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'Surprise burgers': We tried the retro, Reddit-famous recipe

These burger bombs are bursting with back-to-school nostalgia.
Redditor Zroskyline says he and his friends would put their lunch money together in high school to buy (and share!) as many of these burgers as possible.
Redditor Zroskyline says he and his friends would put their lunch money together in high school to buy (and share!) as many of these burgers as possible.TODAY Illustration / Terri Peters
/ Source: TODAY

In the high school cafeteria, Redditor Zroskyline says "surprise burger day" was a cause for celebration.

"I remember when me and my friends knew it was the day surprise burgers were on the menu," Zroskyline, who posts to Reddit anonymously, told TODAY Food. "We would put our money together just to see how many we could buy at lunch and would have a feast that day — which was awesome. Sometimes, we took some home because we had so many."

A few years ago, when he came across a recipe that sounded similar to the surprise burgers of his youth, the Redditor, who is based in Richmond, Texas, got excited about trying his hand at re-creating a favorite from his youth.

The result was spot-on, and it became a recipe often made with his son as a fun activity for them to do together.

Recently, Zroskyline shared the recipe on the Old_Recipes subreddit, where fellow vintage recipe lovers got equally excited about these surprise burgers, which are essentially burger bombs — homemade dough stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, onion, spices and cheese.

"Seeing other people make them was pretty neat," he said of his recipe. "I didn't think me posting that recipe would blow up fast, and hearing other people say they remember eating them and a child as well and seeing different twists on the recipe is awesome to see."

Creative Redditors have given surprise burgers some interesting twists, from adding Indian flavors to tucking bacon or pickles into each bundle of burger goodness.

I tried the original surprise burger recipe for dinner recently and learned a lot about how to make the unique cheeseburgers.

My attempt at u/Zroskyline's surprise burgers, ground meat combined with cheese and wrapped in homemade dough.Terri Peters

The recipe makes enough dough for approximately 25 burgers, but I second-guessed it and created eight giant versions instead. That was a mistake, as once they were baked, the burgers were a bit large and heavy on the bread.

And, while I tried flattening the dough out with my hands, I wish I'd have taken the time to roll each piece out with a rolling pin to really get the dough flatter and more thin when cooked. Next time, I'd go with flatter sections of dough and make more burgers with the two pounds of ground beef filling.

My kids enjoyed the different take on a weeknight classic, but said they'd like to try a version of surprise burgers where a cooked burger patty was placed inside each ball of dough, topped with cheese, folded up and baked.

An inside peek at the cheeseburger filling inside surprise burgers.Terri Peters

And like many members of the Old_Recipes subreddit, the simple recipe really got my brain turning, thinking through different ways to upgrade the burgers: I daydreamed of a garlic-butter-topped version of the dough, stuffed with a meatball, mozzarella cheese and a bit of marinara.

The dough also reminded me of homemade pizza dough, which led me to conclude that, if we did try the recipe again, we could save time by buying fresh pizza dough at the grocery store, then stuffing it with filling.

Overall, the dish is super nostalgic and idea-inspiring, so I can see why so many Redditors have attempted their own takes on the surprise burger.

"I love to see people get creative and inspired from something this simple," said Zroskyline. "I even change up the recipe as well, using butter in place of the oil in the dough to make it more flaky."