A quest for a way to jazz up a plain old hamburger ended up being a journey down a rabbit hole. Instead of finding an easy recipe with a few herbs and spices, I found recipes that had ingredients that are in no way something that should be placed on a burger.

Some ingredients that cooks add to a hamburger or place on top of a burger were common, but a few items went off into the bizarre category.

You can add flavor to burgers on the grill  in a variety of ways, including by using Gouda cheese and by toasting the buns.
You can add flavor to burgers on the grill in a variety of ways, including by using Gouda cheese and by toasting the buns.Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

The more common items included mushrooms, garlic, salsa and guacamole. Then the road turned and ingredients such as pineapple, ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, Alfredo sauce, peanut butter, maple syrup and even cauliflower popped up.

Even what was used as the base of the burger ranged from somewhat normal to peculiar, and included not only ground beef, but ground pork, ground turkey, shredded carrots, lentils, shrimp and black bean chickpeas. One recipe specified serving the burger on a doughnut.

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It was time to rethink this journey and narrow the options.

Ground beef is, of course, the most commonly used meat in burgers. Another great choice is pork. Pork is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including thiamine, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus and iron. It is a lean meat that contains iron and zinc, which is not available in many foods and is an excellent form of protein.

Ground pork or beef can merely be seasoned with salt and pepper, formed into patties and thrown on the grill.

You can get creative with your burger. Add mushrooms and sautéed onions, and, of course, cheese of various types - cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss or whatever you have on hand.

But why not liven things up a bit. The Pork & Bacon Burger combines just the right amount of lean pork with herbs and spices to make a mouth-watering sandwich.

If you want to stick with the traditional beef, a bit of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, an egg and a few bread crumbs transform a plain sandwich into a juicy and flavorful burger.

Perhaps this summer it will be time to be more adventurous and try a Maple Syrup Peanut Butter Burger or a Mozzarella & Caramelized Peaches Burger – so stay tuned.

But for now, a few seasonings, a bit of creativity and a hot grill lead to a flavorsome meal and a happy family. Happy Eating!

You can add flavor to burgers on the grill  in a variety of ways, including by using Gouda cheese and by toasting the buns.
You can add flavor to burgers on the grill in a variety of ways, including by using Gouda cheese and by toasting the buns.Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Pork & Bacon Burger

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 strips bacon, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 6 to 8 hamburger buns
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • Coleslaw for topping, if desired; otherwise top with lettuce and sliced tomato

Lightly beat the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, bacon, sage, parsley, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.

Add the pork and mix gently. Form into 6-8 balls, depending on how big you want your burgers. Press each ball into ¾- to 1-inch thick patties. Make a small indentation in the middle of the patty with your thumb. This will prevent the patties from bulging when they are being grilled.

Heat a grill to medium high. Grill, undisturbed, until marks form on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and grill until the other side is marked and the patties feel firm, 4 to 6 more minutes.

Spread a small amount of butter or margarine on each side of the buns. Place on grill (inside side down) and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, just until lightly browned.

Remove burgers and buns from the grill. Place a burger on each bun and top with coleslaw or lettuce and tomato. Top with the other side of the bun and serve immediately.

This Hidden Valley Burger with Gouda made on the grill and paired with french fries makes a perfect summer meal. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent
This Hidden Valley Burger with Gouda made on the grill and paired with french fries makes a perfect summer meal. Donna Evans / Echo Journal CorrespondentDonna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Hidden Valley Burgers with Gouda

  • 2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 4 slices Gouda cheese or smoked Gouda
  • Desired toppings – lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion slices
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 4 buns

In a large bowl, combine seasoning mix with the egg , bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the ground beef and mix well. Shape into 4 patties and with your hands or a spoon make an indentation in the middle of each burger.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Add the hamburgers and cook 5 to 7 minutes and then turn over and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cheese slices. Cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes until cheese is melted and burgers are cooked through.

Remove from heat, place on a plate and cover with foil to keep the burgers warm. Butter the buns and place inside side down on the grill and cook just until slightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and place a burger into each bun. Top with desired toppings.