Loco Moco is a favorite Hawaiian comfort food consisting of steamed white rice topped with a juicy burger patty, rich mushroom gravy and a fried egg. Enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
This Loco Moco recipe is a flavor-packed, inexpensive, hearty, Hawaiian comfort food that your entire family will LOVE! Each bite is a symphony of juicy beef, textural fragrant rice, warm, umami rich gravy, and runny buttery egg yolk. The magic of slicing through the runny egg yolk and it gushing over and mingling with the gravy and rice is everything! This Moco Loco recipe is extremely flexible and can be made with or without mushrooms and with beef or turkey. Best of all, you can prep the hamburger patties, gravy and rice ahead of time. Now just fry up some eggs serve the Loco Moco with a side of pina colada fruit salad for a meal that’s sure to satisfy!
Ground beef recipes make for quick and easy favorites. Don’t miss Ground Beef Stroganoff, Ground Beef Baked Tacos, Ground Beef Enchiladas, Crockpot Chili, Spaghetti Bolognese or Honey Buffalo Meatballs.
HOW TO MAKE Loco Moco Recipe VIDEo
What Is Loco Moco?
Loco Moco is a beloved Hawaiian comfort food served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The dish consists of tender, juicy, seasoned beef patties, smothered in silky, umami rich mushroom gravy, served over sticky white rice and topped with a fried egg. There are countless variations which may include bacon, ham, Spam, tofu, kalua pork, teriyaki beef, teriyaki chicken, mahi mahi, shrimp or oysters.
Origins of the Loco Moco
The exact origin of this iconic Hawaiian dish is unclear, but it’s commonly believed to have been invented in the 1949 in Hilo, Hawaii at the Lincoln Grill. It’s said that broke teenagers from Lincoln Wreckers Sports wanted a unique (not your typical burger) yet affordable dish that was quick to prepare, big, cheap and loaded with carbs. They threw out the idea of rice, beef and gravy, and the Loco Moco was born. The egg was a later addition. The Moco Loco quickly became a popular staple of the restaurant and slowly spread throughout the islands.
Why is it called “Loco Moco”?
The teenagers are credited with naming the dish, “Loco Moco” after one of their members, George Okimoto, whose nickname was “Crazy” (Hawaiian pidgen slang for “bonkers/nuts”) and the first to try the dish. They tacked on “moco” in their rhyming playful banter and the dish has been known by Loco Moco ever since.
Why This Recipe Works
If you haven’t had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into this dynamic, taste bud tantalizing dish before, the wait is over! Whenever we visit Hawaii, the famous Loco Moco is what I most look forward to for breakfast, and now you can enjoy it in your very own home!
What sets this particular Moco Loco recipe apart is plenty of thick, luscious, flavorful mushroom gravy. There is more gravy than other recipes for better proportions of burger to gravy – because you’re going to want ALL the gravy.
The gravy is rich, bold, and beefy, boasting buttery caramelized mushrooms, aromatic onions and garlic, punctuated with splashes of soy, Worcestershire, Dijon, and my two secret ingredients: 1) beef bouillon which deepens the flavor, tricking the palate into thinking it’s been simmering all day and 2) toasted sesame oil which laces the gravy with a delicate nuttiness.
a Loco Moco Story
I first heard of the famous Loco Moco when my husband I were dating. When he was a kid, his dad surprised the family with the cozy Hawaiian dish for Christmas breakfast. Shortly later, when it came time for the sibling white elephant gift exchange, one of the brothers packaged a Loco Moco in Tupperware and gift wrapped it, complete with a candy cane on top. In years past, this brother’s gifts had been exceptional, so it was no surprise when his gift was the most sought after/exchanged present. To the amusement of the family and the chagrined surprise of the recipient, the gift was a Loco Moco that had just been served for breakfast 30 minutes earlier. There has never been a white elephant gift to top it!
Loco Moco Ingredients
The Loco Moco consists of pretty basic ingredients that come together to form an explosion of flavor and texture. The recipe may look lengthy, but many of the ingredients are simply whisked together to create the gravy. Here’s a quick rundown of the ingredients needed to make this Hawaiian recipe (see printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for the complete recipe):
THE BURGER PATTIes
THE MUSHROOM GRAVY
THE EGGS AND RICE
DO I HAVE TO ADD MUSHROOMS?
