Growing up, a ground beef patty on a bun with mayonnaise, ketchup, lettuce and tomato was almost as common as wearing blue jeans. My taste for these all-American favorites went on hiatus for a few years, beginning when I was pregnant with my first child. Now I not only have a renewed appreciation for a good burger—and can fit back into my blue jeans—but also I’ve experimented with spicing them up in ways that put the usual meat, salt and pepper to shame. (No offense to my dad’s great grilling, of course.)
I first discovered that a burger doesn’t have to be an ordinary all-beef patty when a friend brought hamburgers—made from meat, oats, applesauce and his own secret spice blend—to a barbecue at my home. When I began testing unusual burgers, I knew my husband and kids would let me know right away whether I’d hit or missed. As luck and some carefully measured spices would have it, my first crazy burger was well received. Soon I was addicted to variety and whatever ingredients I had on hand to concoct my own unique combinations. While I must admit to a few misses along the way, adding herbs and spices before cooking has produced mostly tantalizing results.
Borrowing combinations from some of our family’s favorite recipes, I’ve jazzed up the originals with herbs and spices, and even vegetables and fruits. Try these recipes or create your own:
Italian Turkey Burgers
Chile Pork Burgers with Cilantro Dressing
Jamaican Sesame Mint Burgers
Dawna Edwards is a freelance writer based in Colorado.