Copycat Hurriburgers with Cheese – An Incredibly Delicious Unique Loose Meat Sandwich

When we moved from Indiana to Florida, we knew how difficult it would be leaving family and friends we love dearly. Thankfully, we can keep up with everyone through one modern convenience or another such as phone, Skype, email, facebook, instagram, etc. What we didn’t count on is how much we’d miss some of our favorite local restaurants. Where we live, there are no White Castles, Frisch’s, Pizza Kings, Kopper Kettles, or Bluebirds. So with the help of friends, I’m on a quest to recreate those unbelievably tasty dishes at home.

Wheat bun

First up is a sandwich served at a drive-in called The Bear’s Den in Shelbyville, Indiana. Word on the street is, things aren’t nearly as good as they used to be. That’s so sad because the place was always hopping and served some crazy good fast food. One of our faves is their coney dog sauce, but we’ll get to that another day. Today, it’s all about this unique loose-meat burger that tastes unlike anything I’ve ever had anywhere else. It’s super savory and served on a rye bun with either a slice of American cheese or “Squeezee” cheese. Some people are die-hard squeezee cheese fans, others like me have to have sliced. This meat mixture is so good, you don’t need cheese at all, but it does take the sandwich up a notch. 😍

Copycat Hurriburgers with Cheese - An Incredibly Delicious Unique Loose Meat Sandwich | Culinary Craftiness
Rye dinner rolls

So I posed the question of the Hurriburger ingredients to my friends and family on facebook. One of my bffs used to work there as a carhop in her teens. She didn’t know the exact recipe but she was SO close! Then another bff got what was supposed to be the original recipe from a friend, but it was missing something first bff thought for sure was in it. Little did everyone know, there was a secret, secret ingredient and it was one it seems few people have heard of or know what to do with. My momma introduced me to the stuff many long years ago and it’s what makes our brown gravy sing. Kitchen Bouquet! I’ve posted about it before. πŸ™‚


With the help of friends, this is what I came up with. I hope you try it and love it as much as we do! Since I couldn’t find sandwich size rye buns, I served the meat on rye dinner rolls so they were more the size of sliders. Cut this recipe in half if you want – I made enough for my crew to have 4 each plus plenty of leftovers. They were so filling, I don’t think anyone was able to eat more than 3. πŸ˜‹

Note: Use an electric hand mixer to break up the meat and incorporate the ingredients AFTER the meat has browned or use a Mix ‘N Chop from Pampered Chef.

Hurriburgers with Cheese

5 lbs. ground beef (at least 80/20)
2 1/2 cups oats
3 cups water
2 1/2 Tbsp. Accent
2 1/2 Tbsp. onion salt
3 or 4 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet
Rye (dark) hamburger buns or dinner rolls (wheat if you can’t find rye)
Sliced American cheese or Cheese Whiz

In a large pot or Dutch oven, place the ground beef, oats, water, Accent, and onion salt. Turn burner to high and begin browning meat, mixing well and breaking up the meat. Once all the meat is browned, use a hand mixer to further break up the meat so there are no clumps. Or use a Mix ‘N Chop from Pampered Chef from the outset. Turn heat to low and simmer for 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Skim off fat as it settles on top.

Stir in the Kitchen Bouquet and simmer 10 minutes longer. If the meat mixture tastes perfect and has the right consistency at this point, serve as is. If it’s too wet, just take a little more time to cook it down.

Make up several sandwiches and cover with foil or waxed paper for a few minutes to steam the buns and melt the cheese. Best served with big, fat crinkly french fries, and a side of cole slaw (made with mayonnaise dressing). 😊

  • Copycat Hurriburgers with Cheese - An Incredibly Delicious Unique Loose Meat Sandwich | Culinary Craftiness
  • Copycat Hurriburgers with Cheese - An Incredibly Delicious Unique Loose Meat Sandwich | Culinary Craftiness
  • Copycat Hurriburgers with Cheese - An Incredibly Delicious Unique Loose Meat Sandwich | Culinary Craftiness

Another recipe I developed from a delicious food memory from my Hoosier home state is Authentic Coney Dog Sauce. Chili dogs seem to be everywhere in my adopted home state of Florida, but no one has heard of a coney dog except for Coney Island Amusement Park – and it didn’t originate there. So I had to recreate the recipe from taste memory. Thankfully my family and friends say I nailed it! Give it a try and see what you think. πŸ˜‹

Happy eating! 😊



  1. Pretty cool that you are trying to copy the hurriburger. I will not tell you the exact recipe but I can assure you without a doubt that the Bears Den recipe did not include water, accent or kitchen bouquet. Now unless those that were entrusted with the recipe shared it with others without permission, there were only about 5 or 6 people that new the recipe. Assuming that to be true, only about 3 of them could have or would maybe give it away because the other three were the family that owned the place. Although, I doubt it. Anyhow, keep trying as it is a great sandwich and I’m sure your creation tastes pretty good. OH, btw, the bun was called a rye bun but it wasn’t actually rye. It was just called that. The bun was made at Linne’s in Shelbyville. πŸ™‚


    • Thanks for dropping by and setting me straight, Brett. It doesn’t really matter to me what the “real” recipe is. For those of us who will never again get to taste the original as whipped up by its creator, my recipe tastes spot on. You should try it and let me know how mine stacks up. πŸ™‚


  2. Hey Brett Means….. I’m not quite sure why keeping the recipes a closely guarded secret is a thing, after all this time, and obviously, are not staying true at the current Bears Den. Unless Paul, Bev, you, or anyone else in your family is planning to open another restaurant, then I don’t see the harm in it. I’ve lived away from Shelbyville for quite a long time, and still have a taste for coneys and hurriburgers. Unfortunately, even visiting family there won’t resurrect that memory, due to whatever difference the current owners have implemented. Just my 2 cents……Wishing the Means family all the best!!

