Make A Leaner (But Still Delicious) Burger By Going Half-Vegetarian

Burgers are delicious, of course. But they're not exactly the leanest option. Often, those looking to reduce their fat or cholesterol intake opt for vegetarian substitutes for beef burgers. However, this doesn't have to be the case. There's a way to have your burger and eat it too. One of the most efficient ways to both extend the use of your beef — and add in an extra dose of umami — is to add mushrooms to your ground beef.


Doing so will help make your burgers leaner, while also adding some plant-based nutrients to your hamburger patty. And it's a trick that only takes a few minutes. To start, you will want to finely chop your mushrooms, or add them to a food processor. Then you can mix your mushrooms with your ground beef and incorporate them along with your seasoning of choice. And then voilà, your burgers are ready to pop on the grill, making for a less fatty and just as delicious burger.

Umami, that's a good burger

The best part about adding mushrooms to your burger is that it does more than just lower your meal's fat content — it also adds to your burger's flavor. In fact, mushrooms might just be what your beef has been missing all along. This is because mushrooms contain glutamate, an amino acid also found in beef. And glutamate is the amino acid responsible for umami, one of the core tastes that includes sweet, sour, and bitter.


Umami can be a bit hard to discern, at least on initial taste, but it provides a deep, meaty flavor to foods and adds complexity and savoriness to whatever it is incorporated into. Since mushrooms, like beef, contain this flavor-enriching amino acid, the flavor of mushrooms complements that of the ground beef and can even help to bring out the best flavors that ground beef has to offer. Beyond this, mushrooms also offer a texture that is more similar to meat than most vegetables, so they can blend almost seamlessly with your ground beef.

Upping the umami factor even further

In addition to mushrooms, you can also incorporate onions into your burgers for another flavorful kick. Moreover, onions have a high glutamate content, making them another delicious and umami-rich addition to your burger. Adding both onions and mushrooms to your ground beef will help to enhance your burger's flavor while also sneaking in some extra nutrients and fiber.


And if mushrooms aren't your thing, there are other ingredients you can add to extend your beef and lower its fat content per serving. Lentils, for example, make an excellent mix-in with ground beef, and also have a high protein and fiber content. Furthermore, lentils are fantastic at absorbing flavor, making them the perfect mix-in for ground beef. If you want a dose of umami without mushrooms, you can add minced sundried tomatoes, packed dry, to your burgers instead. The key here is to be playful with your additions and understand that a leaner burger doesn't necessarily have to mean less tasty.