By Christie Vanover | Published September 23, 2018 | Last Updated July 11, 2022
Disclosure: Certified Angus Beef® brand sponsored this post. Opinions are my own.
I live in Las Vegas, which is often called the 9th Island because so many people have moved here from Hawaii, including my husband’s family.
Just the other day, they were talking about how they miss Loco Moco and how they were looking for an original version that didn’t sway too far from the comfort food they remembered from back home.
With all the glitz and glamour in Vegas, chefs can make things a little too fancy here sometimes.
History of Loco Moco
But Loco Moco is meant to be simple food with simple ingredients. It starts with a bed of sticky white rice and is topped with a hamburger patty, brown gravy and a sunny-side-up egg.
Loco Moco was created in the 1940s, when some boys dining at the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii, asked the waitress to serve them a dish they could afford. They threw out the idea of rice, beef and gravy, and the rest is history.
My version starts with Certified Angus Beef® brand ground beef patties. Go with the 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio. You’ll need that fat to make the gravy.
And because you need the fat, the patties should be cooked in a skillet, not on the grill. This way you can preserve the drippings.
For each pound of beef you use, divide the meat into four and shape each quarter into a patty. You can make them as thick or thin as you like.
Season them with salt and pepper on both sides. Let those spices rest on the meat while you heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-heat. You can do this on a grill or stovetop.
Cook the patties for about 4 minutes. Then, flip and cook for 4 more minutes.
You want to develop a gorgeous crust on them.
Just look at that char. That right there is flavor.
Since the pan is hot and the burgers are juicy, the grease will splatter. To avoid this, place a piece of foil loosely over the pan while the patties cook.
I find this works better than a lid, because it allows the air to escape. A lid would trap the steam, and you definitely don’t want steamed burgers.
Once you remove the burgers from the pan, you’re left with liquid gold – beef pan juices.
Let’s make the gravy.
There are 3 easy ways to avoid lumpy gravy
For this loco moco recipe, I use the roux method. Add flour to the pan drippings and allow it to cook for 30-60 seconds. Then, incorporate about a half cup of the beef broth. Once that is well blended, add the remaining broth. It’s finished with butter for a smooth consistency.
Another method would be to create a slurry. To do this, blend the flour with about a half cup of beef broth. Stir the two together until combined. Heat the remaining broth with the drippings, and add the slurry to thicken.
The final method is a beurre manie. This is a French technique that involves rolling flour and butter together into a ball. Deglaze the pan with all of the beef broth. After a few minutes of reducing, add the butter ball to the pan. It will gradually thicken the gravy.
The Show Stopper – Loco Moco Topper
Although the egg wasn’t included in the original version of the Loco Moco, it’s definitely a staple to the Hawaiian dish now.
Be sure to cook it sunny-side up. The bright golden yolk is like a morning wake-up call, especially when it oozes into the gravy.
When cooking an egg sunny-side up, look for the whites to cook while making sure the yolks stay runny.
If you’re having trouble getting the whites to cook through, you can add a lid for a few seconds. The steam will warm them up. Just don’t leave the lid on for too long, or the yolks will cook, too.
What rice to use for Loco Moco
Rice varieties are almost as diverse as wine. There’s white rice, brown rice, wild rice, jasmine rice, etc. Among those types there is also long-grain, medium-grain and short-grain rice.
For this Hawaiian dish, I recommend either using short-grain sushi rice or medium-grain calrose rice. Both have a higher starch content, which allows the rice to stick together.
To cook the rice, start by rinsing it a few times. While this step isn’t’ required, it’s just what Lola taught us to do.
I almost always cook my rice in a rice cooker, but you can also cook it in a pot on the stove with a lid. Using one cup of water for every cup of rice is a pretty tried and true method, or you can follow the method my family uses.
Place your rinsed rice in a rice cooker and add enough water to cover the rice. Stick your index into the pot, so it touches the top of the rice. Continue adding water until it reaches the first line where your finger bends.
I don’t know how this method works when we all have different size fingers. It just does. The rice will be perfectly tender every time.
Plate your Hawaiian meal
Now that all of your ingredients are cooked and ready, it’s time to plate your loco moco.
You can either serve this as a single patty portion or go all out and serve it up with two patties and two eggs.
Start by placing the rice on the bottom. You can use a circle cookie cutter to shape it all pretty, if you’d like, or just spoon it on the plate. Then, add a cooked patty on top and smother with gravy.
Finish with that beautiful sunny-side up egg and garnish with some sliced green onions.
Loco Moco - Hawaiian Comfort Food
- 2 cups white rice uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 1 lb Certified Angus Beef® brand ground beef
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 green onions sliced
- Rinse the rice under cool water. Place the rinsed rice and 2 cups water in a rice cooker and cook.
- Shape the ground beef into four patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties. Sear for 4 minutes. Flip. Cook for 4 more minutes. Remove the patties and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the flour to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add 1/2 cup beef broth to the skillet, and stir to combine.
