Swensons Galley Boy Copy Cat Recipe

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This week's challenge is to represent your region!

I had a tough time deciding what I wanted to make, because I had a tough time deciding what region of Ohio I wanted to declare myself from. I grew up in Dayton, went to college in Athens, and currently live in Akron.

Of those places, only one food screamed out to me as unique to its region - and that was Akron's famous Galley Boy from Swensons.

You'd be hard pressed to find an Akronite that hasn't at least tried the incredible Galley Boy with not one, but TWO secret sauces. In fact, the Galley Boy was actually the very first thing I tried when we first moved to Akron a few years ago.

And the fact that our new home literally has a Swensons at the end of our driveway does nothing but fuel my obsession for this place.

Seriously, I walked to the end of my complex's driveway and this is what I see. Every day. Let's not even talk about how good it smells when they fire up that grill in the morning.

And every day that parking lot is full, despite the McDonald's located across the street, which is clearly selling the subpar burgers on this corner.

I had to pick up a Galley Boy earlier this week, for, uh, science. And all of this thinking about Galley Boys made me crave the real deal. It comes wrapped like a foil present topped with an olive. Plus, I barely have to leave my house to get one, so why not. This is all very scientific stuff people. I'm eating fast food - for science.

True fans of Swensons know that the potato teezers are also a superior side over fries, so I had to make some of those too! On the nights we don't get teasers as a side, we usually try out the fried mushrooms (delicious) and the onion rings (oh so crispy!).

Galley Boys have a lot going on for them - served on a buttered, toasted bun, this double-pattied burger is smothered in two secret sauces that resemble tartar sauce and barbecue sauce, which sounds like a weird combination until you try it.

Then you'll wonder why you never thought of it before. I decided to do some investigative blogging and deduce what the secret sauces actually are by sneakily asking politely for an extra side of sauces when I ordered.

They didn't question it at all.

The one on the left is definitely a take on tartar sauce, the major difference being it has more of a tangy from using dill pickles rather than sweet relish. Appears to use a mayo base and onions too.

The one on the right has a smokey barbecue flavor and a hint of sweetness, followed with just a hint (a whisper) of heat.

My best guesses led me to try to recreate the original recipe from scratch. I think next time I will use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise and a squirt of mustard instead of dry mustard though.

Either way, once I made these sauces, I tasted them against the extra sauces and was given the seal of "Close Enough" by my boyfriend.

One important thing about recreating Swensons burgers, in general, are pretty sweet in flavor, so mix in the brown sugar as throughly as you can.

I've been told in the years since I first made this recipe that Swenson's swears up and down they don't use brown sugar in their burgers. But there is SOMETHING adding a hint of sweetness. Whether that's brown sugar, honey or some other kind of sugar additive, there's definitely something proprietary about these burgers that makes them so sweet and tasty. My best guess is brown sugar, but feel free to do some experimenting on your own and report back to me what you think they use in the burgers to get that signature sweet taste!

The sauces took some testing and playing with flavors too, but in the end, I think I got pretty close. I think next time, I'll let them set for a few hours for a better consistency, or possibly add a pinch of cornstarch. But I was in a rush, and I was starving.

But lets be honest, If you don't want to go through all of the work to recreate the sauces from scratch, you can simple substitute a sweet tartar sauce and tangy barbecue sauce and end up with something pretty similar - not exact, but similar - and sometimes that's all you need.

Mix together the ingredients for the tartar sauce. Tasting the sauces side-by-side, Swensons' has more of a Miracle Whip hint to it than mine did, than made with just the regular mayonnaise.

Using ketchup, with a squirt of mustard, as a base for the barbecue style sauce is key to the consistency in this sauce as well. You'll also want to get the patties nice and thin before tossing them onto a hot skillet to fry for about 3-4 minutes per side. You want them to be nice and round so they fit on the buns.

Swensons prides themselves on a well-cooked burger, so make sure that the patties are THIN so that there's no pink in the middle but they'll still be juicy. I think the thin-ness is also the secret to their fast food success. These burgers cook up quickly!

While your burgers cook, butter the bottoms of each bun and toast for a few seconds under the broiler. Serve the burger as a double patty, with Velveeta American cheese slices, both secret sauces, and a stuffed olive on top.

I also made some potato teezers that were deemed "better than the original" in a poll of one person, my boyfriend. But hey, that's something.

While there are definitely some discernible differences between my recipe and the real deal - this recipe is certainly just as good when you're in the need for a quick fix.

I'll be tucking this recipe away for when we move from Akron and feel reminiscent of our time here, that's for sure.

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Swensons Galley Boy Copycat Recipe

  • Number of Servings: 4
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Swensons Galley Boy Copy Cat Recipe


  • 16 oz lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 4 sweet roll burger buns, buttered and toasted, for serving
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp dill pickle relish
  • 1 tsp dill pickle juice
  • 2 tbsp sweet onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp golden molasses
  • 1 tbsp taco sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 17500100000 tsp pepper

Mouth Feel


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  1. Mix together the ingredients for secret sauce #1 in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for secret sauce #2 in separate small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour prior to serving.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef and brown sugar, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Combine until the brown sugar is completely incorporated into the beef.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Divide the beef into 4 even parts, round, and flatten each into 1/4 inch thick patties.
  5. Sear on each side for 3-4 minutes until cooked to desired doneness (I prefer medium rare, while Swensons leans more towards well done).
  6. Serve as a double patty on toasted sweet buns alongside homemade potato teezers. Enjoy!

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