Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Forty Five – Utah – Pastrami Burger with Fry Sauce

Welcome to week 45 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Utah, who joined the union on January 4, 1896. The state of Utah had a long path to statehood that dates back as far as 1848. The region was settled by Mormons in early 1847, when the land was still part of Mexico. After the Treaty of Guadalupe was signed in 1848, leaders of the church hosted a convention and constructed a constitution that would create an enormous state, which they wanted to call Deseret. The area would have included Utah, most of Nevada and Arizona, and parts of southern California, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Idaho. They elected Brigham Young as governor and sent Almon Babbitt to Washington D.C. as their state representative. But the U.S. House of Representatives would not give him a seat.

Washington never wanted to create a state that large, and when things began to heat up in the south over slavery, they divided the territory into the New Mexico and Utah territories. This allowed them to vote to either be a slave or non slave territory.

From 1852 until 1894, the leaders of the Mormon Church wrote and submitted state constitutions numerous times, but the federal government had passed laws that outlawed polygamy, so each time they were rejected. During this time, the territory was further divided and the surrounding states were accepted into statehood. It was not until 1894 that Congress passed the Enabling Act allowing Utah to submit yet another constitution for acceptance into statehood, but it clearly stated that polygamy must be illegal.

In March of 1895, Mormon and non-Mormon delegates met and framed a new constitution. It was ratified and sent to Washington. Finally, in January of 1896, President Cleveland proclaimed that Utah was a state.

In searching for a recipe this week, I discovered that Jell-O is Utah’s state dessert. At one time, Utahns ate more Jell-O than any other state, and their favorite flavor was lime. I discovered that there are old Jell-O recipes that mix in all sorts of things, some of them pretty nasty. Things like meat or tomatoes. Yuck. Seriously, who eats this stuff? Not going down that road.

What I finally decided on is a very popular burger recipe that was created in Salt Lake City in the 1970s called the Pastrami Burger. It’s pretty much just that; a burger that is then topped with pastrami. And it is always served with another Utah creation, Fry Sauce. Fry sauce is a mayonnaise/ketchup concoction that also has pickle juice and sometimes relish. It is sort of like Thousand Island (although no one is Utah would say that!).

pastrami burger with fry sauce
Pastrami Burger and Fry Sauce

The history of the Pastrami Burger grew out of a large Greek immigrant population, so influential in the Mormon state that even Chinese restaurants serve baklava. The Pastrami Burger was the creation of Crown Burger, owned by Manuel Katsanevas. He admits that he was influenced by the California fusion scene of the late 1960s, and especially a place called the Hat in Southern California that served up burgers alongside pastrami sandwiches. He decided to combine the two and it was an instant success.

A Salt Lake City restaurant called Arctic House claims to be the creator of Fry Sauce, although combining mayonnaise and ketchup is far from a novel idea. Regardless, it’s pretty yummy and I am a big fan. If you have never had it, I highly recommend you ask for a side of mayo and stir a bit of it into your ketchup the next time you have an order of fries.

Overall, I am going to give this one a B. Although an interesting idea, I didn’t think that the pastrami added a whole lot to the burger, and frankly, some crispy bacon is hands down the better way to go any day of the week. The Fry Sauce, that’s a solid A, because I have always been a fan and now I have a name for it. Would I make a pastrami burger again? Probably not. But it was interesting learning about it and the state of Utah.

Have a great week everyone and thanks for stopping by. See you next week in Oklahoma!

Pastrami Burger
Pastrami Burger with Fry Sauce

Recipe for Pastrami Burger with Fry Sauce:


1 ½ pounds ground beef
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
8 ounces pastrami, thinly sliced
8 slices American cheese
4 sesame-seed hamburger buns, split, buttered and toasted
Utah Fry Sauce, recipe follows
Shredded Lettuce
Sliced red onion
Sliced tomato

Utah Fry Sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons dill relish or dill pickle juice


Loosely shape the ground beef into 4 equal patties. Sprinkle each side of the patties generously with salt and pepper. Create a small well in the center of each patty, using your thumb, to help your burger cook evenly.

Heat a griddle pan over high heat. Add the pastrami and cook until browned and crisp on both sides, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the burger patties and cook until browned on each side, about 3 ½ minutes per side. Top each burger with 2 slices of the cheese and continue cooking until the cheese is melted.

Slather 1 tablespoon of Utah Fry Sauce on each side of the buns. Add lettuce, tomato and onion, then the burger and top with pastrami.

For the Fry Sauce – Mix together the mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, vinegar and relish/pickle juice in a small bowl. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Yield: 3/4 cup.

Pastrami Burger UT
Pastrami Burger with Fry Sauce

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