Find juicy, grilled burgers that are also good for you: not only beef, but salmon, lamb, and turkey, too.
The great American burger has been gaining weight like a cartoon sumo wrestler lately. In fast-food joints and fancy restaurants
alike, it's all about superdupersizing.
It's time to reclaim America's national food for folks who want to grill a juicy, delicious, and satisfying burger that is plenty big enough but fits into a healthy diet, too.
The secrets to healthy burgers are now revealed. Less fat in the patty requires a few tricks in the kitchen to keep things juicy; those tricks are here. If you like it simple, try the brisket cheese-burger. If you like spice, the poblano burger is very nice. If you want fish, the salmon burger is the alpha and the omega 3 of fishburgers. There are flavors for every palate. So fire up the grill this weekend and get your better, lighter burger summer going.
Don't Miss: All-Time Favorite Veggie Burgers
This burger is kept lean by using lamb shoulder, which has about two-thirds less fat than pre-ground lamb from the supermarket.
For a lighter texture, grind it yourself (using a grinder attachment for your stand mixer or an old-fashioned hand grinder),
or ask a butcher to do it.
Vadouvan, an Indian spice mix, flavors the meat. The patties get tantalizingly aromatic when charred on a hot grill.
Mint and yogurt provide the perfect counterpoint to the spice mix. Finally, sweet roasted red peppers and bitter radicchio round out a delicously tasty burger.
View Recipe: Lamb Burgers with Indian Spices and Yogurt-Mint Sauce
Enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving all year long in this dressed-up turkey burger. Purchase ground turkey breast versus ground
turkey—the white meat is much lower in calories and fat. Grilling the burgers makes for an added boost of flavor. Serve with
vegetable chips and red grapes.
View Recipe: Turkey Burgers with Cranberry-Peach Chutney
This burger—stuffed with roasted bell peppers and spinach—carries Greek flavors in every bite. Greek cuisine highlights healthy
ingredients such as vegetables and olive oil, so these burgers are a filling, lighter alternative to traditional hamburgers.
View Recipe: Greek-Style Burgers with Feta Aioli
How do you get a burger made from mild, low-fat turkey to have some of the meaty richness of beef? Add some rich, meaty flavors!
Here's the kitchen science: Beef and other red meats contain compounds called glutamates. So do soy sauce and Marmite, which
is a powerfully strong yeast extract found in a lot of supermarkets (the Aussies love a version called Vegemite). We add a
bit of both to our turkey mixture, lending this burger the umami flavors of real red meat.
As for juiciness, another challenge with turkey, that comes from the addition of mildly flavored eggplant. We simply roast the eggplant with olive oil, then puree it, then blend it with the ground meat.
View Recipe: Turkey Burgers with Roasted Eggplant
A traditional hamburger patty gets a makeover when you add onion, breadcrumbs, and egg white to the meat. Using English muffins,
which are usually smaller than buns, allows the blue cheese and the meat to dominate the flavors in this recipe. Try stuffing
these burgers with shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese if you don't like blue cheese.
Stuffing burgers is easy. Divide the beef mixture into 8 equal portions; shape each into a ½-inch-thick patty. Spoon the cheese or other ingredient of choice into the center of 4 patties, and top with the remaining patties. Press or pinch the edges together to seal. Make sure the edges are sealed tightly so the cheese doesn't leak out during the cooking process. Stuffing burgers ensures an equal amount of cheesy flavor in every bite.
View Recipe: Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers
This light, tasty burger proves that salmon can be every bit as satisfying as beef. The trick is to get the texture right.
Ground beef will stick together firmly to form a patty, but ground salmon alone can be soft and difficult to work with, and
a binder like breadcrumbs or eggs can blur the salmon flavor. Solution: For perfect texture, we puree one quarter of the salmon
into a fine paste and use it to bind the rest of the roughly chopped salmon.
The burgers are then flavored with classic fish condiments. Adding shallots offers a great oniony kick. Lemon zest and tarragon add complexity. The whole beautiful thing is finished with a deliciously tangy honey-mustard glaze.
View Recipe: Salmon Burgers
Shake up burger night with this unique sweet-and-salty creation. Add even more flavor by changing up the toppings; try spicy
kimchi or sriracha, or crunchy napa cabbage or water chestnuts. Serve with small plates of kimchi, pickles, and noodles for
a more authentic Korean experience.
View Recipe: Korean Barbecue Burgers
The secret to this burger, which is made of lean, preground supermarket sirloin, is the addition of a mixture called a panade,
a mash of milk and bread used to keep meatballs tender and moist. Also in the mix are warm spices often found in Mexican chorizo
sausage—such as coriander, paprika, and cumin. There's a creamy, smoky poblano sauce, and the burger is finished with a quick
red onion pickle that lends a wonderful tang. (The pickled onion recipe yields more than you'll need for a single batch of
burgers, but it keeps for several weeks in the fridge. Use on sandwiches or salads—or the next batch of these poblano burgers.)
View Recipe: Spicy Poblano Burgers with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle Cream
Let's be honest: Even with orange, ginger, and soy mixed in to the patties, as here, turkey burgers can be a little bland.
