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Loco moco, a beloved Hawaiian comfort food, brings the flavors of the islands straight to your dinner table. It features a combination of a rice, burger patty and rich gravy. Topped with a runny yolk, the flavors of this recipe will leave you wanting more every time.
What is loco moco?
Created in the 1940s, loco moco was invented when some boys at the Lincoln Grill in Hilo, Hawaii, asked the waitress to serve them a dish they could afford. They came up with the idea of rice, beef and gravy. Now, this popular dish is one of many favorite Hawaiian meals.
Loco moco is meant to be simple food with simple ingredients. Starting with a bed of sticky white rice, the dish is topped with a hamburger patty, brown gravy and a sunny-side-up fried egg.
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.
When his family misses Loco Moco, the comfort food they remember from back home, this is the recipe I cook up.
- White rice: Without rice, you won’t have a base to this recipe, so don’t leave this out. It’s best with short-grain sticky rice.
- Cold water
- Ground beef: High-quality beef like 80/20 Certified Angus Beef® brand beef will make for a juicy hamburger patty.
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Olive Oil
- Flour: You’ll use the flour to help thicken the gravy once you have the fat from the meat.
- Beef broth: The beef broth pairs with the soy sauce to make the gravy flavorful and delicious.
- Soy sauce
- Eggs: While not included in the original version, egg is now a must any time you make this traditional Hawaiian dish.
- Green onions
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
Disclosure: Certified Angus Beef® brand sponsored this post. Opinions are my own.
How to cook white sticky rice
White sticky rice is an integral part of loco moco. 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, 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.
How to cook loco moco
My version of this classic Hawaiian dish starts with Certified Angus Beef® brand ground beef patties. Because you’ll need the extra fat to make the gravy, you’ll want to choose an 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio.
And because you need the fat, the patties should always be cooked in a large skillet, not on the grill. This is how you can preserve the drippings.
- STEP ONE: Rinse your rice well and cook in a rice cooker (see details above).
- STEP TWO: Shape your ground beef into four patties, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
PRO TIP: 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.
- STEP THREE: Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet on a grill or stovetop. Once hot, add the patties and sear for four minutes on each side. You want to develop a gorgeous crust on them. When done, set aside on a plate.
PRO TIP: 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.
- STEP FOUR: Once you remove the burgers from the pan, you’re left with liquid gold – beef pan juices, which we’ll use to make the gravy. Reduce to medium heat, add flour to the skillet and stir for one to two minutes.
- STEP FIVE: Add ½ cup of beef broth to the skillet and stir to combine.
- STEP SIX: Add in the remaining beef broth as well as the soy sauce and stir until thickened, about five minutes. Whisk in the butter and add salt and pepper to taste.
- STEP SEVEN: In a separate frying pan, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat. Once hot, crack eggs into pan and fry for three to four minutes. You’ll want the egg white firm and a slightly runny egg yolk to make a perfect sunny side-up egg.
PRO TIP: 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.
How to serve this Hawaiian loco moco recipe
Once all your ingredients are cooked and ready, it’s time to plate your loco moco. You have two options when serving – as a single patty portion, or with two patties and two eggs. It just depends on how hungry you are.
To plate, start by placing the bed of rice on the bottom. You can use a circle cookie cutter to shape it, if you’d like, or just spoon it on the plate. Then, add a cooked patty on top and smother with the loco moco gravy.
Finish with that beautiful sunny-side-up egg on the very top and garnish with some sliced green onions.
This dish is best served warm, but loco moco ingredients can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one to two days. If you have leftovers, I recommend storing the rice, patties and gravy separately and frying up a fresh egg.
You can freeze the cooked patties, but you will not want to freeze cooked eggs. The good news is that I doubt this Hawaiian favorite will last that long.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Start with high-quality ground beef with an 80/20 meat to fat ratio
- For the best flavor, get a great char on the patties
- Save the beef drippings to make the beef gravy
- Be sure the egg whites are firm and the yolk is bit runny, so it oozes into the gravy
Frequently Asked Questions
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 (hello, sticky rice).
For this loco moco recipe, I used 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.
In simple terms, the phrase means “crazy burger”. Given that it was originally developed as a quick meal that was affordable, this makes sense.
While you can freeze the individual ingredients (beef, gravy and rice), you will want to cook the egg fresh.
What to serve with loco moco
More Hawaiian recipes
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Loco moco: Hawaiian comfort rood
- 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
- Cook rice: Rinse the rice under cool water. Place the rinsed rice and 2 cups water in a rice cooker and cook.
- Season: Shape the ground beef into four patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Cook: 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.
- Make roux: Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the flour to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Finish gravy: 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.
- Fry eggs: 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 runny.
- Plate: 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.