Posted by: Erica Retrochef | July 22, 2013

Tropical Hamburger

So our Hawaiian Franks attempt ended up a bit Hawaiian, but also a bit bizarre. Don’t worry, friends — there’s still more options for pineapple-topped meat to try!


Like Tropical Hamburger.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 loaf French bread, cut in half lengthwise
1 20-ounce can sliced pineapple
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 green pepper, cut in strips

Heat oven to 500° or “Broil”. Mix beef, egg, milk, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on cut surfaces of bread. Broil about 4 inches from flame for about 8 to 10 minutes, until brown. Meanwhile drain pineapple and save juice. Mix brown sugar and cornstarch; stir in pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce. Brush broiled meat with pineapple juice mixture, top with pineapple slices and green pepper. Return to broiler for 2 minutes to heat topping.


This looks pretty complicated, between all the ingredients for the sauce, the meat, the miscellaneous toppings…


Let’s take the easy part first — slicing the green pepper into pretty circles.


First we mix the brown sugar and cornstarch together.


It makes dusty brown sugar.


And then when we mix it into soy sauce and pineapple juice, we have a very sweet teriyaki sauce for the top.


Finally, we prep the meatloaf-mixture for the top of the loaves.


It made a great deal more than I expected; this layer of meat is at least an inch thick.


I was concerned that wouldn’t manage to cook thoroughly under just the broiler, so I used the top half of the loaf of bread and covered them both with meat. (Plenty of leftovers. Yay?)


I think the broiler is probably a very underused part of the oven; it cooks fast and browns food nicely. It’s like an upside grill in your kitchen! (Just wish I knew more about using it, I always worry about disastrously burnt food…)


It’s weird to put sauce on after something’s cooked, but there we go.


And the toppings are duly added, and everything is broiled for a little bit longer.

The one thing I’m not sure about is those red spheres in the original recipe — are they supposed to be cherries? Small peppers? Those stems look rather thick for either one, so I just guessed maraschino. At least that way one thing on my plate is going to be edible.


If this had been on a loaf with a much softer crust, it would have been easier to eat. So instead of treating it like an open-face sandwich, we sliced it fairly thing, served the slices sideways, and ate it with forks. In terms of flavor, I would have liked a bit more teriyaki mixed in with the meat itself instead of just on top, but it worked pretty well to blend the pineapple sweet and meat savory. It was interesting, but again only really worth the effort for your tropical picnic event.

1973 recipe originally preserved by Vintage Recipe Cards.


  1. I’m so glad to see someone tried this!

  2. I’ve come across a number of spread-meat-on-bread-and-broil recipes over the years but never tried one because I’ve always wondered something–
    Didn’t the bread get all soggy and sodden with grease from the hamburger? It doesn’t look bad in the picture, but my mind just can’t accept the fact that this might actually work.

    • There was definitely a “gooey” layer right below the meat — if the bread had been much thinner, it would have been overwhelming, I think. The huge loaf of french bread did a decent job at not turning totally to mush, but it’s definitely not pristine!

  3. My Mom made something called “Open Faced Hamburgers” that was similar to this, but without the Hawaiian flair. She broil-toasted the small, split club rolls first which meant there was no real gooey layer. It was topped with a mixture of ground beef, salt and pepper, cubed American cheese, diced green peppers and onions and chili sauce then broiled again. Extra chili sauce served on the side. I still make them today! Love them hot or cold.

  4. I’ve been lurking for a while, but I love your blog. And I love this recipe!

  5. I loved seeing how you made this! I am gearing up to try and photograph a retro recipe attempt (but I have such a lousy camera, so maybe not!)…and I love your blog! Am now following you properly on Bloglovin 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: