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Burger vs. Hamburger: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 4, 2023
Burger refers to a sandwich-like dish with a patty made of various ingredients; hamburger specifically denotes a burger with a beef patty.

Key Differences

In the culinary world, the word "burger" has taken on a broad meaning. It refers to a sandwich-like dish comprised of a patty sandwiched between two pieces of bread, typically buns. This patty can be made from a plethora of ingredients, such as chicken, fish, vegetables, or legumes. On the other hand, "hamburger" is much more specific. Derived from the German city Hamburg, it traditionally signifies a burger that's made with a patty of ground beef.
While every hamburger can be termed a burger because it fits the general definition of a patty in buns, not every burger is a hamburger. For instance, if one were to enjoy a sandwich with a patty made of mashed chickpeas and spices, it would be a "burger", but definitely not a "hamburger".
The diversity in the meaning of "burger" allows for various culinary innovations. Chefs and home cooks alike can craft turkey burgers, veggie burgers, or even exotic quinoa burgers. "Hamburger", with its meat-centric definition, doesn't provide that wide room for interpretation. It remains a classic loved by many, boasting a rich flavor profile which comes predominantly from beef.
In terms of popularity, both words are often used interchangeably in casual conversations, especially in America. Someone might say they're craving a "burger" when they specifically desire a "hamburger". Still, it's important to note the distinction, especially when dietary preferences or restrictions are at play.

Comparison Chart


A sandwich with a patty made of various ingredients.
A burger with a patty made of ground beef.


Generic term; not tied to any specific location.
Derived from Hamburg, Germany.


Can be made from meat, fish, veggies, legumes, etc.
Strictly made from beef.


Broad; encompasses all patty sandwiches.
Specific; refers to beef patty sandwiches only.


Veggie burger, turkey burger, fish burger.

Burger and Hamburger Definitions


A dish representing various cultures with distinctive patties.
The Indian-style burger had a spicy potato patty.


A classic American fast-food item made from ground beef.
The diner is known for its juicy hamburgers.


A popular American dish, often grilled or fried.
The grilled chicken burger is their best-seller.


A sandwich with a beef patty.
I'll have a hamburger with extra cheese, please.


A sandwich containing a patty of any ingredient.
I had a delicious salmon burger for lunch.


A culinary representation of American culture, typically grilled.
There's nothing like a classic American hamburger.


Any flattened round form of food served in a bun.
The restaurant introduced a new tofu burger.


A beef-based burger originating from Hamburg, Germany.
The hamburger has become a global sensation.


A fast-food item with diverse filling options.
Their menu had a variety of burgers to choose from.


A round beef patty served in a split bun.
She ordered a hamburger without any toppings.


A sandwich consisting of a bun, a cooked beef patty, and often other ingredients such as cheese, onion slices, lettuce, or condiments. Often used in combination
A cheeseburger.


Ground meat, usually beef.


A similar sandwich with a nonbeef filling. Often used in combination
A crab burger.
A tofu burger.


A patty of such meat.


(informal) A hamburger.


A sandwich made with a patty of ground meat usually in a roll or bun.


Can a veggie sandwich be termed as a burger?

Yes, if it has a distinct patty, it's a veggie burger.

What is a burger?

A burger is a sandwich-like dish with a patty made from various ingredients placed between buns.

Why is it called a hamburger if it's made of beef?

The term originates from Hamburg, Germany, and refers to the style, not the ingredients.

Can hamburgers be gourmet?

Absolutely, many high-end restaurants offer gourmet hamburgers.

Is the word "burger" American?

While burgers are popular in America, the concept and term are not strictly American.

Why are non-beef burgers still called burgers?

The term "burger" has evolved to denote the style and format, not just the ingredients.

Which is more popular, burger or hamburger?

It depends on the region and context; in the U.S., the terms are often used interchangeably.

Can a chicken patty sandwich be termed a hamburger?

No, it would be called a chicken burger.

Can the term "burger" be used for any flattened food?

Generally, it refers to a patty in a bun, but colloquially, it can be used more broadly.

Is a hamburger always served in a bun?

Traditionally, yes, but there are modern variations like lettuce wraps.

Can a hamburger be vegetarian?

No, a hamburger specifically refers to beef; a vegetarian version would just be a veggie burger.

Can a burger be dessert?

While unconventional, dessert "burgers" with sweet fillings and buns do exist.

What distinguishes a hamburger from other burgers?

A hamburger specifically has a beef patty.

Is every hamburger a burger?

Yes, but not every burger is a hamburger.

Are all burgers fast food?

While burgers are popular in fast food, they can be gourmet dishes too.

Do burgers always need to have meat?

No, they can have veggie, legume, fish, or other patties.

Are burgers unhealthy?

Nutritional value varies; ingredients and preparation methods determine healthiness.

Do all hamburgers have cheese?

No, those with cheese are typically called "cheeseburgers."

What's the main ingredient of a classic burger?

It varies; a classic hamburger has beef, but burgers can have various main ingredients.

How did hamburgers become associated with America?

Through the rapid expansion of fast-food chains and American cultural influence.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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