Frita Cubana (pronounced free-tah) was invented in Havana, Cuba sometime in the 1930s. This Cuban Hamburger recipe calls for ground beef, ground pork, garlic, yellow onion, ketchup, cumin, sweet Spanish paprika, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. The hamburger patties are cooked and placed on Cuban rolls covered with a special sauce and topped with lettuce and shoestring potatoes.
Originally, these burgers were sold by Friteros from their stands, called Puestos. In 1962, Ramon Estevill brought the burgers to Miami when he opened his small eatery. Nowadays, El Rey De Las Fritas is the most popular Frita joint in Miami.
Frita Cubana, Cuban Hamburger
For the Special Sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp sweet Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp sriracha
For The Shoestring Potatoes
- 4 russet potatoes
- 1 cup vegetable oil for frying or more as needed
For the Burgers
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 tbsp garlic finely minced – about 4 cloves
- 1 ½ cups yellow onion finely minced – divided (1/2 cup will be used to top the cooked burgers)
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika sweet not spicy
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 8 Cuban rolls brioche rolls or hamburger buns, toasted
- Lettuce leaves optional
- To make the sauce, mix all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan: ketchup (1 cup), water (1/4 cup), vinegar (1 tablespoon), sweet paprika (1 1/2 teaspoons), cumin (1 teaspoon), salt (1 teaspoon), oregano (1/2 teaspoon) and sriracha (1/2 teaspoon). Cook at a gentle simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes. Sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
- Peel the potatoes and shred them on a box grater or in your food processor with the coarse shredding blade. Swish them in a bowl of cold water, pour out cloudy water, and repeat until the water is clear. Just before frying, drain them in a colander and dry them well by squeezing them between several clean absorbent dish towels. The dryer the better for getting them crisp and brown. Pour oil into a heavy, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and fry the potatoes, in small batches, until they’re golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
- Make the meat mixture in a large bowl or in a food processor. Combine ground meats with 1 cup of the onions and the garlic (2 tablespoons). Mix by hand or pulse a few times in the food processor, to combine. Add ketchup ( 3 tablespoons), cumin (1 teaspoon), paprika (2 teaspoons), smoked paprika (2 teaspoons) and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Mix by hand or pulse just until combine. Form the meat into 8 thin patties.
- Cook patties in batches, on a preheated flat griddle or in a frying pan coated with a little vegetable oil, over medium heat, for 2-4 minutes per side or until they’re cooked to your liking. (I suggest medium rare to medium). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- To assemble the fritas, spread some special sauce over the bottom half of a bun. Place a patty on top, add more sauce, some finely chopped raw onion and a big pile of shoestring fried potatoes. Spread a little sauce on the inside of the top bun and place it on top. Repeat with remaining burgers. Serve immediately.
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