Lamb Burgers are juicy and flavorful and tend to be less gamey than other cuts of lamb. So the next time you throw some burgers on the grill (or stove), be sure to give these lamb burgers with smoky harrisa mayo a try. Delish!
Burger night is a favorite in many households, but it can become a little, shall we say, boring after a while. The next time you think about making burgers – for grilling or on the stove – consider making lamb burgers instead of your usual burgers made with beef.
Ground lamb makes an especially juicy burger and has almost none of that gamey lamb flavor that some people find objectionable. Even people who claim not to like lamb will happily devour a lamb burger!
Why Use Ground Lamb?
Ground lamb is a perfect entry point for those new to cooking – and eating – lamb. It is readily available at most grocery stores at a price comparable to that of ground beef.
In addition, ground lamb has a mild flavor, especially as compared to other cuts of lamb, such as the leg or the shank. But while ground lamb is milder than other cuts of lamb, it still has a deliciously rich, earthy flavor that pairs well with other strong flavors, like cumin and garlic.
Ground lamb is also extremely versatile. Anything you can do with ground beef, you can do with ground lamb. Try lamb meatballs, lamb tacos, shepherd’s pie, or stuffed peppers with lamb. Because it is rich, a little bit of ground lamb goes a long way, making it a perfect topping for grain bowls or pasta dishes.
Ground lamb is also a healthy choice. Lamb is an excellent source of protein and key nutrients, like iron, vitamin B12, and zinc.
It has around the same number of calories as ground beef, ounce per ounce, but because lamb is grass-fed, it actually has more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than beef. So, it really is a good idea to incorporate ground lamb into your weekly or monthly menu planning.
How To Make The Burgers
Now that I have convinced you to pick up some ground lamb on your next trip to the store, you may be wondering what the secret is to a good lamb burger. Making a delicious lamb burger is a lot like making a delicious hamburger: the trick is to season the meat well and not to handle it too much.
Lamb has great flavor, as I explain above, so you do not need to add a lot to your lamb burgers. In this recipe, for example, I give the lamb burgers a North African flavor by seasoning them with a hint of warm spices like cumin and coriander, and add little bit of onion and garlic for extra moisture. That’s it! Nice and simple.
Whenever you are working with ground meat, you want to handle the meat as little as possible. Overworked meat becomes tough. So, to that end, mix any seasonings into the meat gently – your hands are the best tool for this.
Keep the patties as loosely formed as possible while still making sure that they will hold together in the pan. One trick that can help ensure that your burgers will stay together is to form the patties in advance and chill them prior to cooking.
However, even if you make your lamb burger patties in advance, do not season your lamb burgers with salt until right before cooking. If you salt the patties too early, the salt will break down the proteins in the meat which results in tougher, denser patties.
How To Cook Them
You can cook lamb burgers a few different ways, just as with hamburgers. Lamb burgers are terrific grilled, as you might imagine. But many of us live in places where it is not possible to grill all year long.
So, in this recipe, I explain how to cook lamb burgers in a skillet on the stove, which is a convenient, year-round option. And the results are delicious — burgers that are seared on the outside and tender on the inside with crispy, browned edges.
Wait, What’s Harissa?
Remember how I said that I season these lamb burgers with North African flavors, like cumin and coriander? Well, I like to double down on the North African influence by skipping the ketchup and slathering my lamb burgers with a piquant, creamy harissa mayonnaise.
What’s harissa, you ask? Harissa is a spicy (but not too spicy), fruity chile paste popular in North Africa and the Middle East. It is usually made with sweet and hot peppers, garlic, olive oil, and those same warm, earthy spices I mentioned earlier. (There’s a lot of cumin in North African cuisine.)
You can find harissa at grocery stores with a large selection of international products or online here. Once you try it, you may find yourself adding harissa to lots of different dishes. (Swirl some into hummus, for example. Or spoon it on your eggs instead of your usually hot sauce.)
Here, the harissa adds just a hint of heat and a subtle smokiness to the creamy tang of mayonnaise. It’s the perfect complement to the richness of the lamb burgers and ties together those North African flavors. Harissa mayo also makes a great dipping sauce for Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries, which happens to be a great side dish for these lamb burgers.
So the next time you are craving a burger, make it a lamb burger!Print
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 – 3 Tbsp. harissa paste (to taste)
- 2 tsp. ground cumin, divided
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
- 2 lbs. ground lamb
- 1/2 red onion, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- Hamburger buns for serving
- Optional burger toppings for serving: lettuce, tomato, red onion
- To make the harissa mayo, whisk together the mayonnaise, harissa, 1 teaspoon of the cumin, and vinegar or lemon juice in a medium bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper (or to taste). Set aside.*
- To form the lamb burgers, combine the ground lamb, onion, garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon of the cumin, and coriander in a large bowl and mix gently with your hands. Form the mixture into 6 equal balls, each weighing approximately 5-6 ounces.
- Flatten the balls into patties slightly larger than the bun you plan to serve with the burgers. (If not using a bun, flatten the balls into patties that are 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches thick.) Create a well or divot in the center of the burger with your fingers. This will ensure that the burgers remain flat and do not shrink or turn into round balls when cooked.**
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the lamb burgers on both sides with remaining half teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper.
- Place 2, or at most, 3 patties in the skillet, being sure not to crowd them, and cook until the bottoms of the burgers are browned and release easily from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip the patties and cook on the other side until browned, 2 additional minutes. Flip the burgers again and continue to cook, flipping every few minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. on an instant read thermometer (like this one), 8 to 10 minutes total. Repeat with the remaining patties.
- To serve, place the patties on the bottom half of the burger buns. Top with your preferred burger toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, or onion. Spread the harissa mayo on the top half of the burger buns. Serve immediately.
*May be made up to several days in advance. Store the harissa mayo in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.
**May be done up to several hours in advance. Cover the patties and refrigerate them until needed.