The Luther, or Doughnut Burger, at Eli’s

The donut burger with the works at Eli's Donut Burger.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

To make a Luther burger, which is otherwise known as a doughnut burger, just follow these simple instructions:

1) Slice a glazed doughnut horizontally. You may, if you are so inclined, grill the halves.
2) Grill a burger with cheese and top with bacon or your anti-cardiac missile of choice.
3) Assemble, with either the glazed halves of the doughnut facing inward or outward.

The sheer audacity of the doughnut burger’s senselessness follows the long and esteemed tradition of the electric turkey carver, the cat mop, and New Coca Cola. Snopes places the sandwich’s origin in the American South; this corresponds to the fact that most purveyors of the dish use Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which hold a historically tight grip on the region.

In 2006, a baseball concessions stand in Sauget, IL, earned the dubious honor of being the first to introduce the doughnut burger to the Midwest. And now, Minnesota’s first doughnut burger operation is steadily working to capture the hearts and arteries of the Jucy Lucy state. The Eli’s Donut Burger trailer has been frequenting farmers markets and county fairs throughout Minnesota all summer, and they are already planning for a mobile food truck in St. Paul.

Eli's Donut Burger with the works and the food menu.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Eli’s burger ($4.50 plain, $5.50 with the works) is served with the bacon and cheese as optional toppings, but that, of course, is a ruse. Ordering a plain doughnut burger and foregoing the toppings just amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s too late for qualms once you get up to the window. Don’t kid yourself — just go for the bacon and cheese. They don’t use Krispy Kremes on their burger, so doughnut burger purists may jiggle with irritation at the substitution.

At first blush, one is reminded of the words of Christina Aguilera: “My body’s saying, ‘Let’s go,’ but my heart is saying, ‘No.'” We desperately wanted the burger to be worth its frightening saturated fat content, but it turned out to be rather disappointing. The burger patty itself was underseasoned (if at all), and the bacon was limp and unpleasant to eat in combination with the gooey glaze of the generic brand “bun,” which was served untoasted.

Perhaps, if the individual components are executed well enough, the doughnut burger could be a pleasant experience. But, realistically speaking, that is a quandary that I would prefer to leave to someone else. Does the world need an artisanal doughnut burger? Can we please get on board with a backlash against the backlash against healthy eating choices?

Eli's Donut Burger trailer.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

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13 Comments

  1. I was of the same mind after ordering a donut burger at a place (who will remain nameless) in Portland. The lack of care in cooking the burger, which my server assured me would be medium rare and came out well done, plus the total lack of “WOW” on my first bite stopped me there. I left with the rest uneaten.

  2. I still want one.

  3. I disagree with the assessment of the donut burger. I don’t even eat red meat, but I enjoyed this burger–I thought it was the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and the glaze added just before the vendor handed it over made it special. Take it for what it is, a treat! No one expects you to make it a regular part of you diet, for goodness’ sake.

  4. I disagree, this food stand serves some high quality donutburgers! This kinda stuff makes us college kids go wild! and after eating this once at the steele county free fair and again at the farmers market shown above, i can safely say that this burger takes the cake! granted, it doesnt use krispy kreme doughnuts like stated in the article; but saying it like that infers that its not worth eating just because it doesnt serve a brand name. the doughtnuts are glazed to perfection and have that light fluffy texture just like a krispy kreme. Delicious!

  5. one does not go to the fair to eat healthy food.
    one goes to the fair to find and ingest deep-fried oddities!
    i will remember my first donut burger like my first kiss.
    …a little sweet, a little strange, and a little embarrassing…
    it was unlike anything i’ve ever eaten, my mouth fell in love.
    and i can’t wait to rekindle my county-fair fling!

  6. It’s a novelty item that is fun to try and indulge in every now and then. To complain about the seasoning of the burger and the crispiness of the bacon is like waking up in the morning and saying the sky isn’t blue enough. I think you’re missing the point of the whole experience Ho.

  7. It is well worth the bike ride needed after the eating.

  8. The Donut Burger is the best snack I’ve had all year. Hands down. In burger comparison, it ranks up there with the triple king at Fatburger as a personal favorite. Only a pure lunatic would dislike this genius combination and that person is quite likely to run around quoting Christina Aguilera.
    Pathetic.

  9. Well everyone is entitled to there opinion…but seriously…..get a life….the name it self is unhealthy… its a donut burger….its not suppose to be healthy….since when do we go to a food stand for something healthy…..the criticism of the flavor i understand….it could use some work on the seasoning and maybe toast the donut some but walking up to this stand and ordering the food your already assuming, this is not healthy….i think “eli” we will say, has a great thing going…its something different and a way for people to live on the edge some and live life to the fullest without some person of the ‘media’ trying to control every thought that we have and decision we try to make in life. So all you out there, you see this stand….live on the wild side and give it a try….dont let some critic keep “eli” from putting food on his table for his family.

  10. Isn’t this fair food so to speak?

    The author is breaking this down like they were critiquing the the chef at a fine restaurant that put too much saffron in the rissotto. Cripes. I would hate to be working at a foot long stand when this grastronomic critic wannabe strolled up. Unless the hot dogs were made of grass-fed beef, pampered pork and the buns were flown in daily from a French boulangerie the author would likely stamp it with a FAIL!

    My review would go something like this: I had a donut burger recently. It was pretty good; a nice treat. I didn’t go in expecting the $30 burger which is good because it only cost $5. I could have purchased one of those Angus burgers from McDs for about the same amount, but my tounge liked this much better. Glazed donuts, hamburger, cheese and bacon all together in one bite… interestingly good.

  11. I enjoyed eli’s donut burger. It was a fun twist on americas favorite food the burger. It was different and unique and eli is excited and fun in his ideas and products. I look forward to seeing what’s next. I’m kind of hungry for one now talking about it.

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