Chef's Hat: Add a twist to a summertime favorite

Use chicken, pork or lamb instead of beef to make burgers on the grill

Photo illustration /

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat approximately 50 billion burgers each year.

Breaking that down, each person enjoys about 150 burgers every year.

A juicy hamburger made with ground beef and cooked to perfection often hits the spot, especially on a beautiful spring day when you can fire up the grill.

But variety is a good thing. Every so often, it’s good to think beyond the traditional ground beef burger patty. A ground chicken burger is a great alternative to the traditional beef sandwich. However, if the patty is just a mixture of ground chicken and a bit of salt and pepper, it can turn out bland, dry and tasteless.

The secret to making a better tasting chicken patty is to liberally add salt and pepper and a bit of garlic powder. Top it off with a seasoned sauce instead of plain mayonnaise to enhance the flavor of the sandwich.


The uncooked chicken patty can be very sticky. After making the patties, place them on a plate that has been well coated with nonstick cooking spray. If desired, a piece of parchment paper can be placed on the plate for easier cleanup, but it also should be well sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

The other white meat — pork — is also an ideal substitute for the normally routine beef burger. Ground pork can also be a bit bland, so it does need to have ample seasonings added to avoid a tasteless burger.

In some parts of the country, pork burgers (and other types of pork sandwiches) are often topped with coleslaw. The coleslaw adds a nice crunch and the subtle sweetness of the slaw enhances the flavor of the pork.

Ground lamb is another option over beef when whipping up a batch of burgers. Unlike some countries, Americans do not consume much lamb and it can be a bit tricky to find in the grocery store.

However, lamb is an excellent source of protein and contains many nutrients, including iron, zinc, selenium and vitamin B12. Lamb is considered red meat and has an earthy and what some people consider a sweet taste. So it is a great substitution instead of beef to use when grilling a batch of burgers.

It does not require a lot of preparation time or fancy ingredients to make a batch of lamb burgers. A bit of Dijon mustard, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper is all it takes to flavor up lamb.

There’s nothing like a nice juicy burger cooked on the grill. Forget the beef and expand your dishes by delving into something new that may soon become a new family favorite. Happy Eating!

Chicken Burgers with Basil Mayonnaise Sauce


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/3 cup pickle relish
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 slices havarti or Swiss cheese
  • Buns
  • Slices of tomato
  • Sliced red onion, optional
  • Diced avocado, optional

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper

In a large measuring cup or small bowl, add the sauce ingredients. Mix well. Taste. If the sauce is too tart, add another ¼ to ½ teaspoon of honey. Set aside.

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

Spray a baking sheet or plate with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium sized bowl, combine the chicken, pickle relish, ¼ cup mayonnaise, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently mix everything together. Shape the mixture into four patties and place the patties on the prepared plate.

Place the chicken patties on the grill. Grill for 8 minutes and then turn the patties over. Grill for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Patties should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Add the cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

If desired, place the buns on the grill for a minute or two until they are toasted.

Remove the burgers and buns from the grill.

To assemble the sandwiches: Place a burger on the bottom half of a bun. Add a spoonful or two of the sauce, then top with tomato, onions and avocado. Place the top of the bun and serve immediately.


Pork Burgers

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, regular or Italian seasoned
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • Sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion, dill pickles for topping, optional
  • Or coleslaw for topping, optional

In a medium sized bowl, add the egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. Add the pork and mix just until the ingredients are combined. Do not overmix or the meat can become tough. Form the pork into 6 patties.

Bring a grill to medium heat. Place the pork burgers on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. If desired, place the buns on the grill for the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time and brown the buns.

Remove the burgers and buns from the grill. Place a burger on the bottom half of each bun.

Place the desired toppings on the burger

Chef's Hat lamb burger May 17, 2023.jpg
Ground lamb in place of beef makes a tasty grilled burger.
Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

and top with the other side of the bun. Serve immediately.

Ground Lamb Burgers

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley or fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Slices of Gouda or Swiss cheese
  • 4 buns

Place the lamb, mustard, parsley or mint, garlic, salt and pepper into a medium sized bowl and mix well. Form the mixture into 4 evenly sized patties. Place the patties on a plate and put the plate into the refrigerator until ready to grill.


Heat a grill to medium heat. Place the patties on the grill. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Place the cheese on top of the patties during the last 2 minutes of cooking time to slightly melt the cheese. If desired, place the buns on the grill for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time to brown the buns.

Remove the patties and buns from the grill. Place the bottom half of each bun on a plate and put a patty on the bun. Top with the remaining half of the bun and serve immediately.

Donna Evans is an Echo Journal correspondent.

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