News flash: Great burgers don’t have to be made of beef. Whether you’re trying to cut down on red meat consumption for health reasons, want to do your part to save the environment, or are just interested in expanding your sandwich horizons, there are plenty of ways to make a delicious, beef-free patty. Below, we’ve highlighted five creative burger recipes, none of which will have you asking, “Where’s the beef?”
1. Thai Turkey Burgers
Turkey burgers don’t have the greatest reputation. Poorly made patties can be dry and bland, but mixing a sweet and spicy sauce into the meat before you form the burgers adds both moisture and flavor. Serve on toasted whole wheat bun and top with a crunchy Asian slaw and you have one delicious burger. Recipe from How Sweet It Is.
For the burgers
- 1 pound 94% lean ground turkey
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup shredded carrots, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 whole-wheat buns, toasted
For the Thai sauce
- ½ cup sweet chili sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup light canned coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon-sized knob of ginger, grated
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
For the slaw
- 2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
- ¾ cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
Directions: Add all the sauce ingredients to bowl and whisk to combine. Measure out ¼ cup of the sauce and set aside. Transfer the remainder to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Set aside.
Combine the turkey, salt, pepper, green onions, shredded carrots, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved sauce in a large bowl. Mix until just combined. If necessary, add a little more of the reserved sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Shape the turkey mixture into patties, placing each patty in the skillet as soon as you form it. Cook each burger for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and continue to cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.
To make the slaw, add the cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and peanuts to a bowl and toss to combine. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the cooked sauce and toss again to coat.
Place each cooked burger on a toasted whole wheat bun and top with the cabbage slaw. Garnish with additional sauce if desired. Serve.
2. Grillable Veggie Burgers
Whether you make them out of beans, rice, or some other non-meat protein, veggie burgers all tend to suffer from the same problem: They fall apart when grilled. Not so with this version created by the Minimalist Baker, which is made with a mix of brown rice, walnuts, and black beans and holds together perfectly whether you cook it over an open flame or in a pan on the stovetop.
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup raw walnuts (you can also substitute breadcrumbs)
- ½ tablespoon grape seed or avocado oil, plus more for cooking
- ½ white onion (¾ cup), finely diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or organic brown sugar
- 1½ cups cooked black beans, well rinsed, drained, and patted dry
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3 to 4 tablespoons barbecue sauce
Directions: Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the raw walnuts and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden. Remove from heat and let cool.
Return the skillet to the heat. Add ½ tablespoon of oil and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and then cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
Transfer the cooled walnuts to a blender or food processor, then add the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar. Blend until you have a fine meal. Set aside.
Add the drained, dried beans to a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Add the cooked rice, walnut and spice mixture, cooked onion, breadcrumbs, and barbecue sauce. Mix thoroughly to combine. If the mixture seems too wet, add some more breadcrumbs. Taste the mixture, then adjust seasonings if necessary.
Divide the mixture into five equal-sized patties. Set on a baking sheet while you prepare the grill or skillet to cook the burgers.
If grilling, heat the grill and brush with oil. Otherwise, heat the same skillet you used to cook the onions (add a little oil to the pan – just enough to coat the bottom – once the skillet is hot).
Place the burgers on the grill or in the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, reducing the heat if the burgers are browning too quickly. Remove from grill or pan and let cool slightly. Place patties on buns, garnish with your favorite toppings, then serve.
3. Spiced Lamb Burgers
Cooking seasoned ground lamb inside a pita results in a burger that’s unlike any other. As the meat cooks, the pita absorbs the fat, leading to a crispy outer shell and a final product that’s like a cross between a burger and a meat pie. Recipe from Epicurious.
- 2½ pounds ground lamb, preferably shoulder
- 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
- ¾ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 8 thick medium pita breads with pockets
Directions: Using a fork, mix lamb, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Prepare grill for medium heat and oil grate. Working one at a time, open each pita pocket by cutting along seam, halfway around perimeter. Spoon filling into pitas, spreading to edges. Close, pressing on filling to seal.
Grill pitas until filling is cooked through and bread is crisp, about 5 minutes per side.
Do ahead: Filling can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled. Pita breads can be stuffed 1 hour ahead; cover and chill.
4. Salmon Burgers
The right preparation is key to producing a tasty salmon burger, according to cookbook author Mark Bittman, who shared this recipe with The New York Times. Finely grinding part of the salmon means the fish will bind together more easily, while a coarser grind for the rest keeps the patty from drying out. Once you put these on the grill, don’t overcook — 2 to 3 minutes per side should do it.
- 1½ pounds skinless, boneless salmon
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
- ½ cup coarse bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- Lemon wedges
- Tabasco sauce
Directions: Cut the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter of it into the container of a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on, and let it run — stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary — until the mixture becomes pasty.
Add the shallots and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine on and off until the fish is chopped and well combined with the puree. No piece should be larger than a quarter inch or so; be careful not make the mixture too fine.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and by hand, stir in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers. Cover and refrigerate the burgers for a few hours, or move immediately to the next step.
Place the butter or oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter foam subsides or the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. You can also grill the patties; if doing so, let them cook for about 4 minutes on the first side before turning over and finishing for just another minute or two. To check for doneness, make a small cut and peek inside. Be careful not to overcook.
Serve on a bed of greens, on buns, or by themselves, with lemon wedges and Tabasco or any dressing you like.
5. Chunky Portabella Veggie Burgers
At first glance, portabella mushroom caps look like the perfect option for a non-meat burger – just the right shape to put on a bun and meaty enough to fill you up. In reality, however, portabellas can turn a bit slimy when cooked and the overpowering mushroom flavor is off-putting to some. This recipe from The Kitchen Whisperer solves both problems by chopping up the mushrooms into smaller bits and mixing them with breadcrumbs, cheese, black beans, and even a little broccoli for a flavorful patty.
- 2 cups portabella mushrooms, cubed and gills removed
- 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and divided
- 1 cup minced broccoli (fresh, not frozen)
- ½ cup red onion, minced
- 3 extra-large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- ¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan
- Olive oil
Directions: Add 1 cup of beans to a large bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the chopped mushrooms, remaining 1 cup of beans, broccoli, garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and steak seasoning. Mix until just combined. Add the eggs, cheese, and panko breadcrumbs. Mix until combined. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large non-stick pan and turn heat to medium. Once the oil shimmers, dampen your hands and scoop out about ½ a cup of the mushroom mixture and shape it into a patty. (If the burger doesn’t hold together, add more breadcrumbs). Place the burger in the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown in color and a crust forms on the outside. Repeat with the remaining mushroom mixture. Transfer cooked burgers to a bun and garnish with your favorite toppings.
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