Loco Moco is a Hawaiian favorite featuring white rice topped with a burger patty, gravy, and finished with a fried egg. Although there are variations of this beloved breakfast and lunch staple, this easy recipe hits the mark perfectly. With an umami mushroom and onion gravy, it’s super hearty and flavorful. Tastes just like a trip to Hawaii!
I first ate Loco Moco at Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It sounded amazing but the execution was disappointing. It was incredibly under-seasoned, bland in fact. Once I learned what loco moco is, however, I was intrigued and wanted to enjoy a better tasting version. Making it yourself is a quite easy, and significantly cheaper than a trip to the islands!
The legend of the Loco Moco
According to the story, loco moco originated on the Big Island of Hawaii, although the exact origin is heavily debated. Reportedly, the dish was invented in 1949 at the Lincoln Grill at the request of a group of teenagers. They named the dish after a friend nicknamed “Crazy.” This “crazy” delicious dish is popular for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s available any time of day in Hawaii, making it an epic hangover meal as well as a late night staple.
How to make it
Let’s go in order from bottom to top. The first item on your plate will be the rice. It’s best to use the same type of rice used throughout Hawaii. Calrose or Kokuho Rose are sticky, medium-grain California-grown rice varieties that can also be used for sushi. I found it at a local Asian supermarket for fairly cheap, but it’s also available online if you can’t find it elsewhere. Prepare the rice according to the package directions.
The next item on top of the rice is a hamburger patty. For this particular recipe, you will season 1 pound of ground beef with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, and garlic. Shape the meat into 4 equal-sized patties and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them.
For this loco moco we are making a mushroom and caramelized onion gravy. Gently caramelize onion wedges in a little oil in your skillet, then set aside until you’re ready to finish your gravy. Now you can cook your burgers in the same skillet. You don’t need to fire up the grill. When the burgers are to your liking, set them aside on a plate and cover with foil. This will keep the patties hot while you finish the gravy.
Saute sliced cremini mushrooms in the pan until tender. Add the reserved caramelized onion wedges, beef broth, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. You’ll thicken the gravy with a bit of cornstarch. It’s not quite as thick as a typical American gravy. It’s definitely more of an Asian gravy, as it uses cornstarch to thicken, and soy sauce as a main flavoring component. If the gravy is too thin for your liking, you can certainly thicken it more with a bit of additional cornstarch. While you finish up the gravy, fry up a few eggs in another pan.
When you’re ready to assemble the loco moco start with a scoop of rice, then a burger patty, the mushroom gravy, and finally a fried egg. Garnish with sliced scallions. Enjoy!
The Hawaiian plate lunch
I decided to zhuzh up my loco moco a bit by turning it into a Hawaiian plate lunch. What’s a plate lunch, you ask? It’s basically a plated meal consisting of a serving of protein, steamed rice, and mayo-based salad. These salads can either be macaroni (or mac) salad, potato mac salad or even tuna mac salad. The exact variations of both the plate lunch and the mac salad component can range significantly not only from restaurant to restaurant but also island to island. You can easily upgrade a Loco moco to a plate lunch because it already includes rice and a protein. Simply add a scoop of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad on the side and the plate lunch is born. It’s a thing of beauty!
Long story short, this loco moco is crazy good! See what I did there? Loco? Crazy? Yeah, I’m funny. Although I’m not the biggest fan of plain, sticky, steamed white rice, the mushroom gravy soaks into the rice, giving it tons of flavor. The beef patty is also super flavorful. A fried egg, complete with runny yolk, is the figurative icing on the cake. What a magical combination?! If a trip to Hawaii is not in the cards right now, this loco moco will definitely satisfy the craving for traditional Hawaiian flavors. Aloha!
Other recipes you may like
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Chèvre Which Way But Loose Burger
- Hit Me With Your Best Shallot Burger
- SmokeShack Burger
- Cheeseburger Dumplings
- Ram-Don from Parasite (Jjapaguri with Steak)
Have you ever been to Hawaii? Leave me a comment letting me know where you’ve been and if you’ve tried a loco moco on your travels. Would love suggestions on where to go for the best version on the islands! Thanks.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more as needed
- 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 medium Maui or yellow onion; 1/4 finely chopped and 3/4 sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and finely grated
- 2 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (shoyu)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 cups steamed white rice preferably Calrose or Kokuho Rose medium-grain white rice
- 4 large eggs fried sunny-side up or over easy
- 2 chopped green onions green parts only, for garnish
- In a bowl combine the ground beef, salt, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, and garlic. Gently mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until just combined; don’t overmix. Form into four equal-size patties about 1/2 inch thick. Place the patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator to rest for 20 minutes.
- While the patties are resting, add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion wedges and saute until almost translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft and caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add another 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and set it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, swirl the pan around to evenly coat it, then gently place the patties in the pan, leaving room around each one. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Using a spatula, remove the patties and transfer to a clean plate to rest. Cover with foil to keep the patties hot while you make the gravy.
- Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the reserved caramelized onions. Add the beef broth, soy sauce, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium-low, scoop out a tablespoon of the broth from the skillet, and whisk it with the cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the skillet and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes (note: it will not be quite as thick as a traditional American gravy, but it will thicken slightly; use more cornstarch if you prefer a thicker gravy).
- Place 1 cup steamed rice on each plate and top in this order with 1 patty, some gravy, 1 fried egg, and chopped green onions before serving.
Notes & Nutrition
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.