Chances are you’ve had your share of hamburgers this summer—from the good, like the juicy patties grilled on your backyard barbecue to the tasteless, you know, the ones that come in a 30-pack that are served at large get-togethers (plastic cheese melted on top). It’s time to mix up your burger repertoire!

We’re constantly experimenting with burgers around our house. New toppings. New mix-ins. New meat (turkey burgers are my favorite). Looking for burger inspiration? I’ve got a few ideas and a tasty recipe to get you started.

The Restaurant Swipe

Our version of Burger King’s once-popular Rodeo Burger is my oldest daughter’s favorite. The burger is topped with fried onion rings and barbecue sauce. For a healthier option, use sautéed onions and for a quick fix, use French’s fried onions (no baking required).

Max & Erma’s fan? Do your own improvised Caribbean Burger by topping your grilled burger at home with a slice of fresh or canned pineapple, and then mix a little honey and mustard into some mayo to smear on the bun top.

The Leftover Redo

Leftovers can make for some crazy burger toppings: Reinvent yesterday’s pasta into a mac ‘n cheese burger. Throw coleslaw onto the bun instead of serving it to the side. Grill a slice or two of ham and serve it along with the cheese as a burger topping. Leftovers inspired our green chile burger—the night before we’d made a spicy sauce for enchiladas. We reheated the sauce, then used it on burgers with Monterrey Jack cheese melted on top.

Don’t forget to raid the fruit and vegetable drawer for ideas too! Try out a mango burger by adding a few slices on top or maybe go for a little more Mediterranean feel with thin-sliced cucumbers, red onion a little splash of red wine vinegar and maybe even some hummus.

The Fish Burger

Try something new not just with the burger toppings, but with the kind of meat you use. Ferndale’s The Flytrap restaurant has a salmon burger that’s easy to make at home. Detroit’s top-rated Nemo’s Bar has the same burger on their menu. Fish burgers are in!

Turkey, chicken, pork, sausage, can all be crafted into patties and grilled up for your hungry crew.

Have you tried out a crazy burger idea at a recent barbecue or even at a nearby restaurant? What’s your take on reinventing this summer barbecue favorite?


Green Chile Bacon Burger

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 45 minutes

For the burger

2lb 85% lean ground beef

Large wheat hamburger buns or rolls

Monterrey Jack cheese, sliced

1lb thick cut bacon cooked



onion power

garlic powder


For the green chile sauce

1 large onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

1 or 2 serrano peppers, seeded, diced

2 cups mild green chiles (sold in cans in the Mexican section at the grocers)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

½ teaspoon honey

¼- ½ cup chicken broth

½ teaspoon cumin


To prepare the burger

Form the beef into 6 ¼ lb balls. Place each ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a pan or the bottom of plate to press until you get a patty about ¼ inch thick. Place patties on a cookie sheet and spice liberally with salt, pepper, garlic power, onion power and cumin then flip the patties and spice the other side. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the chile sauce.

To prepare the green chile

In a medium-sized saucepan heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Add garlic and Serrano peppers and cook for 2 minutes then add the green chiles and stir. Add the cumin and honey and continue to stir until the mixture starts to brown on to bottom of the pan. Deglaze with chicken broth and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt to taste. Set aside for burger.


  • Toast hamburger buns
  • Heat the grill to high. Place the burgers on the grill. Be careful, these burgers cook faster since they are thin, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. During the last minute of grilling, add two strips of bacon to each patty and a slice of cheese. Close the grill top to allow the cheese to melt.
  • Remove the burgers from the grill.
  • Place the hot hamburger on the bottom part of the bun. Add a heaping portion of warmed green chile sauce. Top with the other bun half.
  • Enjoy. Make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand!
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