EXCLUSIVE: David Burtka’s Pretzel Cheeseburger With Chipotle Mayo Is the Burger You Really, Really Want to Eat

03/11/2016 at 02:31 PM ET

Iain Bagwell; Inset: Getty

For David Burtka, the perfect burger is actually really simple.

“No need to add fancy spices or sautéed onions,” he tells PEOPLE. “I find that good quality meat, exciting toppings and the correct cooking technique will leave your guests ‘full’ with happiness.”

But that’s not to say the classically-trained chef’s pretzel cheeseburger recipe—shared exclusively in this week’s issue of PEOPLE—is lacking pizazz.

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In the last few minutes of cooking the patties, Burtka reveals his “secret tip” of adding water to the pan—it creates a steamy environment for melting the cheese and keeping the burgers moist. And when it comes to condiments, his “simple and delicious” chipotle mayo adds that zip and creaminess to send your taste buds over the edge—though he admits in its place, store-bought barbecue sauce, guacamole, or “good old ketchup and mustard will do just fine.”

Burtka—who was a judge of the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival‘s Burger Bash (see, he really knows his stuff)—also shares the perfect way to make your burgers customizable for guests.

RELATED: See Which Stars Have Cooked Up a Storm in Culinary School

“I suggest setting up a burger bar and let people dress their own,” he says. “To me it’s all about the toppings: bib lettuce, thick cut beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced pickles, green chile, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, grilled or pickled onions or even a cooked egg!”

David Burtka’s Pretzel Burger with Chipotle Mayo 
Serves: 8

3 lb. ground chuck
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil
8 slices American cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sour cream
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed orange juice
8 pretzel buns, split and toasted

1. Shape ground chuck into 8 (¾-in.-thick) patties; press thumb in the center of each patty. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet on high until oil begins to shimmer. Cook patties in hot oil until lightly brown, about 6 minutes, turning once halfway through (for medium rare).

3. During last 2 minutes of cook time, add 1 cheese slice to each patty. Pour ¼ cup water into skillet, and cover with a lid to steam the burgers and melt the cheese.

4. For the chipotle sauce, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, peppers, orange juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth.

5. Serve burgers immediately on the toasted buns with chipotle mayo and desired toppings.
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

For more from Burtka and additional recipes from your favorite stars, pick the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands now.

—Ana Calderone, @anacalderone

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Showing 3 comments

Kiki on

I just can’t understand why pretzels are so popular in the US. In modern Germany, they are nothing but just a kind of very salty bread. With a little bit of butter, OK, really tasty and I love it too. But, as buns for burgers…? Well, I prefer the american fluffy, mild buns to the salty pretzels.

Valerie Evans on

Too much BUll Sh!t for a Burger, just plop it on the grill
It seems that simple isn’t good enough anymore

Kum Thomeczek on

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