    By the way….. I’d be happy to share my mother’s recipe for “Melt in your mouth dinner rolls”, which she won a couple of contests with, in return….πŸ˜ƒ


  3. The only reason we would not share it is out of respect for Robert and Anita who now own the restaurant. I really enjoyed reading the article and how the hurriburger was enjoyed by others so much that they have tried to make it. If Melissa’s creation tastes close enough to her then that is all that matters. I made it some in January back in the day when we were getting ready to open, but after opening Arlene Smith was the primary cook for both the hurriburger and coney sauce. Arlene actually was employed at the Bear’s Den longer than my parents owned it. Her sister Jewel also worked there almost the entire time as well. The recipe was created by Don and Vera Burke, the original owners. Again, it was really cool to read the article about something that was so much part of our lives. I have not eaten a hurriburger since 1999 and I kind of miss them! To be truthful, I didn’t make it enough to have the complete recipe in my head after all these years and had to call mom and ask her again what the recipe was before I commented. I remembered that we never put water in it and did not recall the accent or bouquet, but had to confirm.


    • Brett, I used to work for your mom and dad when I was in high school. Moved from Shelbyville nearly 30 years ago. I soooooooo miss the hurriburgers! The current owner is my cousin, and I have never tasted any other hurriburgers close to those when your parents owned the place.


    • I graduated with Robert, and do respect your keeping the recipes with he and his wife. I think the addition of water is to break up the burger, mimicking the texture of the Hurriburger. I think I would add one more step, and drain off the water and fat, then brown it a bit on a flat top grill or cast iron skillet. I used to work for Shelbyville Paint and Wallpaper, eons ago. I remember measuring for some flooring in an office at Bears Den. What I remember, was how impeccably clean it was, back in the prep area. Your mom and dad were…. and are, a real class act!


      • I wait about 20 minutes between stirrings while it simmers for a few hours. Before the last stir, I skim off the fat. If I were to brown the meat and drain off all the fat and not add any water, there wouldn’t be enough moisture to break down the oats so they completely melt and become incorporated.

        Another thing, back in the old days I could find MSG (that’s how it was labeled) in the spice section of grocery stores. Accent is the only msg product available now that I can find. So maybe the original recipe called for MSG? Anyway, my hurriburgers bring back fond memories of the good old days so until someone shares the secret, I’ll continue to make mine and enjoy every bite. πŸ™‚


    • The ORIGINAL recipe was never passed down to Robert and Anita. Although they have done a great job with their recipe, it is not the original. I worked with them for 4 years in the kitchen, and Anitas brother, Donald, told me it was not the original. I believe he is still the kitchen manager to this day. But I will try this recipe. I hope it is close!


      • I agree the recipe being used at the Bear’s Den now is pretty good, but not as good as the original. If they hadn’t come up with a recipe, they would’ve had to mark out Hurriburgers on the menu or by all new signs! πŸ™‚


      • I saw your comment about the recipe not being passed down. In January of 2000, we were there helping them open up for their first season. During the month of January, Bev Means was there making both hurriburger and coney sauce in preparation foropening day. Our long time employees, Arlene Smith and Jewell Clements were also there on opening day. That first week is always hectic as we are traditionally very busy. After we left and were no longer there, Arlene and Jewell stayed as employees. Arlene was the person who mainly made the hurriburger and would have been making the hurriburger with the original recipe long after we were gone. While we believe those recipes were passed down, I suppose it is possible that detail was overlooked by us, but it would not have been intentional. There would have been no reason for us to not give it to them. With that said, after we were gone, the person making the hurriburger with the original recipe was right there with them. If Anita did not have it, she never called us to remind us to give it to her or ask for it and I guess never asked Arlene before Arlene left or was let go, which ever the case happened to be. I guess my question would be, “IF” it is true that Anita never received the recipe, why did she not take the initiative to call us or ask Arlene for it while Arlene was working for her? Either case, if they didn’t get it, I suppose that would be up to them to make sure they had it as the new owners. We would have been more than happy to give it to them if we had forgotten and if they had asked.


