19 easy ways to make your burgers even better using things you already have in your kitchen

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  • Grinding your own meat allows you to customize how lean or fatty your burger is.

  • Blue cheese, grilled pineapple, or avocado will add a lot of flavor to a classic hamburger.

  • Many, if not all, of these ingredients can already be found in your kitchen and pantry.

When it comes to crafting the perfect burger, you don't have to stick with basic cheese, lettuce, and tomato.

This Memorial Day weekend, you can spice up a classic burger using toppings and ingredients you might already have in your fridge or pantry, like avocado, egg, boxed mac and cheese, or arugula.

Here are 19 ways to make your burgers even better using things you already have in your kitchen.

Grinding your own meat is a way to ensure you're getting high-quality ground meat for your burgers.

person grinding meat in a meat grinder
A person grinding meat.Image Source/Getty Images

The only way to guarantee you're getting the best-tasting meat is by either asking the butcher in your local shop or grocery store to grind your desired cut for you, or by grinding it yourself at home using a food processor.

Ground beef chuck is one meat many burger lovers prefer to use since it ranges from 15 to 20% fat.

Add bacon bits to your ground beef.

crispy bacon on a countertop
Bacon.Nataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock

Adding bacon to your burgers can seriously up the flavor. If your burger patties are on the thicker side, you should cook the bacon before adding it into the meat, to ensure you don't eat any undercooked bacon.

If your patties are thinner or smash-burger-style, it's OK to leave the bacon raw so long as you make sure it's all properly cooked prior to eating.

You can also add vegetables like mushrooms.

person chopping mushrooms on a cutting board
Chopping mushrooms.iStock

Mushrooms and onions make delicious additions to burger meat, Hugh Acheson, a judge on "Top Chef" and a competitor on Iron Chef Canada, told Insider.

"You don't always have to use beef either," Acheson said. "I make this pulverized mushroom and lamb burger that tastes very woodsy and gamey."

Worcestershire sauce adds tang to beef.

worcestershire sauce in a small white bowl
Worcestershire sauce.kazoka/Shutterstock

"I love the flavor bomb that is Worcestershire sauce," Acheson told Insider. "Balancing that with a little olive oil is just going to add a little more fat and texture to meat when it hits the grill, and help prevent it from sticking."

This sauce can be added directly into ground meat to make burger patties more moist and flavorful.

Minced garlic also adds a lot of flavor to beef.

cloves of garlic
Garlic cloves.Shutterstock

Crushed or minced garlic can easily be mixed into ground beef, pork, or even turkey before being cooked on the grill, and adds savory flavor.

Using a high-quality bun can also make all the difference.

brioche burger and fries on a tray
A burger and fries.Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images

For slightly more texture, opt for a sesame-seed bun, which is a common pantry staple in the summer. However, for a softer, yet still flavorful bun, butter a brioche bun, toast or grill it, and serve it with your burger.

You can also try out other alternative buns like potato rolls or even a toasted bagel.

A quick aioli or special sauce makes a great addition to burgers.

special sauce on a white background
Special sauce.Paul_Brighton/Shutterstock

"A really simple and delicious special sauce is creme fraîche, mayonnaise, a dash of maple syrup, and a little bit of ketchup, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and lemon juice all blended up," Acheson said. "It's a special sauce and having one of those in your arsenal is really important."

Blue cheese will also bring a burst of flavor.

burger on a bun with arugula and blue cheese
A burger with blue cheese and arugula.Anastasia Izofatova/Shutterstock

Topping a burger with some blue-cheese crumbles is a recipe for success.

"You just have to think about what works with what," Acheson said of combining flavors together. "Food should be like a big Lego set, and how you put together the blocks can build umpteen different things. The more skills you have and the more understanding of food you have, the more Lego blocks you have."

Top your burgers with peanut butter, or mix it directly into the ground beef.

jar of peanut butter and spoon
Peanut butter.Shutterstock

Some burger-lovers swear by peanut butter as the perfect burger topping. However, while this creamy, flavorful addition can of course be smeared on top of your patties, it can also be added directly to the meat itself.

According to Taste of Home, adding a spoonful of peanut butter to ground meat can keep your burgers juicy, thanks to the oil in the spread.

Melt some garlic butter on top.

garlic butter in a jar surrounded by cloves of garlic
Garlic butter.Elfgradost/Shutterstock

Simple garlic butter can be whipped up in just a few minutes but packs a serious punch when it comes to making burgers more flavorful.

You can either butter your buns with it before grilling them or drizzle it on the cooked burger patties themselves for a flavor boost.

Onions are a staple and can be either added as toppings or mixed into the burger meat.

person chopping onions on a wood cutting board
A person chopping onions.iStock

"Onions are a staple that everyone's got around," Acheson said. "You can slow cook them, caramelize them, sweeten them with a little maple syrup or soy sauce, and cook them into a sort of onion jam."

Avocado slices make a great addition to burgers.

half of an avocado and slices of avocado

Avocado adds creaminess to a burger without the thick texture of mayonnaise or aioli.

Arugula adds freshness and a peppery flavor to your burger.

arugula on burger with sesame seed bun
A burger with arugula.aleksandr talancev/Shutterstock

Unlike other leafy greens, arugula has a peppery flavor. Plus, you'll likely enjoy the layer of crunchy texture that adding greens provides.

Grilled pineapple slices or fresh pineapple salsa adds a tropical, citrusy flavor that is a surprisingly delicious addition to burgers.

burger with pineapple slice
Hamburger with grilled pineapple.Rus32/Getty Images

If you happen to have a can of pineapple or pineapple slices lying around, these can make delicious toppings for burgers. A quick pineapple salsa with red onion and cilantro is easy to make and packs a lot of flavor.

Adding a fried egg takes any burger to the next level.

burger with egg
A burger topped with a fried egg.Polupoltinov/Shutterstock

Adding fried egg ups the protein level and the flavor of any burger. When you bite or cut into the burger, the runny egg yolk acts almost like a sauce.

To really make this brunch-ready burger pop, add some bacon, special sauce, and just a touch of salt and pepper.

Pickled onions add a sour tang to burgers, and they are easy to prepare.

pickled red onion in a white bowl
Pickled red onion.DPRM/Shutterstock

Pickled onions are easier to make than many home cooks might think, but they add some serious flavor to any burger.

Bon Appetit's recipe for quick-pickled onions involves leaving thinly sliced red onion in a jar with apple cider vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt for at least one hour. Then, simply drain the onions and add them to your burger.

Leftover pulled pork can add extra meatiness to a classic burger.

pulled pork burgers
Burger with pulled pork.LauriPatterson/Getty Images

If you have some leftover pulled pork in your fridge, don't be afraid to add a little on top of your burger. Not only will this topping add tons of flavor and satisfy any barbecue craving, but the added protein also ensures you won't leave the barbecue hungry.

You could also whip up some boxed mac and cheese to add to your burger.

burger with mac and cheese, tomato slice, and lettuce
A burger topped with macaroni and cheese.INSIDER

No burger topping is arguably as creamy and decadent as macaroni and cheese. While homemade mac and cheese may be ideal, don't be afraid to whip up a quick box of whatever boxed mac and cheese you have lying around in your cabinets.

One final cooking tip: Using the whole grill can make sure your burgers are cooked perfectly.

burgers on a flaming grill
Burgers cooking on a grill.iStock

"You want high heat, but use the whole of the grill," Acheson said. "The grill should have two different temperature zones — one lower and one higher. You're trying to get a good crust, a good Maillard reaction from that protein on the hot side, and getting grill good marks. Then move it over to the lower side to make sure you've reached the right temperature."

Read the original article on Insider