We really love highlighting a simple recipe, then getting excited and accessorizing it in all the most delicious ways. This time, we’re turning our attention to the ever-American classic: the burger. From sauces, spreads, and stuffings, to even meat—or meatless—decisions, you can amp up a burger in so many ways you might forget you’re eating a burger. (That’s not to say a plain beef burger with ketchup isn’t perfect on its own.) For a get together that will thrill (rule) them all, consider putting some spins on your typical burger preparation. Make one or more of the burger recipes below, and serve with all the extras you can handle.
This is our totally basic (good basic) and totally delicious (good delicious) cheeseburger recipe. Let your guests choose from the usual topping suspects: tomato, lettuce, onion, and pickles. Some sliced avocado never hurt anyone, either.
12 ounces ground beef (80 percent lean)
cheese of your choice
white onion slices
Pat beef dry with paper towel, then season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper as desired. Using your hands, mix well. Divide mixture evenly and form into 2 patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Using your thumb, make a dimple in the center of each. Burger patties tend to puff up when cooked, so creating a shallow dimple in the center of each helps them cook evenly and keep their shape.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add burgers to pan and sear without flipping until browned on bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip burgers, top with cheese, and cover pan. Continue searing until cheese is melted and burgers are browned and medium rare, 2–3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest. Add toppings galore.
While you can absolutely stick to the classic build-a-burger toppings above, why not provide options that are a little more out there?
Experience pizza burger vibes
For a recent recipe, we added a little Italian flair to our burgs. Instead of classic American, swap in a few slices of fresh mozzarella. Place a few tomatoes on top and let them get melty with your mozz. And finally, whip up some pesto aioli (aka mayo and pesto) and smother your burger in sauce.
Beefsteak tomato slices
Store bought pesto (or homemade!)
Salt and pepper
Follow instructions above, but swap in the cheese and toppings.
It’s like you’re in Paris
For a French twist, get messy with a caramelized, gravy-like onion sauce and Gruyére cheese.
1/8 ounce fresh thyme
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
8 ounces beef broth
Strip thyme leaves, discarding stems. Peel onion, halve, and thinly slice. Heat butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add thyme and onion and cook, stirring occasionally until light brown and softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon water water and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring continuously, until golden brown and very soft, about 5 minutes more.
Add flour to pan with onions over medium heat and stir vigorously until flour is no longer visible, 1 minute. Add beef broth, then increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and reduced by 2/3, 2–3 minutes. Season with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper as desired.
There’s more to life than beef
So, you’ve got your basic burger, simple toppings, and a few very fun variations. You don’t need beef to make an incredible burger, and these recipes will prove it.
Fish is your friend
These hearty salmon patties are packed with scallions, capers, and a little horseradish. A drizzle of chive aioli seals the deal.
There ain’t no shame in the veggie burger game, and this sweet potato quinoa burger is a serious favorite, packed with hearty quinoa, sweet potato, and black beans. Even non-vegetarians will want in.
Don’t skip the turkey
If turkey’s more your jam, these extra-flavorful Southwestern-inspired turkey burgers will definitely impress! We serve ’em up in lettuce wraps, but feel free to swap in buns as you like. This recipe serves two, so multiply as needed!
3 scallions, divided
2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
½ teaspoon cumin
12 ounces ground turkey
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
½ teaspoon chipotle paste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Rinse all produce. Trim and discard scallion roots and thinly slice; reserve a pinch of scallion dark greens for serving. Halve lime. Mince garlic. Peel onion and cut into small dice. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add garlic, remaining scallions, and .125 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until aromatics are softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Transfer half of aromatics to a medium bowl and reserve for making burgers.
Add ancho chile powder and cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to medium bowl with reserved aromatics. Pat turkey dry with paper towel and add to bowl (see Recipe Tip). Using your hands, mix well, then form into 2 equal patties, about 1 inch thick. Using your thumb, create a dimple on top of each—burgers tend to puff up when cooked, so this helps them cook evenly and keep their shape.
Heat pan for burgers. When oil is shimmering, add burgers and sear until browned on bottom, 3-4 minutes. Flip burgers and top with Monterey Jack, then reduce heat to medium and cover pan. Sear until cheese is melted and burgers are cooked through and no longer pink, 5-6 minutes more.
While burgers cook, add chipotle paste to container with mayonnaise and stir to combine, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Let guests slather all over burgers.
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