- Add the remaining beef broth and soy sauce. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In another skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high high. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, until the whites are cooked through. The yolks should remain loose.
- Place a large circle cookie cutter on a plate. Fill with a spoonful of rice. Remove the cookie cutter.
- Place a cooked patty on top of the rice. Spoon on a ladle of gravy. Top with a cooked egg, and garnish with green onions.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator
Outstanding! All my favorite things. Made with ground brisket. I should have doubled the amount of gravy.
Can we get a Mac salad recipe to go with this?
Secret to a good hawaiian mac salad, some grated onion and grated carrot.
Question about the recipe, for the beef stock, is 1 1/2 cup or 1/2 cup? I’m afraid I’m reading incorrectly and having to add ingredients to make it work.
one and a half cups. Start by adding a half a cup. Then blend in the remaining one cup.
Thanks for responding!
I love this recipe and introduced it to my 11 yr old daughter, now she asks for this at least once per week!
i CANT DO THE SONNY SIDE UP EGG BREAK THE YOKE AND TURN IT OVER LOVE IT WITH THIS SMALL CHANGE
Alright, calm down!
Excellent recipe. This recipe provides a very satisfying meal for a family of four.
This was so yummy and full of delicious flavors! My husband won’t eat loco moco since a lot of recipes we’ve seen have mushrooms. Perfect thing to make while in quarantine. Thank you!
I like making this. Easy and filling.
What are some side dish suggestions others are using?
Can you use corn starch in place of flour to make the dish gluten free?
Yes, you can use cornstarch instead of flour to make gravy. I have a small jar I use to shake cornstarch and water vigorously then add to my recipe (better than stirring). Cornstarch doesn’t get lumpy like flour does.
hey – since you live in Vegas – you can get a good Loco Moco (with some twists too – like Korean meat instead of the burger) – at Cinnamon’s. It is a Hawaiian diner that has a location in Vegas! I never miss a visit there when I am in town!
Sounds fun. I’ll have to check it out.
Lyle – I just checked for Cinnamon’s online and they announced that they closed the Las Vegas location.
Delicious recipe. My family of 4 loved it. Tasted like the Loco Moco we loved in Hawaii. Thanks for sharing!
Awe thanks! So happy to hear that.
Made this with ground turkey in lieu of beef and chicken stock instead of beef stock. I got rave reviews! Simple and delicious, thanks for the recipe!
Have A Good Day
The best way to cook rice is two cups of water to every cup of rice, comes out perfect every time. The recipe is great!
Nice and simple recipe! I mix flour and mushroom flour to make the gravy. And a dash of chilli flakes for a kick. Tasted so good! I also put boiled corn and simple salad on the side. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
I too live in Vegas! Weirdly enough, a dish that is supposed to be affordable has become $13-$16 a plate! Thank you for this recipe, can’t wait to have breakfast for dinner!
I made your wonderful recipe as is for the third time last night. Was looking at the ingredients and realized that you don’t include eggs as an ingredient. I just know there obviously are eggs in it and you talk about cooking them but it is not in your ingredient list. Just thought I’d mention it!
Oh wow. you’re right. Thanks for letting me know.
Question on rice – you say to use a sticky rice, preferably what you’d get with sushi but you only cook the rice in a rice cooker, where does the sticky part come in, how do you make the rice sticky? Thanks :) Def. want to try this, I’d add sauteed mushrooms to it too, yum :)
short-grain rice has enough gluten in it that it sticks together after it cooks. If you use longer grain rice, it will be fluffy and won’t stick together.
Sushi rice is sticky when you cook it Just buy the right kind of rice.
Cooked this recipe for the gravy! Yum!!!
We love this recipe and it’s what we had on our wedding menu. Everyone ordered it even tho steak and roasted pork chip was on the menu too. I first saw this on @NCIS:LosAngeles and thought this would be something different and it was. More than 250 guests ordered it. Not one person (even kids) didn’t like it. It was a big hit. We have it now at least once a week for either breakfast or dinner.
Wow! That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received. Congrats on your wedding.
since you need fat how much flour/beef broth/soy sauce should i use for 1 80/20 burger pattie? I don’t want to use to much liquid and have the gravy be too runny or not mix right.
You can just cut the ingredients in half. Or you could add 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or butter to the burger drippings and make the full amount of gravy.
So good. Some of our favorite things always, but the gravy was the change we needed. Thank you.
You’re so welcome. May I ask…if you loved it…why only 4 stars?
Thanks for the recipe, this was one of my favorites when I visited Hawaii.
The finger method works with rice cookers because they are made in a way that they can detect when the proper amount of water has boiled off. It’s important whether using a pot or a cooker to get enough water, a little too much is fine as it will cook off Rice cookers detect the moisture content by monitoring the temperature of the bottom of the container. With a pot one has to either be a bit more consistent with the process so it can be timed or just look when it should be done. I’ve used the pot method my entire life and once I got the process down, I haven’t had issues.
Was in the mood for some loco moco and found this recipe. It was delicious!!! Definitely a keeper!
Great! Thanks. Glad it hit the spot.