That's why they need a great zesty sauce or lots of cheese to match up to hamburgers. This recipe's Special Sauce fits the bill and then some. The creamy, pungent, sweet, slightly Asian-tinged sauce may well become a staple in your kitchen―try
it on deli sandwiches, as a dip for raw veggies, or as salad dressing.
View Recipe: Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce
A combination of turkey sausage and ground beef gives these burgers classic Italian flavor with less fat while also making
firm patties that won't fall apart during cooking. Mozzarella and pasta sauce are the perfect meatball-burger toppings, while
pasta salad makes a nice side.
View Recipe: Italian Meatball Burgers
Golden, sweet sautéed onions and pungent crumbled Stilton cheese top lean sirloin burgers on toasted French rolls for a simple,
easy-to-make burger with big flavor.
View Recipe: Stilton Burgers
This is the purist's burger, and the best argument of all for using fresh-ground meat. Preground supermarket beef is often
made from trim and scraps. The result can be inconsistent flavor. Not only that, but preground meat compresses the longer
it sits in tight packaging, which affects texture. So it's much better to start with whole cuts of beef and grind them yourself,
or get the butcher to do it at the shop or supermarket.
Grinding also lets you control fat. We use lean brisket, lower in saturated fat, and then add olive oil, which ensures juiciness and a rich, meaty flavor.
View Recipe: Simple, Perfect Fresh-Ground Brisket Burgers
A quick five-ingredient sauce tops cheesy homemade burgers to make an easy, delicious dinner in no time. For heightened flavor,
add ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the beef. Serve with baked chips and blue cheese dip.
View Recipe: Cheddar Burgers with Red Onion Jam
Wheat germ adds a nuttiness that complements the turkey and spices in this Southwestern-style burger. For more spicy heat,
use Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers.
View Recipe: Southwestern Turkey-Cheddar Burgers with Grilled Onions
Tender, golden shallots lend a lovely sweetness to this classic cheeseburger. Don't be afraid to cook the shallots to a deep
golden brown: It will improve their flavor.
View Recipe: Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Shallots
Quick-pickled cukes give these burgers tart crunch. Panko and egg white hold the patties together. Use cilantro leaves on
the burgers as you would lettuce for herby freshness.
View Recipe: Hoisin-Glazed Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumber
The tangy, herby yogurt sauce (raita) stands in for mayonnaise on this blended burger. For more spicy kick, leave the seeds
in the serrano chile.
View Recipe: Lamb Burgers with Cilantro Raita
You can play with tradition in the South, but best not mess with it. There's no quinoa or fish sauce in this burger. It starts
with caramelized onions, cooked low and slow. Some of the onions then get folded into the beef, keeping the patty moist and
juicy. Next come salutes to barbecue and bourbon. Bacon adds savory crunch, while a shot of bourbon keeps the made-from-scratch
sauce smoky and sweet. Then we bless it all with a fat, juicy, heirloom tomato slice. -Sidney Fry, Nutrition Editor
View Recipe: Tennessee Burger with Bourbon and BBQ Sauce
Salmon is sacred in the region, but don't grind it, please. No fish cake beats a fillet hot off the grill, nicely charred
and glazed outside, almost sushi-tender within. Watercress—the peppery green I was eating way before arugula vogued in local
markets—is quintessentially Pacific Northwest. Asian flavors are beloved, so the mayo is ginger-tinged. For crunch and tang,
there's a quick pickle of fresh, thin-sliced radish. This luscious treat takes me right back home. -Scott Mowbray, Editor
View Recipe: Pacific Northwest Burger
Surf-and-turf sings a New England tune: Stick a few hunks of Maine lobstah on a beef patty and call it a day. But beef and
lobster don't really belong together in a bun. I wanted something simpler, more basic and true to the region where I spent
my college years. Turkey is a healthy choice and the essence of New England tradition. Caramelized onions simmer in hoppy
Sam Adams beer, while shaved Vermont cheddar adds tang and richness to the meat. -Hannah Klinger, Contributor
View Recipe: New England Turkey Burger
King Corn governs the Great Plains and probably always will. This burger delivers deep corn essence two ways. The first puts
a happy soul-of-corn flavor right in the patty: Corn chips are crumbled into lean, free-range bison meat. Then there's a sweet,
creamy fresh-corn mayo that brightens the whole thing up. Charred onion bolstered by smoky chile pepper heats and a wild whiff
of sage completes the roundup of prairie gusto. -Robin Bashinsky, Recipe Tester and Developer
View Recipe: Great Plains Burger
This Southern California special blends the region's produce-forward approach with Latin flair on a lean sirloin patty. Buttery
avocado is the base for a guacamole that's flecked with jalapeño. For crunch, I chose alfalfa sprouts, which continue to proliferate
in California stores and are prized for their bright taste and springy, crisp texture. Some locals might have gone bunless,
but grains are so of-the-moment. I used a whole-grain bun, natch. -Deb Wise, Recipe Tester and Developer
View Recipe: SoCal Guacamole Burger
Chile peppers and cacti are staple ingredients in Southwestern cooking. Here I mixed a sweet-smoky ancho chile paste with
bottom notes of earthy cumin into the beef patty. For a condiment, I started with nopales (cactus paddles) to give deep green
veggie flavor. Jicama adds hearty crunch, while lime juice and cilantro brighten it all up. -Tiffany Vickers Davis, Test Kichen Manager
View Recipe: Southwest Burger