By Brack Johnson


Dripping, juicy hamburgers. They're devoured during March Madness, and they also pair nicely with spring break, St. Patrick's Day and the return of short sleeves.


Sure, you could head to your favorite Triangle burger joint. But how about flipping 'em at home and making them your own? Whether you fire up the outdoor grill or keep it cozy inside, nothing sizzles the same as custom-built burgers.


From recent cookbooks, here are recipes from the classical to the whimsical. In addition to beef, there are delish versions made from chicken, turkey and salmon. You'll also find yummy vegetarian burgers.


Simply dressed or enhanced with memorable toppings, greasy or gastronomic, when you're eating with your hands, it's all about the taste.



The Grilling Book
The Definitive Guide From Bon Appétit

Andrews McMeel









The Perfect Cheeseburger
1-1/4 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck (20% fat)
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices American cheese
4 potato rolls, sliced


Divide meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Place 1 portion on a work surface. Cup your hands around the meat and begin to gently shape it into a rounded mound. (Use light pressure as you shape so that you don't pack the meat too tightly.) Lightly press down on the top of the meat with your palm to gently flatten it. Continue rotating and cupping the meat, patting the top of it occasionally, until you've formed a 4-inch diameter, 3/4-inch-thick patty.


Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the center to help keep the burger flat as it cooks. Repeat with remaining portions. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to cook.


Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Season patties on one side with salt and pepper; place on grill, seasoned side down, then season other side. Grill until lightly charred on bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and top with cheese. Grill to desired doneness – 3 to 4 minutes longer for medium-rare burgers. Transfer to rolls and let stand for 3 minutes before serving.


Makes 4 burgers




Salmon Burgers
10 ounces chilled skinless salmon fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup store-bought tartar sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for brushing
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 sesame seed buns, sliced
Red onion slices
4 bibb lettuce leaves


Pulse salmon fillets, 3 tablespoons tartar sauce, 1 tablespon dill, salt and pepper in a food processor until coarsely ground. Form into two 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made 6 hours ahead.)


Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup tartar sauce, 1 tablespooon dill and zest in a medium bowl to blend.


Grill buns, cut side down, until toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates and spread bottom halves generously with sauce. Grill patties until fish is cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Place burgers atop sauce on rolls. Top each with onion slices, 2 lettuce leaves and the top half of roll. Serve, passing remaining sauce seperately.


Makes 2 burgers






The New Chicago Diner Cookbook
Meat-free Recipes From America's Veggie Diner
Jo A. Kaucher with Kat Barry and The Chicago Diner Crew










Cajun Black Bean Burgers With Creole Remoulade Sauce
For the Creole Remoulade Sauce
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3/4 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

For the fried jalapeños
1/4-1/3 cup canola oil, for frying
4 whole jalapeño peppers

For the sauté mix
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh baby spinach

For the burgers
6 Gluten-Free Black Bean Burger patties (recipe follows)
6 whole grain buns
1 cup vegan nacho cheese sauce, warmed


To make the Creole Remoulade Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients and set aside. (Save any leftover sauce in an airtight container; it will remain fresh refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.)


To make the fried jalapeños
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it begins to bubble.


Place the whole jalapeño peppers in the skillet and fry for 8 minutes, until they appear slightly wilted. Be sure to move the peppers around frequently to ensure that they cook evenly and to prevent sticking. Remove the skillet from the heat.


Remove the jalapeño peppers from the skillet and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Let them cool for 5 to 7 minutes and then slice them. Set aside.


To make the sauté mix
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, warm the oil.


Once the oil is warm, add the onion. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent and the mushrooms are soft.


Toss in the spinach and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until just wilted.


To assemble the burgers

Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Place the patties in the dry skillet for 6 to 8 minutes, long enough to warm them. Remove from the heat. Meanwhile, warm the buns in a toaster or oven on a piece of foil.


Transfer the bun bottoms to a serving platter. Place the patties on the bun bottoms and top each with about 1/3 cup of the Sauté Mix, 4 to 6 jalapeño pepper slices, 2 tablespoons of the Remoulade Sauce, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vegan nacho cheese sauce. Serve immediately.


Makes 6 burgers; 1-1/2 cups Creole Remoulade Sauce



Gluten-Free Black Bean Burgers
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups rinsed and drained black beans, divided
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa, divided
Vegan mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and onion, for garnish


In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and sundried tomatoes and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion and pepper start to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more, until the onion is translucent and the garlic is browning.


Add the tomato paste to the skillet, using a whisk to thin it out.


Add 3 cups of the black beans and the water, egg replacer, cumin, onion powder and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Stir or whisk vigorously until everything is combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Transfer the mixture in the skillet, along with 1-1/4 cups of the quinoa, to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal "S" blade and process until the mixture has the consistency of a paste.


Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Using your clean hands, toss the remaining 1 cup black beans and the 1/4 cup quinoa with the paste.


Form the mixture into a series of 2-inch balls. Flatten them a bit into patties. Place the patties on the prepared baking sheet.


