Let’s talk burgers. For me, a burger is all about the topping. I adore a stacked burger, dripping with sauce, smothered in melty cheese, maybe a slice or two of crispy bacon.
I also love a burger when it’s dressed with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles…and perhaps a squirt of mayo, mustard or ketchup. Let’s face it, the regular toppings will never fail to be delicious, but occasionally I want a burger with more character.
The one rule about burger toppings is: there are no rules! Burger toppings just got a whole lot more exciting. So fire up the grill, seize your spatula and prepare to wow your loved ones with my eight tried-and-tested, outrageously tasty ideas that really work.
1. Crispy Hash Brown Burger
If you’re like me then burgers and chips make an indulgent dinner, and this recipe combines the best of both. All you need is a fried egg, a couple of pieces of bacon and some Cheddar cheese. Then on top of my burger patty, I’ll add some hash browns. You can either buy potatoes, shred and cook them or just buy some frozen ones and cook them to save time (I use hash browns by McCain, as they’re super tasty and low in fat and sugar). This delicious burger is all about providing a solid base for the day.
2. Cheddar and Broccoli
Normally served as a side dish to pork or perhaps used in a casserole, this burger topping isn’t usually found between two buns and piled on top of a beef patty. But, I say it’s cheese – so the rules must bend. Just use 700g broccoli florets and 150g grated Cheddar. Heat some oil in a frying pan, add the broccoli and simmer, stirring occasionally for two to three minutes (the broccoli should look bright green and deeply charred). Cover each burger patty equally with shredded cheese and the cooked broccoli.
3. Feta, Cucumber and Mayo
It doesn’t matter how you cook your burger, I think they’re best served with a dollop of feta which really amplifies the flavour. My loved ones always ask for this delicious topping – I normally serve it on chicken burgers, and sometimes add some olives to ramp up the flavour! For this topping, all you need is 50g finely chopped cucumber, eight tablespoons of mayo, and 100g crumbled feta. Simply mix the ingredients in a bowl and top over your burger. If you like, dress with lettuce and tomato.
4. Avocado and Black Bean Spread
Create black-bean spread by using a can of black beans, a touch of chilli powder, lime juice plus a splash of oil. Then blitz everything up in a food processor until smooth. The dip adds the wow factor to your burger, transforming it from a simple sandwich into a gourmet sensation, as well as adding some serious bulk if one patty just isn’t enough. On the bottom half of the bun, coat it with the black-bean spread, pop in your burger and top with avocado slices.
5. Blue Cheese Spread
While blue cheese might sound ridiculously indulgent, it really works – just a small smear on your burger makes it taste incredible. For even more flavour, crumble some blue cheese into a small bowl with some cream cheese and a spoonful or two of cream to make a heavenly spread. Use any leftovers as a dip for fries and veggies.
6. French Herbs
Why not whip up a French-style burger topping like the chefs do? Fancy French cooks often flavour food with what’s known as a compound butter – softened butter blended with herbs and seasonings. For some extra lusciousness, mix butter with chives, lemon zest, and green peppercorns; mint, basil, and lime zest; or tarragon, parsley and marjoram. Your taste buds will be in for some serious zing.
7. Sweet Peppers and Blue Cheese
Adding slow-roasted peppers not only brings colour to your burger, but also a smack of sweetness. Get a selection of coloured bell peppers, slice into strips, toss with olive oil, and roast them for an hour or so at around 150°C, until they’re melt-in-the-mouth soft. Throw in a couple of hot peppers for a bit of heat and personality and top with blue cheese. Adding a touch of garlic will give an extra layer of flavour.
Although this Greek-style dip is classically mild in flavour, you can jazz it up by adding loads of grated garlic to make it sharp enough to pal up with your burger. I make my tzatziki dip with finely grated cucumber, well-drained, full-fat yoghurt, garlic, and dried or fresh mint, so the spread doesn’t slide off the bun. To make it more Mediterranean, I use fresh tomatoes and onions, not forgetting a dash of crumbled feta.
When you’re next in need of some comfort food, try some of these alternative burger toppings. They’re great for a weekend treat or midweek meal, or bring them along next time you or a loved one fire up the grill for burger night!