#BurgerBash: Over-the-Top Burger Toppings

Lettuce, onion, cheese, pickle, tomato, mustard, ketchup and mayo have been, and forever will be, the gold-standard burger toppings for good reason. Why do they taste so good? Let’s break it down:

  • The lettuce (Iceburg) and onion add crunch with the onion chiming in on savory notes.
  • The cheese adds extra flavor, while the pickle, tomato and mustard add juicy acidity.
  • Ketchup adds sweet and salt and the mayo adds another slick of salt to tie it all together.

And this, my friends, is how you build a classic burger patty inside a sesame seed bun (buttered and toasted of course). It’s no accident that these toppings are the standard; there are specific properties to each component which adds to the whole.

So now that we understand why certain components work inside the bun, cheeseburger lovers want to know what about the cheese. Yes, please! When it comes to cheese on a burger, meltability is key. Perfectly melty American is the classic cheese for most of us and it never fails to please but Gruyere, Swiss, Monterey Jack, fresh Mozzarella, Pepper Jack and Cheddar can help steer your sandwich to burger greatness. There are even bigger cheesy flavors to be found in Blue Cheese, Stilton, Smoked Gouda, Aged Provolone, Brie and goat cheese. Remember: when it comes to burgers, oozy, melting cheese is best.

The burger condiments can also be expanded to include onion marmalade, tomato jam, Russian dressing, garlicky aioli, remoulade sauce, chipotle mayo, pesto, tapenade, chutney, mint jelly, hot sauce, Asian hoisin sauce and pepper jelly. Many of these condiments can be found in the condiment aisle, so it’s easy to try them out.

As the burger has moved from a fast food item to fine dining, we’re having a great time playing with the idea of ethnic burgers, healthy burgers, seasonal burgers, seafood, meatless and vegan burgers to name but a few. Let your imagination run wild but keep in mind  that if your burger toppers include the properties of texture, fat (which means flavor), acid, salt and sweet then you’ll hit the burger bullseye every time. Read on for bold flavor combos plus a few recipes for special toppings to get you on the road to finding your burger nirvana.

Beef Burgers

Start off with the best burger meat, seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper to make the best base for your burger, then add classic ketchup mustard, and mayo or spice things up with cilantro pesto and pickled red onions. Figure on 1 lb. meat for 4 burgers.

 Cheese VeggiesMeatSauceExtras
Combination 1Oaxaca cheeseRoasted Poblano ChilesCilantro Pesto
Combination 2CheddarTomatoBaconOnion rings
Combination 3Lettuce
Tomato
Chile Relleno (look for them in the freezer case)
Combination 4Pimento cheese or other cheese spreadBaconChow chow
Combination 5Pimento cheese or other cheese spreadHamTomato Jam
Combination 6LettuceBaconTomato jamFried eggs
Combination 7Swiss cheeseHot sauceColeslaw
Pickles
Combination 8Tomato
Lettuce
HoisinKimchi
Combination 9Monterrey JackPickled jalapenosSalsa
Combination 10Blue cheeseTomato
Lettuce
Barbecue sauce
Combination 11 MozzarellaGrilled MushroomsMarinara
Combination 12Pickled red onions Guacamole
Queso fresco
Combination 13Goat cheeseSun-dried tomatoes
Arugula
Chopped Kalamata olives

 

Turkey or Chicken Burgers

Where’s the beef? Who cares? Just be sure to get a mix of light and dark meat in your grind with at least 15% fat. To enhance flavors even more, check out the recipes for pickled red onions, quick pickled cucumbers and yogurt pickle sauce.

 CheeseVeggiesMeatSauceExtra
Combination
1
Smoked GoudaTomato
Lettuce
Mayo
Sriracha
Combination
2
Swiss CheeseBarbecue saucePickles
Combination
3
MozzarellaLettuceTomato chutneyCapers
Combination
4
Shaved ParmesanTomato
Red onion
Romaine
Caesar dressing
Combination
5
Cajun spice grilled onions HamFried Egg
Combination
6
Goat CheeseRoasted red peppersMayoTapenade
Combination
7
Monterrey JackRoasted poblano chiliesPineapple salsa
Combination
8
Chipotle mayoAvocado
Onion rings
Cilantro
Combination
9
Fresh mozzarellaRoasted peppersMarinara
Combination
10
Pepper JackPickled red onion GuacamoleSriracha
Combination
11
Pickled cucumbers Sriracha
Mayo
Cilantro
Combination
12
Monterrey JackPickled jalapenosSalsaAvocado
Combination
13
Red onion
Lettuce
Tomato
Yogurt pickle sauce
Combination
14
ArugulaBaconRussian dressingFried egg
Combination
15
Monterrey JackBaconBarbecue saucePineapple slice
Combination
16
American cheeseCaramelized onions
Tomato
Lettuce
Barbecue sauce

 

Salmon and Tuna Burgers

Fish is lean so you must add some fat and binder to the grind in the form of egg and breadcrumbs in order for them to hold together on the grill. Add 1 egg and 1/3 cup Panko to each pound of ground or finely chopped fish whether tuna or salmon. Since you’re already making a twist on the traditional burger, get creative with toppings too with recipes for quick pickled cucumbers, pickled red onions, jalapeno tartar sauce, tzatziki, wasabi mayo, harissa mayo and cilantro pesto.

 CheeseVeggiesMeatSauceExtras
Combination
1
Red onionMango and tomato salsaAvocado
Cilantro
Combination
2
Tomato
Red onion
Lettuce
Jalapeno tartar sauce
Combination
3
Spinach
Tomato
Red onion
Tzatziki
Combination
4
Quick pickled cucumbers Coleslaw
Cilantro
Combination
5
Quick pickled cucumbers HoisinAvocado
Combination
6
Red onion
Lettuce
Tomato
Thousand Island dressingPickles
Combination
7
Arugula
Red onion
Dill mayo with capers
Combination
8
Tomato
Red onion
Lemony mayoCilantro
Combination
9
Tomato
Red onion
Wasabi mayo Pickles
Combination
10
Pickled red onions Harissa mayoAvocado
Cilantro
Combination
11
TomatoCilantro pesto Coleslaw
Avocado

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