We recreated Oxford’s scientifically ‘perfect burger’

Ronald McDonald eat your heart out


Charles Michael, professional chef and sensory researcher at Oxford University, has devised a precise formula to create “the perfect burger”.

The creation is five centimetres wide and seven centimetres tall, and “should be eaten to music” for the optimum taste experience. The burger, which boasts an impressive nine layers, is made up of a base splashed with soy sauce and ketchup, and a patty of Wagyu beef seasoned with BBQ sauce, salt, pepper and finely chopped onion.

The perfect burger is then topped with sliced camembert, deep fried onion, serrano ham, vine-ripened tomatoes, lettuce, gherkin and chipotle sauce, before finally being topped with “a warm seeded burger bread sprayed with sesame seed oil”.

The burger connoisseur has turned the art of making a burger into a theoretical science, specifying the precise types and amounts of ingredients necessary up to the exact centimetre.

Our attempt

And apparently we use all five senses when chowing down on a burger, not simply taste. Charles said: “Science has shown that deliciousness is a perception created by our brains with stimulation coming from all the senses, and not only a sensation happening in our mouth. We actually ‘taste’ food with all of our senses.

“Smell should account for 30 per cent, touch for 25 per cent, and 15 per cent for sound, sight and surprisingly taste, respectively.”

Shoreditch’s The Burger Shack wasn’t impressed by the formula. They told us: “He’s not stupid, but for me there’s too much stuff. I’d eat the burger right now, but if I had to sell it, it would be tough. A couple of ingredients would not fit with every customer, like the ham. You’re cutting out some of your customers already.”

Unfortunately they would not disclose the secret recipe to their own idea of the perfect burger. Sceptical of the hype, we decided to recreate the scientifically “perfect” snack ourselves.

Let’s get ready to rumble

Essentially every ingredient in Charles’s creation is an upmarket version of a typical cheese and bacon burger. The researcher insists the burger must be only served in paper, eaten with your hands, and small enough to fit in your mouth with no difficulty. So it has to measure seven centimetres high — the bun comprising two of those, with the filling forming the remaining five centimetres.

The first ingredients are the bottom half of the bun, drizzled with two splashes of soy sauce, and an even layer of ketchup.


The patty itself should be a 1cm of wagyu beef, and instead of your generic american cheese, Charles insists upon two slices of camembert.

Not a millimetre over


Next up the recipe requires slices of deep fried onion slices with serano ham is placed on top.

They don’t look great, but trust Charles Michel on this

Then piled above are your typical salad components of a burger – tomato, gherkin and lettuce. But only one slice of each, with heights of no more than 1cm. These ingredients “improve the ‘sound’ of the burger” a crisp crunch being supposedly music to our ears.

Bet this is going to sound so tasty

The burger is garnished with chipotle sauce, for a bit of Mexican heat. Finally the creation is topped with a warm sesame seed bun, and sprayed with sesame seed oil.

7cm of heaven

The comparison is laughable

Placed opposite a Rustlers microwave burger, the contrast was laughable.

The Rustlers quailed in fear beside such a sublime looking feast. While the Rustlers burger had a miserable looking bun slumped over a soggy patty doused in questionable looking ‘cheese’, our burger was piled high and triggered copious amounts of drooling.

The taste test

Go on son


Our official guinea pig eagerly dug into the burger, managing to get all components in his mouth at once – truly getting the full experience. Praise was high, the burger was delicious, but official taste tester Tom found it was just short of perfection.

He said: “I love the Camembert, great choice of cheese. But there’s not enough gherkin, and the ham gives no taste – just a chewy texture. The tomato was overshadowed by the other ingredients and the spice lingered a bit long, I’d go for more of a smokey spice to complement the beef.”

Other tasters agreed, the number one comment being a desire for more gherkin.

Our conclusions: no, this is not the formula for the perfect burger. Sorry Charles. Back to the drawing board.