Nope! You do not have to use mushrooms in this Loco Moco recipe. You can simply omit them and continue with the recipe for the gravy.
Can I Substitute Ground Turkey for the Ground Beef?
Yes, but keep in mind it won’t taste as “beefy” as intended. To use ground turkey instead of beef, I suggest adding 1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon to the seasonings to infuse it with beefy goodness. You can use granulated bouillon or two crushed bouillon cubes. If using, reduce the salt, otherwise the hamburger patties will be too salty.
How to Make Loco Moco
Making Hawaiian Loco Moco is very easy! All you have to do is steam some rice (use a rice cooker, if you have one!), cook a few burgers on the stove, fry some eggs, and prepare a quick whisk-together-and-simmer mushroom gravy. Detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card below, but here’s an overview of the cooking process:
- Step 1: Cook the rice. If you have leftover white rice on hand, just use that. Otherwise, this would be a great time to whip out your rice cooker. You can also use individual microwavable rice packets.
- Step 2: Form the hamburger patties. Whisk the Worcestershire sauce and seasonings together, add the ground beef and combine. Form the mixture into 4 equal patties, then make a 1/2″ indentation in the middle of each patty with your thumb (see below).
- Step 3: Cook the burgers. Heat a little vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the patties and cook until brown and slightly charred on one side, flip, then reduce the heat to medium and cover. Cook an additional 2-5 minutes, depending on how rare you like your burgers.
- Step 4: Make the mushroom gravy. To the drippings left in the skillet, melt some butter. Sauté the mushrooms and onion until golden brown, then sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the broth followed by the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer until thickened to desired consistency.
Step 5: Fry the eggs. Heat more oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the cracked eggs to the side of the pan, and cook until the whites are set/opaque and the yolk is cooked to your preferred level of doneness (we like them runny over here).
Step 6: Serve! To assemble the Loco Moco, place 1 ¼ cups of cooked rice in the center of a plate. Place one burger patty on top, followed by a ladle of gravy, and lastly top with one fried egg. Garnish with green onions.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN the burgers are done?
The FDA recommends ground beef be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to be considered safe for consumption. This temperature will kill harmful bacteria like E. coli or enterococcus, including some strains that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.
I highly recommend an instant read thermometer otherwise you won’t know the temperature of the burger patties without breaking one open and losing valuable juices. You can purchase an inexpensive instant-read thermometer at any grocery store, Target, Amazon, etc. although I highly suggest a digital probe thermometer as they are the most accurate.
Expert Tips for Making Fried Eggs
How do I prevent my eggs from sticking? Make sure to use the right pan – either a nonstick or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Nonstick is my first choice because the slippery surface ensures the eggs won’t stick ever and it’s easy to remove the eggs. A cast iron skillet is my second choice but make sure it is well seasoned so you have the insurance of the natural non-stick patina. Secondly, use enough oil.
How do I not break the egg yolk? Start by cracking the eggs into separate small bowls or ramekins before you add them to the frying pan, then gently slide the eggs into the pan.
Can I use butter to fry the eggs? Butter provides an extra nutty flavor but milk solids can burn if the heat is too high or used too long. It also has a higher water content so the edges of the eggs don’t get as crispy. For these reasons, I recommend sticking with oil. If you want to use butter, use the butter in combination with some oil to prevent it from burning and make sure to wipe the skillet clean in between batches.
How do I know when the eggs are done? An important aspect of Loco Moco is a runny egg yolk (sunny side up) because the yolk mixes with the gravy and creates an incredibly rich sauce. You’ll want to cook the eggs just until the whites of the egg are opaque but the yolk is still runny.
Can I cook the eggs over-easy? Everyone prefers their eggs cooked differently and that’s okay! You can cook the eggs over-medium or over-hard by cooking the eggs for 2 minutes to set then flipping the eggs over and cooking so the yolk is semi or completely cooked to your liking.
