Japanese Hamburger Steak – Hambagu (ハンバーグ)

5/5 (2)
Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
6 servings



  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Mixing bowls
  • Skillet
  • Spatula

Quick Directions

  1. Chop onions. Place skillet over medium heat. Add oil and cook onions until translucent. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, then divide into 6 patties. Slap them against your hands a few times to help hold shape while cooking.
  3. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add patties and cook 5 minutes until bottom has browned.
  4. Flip patties over, cover and cook another 5 minutes until cooked through.
  5. Transfer to plate and top with tonkatsu sauce or your favorite toppings.

The Story

Hamburger Steak, or Hambagu (ハンバーグ), is a popular dish enjoyed at home and Yoshoku (Western food) restaurants. It’s a fusion food of Japanese and Western cooking styles, so it is a little different than your usual hamburger.

The first difference is quite obvious: it’s missing a bun! While you can go to a fast food restaurant and order an American style hamburger, for most meals, Japanese usually serve their hambagu with rice. Along with the rice, the ingredients they use are also a little different than our version. Most recipes call for a mix of ground meat, mainly pork and beef, to give the meat a softer, richer texture. I love the addition of pork in the patty, it really adds extra flavor that I didn’t even realize was missing! If you can’t find ground pork in your grocery store though, completely beef patties are just as good!

Hambagu are simple to make and are popular with kids, so they are a classic bento (boxed lunch) dish. You can servehambagu with a variety of toppings and sauces, popular choices being sauteed onions or mushrooms, fried eggs, grateddaikon, soy sauce, steak sauce, ketchup, etc. The way to serve it is up to you, but for this recipe I’ve chosen to do one our favorites, Swiss cheese and tonkatsu sauce.

Recipe – Japanese Style Hamburger Steak :

– Chop the onions as small as possible. Heat oil in the skillet on medium high heat. Once hot, add onions and cook until softened and translucent. Remove from heat and let cool.


– Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Once onions are cool, add to the bowl and mix ingredients well. Once mixed, divide into 6 balls and shape into patties. While you’re shaping them, toss them from one hand to the other a couple of times. They will make a slapping sound, which is good. Doing this helps the meat hold together so you don’t have them completely fall apart in the pan!


– Heat skillet on medium high heat. Once hot, place patties in the pan. My pan is only big enough to comfortably cook two at one time, so I cook my hambagu in batches. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the bottom side is nice and brown.


– Flip the patties over, and they should be crisp and brown, which is where all the flavor is! Cover the patties with a tight fitting lid, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Covering them helps trap in the heat and ensures even cooking.


– Once cooked, transfer to a plate and top with tonkatsu sauce and your favorite toppings.

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  • lin

    The influence is not from hamburger, but the Salisbury Steak, named after the American that created it. Its is served with brown gravy and either noodles or more commonly, mashed potatoes.

    • Dani

      You’re quite right, I guess I should have been a little more clear in my post. In my mind it’s not quite salibsury steak since I’ve seen hanbaga served with and without gravy, so it’s not quite one or the other. Either way though, it’s quite delicious!

  • Noisette Sévigné Mistral

    Thank you for explaining all the differences between a Japanese and a Western hamburger! I was looking for these explanations everywhere lol