with chili and cheese, which is reflected on their menu board something like this:


Coincidentally, my kids had requested regular burgers (as opposed to sliders) for dinner that night. So I decided to create a Bud’s Broiler experience for them at home. Since I knew they wouldn’t care for a burger with chili, I prepared for them a Number 4 with hickory smoked sauce. Let me clarify. I prepared for them Numbers 4s with my best attempt at recreating Bud’s Broiler’s famous hickory smoked sauce. I based my sauce on a list of ingredients I found on the Tiger Droppings (Go LSU!) forum, the link to which was referenced in that Nola.Eater article. Geez, I had no idea this condiment was such a hot topic. Apparently decades have been devoted to nailing down Bud’s secret recipe. Anyway, Tiger Droppings’ list included tomato sauce, ketchup, liquid smoke and chili powder. I dumped those ingredients in the pan, tasting and adjusting the amounts while the sauce cooked down, but I wasn’t getting any good taste memories from that combination. So I started adding this and that until I tasted what I recalled being Bud’s famous sauce, if just a tad thicker and darker. The hubby spooned a generous amount on his burger and thought it was spot on. The kids’ take on it? Well, for the record, they’ve never eaten an original Bud’s Broiler burger (sigh, I know), but they loved it just the same. We’ll definitely have to pay Bud’s Broiler a visit during one of our next trips home.

Bud’s Broiler Burger with Hickory Smoked Sauce Recipe

Print Recipe

Print Recipe

2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce), divided
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup (I used Heinz, but read that Bud’s uses Hunt’s)
1/4 cup liquid smoke
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chili powder
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste
6 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, for serving

In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, 2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Gently shape meat into 6 patties about 1 1/2-inches thick; make a deep thumb impression in the center of each one. Season outside of patties with additional salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining the tomato sauce, ketchup, liquid smoke, vinegar, chili powder and reserved 1/4 cup Lea & Perrins in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened, 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt; keep warm. Prepare grill (preferable charcoal) for direct cooking over high heat. Remove patties from refrigerator and place in center of grill. Cook until the patties begin to sweat on top, about 4-5 minutes. Flip patties over and cook to desired doneness, another 2-4 minutes for medium-rare. Place burgers on the buns and top with grated cheese and hickory smoked sauce. Makes 6 servings.


Category: Beef, Main Dishes, Sauces  Tags: ,
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16 Responses
  1. Bobbi says:

    OMG…totally want a burger now. And Tiger Droppings has saved me on SO many an occasion when it comes to food/recipe searches. 🙂

    • Charles says:

      I live in Texas and many years ago used to visit my friend frequently who was living in NOLA at the time. We always went to Bud’s at least three times during my visit, and I always got the number four. I still have dreams about the hickory smoke sauce, grated cheddar cheese and chopped onions.

      Thank you so much for posting this. I am going to make this tonight. There is an old-school hamburger place in Austin called Top Notch. — http://www.topnotchaustin.com and they make one pretty close to Bud’s. Also charbroiled.

      Thanks again!

      • Genet says:

        I hope they turned out okay, Charles! If I’m ever in Austin (I have friends who have a second home there), I’ll certainly stop in at Top Notch and do a little comparing!

  2. Barry Begault says:

    Wow do I remember the Bud’s Broiler of the ’70s! Out in Metairie along Vets. Hwy near Kenner, they took over the Roy Rogers A-framed resturant! The burgers were thick, grilled, and had lots of shredded chedder cheese.
    I went back in the nineties with my wife from Katy (30 miles west of Houston) and bragged about Bud’s Broiler hamburgers. But like time does, the burgers were little more than Burger King style with a slab of cheese and not the toasted buns and shredded cheese of the past. Bummer!

    • Genet says:

      I’d like to think your disappointing experience with your wife was due to nothing more than a bad day on the line. I would be bummed to think the franchisor has loosened the reigns of consistency that made Bud’s so successful in the early years. I’ll have to let you know how things are when I bring the kids there this summer!

    • jim Z says:

      I go to Bud’s Broiler every time I go back home. Still the best ever

  3. nola boy says:

    They are still on point….I eat their once a week…the 24hr one on clearview blvd in metairie

  4. Glenn says:

    It’s been a while but wasn’t there also finely diced onions in the sauce? I made the sauce as posted except added onion. Still did not taste exactly like it. When I put it on a burger, that was it. So I think it is the sauce and the burger together that makes it right.

    • Genet says:

      The onions are an optional topping on all burgers and dogs. I do think though, Glenn, that it’s the charcoal grilled burger flavor coupled with the beef fat that brings the sauce full circle.

      • Glenn says:

        Do you think the onions are added to the burger or cooked with the sauce? I figure if added to burger the onions would be crispy. I don’t recall them being crispy but soft like they were cooked with the sauce. What are your thoughts?

  5. Katherine says:

    Oh my gosh we are in love!!! My husband grew up in New Orleans and loves Bud’s broiler!! So when I found this recipe I knew we had to try it. Well it is awesome !!

    We have made it twice and the last time we froze half the recipe before we heated it up, so today we had quick bud’s sauce and it was great!!!

    • Genet says:

      Hey Katherine! So glad I was able to connect your husband with a tasty part of his past. Thanks for the sweet comment. I hope you two find many more favorites on Raised on a Roux!

  6. Danielle says:

    I laughed reading your Bud’s Broiler post, even though I found you while searching for the recipe closest to my old Muffalata Pasta Salad. Anyway, if I can get you the BBQ sauce recipe from my dad (or see how close you are to it) –I will share it with you. He’s was close friends with them my whole life.

    I think it is funny that only a week ago I was talking about Bud’s Broiler and missing that delicious burger with the famous sauce and cheddar. Mmmmm

    Thanks for all the recipes you have posted. I will have to try them.

    Texas food is great, but nothing touches Louisiana’s homecookin’.

    • Genet says:

      Thank you Danielle for your sweet comments and by all means let me know if you learn of any deep, dark and tasty Bud’s Broiler secrets! I heard they are opening up a new location in
      Covington, which is perfect for me and my family since my mom and sister both live in Mandeville.

      Please stay in touch and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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