Why Do I Love Loco Moco?

Rice topped with hamburger patty, gravy, egg, and tomatoes on a white plate.

Have you ever had loco moco? You have probably had a fried egg, gravy, hamburger patty, and rice but it’s amazing together at the same time!! I ordered it for the first time on my honeymoon in Kauai without knowing anything about the dish except it was fun to say, “I would like the loco moco, please.” Out came a dish with a fried egg with crispy edges, a yummy beef patty, hot steaming rice, with gravy. 

I’ve always wondered what does Loco Moco mean? Apparently some Hilo high school teens wanted something cheap and filling to eat, so a local restaurant made this dish for them and the first boy who ate this dish was nicknamed Loco (for his crazy sports antics) and they added Moco because the name sounds good as Loco Moco. 

I realized that it’s also one of my son’s favorite dishes as he would get up early and make for our family for breakfast, what a treat! I appreciate his kindness and sharing that time with him to talk about making loco moco. I love visiting Hawaii and eating Hawaiian food, making loco moco at home is the next best thing. 

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Making Loco Moco Efficiently

Typically people season and make the patty, let them set, then fry them and make a gravy in the pan. I find that making the gravy last takes too long and the patty becomes cold, the eggs overcook, etc.. Instead I form the patties first. Then while the patties set, I make a gravy. And then while the gravy simmers and thickens, I fry the hamburger patties. Sometimes I make the gravy in advance.

After I fry the hamburger patties, I like to cook some sliced grape tomatoes in the same frying pan, that serves to deglaze the pan a bit and season the tomatoes at the same time. And then I take the tomatoes out and cook the eggs in the same pan. If tomatoes don’t work for you, you can also stir-fry some mushrooms, onions, zuchinni, or any vegetable side you would like to eat. We just happen to have a lot of grape tomato plants growing in our yard and I look for ways to eat them up!

If you look closely, there’s a scoop of rice under the hamburger patty, dairy-free gravy, fried egg, and sauteed tomatoes. My hubby loves tomatoes so he has at least 10 plants growing in the front and back yards, so this is me trying to use some of it up.

Loco Moco Varieties

Usually people use about 1 pound ground beef to make 4 (4 ounce) hamburger patties. I happened to have a 20-ounce vacuum-sealed package of ground bison from my freezer and made them a little bigger and allowed more time to fry them. I like bison because it’s leaner than beef but tastes great.

I like to fry the patties in non-stick pan on medium heat. It cooks evenly without burning on the outside and I don’t have to use as much oil. I also use my Zojirushi rice cooker (affiliate link) to make the rice effortlessly and perhaps in the quick cooking mode if I didn’t start cooking early enough.

The nice thing about making loco moco is that if you happen to have cooked chicken teriyaki, you can use that instead of hamburger patties or add cooked sausages, fried spam, bacon, etc. If I’m cooking for myself, I would heat up a bowl of leftover vegetables, rice, and gravy and fry a fresh egg.

Allergy Aware Loco Moco

This recipe is free from peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, and sesame as written.

If allergic to soy, the recipe contains soy sauce. You can simply omit or use a soy-free soy sauce or soy substitute.

If allergic to wheat, be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce such as a tamari sauce labeled gluten-free and swap out the panko with a gluten-free breadcrumb.

If allergic to egg, you can add a different binder in the hamburger patty but even water would work. You can omit the fried egg or make a vegan egg from a vegan egg product.

Loco Moco with Tomatoes

This is a Hawaiian inspired breakfast with a fried hamburger patty and egg over rice with gravy. You will need to make rice in a rice cooker or a pot (see notes) and you will also need to make a gravy while you're waiting for the beef patties to set (see notes for a link to the recipe).

Course Breakfast
Cuisine Hawaiian
Keyword beef gravy, eggs, hamburger, loco moco
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 550 kcal
Author Sharon Wong


  • 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 16 ounce ground bison or lean ground beef
  • 1/2 finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 5 eggs divided
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt use 1/2 teaspoon if omitting soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil or other neutral oil divided
  • 1 recipe beef gravy can be made ahead, if desired
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • Chopped scallions garnish (optional)


  1. Rinse the rice twice in a rice washing bowl or in a rice cooker pot and soak the rice with 1 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Cook the rice in a rice cooker.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, onion, panko, 1 egg, soy sauce, black pepper, salt. Divide the meat into 4 and shape them into patties about 1 inch thick. Smooth the sides and indent the center slightly so that the patties look like a bagel. Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, make a batch of gravy in a large pan. Let it simmer on low heat to thicken and keep warm.

  4. Preheat a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and swirl the pan to coat. Add the hamburger patties and fry undisturbed for 4 minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Set aside.
  5. Scrape any brown bits and add to the gravy. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and stir-fry the tomatoes until they’re soft and slightly browned (approximately 3-4 minutes). Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl and set aside.
  6. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and swirl to coat the pan. Crack the remaining 4 eggs and fry for 3 minutes until they have a crispy bottom. Flip them over to fry for one more minute for an over easy egg (cook longer if desired).
  7. To plate, add 1/2 cup of rice, add a hamburger patty, drizzle 1 ladle (approximately 1/4 cup) of gravy on the patty, and top with an egg, a scoop of tomatoes, and scallion garnish.

Recipe Notes

If you do not have a rice cooker, I have a recipe for making rice in a pot. 

I also have a recipe for dairy-free beef gravy that is delicious. I like to make this in advance or while the patties set.

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About Sharon Wong 277 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.

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