How to Get Out of Your Hamburger Rut

I have nothing against hamburgers. But they seem to be the default option at every summer cookout. They're delicious! They're perfectly handheld! They're great for when you want a thing that will allow you to eat an upsetting amount of ketchup! And sure, we're just gearing up for grilling season, but eventually, you might want to switch up your burger game. We're here to help out. Here are a few ways to make your burger a little bit different than your standard backyard option. 

Make Your Own Bun

Great cooking comes down to confidence

Much attention is paid to the meat part of the hamburger, with good reason. But equally important to an excellent hamburger is the bun, the thing that not just sandwiches the patty in bread but acts as your handle on the whole thing. You want a bun that maintains its structural integrity, as well as one that tastes good. Potato buns are well and good, but why not try your hand at making your own hamburger buns? It's not as tricky as it sounds, and the flavor payoff is worth it. 

Try a New Meat Blend

Ground chuck from the grocery store works just fine. But why not try some ground brisket or short rib? Why limit yourself to beef? Turkey burgers can be spiced just as well, or mixed into the beef for a leaner burger. You can make a bean burger and leave out meat altogether. Don't get stuck on plain old chuck. 

Throw in Some Spices

Spicing your hamburger meat isn't a novel concept, but you can go beyond salt, pepper, and onion powder. How about dried falafel mix? Or garam masala? Maybe prepared horseradish or garlic, or red pepper flakes, or za'atar? Dig through your spices and think about what might taste good with beef, and then try it out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Try a New Cooking Method

Grilling is king when it comes to burgers, but don't despair if you don't plan on using a grill. A cast iron pan makes for a very good burger, and a flat top either on the grill or over a burner is what you need to make a smash burger. Don't get stuck on the grill when you're in a burger mood. 

Change Up Your Toppings

Don't limit yourself to classics: cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, and maybe mustard or relish. Burgers can be a great canvas for more creative flavor combinations. This Italian Burger uses peppers, onions, and provolone as toppings to mimic a sausage and peppers sandwich. Add basil, tomato, and mozzerella to make a Caprese Burger. Throw some guacamole and peppers on it and make it southwestern, or fry up a lacy-edged egg for the top. You'll be out of your burger rut in no time. 

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