Bake the patties for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Assemble on a platter, garnished with the vegan mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve warm.


Makes 12 burgers



Buddha's Karma Burger With Realignment Sauce
For the Realignment Sauce
2-1/4 cups chopped fresh or frozen and thawed mango
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh or frozen and thawed pineapple
2-1/4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2-1/2 teaspoons pineapple or orange juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the Buddha's Karma Burgers
2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups panko or gluten-free bread crumbs
1 cup diced onion

1 cup cooked brown rice
Half of a 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
1 whole clove garlic
1/2 vegetable or vegan chicken-flavored bouillon cube
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
6 warmed hamburger buns, for serving
Chopped cilantro and sliced avocado, for garnish

To make the sauce

In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal "S" blade, purée all of the ingredients until smooth, but not runny. The result should have a mustard-like consistency. Pour into a serving pitcher and set aside.

To make the Buddha's Karma Burgers

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal "S" blade, combine all of the ingredients except the buns and the garnish. Process until the mixture forms a paste-like consistency.


Using clean hands, form the batter into 2/3-cup balls. Flatten each ball into a patty and place the patties on the prepared baking sheet.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning after 10 minutes to ensure both sides are an even golden brown. Warm the buns in the oven for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Remove from the oven.


On a large serving platter, place the patties on the warmed buns and top with the Realignment Sauce. Garnish with the cilantro and avocado.


Serve immediately.

Makes 6 Buddha's Karma Burgers; 3 cups Realignment Sauce



Betty Crocker 300 Calorie Comfort Food
300 Favorite Recipes for Eating Healthy Every Day
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt









Turkey Burgers With Chutney
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
4 whole wheat burger buns, split
4 leaves green leaf lettuce

1/3 cup cranberry chutney
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh peach
1 medium green onion, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)


In a medium bowl, mix turkey, egg white, salt and pepper. Shape mixture into 4 patties, 1/2-inch thick.


Spray 12-inch skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add patties; cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning once, until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads at least 165 degrees.


Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix chutney ingredients until well blended.


On bun bottoms, place lettuce and burgers. Spoon 2 tablespoons chutney on each burger. Cover with bun tops.


Makes 4 burgers



Greek Chicken Burgers With Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki sauce
1 medium peeled or unpeeled cucumber
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

1 pound lean ground chicken
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 whole wheat pita pocket breads (6-inch), cut in half to form pockets
1/2 cup chopped tomato


Set oven control to broil. Chop enough cucumber to equal 1/2 cup; cut 12 slices from cucumber for sandwiches. Add all remaining sauce ingredients to chopped cucumber; refrigerate until serving time.


In a large bowl, mix chicken, spinach, olives, cornstarch, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Shape into 4 oval patties, each about 1/2-inch thick; place patties on broiler pan. Broil with tops about 5 inches from heat 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, until thermometer inserted in center of patties reads at least 165 degrees.


Place burgers in pita pocket halves; add tomato, 3 cucumber slices and about 3 tablespoons sauce to each.


Makes 4 burgers



The American Craft Beer Cookbook
155 Recipes From Your Favorite Brewpubs & Breweries

Storey Publishing








Roasted Chipotle Salsa Burger
Roasted chipotle salsa
7 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 dried chipotle chiles, chopped
1/4 cup minced white onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
8 buns
8 slices Monterey jack cheese
2 ripe avocadoes, pitted and thinly sliced
Tortilla chips, for serving



Combine the tomatoes, chiles, onion, cilantro and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the mixture comes to a simmer.


Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.


Remove the saucepan from the heat. Mash the ingredients together with a potato masher for a thicker salsa or an immersion blender for a finer salsa, adding salt to taste. Allow the mixture to cool in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or for up to 3 days before serving.



Mix the beef, cumin, black pepper and garlic powder in a large bowl. Form the mixture into eight 4-ounce patties. Transfer the patties to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use, or up to 1 day. (You can also freeze the formed patties, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 month.)


Prepare a 450-degree fire in a gas or charcoal grill.


Transfer the patties to the grill and cook to preferred doneness: for medium burgers cook for 5 minutes, flip once, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer.


Remove the patties from the grill.


Top the bottom half of each bun with a burger patty, slice of cheese, 1 tablespoon of the salsa and avocado slices. Add the bun tops and serve immediately with tortilla chips and extra salsa on the side.


Makes 8 burgers and 3 cups salsa



Grilled Lamb Burgers With Local Chèvre and Mint-Cilantro Aioli
Mint-cilantro aioli
1 cup aioli or mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 pounds ground lamb
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
6 ounces fresh chèvre
6 brioche or burger buns
1 head green or red leaf lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, sliced


Make the aioli

Whisk the aioli, cilantro, mint, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper and salt in a small bowl to fully incorporate the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Make the burgers

Mix the lamb, eggs, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire in a large bowl until combined. Form the burger mixture into six 7-ounce patties, transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use, or up to 1 day.


