The Carolina Burger

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The Carolina Burger originated in North and South Carolina, and is famous for its zesty chili, coleslaw, diced onions, and mustard sauce. It's like a burger and a sloppy joe combined!

The Carolina Burger topped with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard on a brioche bun.

What are Carolina Style Burgers?

In North Carolina, we love our creamy slaw, mustard, onions, and hotdog chili. So, why not pile them high on a burger?

You've probably tasted a basic mustard and ketchup burger. And, there's the fancy mushroom and swiss variety. But, this Carolina Classic Burger is where it's at!

No other burger compares to this Carolina style burger recipe. It's where a sloppy joe meets a cheeseburger and has a party!

It's a rip-roaring mess in the best way! You can't eat one without using at least 10 napkins, and even then, you'll still wreak havoc.

Try picking it up and you'll have to put it down. You might even need a fork. But, eventually, you'll get the hang of it and scarf down every bite. I dare ya!

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How to Make a Carolina Burger

To make a Carolina style burger, you need to make an amazing batch of hotdog chili and creamy coleslaw. Not just any chili and coleslaw, mind you, but the best you'll ever find...made Carolina style.

Carolina hot dog chili in a white bowl.

Carolina hotdog chili doesn't have any beans in it, so don't even think about adding those. It's just ground beef, chili seasoning, onions and ketchup. Simple, yet truly delicious. It's perfect on hotdogs, but even better on Carolina burgers.

Next, make a batch of creamy coleslaw with Duke's mayonnaise, (ad) apple cider vinegar, sugar and celery seed. Add a little garlic salt and pepper, and mix it all together. It's a match made in heaven.

creamy coleslaw in a white bowl.

What's The Best Type of Beef To Use?

Every burger chef has their favorite combo of meat, but I like to use 85% ground chuck.

For this recipe, I pan sear hamburger patties in my cast iron skillet (ad) and smother them with sharp cheddar cheese. However, feel free to grill those burgers if you like!

Cheese is optional on the Carolina Burger, but I love the flavor of cheddar with chili, so I always add it to mine.

It's up to you, but either way, you can't go wrong. I mean...take a gander at this...

a burger made Carolina style with sloppy joe topping and slaw.

What Type of Bun is Best?

When you're choosing buns for your Carolina Classic Burger, make sure you get the best brioche or bakery buns you can find. The buns have to be dense enough to handle the goodness that drips all over the place.

To assemble the burger, spread mustard on inside of buns. Place a hamburger patty on the bottom bun, followed by cheese if you like. Pile on the chili, then add slaw and chopped onions.

Close sandwich with top bun. To hold this baby together, you're gonna need a big steak knife! (ad)

I can't possibly think of enough adjectives to describe this yumminess. It's basically a sloppy joe on top of a hamburger patty. WOWZA...what a juicy burger!

Recipe FAQS

Where did Carolina burgers come from?

The Carolina Burger originated in the coastal and piedmont areas of North and South Carolina. Restaurants like Wendy's and local burger joints sell them throughout the south.

How much hamburger meat do you need per person?

This recipe calls for ½ pound of hamburger meat to make 4 thin patties. The burgers don't need to be too large because they're piled high with so many toppings.

How long does it take to cook a burger on the grill?

It takes about 6 to 7 minutes for a burger to cook to medium done on the grill. If you're pan searing them, it takes about 10 minutes. Be sure to flip the burgers half way through cooking time.

More Beef Recipes

There are thousands of burgers out there, but there's only one burger named for my beloved home state. If you love this recipe, try these other beef dishes that are sure to please...

Recipe Card

Carolina burger topped with coleslaw, diced onions, zesty chili and mustard.

The Carolina Burger

The Carolina Burger originated in North and South Carolina. It's like a sloppy joe and burger combined!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sandwiches
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Calories: 994kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.



  • 1 16 oz package coleslaw mix
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onion
  • ¾ cup Duke's Mayonnaise (ad)
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. salt


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet chili seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ small sweet onion minced
  • ½ cup ketchup


  • ½ pound ground chuck (85%)
  • 1 tsp. steak seasoning
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese (optional)


  • 4 bakery buns
  • 2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. diced onions for topping


  • For slaw, mix ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready for use.
  • For chili, brown ground beef in a skillet (ad) over medium heat, then add chili seasoning, water, onion and ketchup. Simmer for 10 minutes until meat is tender and chili is thickened.
  • For burgers, pat ground chuck into 4 equal (thin) patties and sprinkle with steak seasoning.  Fry in
     (ad) over medium heat until cooked throughout. Top with cheddar cheese until it melts.
  • To assemble burgers, spread yellow mustard on inside of buns. Place hamburger patty on bottom bun. Top with chili, then add slaw and onions. Close with top bun.
  • Insert a steak knife (ad) into top bun to hold burger together.


  • Serve Carolina Burgers with an extra side of homemade chili and creamy slaw.
  • You'll need extra napkins plus a knife and fork to eat this burger! 
  • Make the hamburger patties thin since there are so many toppings.


Calories: 994kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 73g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Sodium: 1183mg | Potassium: 720mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 274mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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This Carolina Burger recipe was featured on the NC 10 Percent Campaign website which is dedicated to building North Carolina's local food economy!


  1. 5 stars
    If you have a griddle, start with an onion smash burger and add chili and slaw. Dang man - dats good.

  2. Been missing these ❤ nothing beats a good ole Carolina Burger. Now for some Cheerwine with it

    1. Yes! I totally agree! I had never heard of chili and slaw on a burger (or hot dogs) until I lived in NC, 25 years ago! I didn't think I would like it at first, but my goodness did I get hooked!!! This recipes brings back some wonderful memories! I'm going to make these for sure!!!

  3. 5 stars
    I was never a huge burger fan, but there is something about this Carolina burger! My family loves the addition of slaw and chili, and as a result, this guy has become a summer time favorite! It is also fun to serve deconstructed as a 'burger bar' when you have guests or a family of picky eaters 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    You can’t beat this Carolina Burger it’s a winner regardless of the side of I-40 your team resides! High fives from our clan!

  5. 5 stars
    I'm excited that you have a recipe for the Carolina Burger because it is one of my favorites. I've never had it with cheese, but that sounds pretty amazing. Carolina girls have to stick together!

    1. Thanks Kara! This burger is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes two to eat it sometimes! 🙂

5 from 9 votes

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