Eggs not getting crispy on the edges? For crispy edges: 1) Make sure you are using the correct oil (vs just butter) – olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. They don’t contain any water, so they fry the whites more efficiently. 2) Make sure the oil is hot before adding the egg. 3) Make sure there is enough oil to bubble around the eggs so they develop those deliciously crunchy edges. You should use 1 ½ teaspoons for every large egg. 4) While the eggs cook, gently tilt the pan occasionally to redistribute the oil.
Expert Tips for Making Burgers
Make an indentation in the burgers before cooking. You don’t need to be too technical about it, just use your thumb or a measuring spoon so the edges are higher than the center. This helps the burgers cook evenly and keeps them flat instead of bulging.
Make uniform patties. Try and make the patties roughly the same size, or at least the same thickens so they cook evenly. You can use a kitchen scale to help with this.
Let the patties rest. Time permitting, pop the ground beef patties in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cooking. Colder patties stay together better and don’t easily fall apart.
Use a hot pan. You should hear the burger patties sizzle the second they touch the pan. If you add them to a lukewarm pan, they will not sear and you’ll end up with grey burgers instead of seared burgers which will taste exactly as bland as they look. Note, that hot doesn’t mean high heat, but it mean it’s reached full temperature.
Only flip burgers once using a long spatula. Resist the urge to flip the burgers more than once. They need to stay in the same place for a continuous amount of time to brown. When the burgers have browned, they will naturally release from the pan. Make sure your spatula is long enough to fit the entire length of the patty so it is supported while being handled, otherwise they will break at the end of the spatula.
Take the time to sear the burgers. This will bind the exterior ingredients together, making them firm enough to flip without falling apart and, just as important, searing develops the deeply caramelized flavor of the Maillard Reaction.
Don’t overcook. Overcooked ground beef is tough ground beef. Cook the just to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Use an instant read meat thermometer for accuracy.
Expert Tips for Making Mushroom Gravy
Don’t wash the mushrooms. You should never rinse your mushrooms or they will absorb water like a sponge and become waterlogged. Waterlogged mushrooms will not brown well or become as flavorful, and will emerge soggy and squeaky. Instead, clean your mushrooms with a damp paper towel.
Scrape up golden bits. After you sear the burgers, there will be golden bits on the bottom of the pan – these caramelized bits are flavor magic! Make sure to scrape up the bits while you sauté the mushrooms and onions.
Spread the mushrooms into an even layer. In between stirring, spread the mushrooms into an even layer. If you pile raw mushrooms on top of each other, they will become soggy instead of caramelized.
Cook until deeply golden brown. Don’t shortcut this process! This may take more or less than the 7-10 minutes, so be patient and only move on to the next step once the mushrooms are deeply caramelized.
How do I thin the Gravy? If the gravy becomes too thick, simply whisk in additional beef broth.
How do I thicken the gravy? If your gravy isn’t as thick as you’d like by the time the steaks are done, you can either make a cornstarch slurry by whisking together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water. Whisk it into the gravy and simmer until thickened to your liking.
Loco Moco is a meal-in-itself with protein and carbs! However, if you’re looking to stretch the dish further or are feeding a crowd, serve it with a side of fruit for breakfast like cantaloupe, Perfect Fruit Salad, or Pina Colada Fruit Salad.
If serving for lunch or dinner, you can add a side of veggies like Roasted Broccoli, or Roasted Carrots, and a refreshing salad like Strawberry Broccoli Salad, Strawberry Salad, Ramen Salad, Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, or Asian Pineapple Salad.
Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?
You can prep portions of this Moco Loco recipe in advance so the final dish comes together quickly:
Rice: can be cooked up to 3 days in advance, refrigerated and reheated on the stovetop or microwave.
Chopping: the garlic, onions, green onions and mushrooms can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Gravy: can be prepared up to 5 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat over medium-low on the stove. The gravy will have thickened in the refrigerator, so you’ll likely need to whisk in a little broth to loosen it up again.
Burgers: the patties can be shaped up to 48 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated or frozen. Cooked burgers will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
How to Store Loco Moco Recipe
I recommend making the fried eggs fresh, but the rest of the ingredients store and reheat like a dream. Store the elements of the Moco Loco recipe separately in airtight containers, or assemble each dish in its own airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Fry the eggs fresh before serving.