Prepare a medium-high fire in a gas or charcoal grill.


Transfer the patties to the grill and cook until medium-well, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Remove the patties from the grill. Top the burgers with the chèvre, dividing the cheese equally. Let the patties rest for 1 minute.


Spread the aioli on the bottom halves of the buns, and then top with the lettuce, tomato and onion. Add the burger patties and top halves and serve immediately.


Makes 6 burgers



The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook

Page Street Publishing









Mac and Cheese Stuffed Burger
Mac and Cheese
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
8 ounces Cheddar cheese
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
8 ounces pasta
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups milk

2-1/4 pounds beef
Salt and pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
20 tomato slices
8 burger buns


Make the mac and cheese:

Dice the onion very small. Mince the garlic. Grate the cheeses.


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions.


Meanwhile, cook the onion in the butter for about 5 minutes. Toss in the garlic. Next, add the flour and whisk well to combine.


Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring the whole time, until the flour turns a slightly toasted hue. Add the milk and whisk well to eliminate any lumps. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.


Add the pasta, then mix in the cheese. Stir until all the cheese melts, which should happen naturally, but you can put it back on low heat if necessary. Taste and add salt if necessary, as all cheeses have different salt contents.


Pour the pasta into a 9- x 13-inch pan lined with parchment paper and smooth out into a thin layer. Refrigerate until hardened, about 2 hours.


Cut your sheet of mac and cheese into rounds about 3-1/4 inches in diameter to facilitate burgers that will be 4- to 4-1/2-inches round. A cookie cutter will help with this task if you have one that is the right size. You should be able to get 10 to 11 mac and cheese patties out of this if you cut it right.


Stuff it: Roll your beef out thin (about 1/2 inch) and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place a mac and cheese round onto the beef and wrap the pasta in the meat. Tightly seal and press out any air.


Mix the breadcrumbs with the olive oil. Lay your tomatoes on a sheet pan and press some breadcrumbs onto each tomato round. Broil the tomatoes for a minute or two to brown the breadcrumbs.


Cook it: Grill your burgers for about 7 minutes per side, being sure to close the grill or cover the burgers so that the pasta inside is heated through.


If you see any cheese starting to explode out of the burger, take it off the grill. Build the burger by putting one of the patties on the bottom bun, topping with two breadcrumb-coated tomato slices and then the top bun.


Makes 8 burgers




Parmesan Truffle French Fry Stuffed Burger
French Fries
About 40 store-bought frozen French fries
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons truffle oil

1-1/4 pounds ground beef
4 slices cheese
4 burger buns
4 tomato slices


Make the fries: Cook the French fries according to package instructions. Mix the Parmesan, black pepper and truffle oil in a large bowl with some salt. While still hot, put the fries into the bowl and toss to coat.


Stuff it: Divide the beef into 4 equal pieces. On a sheet of waxed paper, lay the beef out and press flat, forming a long patty. Place about 10 French fries on the patty the short way so that some of the ends are hanging over the edge of the meat. Fold the beef over the fries so that you end up with a burger-size piece of meat that is essentially wrapped around the fries with some fries sticking out the sides. Really press the meat into the fries to form a tight patty.


Cook it: Grill your burgers for 8 to 10 minutes per side and top with the cheese. Build the burger by putting ketchup on the bottom bun, topping with the patty, following with the tomato and lettuce and finishing with the top bun.


Makes 4 burgers



Homemade Condiments
Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients

Ulysses Press









Fresh Tomato Ketchup
6 pounds plum tomatoes
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.


While the water is heating, prepare the tomatoes by using a paring knife to cut out the cores and cut an X in the skin on the bottom of each. Working in batches if necessary, immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately plunge them in the ice water for 1 minute.


When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skin – it should come right off. Quarter the tomatoes and use your fingers to scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp.


Place the tomatoes in a large saucepan and add the cider vinegar, onion, brown sugar and celery seeds. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomato mixture is reduced to about one quarter of its original volume, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove from the heat, and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.


Place a food mill fitted with a medium disc over a large bowl and pass the tomato mixture through the mill. Discard the solids that don"t pass through the sieve.


Transfer the tomato liquid into a clean saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt.


Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until reduced by half and very thick and dark red.


Let cool, then spoon into sterilized glass jars. The ketchup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


Makes 12 ounces




Vidalia Mustard
1/2 cup mustard powder
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 1 small)
1 tablespoon brown sugar


In a small bowl, combine the mustard powder, mustard seeds, vinegar, hot water, turmeric, salt, paprika and garlic powder. Stir to combine until the mixture is smooth. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for up to 1 week, tasting after 3 days to see if the mixture has mellowed and reached the desired heat level. When it has, add the prepared onion.


To prepare the onion, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and slightly golden, about 5 minutes.


Add the sugar and cook until syrupy, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. After stirring the onion mixture into the mustard, transfer to a sterilized jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Makes about 8 ounces