Greek-Style Lamb Burgers with Creamy Tzatziki Sauce
It’s hard to deny a burger during grilling season, but by August the standard cheeseburger has started to feel a little old. The good news? It doesn’t take much to switch things up. By adding a few spices, changing up the protein, swapping out the cheese, or making a special sauce, you can have an entirely new and flavorful burger on your hands.
Most recently I’ve been enjoying a Greek-style lamb burger, inspired by a burger I fell in love with several years ago at an organic cafe in downtown New York City. The rich, gamey burger is packed with classic Greek herbs and spices — such as cinnamon, coriander, mint, and oregano — which creates a fresh boost of flavor not often found in burger patties. The whole thing is topped with tzatzizki and fresh veggies.
The Secret to This Burger Is All in the Sauce
Tzatziki is a classic Greek condiment that’s often served alongside grilled meats or kebabs, or as part of a mezze platter as a dip for veggies or pita. It’s a simple mix of thick strained yogurt, cucumbers, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs such as dill and mint. What’s not to love?
The creamy, rich, and tangy sauce helps round out the hearty lamb in this dish —but you’ll love it for more than just burgers. Tzatziki pairs well with almost any summer dish, be it a simple salad, grilled fish, spiced chicken, or even a turkey sandwich.
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
For the tzatziki and burgers:
- 1 cup
plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup
grated English cucumber
- 1 clove
- 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon
coarsely chopped fresh dill
Finely grated zest 1/2 medium lemon
Juice from 1/2 medium lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons
coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
- 1 1/4 pounds
- 1/4 cup
grated red onion
- 1 tablespoon
chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried
- 3/4 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons
olive oil, if cooking on the stoveop
pita pockets, halved, or 4 hamburger buns, warmed
Green leaf lettuce
Thinly sliced red onion
Crumbled feta cheese
Make the tzatziki: Place 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup grated cucumber, 1 grated garlic clove, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, and finely grated zest and juice from 1/2 lemon in a medium bowl. Chop until you have 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint leaves; place 1 tablespoon with the yogurt mixture, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine to make the tzatziki. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons mint in a large bowl for the burgers.
Make the burgers: Add the 1 1/4 pounds ground lamb, 1/4 cup grated red onion, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried), 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the mint in the large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix with your hands until just combined. Form into 4 (6-ounce) patties that are about 1-inch thick and set aside.
Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat, or for the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season the lamb burgers on both sides with more salt. Grill or sear on the stovetop until browned, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the patties rest 6 to 8 minutes before assembling. Meanwhile, wash and dry some green leaf lettuce, slice up some red onion and tomatoes, and crumble some feta cheese for the burgers.
Place some lettuce and red onion in each pita pocket or on the bottom half of each hamburger bun. Top each with a lamb patty, tzatziki sauce, tomato, and feta cheese.
Storage: Leftover tzatziki and lamb patties can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers up to 4 days.