HOW TO REHEAT
To reheat in the microwave: You may want to break up your burger patty before microwaving so it heats more evenly. Heat for 90 seconds, then at 30-second intervals until warmed through.
To reheat on the stove: Transfer the gravy and patties to a skillet and heat over medium-low heat, covered, flipping the patties and stirring the gravy around them occasionally. Heat just until warmed through, adding additional, water/broth as needed.
To reheat in the oven: Combine the patties and gravy in an oven proof skillet or baking dish. Cover, and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. Stir in additional broth/water as needed.
Can Loco Moco Be Frozen?
Parts of it can, yes! The burgers can be frozen for up to 3 months, raw or cooked. The rice can also be frozen for up to 3 months in a separate container. Likewise, the gravy will keep for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw everything in the fridge overnight and reheat as instructed above.
To freeze uncooked burger patties: line patties on a parchment paper lined baking tray in rows so they aren’t touching. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until solid, about 1-2 hours. Using kitchen shears, cut along the imaginary grid to separate the patties, this way each patty has its own parchment square. Stack patties separated by parchment paper into a freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible in order to prevent freezer burn then seal and label. Freeze for up to three months.
Looking for more Hawaiian Inspired Recipes?
Huli Huli Chicken
Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs
Hawaiian Sloppy Joes
Hawaiian Pork Tenderloin
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- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH pepper, paprika
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces baby bella/cremini mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped (may sub ½ teaspoon onion powder)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (may sub 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 cups reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated beef bouillon, better than bouillon or 1 ½ cubes, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- olive oil
- 5 cups cooked white rice (I recommend jasmine)
- sliced green onions
- Make Hamburger Patties: Whisk the Worcestershire sauce and seasonings together in a bowl. Add the ground beef, and gently combine. Form into 4 equal patties (about 1 inch thick) then make a 1/2″ indentation in the middle of each patty with your thumb or measuring spoon (this will help the burgers cook evenly). Time permitting, pop the patties the freezer or refrigerator for 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook burgers: Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the patties and cook until brown and slightly charred on one side, about 3-5 minutes, flip, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook an additional 2-5 minutes, depending on how rare you like your burger. Remove and keep warm.
- Make Gravy: To the drippings left in the skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir the mushrooms and onions into the butter. Cook until the mushrooms are deeply golden brown, about 7-10 minutes, only stirring occasionally, pressing into an even layer in between stirring.
- Reduce heat to medium; add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the broth followed by the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer until thickened to desired consistency; remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the gravy thickens too much by the time you're ready to serve, whisk in additional broth or water.
- Fry Eggs: Crack the eggs in separate bowls or ramekins. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches as needed, add eggs to the pan on opposite sides. Cook sunny-side up, 3 to 4 minutes, until the whites are cooked and the yolks are loose. Transfer to a plate.
- To serve: Divide the rice between 4 plates. Top each mound of rice with one burger patty, a generous ladle of gravy and one cooked egg. Garnish with green onions.
- Rice: can be cooked up to 3 days in advance, refrigerated and reheated on the stovetop or microwave.
- Chopping: the garlic, onions, green onions and mushrooms can be chopped 24 hours in advance and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Gravy: can be prepared up to 5 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat over medium-low on the stove. The gravy will have thickened in the refrigerator, so you’ll likely need to whisk in a little broth to loosen it up again.
- Burgers: the patties can be shaped up to 48 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated or frozen. Cooked burgers will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
How to Store and Reheat
- Storage: I recommend making the fried eggs fresh, but the rest of the ingredients store and reheat like a dream. Store the elements of the Moco Loco recipe separately in airtight containers, or assemble each dish in its own airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Fry the eggs fresh before serving.
- To reheat in the microwave: You may want to break up your burger patty before microwaving so it heats more evenly. Heat for 90 seconds, then at 30-second intervals until warmed through.
- To reheat on the stove:Transfer the gravy and patties to a skillet and heat over medium-low heat, covered, flipping the patties and stirring the gravy around them occasionally. Heat just until warmed through, adding additional, water/broth as needed.
- To reheat in the oven: Combine the patties and gravy in an oven proof skillet or baking dish. Cover, and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. Stir in additional broth/water as needed.
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