Magical Burger Balls

Creative Hamburger CookeryCreative Hamburger Cookery

Clearly, this book was published before food photography was a thing. If I didn’t know better, I would think that was a pile of dirt decorating those plates with some lovely garnish.

Hamburger meat is a staple of the time as it is usually quick and cheap. My mother was the master at creating recipes out of hamburger. Hardly anything to brag about, but I am sure it was quick and within budget. This book is much of the same.  All the traditional incarnations of hamburger are well represented. Basically it is either a loaf, a meatball (this cookbook calls them burger balls), or a dressed up hamburger sandwich.

Nothing that spectacular and as a cookbook, the directions are written rather broadly and there are no illustrations. My advice: stick with the family meatloaf recipe and don’t get cute trying to make hamburger something more than it is.


Creative Hamburger Cookery back cover

Burger Balls

Burger loaves


  1. First thing I noticed about this book: DAT SERIF GOTHIC. I was like “This has to be a reissue from the 1970s or *very* early 1980s, since that face didn’t exist in 1951.” And I was right!

    Speaking of meatballs, Swdish meatballs from IKEA sound good right now.

  2. Hmmmm, “Italian Burger Shortcake” and “Burger Banana Loaf”; dinner and dessert in one meal!

  3. I love all these old cookbook posts. I want to see a cooking show that requires chefs to create some of the more gag-worthy recipes from yesteryear.

    1. In the Regretsy forums, we occasionally hold vintage recipe cookoffs. I’ve participated in one featuring hot dogs, one dedicated to gelatine-based dishes, and one that was just random 1950s recipe cards.

      Somehow I managed to luck out on all three. My hot dog recipe involved splitting and soaking them in a wine and herb marinade, which made no discernible difference to the taste. My gelatine dish was a sort of fig and walnut whip, which was old-fashioned but OK. The random recipe was an insane sauerkraut salad, which turned out surprisingly tasty with coleslaw replacing the sauerkraut.

  4. I actually own the Dover reissue of The Bread Tray by the same author and like it very much. The book is well constructed and in great shape for a cookbook I bought used over thirty years ago. The seventy year old recipes are excellent, too. As for The Burger Book, I’m not sure why the submitter thinks the directions are written broadly. “Roll out 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured board” seems quite detailed to me. The layout looks odd to modern readers used to seeing the ingredients distinguished from the directions. The recipes look interesting and require a bit more work than basic meatloaf. Whether this still belongs in a library depends on the tastes and skills of the borrowers. It definitely belongs in a cooking school library but maybe not in a public library serving people whose kitchenette microwave is larger than the oven.

  5. The recipe with bananas, celery and bacon is really hard to believe. Followed — of course! — by an observation on the habits of ancient Egyptian hosts. Surreal!

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