    • You might want to get it in writing – just because your parents are getting older. You still don’t have to share it 😘


      • Desiree, was your comment meant for me? Either way, I suppose it would be good to have the recipe in writing for my own benefit. Would need to get the original hurriburger buns from Linne’s as well. πŸ™‚


    • Now do you know how to make it you know I know your mom and dad owned it but you know I’m not going to open one man I’ll tell you right now I sure do miss a hurry burger and that coney sauce wow that must have been great I bet you never ate it because you hated it cuz you work there like when I worked at Cagney’s with Fergie all right brother well he came to shovel I’d really like to have that recipe thank you


  4. Loved working there and getting to work with The Means family. A couple things that I learned from that job (and still do today); on time is late (15 min before your shift) if you think you’re slow enough to change the receipts to something funny and inappropriate, you’re bound to get a rush and Paul has already thought of that joke, theres a lot more sugar than you thought in root beer (still can’t drink soft drinks), if you work hard and show initiative you will be rewarded with new roles and challenges! What a wonderful experience for a teen wanting a little gas money so you can “cruise” through later. Thank you for the recipe, gonna give it a try!


  5. I worked for Bev and Paul at Bear’s Den circa. 1985. They are wonderful people. I haven’t lived in Shelbyville since 1991. I still miss hurriburgers with squeezee cheese and sauce and cheese sandwiches (coney dog without the dog). Watching how much sugar went into the root beer did cause me to cut back…a lot on the root beer intake, but I still had to have it. Great people, great food, great times!!!

    Thank you for the copycat recipe. I can’t wait to try it.


  6. Hi Melissa! This recipe is amazing and is spot on! Others can debate and swear that it isn’t “the recipe” but you could’ve fooled me lol!!! I wonder if they have tried making it? Anyway, thanks so much for sharing it!! I’ve been a hurriburger fan for most of my 45 years, and my fear was one day driving buy and seeing “closed for good” on the Bears Den sign! Hope it doesn’t happen, but if it ever does, at least my family and I can have the next best thing!


    • I’m so glad you tried it, Jennifer! And you’re welcome! Obviously, I don’t believe in keeping the best things in life a secret. I would never have decided to share my recipes if that were the case. Some of the most famous recipes in the world have been shared by their creators so people like you and me can enjoy what we might not ever get to otherwise. And once having tasted a Hurriburger with Cheese, I can’t imagine going the rest of my life without them in it! πŸ™‚


  7. I live in Shelby County … Hurriburgers were always a must have back in the day when cruising the Bears Den… I so loved them !!!! I don’t go anymore because of the same reason others have said, the hurriburger just isn’t the same as it was then.. It’s ok but not the same .. Anyway even if your recipe isn’t the original, to me it taste spot on … I’ve made your recipe many times now and it’s always a big hit … Thank you so much for your take on it … P.S. I’ve talked to many people that worked there and the one thing that they all said was, anything that was added was white ????? Sooooo I think you’ve got it !!!!!!!!


    • Thank you so much, Melody! I’m glad you came over and let us know how this recipe turned out for you. I’ve gotten lots of people hooked on these hurriburgers who weren’t lucky enough to get to taste the original recipe. The white was either onion salt, Accent (which is MSG = monosodium glutamate), or oats. LOL Have a great day! πŸ™‚


  8. There are different variations of a loose meat sandwich on the ‘net. Most use beef broth instead of water, No MSG. Worcestershire not Kitchen Bouquet. Black pepper. Some use finely chopped onions, but most used dried minced, onion powder or onion salt. And of course, the oats. I’ve made something like this using Chinese plum sauce instead of the Worcestershire sauce.

    I think someone referred to Arlene working at the Bear’s Den. I’m pretty sure this was my aunt Aileen’s twin sister. I remember she worked there for a long time. I’d ask, but both have passed away now.


    • Hi Jim, thanks for weighing in. The use of beef broth is a brilliant idea! I’m going to use that instead of water the next time I make hurriburgers. Worcestershire would definitely give a different taste than the Kitchen Bouquet. The recipe I’ve come up with works, though, so I don’t want to deviate too much from it or they won’t taste like the original hurriburgers.

      Apparently, Linne’s Bakery still makes the real rye buns, so any locals who want to pick up a bag would be supporting a local small business and tasting a bit of heaven! πŸ™‚

      I never knew the owners, but one of my best friends was a carhop there back in the early 80s.


      • I was told by Robert and Anita’s daughter that the Linne’s rye bun recipe died with the only person who had the recipe. She went on to say this person was the one who made the buns. I wondered if she was talking about Richard “Dick” Sosbe who did pass suddenly of a heart attack but I don’t recall the year.


      • Oh, that’s sad, Vicki. They do have rye buns listed on their website. While they may not be exactly the same, I’m sure they’re close and far better than using white or wheat buns. I plan to buy some when next I’m home and keep them in the freezer. I probably ought to call and place an order first. πŸ™‚ Thank you for coming over and sharing the news!


      • Richard died in 1999, he was a first cousin of my moms. I believe he worked for Linne’s since 1950. I’ve enjoyed the comments.


      • I’m glad you took the time to let us know about Richard, Janet. I loved running into Linne’s with my grandmother on Saturday’s. She’d pick up a gorgeous pastry to go with breakfasts through the work week. 😊


  9. Linnes still make the same ryebuns that were sold to Paul and Bev. When the new owners
    Bought the bakery they sold the recipes with it. Bill and Diane Moore makes the exact same buns !Linnes did!

    Liked by 1 person

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