Summer is over! I noticed it Sunday night when I saw the maple tree in our neighbour’s yard get a hint of autumn colour. One of my favourite things during the all-too-brief warm summer months is eating outdoors – whether it’s picnics by the lake or just BBQ in the backyard.
And while there’s a lot of barbecuing that can’t be done as the weather cools down, there’s no reason to give up on burgers. And I know my burgers. I’ve tried many varieties out there – beef, fish, chicken, lentil, soy, mushroom patties etc. There was also that time when my hubby and I tried alligator, and zebra and giraffe burgers in Kenya. But that’s another story.
This story one is about burger toppings – the best burger toppings that are not only home made but can move the burger from classic to deliciously creative in a flash.
My husband loves the simplicity of lettuce and onion along with a perfect beef patty. I like to try different toppings with a variety of patties – some combinations have worked and others have been monummental failures! I still shudder thinking back to grapes and deep-fried avocadoes!
So here are my tried and tested and really the BEST burger toppings that WORK, and are a hit with kids and adults at every dinner table. Whatever combination you pick (perhaps all!) think about a combination of savoury and juicy with a hint of tart and sweet.
Start With Traditional Burger Toppings
- Lettuce – the crisp kind or even Iceberg works well or perhaps Romaine hearts. No wilted or soggy leaves allowed in a burger.
- Tomato – firm and red and thinly sliced NOT thick as many restaurants recommend – it looks good in pictures but does not taste great.
- Onions – sweet red onions are perfect. Or the sweet white onions. Raw or grilled if you have a BBQ handy.
- Cucumber – this humble vegetable adds a extra crispy crunch and takes some of the guilt away from the idea of eating a burger!
- Cheese – there’s such a variety to choose from. I usually have aged cheddar and goat cheese as options. My kids love swiss on their burger. You could switch it up with spiced havarti if you like.
Condiments For A Burger
6. Ketchup – the simple variety. I usually take it on the side so I can control the quantity. Ketchup has the ability to add flavour but too much can overwhelm everything else.
7. Mustard – which ever floats your boat. I mix some dijon with honey or maple to add a hint of sweetness. Or there’s always ancient grainy mustard, and for the few brave souls – horse radish
Punch It Up With These Creative Burger Toppings
8. Mayonnaise – mama makes best! My mom made mayonnaise from scratch when I was young(er) and I still remember the simple flavours. Egg yolks, oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and white pepper come together in such harmony. In the absence of homemade I have tried Hellmans and it works.
9. Ranch – if you find mayonnaise too creamy for your burger. A beef patty is rich with it’s own flavour and I replace mayo with ranch dressing that is tangy and a little more liquidy. I’ve tried this recipe for ranch dressing from The Kitchn website and it is delicious.
10. BBQ Sauce – if ketchup isn’t creative enough for you then you will love BBQ sauce – half ketchup blended with vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce cooked down with chopped onions, mustard and chilli peppers. It is heaven in a bottle and will stay in your fridge for weeks. Available for many dinner time burger bars!
11. Switch lettuce with arugula. Arugula isn’t crispy like the lettuce I just suggested but the bitterness works!
12.. Instead of plain tomatoes try a salsa – pineapple salsa if you’re feeling adventurous. Chopped pineapple, tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon and salt, on a juicy burger patty and you have a party in your mouth.
13. Roasted and charred peppers – if you like the heat go with chilli peppers otherwise bell peppers are just fine.
14. Avocado – It made my awful burger toppings list in it’s deep fried avatar but freshly sliced it makes for a delicious and wholesome topping. So yummy that you can have just avocadoes on the burger patty along with a slice of onion and you’re good.
15. Jalapeno peppers – separate from the roasted peppers because these need to be fresh green and hit your tonge on that first bite.
16. Olives – minced up in a paste with garlic (also called a tapenade) or just sliced on top of your burger.
17. Sautéed Mushrooms – sliced mushrooms with a sprinkle of salt. Add a teaspoon of milk as you’re sauteing if you would like to retain the pale white colour of the vegetable.
18. Fried Egg like the Korean Bibimbap – replace the mayonnaise with an over-easy fried egg. It’s perfect on any type of burger patty especially the soy and lentil ones to add creaminess as well as punch up the protein.
19. Oven Baked Bacon – Lay the the bacon strips on an over rack in a grill pan, sprinkle with maple sugar and bake at 400 deg F for 15-18 minutes. You will be left with crispy bacon that can be used in pasta and sandwiches and of course burgers.
Wow! Now I’m hungry! Guess what we’re having for dinner tonight.