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Variations on a Theme: Burgers

May 20, 2014

Now that we’ve discussed all the ways to love potato salad, it’s time to talk burgers.

With these, it’s best to start with the basics. What type of meat (or non-meat) should form the base of your patty? Once you’ve decided, it’s easy to build out an impressive burger that will make your Memorial Day BBQ the one to beat. 


Photo credit: Everyday Food

Ah, beef. The vanilla of the burger world. We don’t intend that as a slight: As is true of the beef burger, vanilla is delicious, versatile, and ubiquitous. For a super-juicy variation, mix Worcestershire sauce and mustard into the ground meat as suggested here. And don’t forget to properly season the meat with salt and a bit of pepper—there’s nothing worse than a bland burger.

Photo credit: Everyday Food

Beef burgers can be fattier than those made with other proteins, so the ideal toppings have a bright flavor that cuts through the grease. This recipe suggests dressing a burger with a simple relish of pickled onions; all you do is marinate sliced red onions in lime juice for an hour.

Photo credit: Everyday Food

Bored with same-old, same-old? Give the traditional American beef burger a makeover from Down Under. In this Australian burger recipe, a patty is stacked with charred onion rings, sliced beets, and an over-easy egg.


Photo credit: Everyday Food

In the poultry burger department, turkey usually gets all the love. Switch things up with chicken, which is nice and flavorful when sautéed onion, bell pepper, and celery are folded into the meat before grilling.


Photo credit: Everyday Food

If you haven’t yet experienced the joys of lamb burgers, now’s the time to start. This recipe for a classic Greek burger pairs rich coriander-spiked lamb meat with its ideal foil: cool Greek yogurt and cucumbers.


Photo credit: Everyday Food

Not all veggie burgers are sad frozen hockey pucks that turn to mush on the grill. This bulgur-and-pinto-bean burger is held together with a flavorful mix of breadcrumbs, scallions, egg, carrot, cayenne, and tahini. The final flourish? Tahini-spiked mayonnaise. Yum.

Photo credit: Everyday Food

Not feeling pintos? Try black beans instead. Brown rice lends this burger some heft, and chopped jalapeño tucked into the patty make for a fiery finish.

Photo credit: Food52

A combo of chickpeas, zucchini, and quinoa also makes for a meaty non-meat burger. Dijon mustard, lemon, dill, paprika, and oregano contribute a a wallop of extra flavor.


Photo credit: Everyday Food

Ready to take things to the next level? Of course you are. We have three words for you: Cheese. Stuffed. Burgers. Simply take some cheese—such as blue cheese, as suggested in this recipe—and cover it completely with raw meat to form a patty. 

Photo credit: Everyday Food

You can do the same with feta. This BLT burger steps things up a notch with—what else?—bacon. (Because America!)

Congratulations. You are now equipped with the knowledge required for an off-the-wall Memorial Day BBQ. Go forth and grill!