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Fresh Ideas to Top the Classic Burger This Summer

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Grilling season is upon us, but that doesn't mean the same ol' burger has to be on the menu once again.

So, it’s grilling time again, and grilling outside inevitably leads to burgers. But, even classics can start to get boring after a few cookouts.

Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup and American cheese—are these your burger standards? Sometimes when we want to mix it up a bit, we’ll change the cheese—Swiss is always good—and perhaps grill some veggies to go on top—mushrooms, onions and green peppers are frequent choices. And, of course, never forget bacon! But, even these common variations get old after a few tries.

Sometimes we just want something new on our burgers. Nothing exotic or difficult—after all, one of the beauties of a great burger is the simplicity of it from start to finish—but something that will just kick up our imaginations a notch. Here are a few suggestions for those who might be bored with their burgers!

BBQ Burger: At the end of your burger’s grilling time, give it a good baste with your favorite BBQ sauce. It can be sweet and smoky, like a traditional molasses-based sauce, or it can be tangy and kicky, like a great vinegar-based Carolina sauce. Whatever you like, go for it. And, after giving it a great basting—giving it a few coats will make it thick and tasty, while doing it at the end will keep it from catching fire on the grill (we all know how that can be with burgers)—let the burger be the star of the bun! Butter the bun, give it a shake of garlic powder, and give it a good toasting on the grill, then don’t go crazy with toppings. if you are a must-have ketchup addict, fine, give it a squeeze—but don’t overwhelm the simple BBQ deliciousness with a lot of added distractions--although a couple of fried onion rings would not hurt.

Creamy Salsa Burger: Who doesn’t love salsa? And who doesn’t love cream cheese? So, combine the two for a great burger topping. Like spicy red salsa? Great! Prefer a nice mild green salsa? Fantastic! Whatever you like is the best salsa for this burger. Just mix the salsa and cream cheese to make a just-spreadable mixture, and coat one side of your bun with the flavorful topping. If you like spicy, some pickled jalapenos are good here, and a couple of slices of avocado will only add to the deliciousness.

Hummus Spinach Burger: This may seem odd to people who consider hummus a “vegetarian” food, but a great hummus makes an excellent topping for any burger (and, okay, it's a good way to go if you are having a veggie burger patty instead of a traditional hamburger). Spread the bun with hummus, and add a handful of crunchy spinach leaves, and you have a fresh new burger taste. Some fresh tomatoes in season and a slice of sweet onion will only add to the tastiness of this burger.

Olive Burger: Like olives? How about an olive tapenade burger? Buy it ready-made, or make your own. Here is a good recipe to get you started:

  • ½ cup chopped green olives
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped black olives
  • 2 marinated artichoke hearts, mashed
  • 1 roasted red pepper, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. capers, chopped
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

For a chunky tapenade, simply mix all ingredients well; if you prefer a creamier tapenade, mix ingredients then blend in the food processor. This will make enough for 6-8 burgers.

Burgers are a great place to experiment with your favorite flavors—give your burgers your own unique twist this summer, and come back and share with us in the comment section.

Happy grilling!

Image: Wikimedia Commons


All of these suggestions are yum! I linked to your article in mine - about McDonald's cutting the Angus burger off the menu - I love an Angus burger!

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