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.

RELATED: We Asked Rachael Ray to Create Burgers for the Presidential Candidates — Here’s What She Came Up With

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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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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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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