Summer is a time for the three B’s: barbecue, beer, and burgers. They’re also great the rest of the year, even if you do take the cooking and eating part inside. And while anyone can buy a few frozen ground beef patties and throw them on the grill, you read Chowhound for a reason!
So to get you out of your burger rut, we’ve pulled together a list of 17 non-traditional burgers that will top anything you could buy in the freezer aisle. They may take a little extra time or force you to plan a trip to the grocery store, but trust us, it will be worth the extra effort.
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Vegans rejoice! The luck of black eyed peas is on your side. You can now enjoy a delicious vegan burger that rivals those of your meat-eater friends. Featuring mushrooms, beans, and a bevy of fresh herbs and seasonings, this healthy concoction will be your go-to recipe for alternative summer grilling. Get our Black Eyed Pea Vegan Burger recipe.
If you’re a fan of the almighty garbanzo, look no further than this creative take on a Middle Eastern classic. Serve with tomato jam and an herb-infused Greek yogurt to kick up your condiment game. Get our Falafel Burger recipe.
The idea of meatloaf anything may be a scary one, but we guarantee the dreaded lunchtime classic gets an amazing, modern-day upgrade with this delicious recipe. The addition of hoisin and Sriracha gives the meat a slightly Asian-inspired taste, but don’t skimp on the ketchup. That’s where it gets all the moisture. Get our Meatloaf Burger recipe.
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Spice things up with fiery kimchi served on a chicken patty doused in spicy mayonnaise. It’s the perfect excuse to crack open another tongue-soothing beer (or pour another slushy cocktail). Get our Kimchi Chicken Burger recipe.
Related Reading: How to Host a Korean BBQ in Your Own Backyard
Standard cheeseburgers are great. Our Juicy Lucy, where the cheese is INSIDE the burger, is even better. Adapted from a Minneapolis bar favorite (two bars have competing claims for the invention), the Juicy Lucy is a traditional hamburger stuffed with your choice of cheese—just make sure you go with a soft, meltable one for the proper amount of ooze. Get our Juicy Lucy Burger recipe.
Dry Aged Ground Beef, $9/pound from Porter Road
For even better burgers.
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Fresh is always better, so ditch the frozen veggie patty and try out the recipe for our official Chow Veggie burger. It’s packed full of vegetables like zucchini, carrot, onion, and beet, brown grains, and tons of flavor. Get our Chowhound Veggie Burger recipe.
With flavors reminiscent of a gyro, our burger is an easy entry point for anyone looking to incorporate lamb into their protein repertoire—just treat it like ground beef and you’ll be good to go. If you have trouble finding harissa, feel free to substitute Sriracha. Get our Mediterranean Lamb Burger recipe.
If you’re used to spending your Labor Day weekend in the Hamptons or on your boss’s yacht (or just wish you were), this might be the recipe for you. Inspired by the DB burger from French god chef Daniel Boulud (which originally cost $32), the Bull Market burger is a decadent way to impress this holiday weekend. (If you’re feeling more like a steak sandwich, though, consider the $180 Wagyu katsu sando.) Get our Bull Market Burger recipe.
Get your Oregon Trail on with our recipe for bison burgers! Bison, a throwback animal from the days of wagon rides and dysentery, has found a nice resurgence thanks to the health conscious movement (and all those paleo practitioners). And that’s not without reason—it’s flavorful, lean, and high in protein. Get our Bison Burgers with Mushrooms and Spring Onions recipe.
Ground Bison, $14/pound from Crowd Cow
If you have trouble finding bison burgers locally, there's always the internet!
Usually, turkey burgers suck. However, they don’t have to. Take for example, our BBQ Bacon Turkey Burger recipe. Covered in BBQ sauce and topped with bacon, it could go 12 rounds with any beef burger in a flavor fight. (See even more of our favorite turkey burger recipes if you’re not into BBQ sauce and bacon.)
Take a Juicy Lucy but swap the beef for chicken and the cheddar for bold blue cheese, then add in everything you love about BLTs (which is, well, everything: salty, crunchy bacon; crisp, fresh lettuce; and juicy, sweet tomato) and you have a towering pile of awesome flavor. Get our Blue Cheese Chicken BLT Burger recipe.
Salmon is one of our favorite fishes to throw on the grill—it’s hearty, healthy, and much easier to BBQ than some of the other, lighter or whiter fishes (hey that rhymed). Follow the recipe and you can top it with anything, from store-bought tartar sauce to your favorite homemade concoction (we’ve got suggestions for those at the link too). Get our Grilled Salmon Burger recipe.
Pork, apple, and rosemary make a pretty solid combo in the fall, and turning them into burgers takes them seamlessly into summertime. We recommend serving them as sliders—any leftovers could be used to make a mean sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich the next day (especially great if you had a few too many light beers or BBQ wines the night before). Get our Pork and Apple Burgers recipe.
Much to everyone’s enormous benefit, banh mis have become more and more easy to come by in major American cities since the first version of this article was written in 2015, but if you’ve yet to try one, you’re in for a treat. And if you want to incorporate those spicy, savory, tangy, fresh, addictive flavors in burger form, we’re here to help. Get our Banh Mi Chicken Burger recipe.
Big Macs aren’t the only double-decker burger in town. Try our Double-Decker Marinated Portobello Burger recipe for a healthier version of the Mickey D’s classic. Portobellos are one of the easiest vegetables to use when converting a non believer—they taste exactly like steak when grilled.
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Pork can be a little dry and bland on its own, which is why our recipe ups the flavor ante with the addition of Mexican chorizo. Spicy and salty, the burger is paired with fresh avocado and roasted Anaheim chilies. This is the perfect burger to serve if you need an excuse—editor’s note: you should never need an excuse—to have a cold beer with lunch. Get our Pork and Chorizo Chile Burger recipe.
All right, let’s close things out with a true original and totally unexpected BBQ option: chicken Cordon Bleu, in the guise of a burger. The juicy chicken patty is made from dark meat so it doesn’t dry out, but even less-than-moist white meat would be decadent topped with ham and melty cheese (not to mention the Dijon and mayo slathered on the bun). Get our Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger recipe.