By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Sep 07, 2020 at 11:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

My Burger Trail journey kicked off in January of 2017, and for over three years, I've dedicated time and energy to searching for the best, most well-executed burgers in the City of Milwaukee and beyond. Along the way, I've put well over 100 burgers to the test.

This summer, I focused my efforts on visiting area frozen custard stands, reporting back each week on my findings from over 20 local spots.  And now that we’ve reached Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, I’m bringing you the ten highest scoring burgers in the category.

To achieve top scores, burgers need to perform well in all categories (appearance, bun, burger, toppings and value). In the case of these custard stand burgers, the clear winners are those that invest in high quality, flavorful beef. They’ve also taken the time to pay attention to the details, including the burger’s appearance, and the execution and balanced application of condiments and toppings.

Looking back on the list, I’m pretty satisfied. I’d happily eat any one of these burgers again (and mostly likely will).

10. LeDuc's Frozen Custard

240 W. Summit Ave., Wales (262) 968-2894

Overall score: 40/50
[Read the full review]

At just over $7, the LeDuc's double cheeseburger is a reasonable investment that takes its value from upgrades like real cheddar cheese, a quality bun and little details like stone ground mustard.

9. Ferch's Malt Shoppe & Grille

5636 Broad St., Greendale, (414) 423-1414

Overall score: 40/50
[Read the full review]

The Greendale Burger at Ferch's boasted a flavorful mix of sweet, salt and umami; but even moreso, it was a feast of textures. That's not something you find terribly often on a burger, let alone one from a custard stand.

8. Fred's Frozen Custard

4726 W. Vliet St., (414) 771-6270

Overall score: 40/50
[Read the full review]

There's a reason why Fred's has been thriving for over 50 years. If you're looking for a classic double cheeseburger, solid fries and the prerequisite chocolate malt, this is among a cadre of spots that truly delivers.

7. Kraverz Frozen Custard

N88 W15325 Main St, Menomonee Falls, (262) 255-5728

Overall score: 41/50
[Read the full review]

The Kraverz double cheeseburger was a looker, showcasing both burger patties and layers of toppings neatly (and thoughtfully) stacked within its uniquely toasted bun. The lettuce piled over the sides of the sandwich; but the other elements were neatly intact; even the fried onions were tucked nicely beneath a layer of beautifully melted cheese.

6. Robert's Frozen Custard

N112 W16040 Mequon Rd., Germantown, (262) 250-1683

Overall score: 41/50
[Read the full review]

The burger patty on the Robert's cheeseburger deserved more of a spotlight. It was thin, slightly irregular and nicely caramelized with crisp edges that mimicked those of a smash burger. It was well seasoned, beefy and overall a joy to eat.

5. Big Deal Burgers & Custard

1440 S. 84th St., West Allis, (414) 774-4000

Overall score: 41/50
[Read the full review]

The Volcano Burger wasn't as incendiary as its name implied. But it was pretty darn tasty. If you find yourself in need of something even more over-the-top, you can't go wrong with the equally delicious namesake Big Deal Burger, which features three one-third pound patties of fresh sirloin, four slices of American cheese and six strips of bacon.

4. Moosa's

2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., (414) 727-4886

Overall score: 41/50
[Read the full review]

The MooSa Burger had plenty going for it, and that includes the burger patty itself. The meat was nicely seasoned and pleasantly beefy. It was also just a touch greasy (but not too much), which is pretty much what you want in a fast food style burger. Of course, what won the day for this burger were its ultra-crispy edges, which offered a pleasantly fatty salty crunch to every exterior bite. Bonus: It also came with a beautiful lake view.

3. Hefner's Frozen Custard

N71W5184 Columbia Rd, Cedarburg, (262) 376-0601

Overall score: 42/50
[Read the full review]

The Cedar-Burger is one of the few custard stand burgers that slipped successfully out of the burger-cheese-condiments mold. Topped with Cedar Creek Winery's Pinot Grigio Swiss cheese spread, American cheese, bacon and fried onions,  the burger offered texture, meatiness and a complex cheesiness that took it slightly over the top. In the end, it's a solid classic custard stand burger that's been gussied up just enough to make it memorable.

2. Georgie Porgie's

9555 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, (414) 571-9889

Overall score: 43/50
[Read the full review]

Order a double and the Porgie is the sort of burger that might remind you vaguely of the classic Big Mac; but it would beat out the national chain's version by a mile thanks to the little touches that pushed the Porgie above and beyond. The burger patty was browned and juicy, the toppings were balanced and the housemade Porgie sauce brought everything together.  All in all, the The Porgie is a classic burger that's worth seeking out and devouring.

1. Kopp's

7631 W Layton Ave, Greenfield, (414) 282-4312
5373 N Port Washington Rd, Glendale, (414) 961-3288
18880 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield, (262) 789-9490

Overall score: 45/50
[Read the full review]

The Kopp's cheeseburger has never made one of my top ten lists for a variety of reasons (including its score, which places it outside the top 20). And yet, it's a burger I've likely eaten more often. 

There's a reason for that. It lies in Kopp's ability to create a consistent, balanced classic burger profile again and again. It's the formula that conjures its loyal fan base, and it's one that ensures folks will notice when something changes (take last year's bun debacle for instance... a matter which has since been rectified). These things matter.

At Kopp's you can count on a nice crisp char around the irregular edges of the patty. Thanks to fresh meat and added butter, you won't find it to be dry. And, if you taste it on its own (as I do, every single time), you'll also find it to be well-seasoned with a decently beefy flavor. The Kopp's cheeseburger isn't revelatory, but it's a fine example of what happens when fast-food meets attention to detail.

In the end, if there's a burger I'm happy to eat sitting outside on a concrete ledge, at a nearby picnic table or in my car, this is still the one.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.