A numerical approximation for the one-dimensional Burgers equation is proposed by means of the orthogonal subgrid scales–variational multiscale (OSGS-VMS) method. We evaluate the role of the variational subscales in describing the Burgers “turbulence” phenomena. Particularly, we seek to clarify the interaction between the subscales and the resolved scales when the former are defined to be orthogonal to the finite-dimensional space. Direct numerical simulation is used to evaluate the resulting OSGS-VMS energy spectra. The comparison against a large eddy simulation model is presented for numerical discretizations in which the grid is not capable of solving the small scales. An accurate approximation to the phenomena of turbulence is obtained with the addition of the purely dissipative numerical terms given by the OSGS-VMS method without any modification of the continuous problem.