Mississippi Slugburgers

A frugal approach to stretching meat leads to an alluring crisp, delicious burger like you've never had before.

Mississippi Slugburgers
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins

Originating during the Great Depression in North Mississippi—with Corinth, Mississippi, as its arguable headquarters—the slugburger came about when restaurant owners stretched scarce burger meat with filler (stories vary, but it seems that potato flakes and flour were likely what was used). The patties were deep fried to crispy perfection and served on buns with mustard, diced onion, and dill pickle slices. These unique burgers were sold for a "slug," slang for a nickel—hence the name.

Modern-day potato flakes don't produce quite the same results as the ones originally used for slugburgers, so home cooks will use all-purpose flour, bread, and/or cornmeal as the extender, while restaurants might opt for soy grits or soymeal.

We opt for cornmeal, which makes for incredibly crispy burgers, and add a little oatmeal (which is not at all traditional) for a heartier texture. The burgers are dense, in a good way, with more chew to them than traditional burgers.

We use a combination of ground beef and ground pork, but you could use all of one or the other to simplify the ingredient list. And whereas the original slugburgers were deep-fried, we call for pan-frying in less oil for less mess and less fuss. You'll still get a fantastically crispy burger that you'll find yourself craving again and again once you've had it. And you'll stretch a pound of meat into six very satisfying burgers.

For more on slugburgers, you can watch The Trail of the Slugburger, a six and a half–minute video from Southern Foodways. If you want to go to the source, you can visit Borroum's Drug Store and Soda Fountain in Corinth, or even attend the annual Slugburger Festival, which Corinth holds every summer.


  • ½ lb. ground chuck

  • ½ lb. ground pork

  • ½ cup cornmeal

  • cup quick-cooking oats

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • ½ tsp black pepper

  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil

  • ¼ cup yellow mustard

  • 6 hamburger buns

  • ¼ cup minced white onion

  • 24 dill pickle chips


  1. Preheat oven to 200°F.

  2. Combine ground beef and pork, cornmeal, oats, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, mixing well. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a thin, bun-sized patty.

  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add 3 patties to pan. Cook until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat process with remaining patties.

  4. Spread mustard evenly over top and bottom of each bun. Divide onion evenly among bun tops; arrange 4 pickle chips over each bun top. Place 1 patty on each bun bottom; top with bun tops.

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