Burger Bonanza

When I say the words “summer”, “food”, “Memorial Day”, and “4th of July”, I can nearly guess what most people’s minds travel to.


Yep – those round patties of ground red meat, grilled to perfection on an open grill with just the grill marks in just the right places. Slather it up with some ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, maybe some cheese, and squish it between two buns. That, my friends, is the epitome of summer holiday foods.

Some of you may have noticed, however, that there’s a growing movement away from red meat and progression towards alternatives. Some of these include ground turkey and chicken, or perhaps ground bison like they serve at Ted’s Montana Grill. Or perhaps you have friends who don’t eat any sort of meat and instead opt for wild fish or even veggie burgers. The variations of burgers may sound a bit “off” at first (trust me – I live with a doubter), but if you’re open-minded and give it a try, you might be surprised!

Which brings me to the purpose of today’s story – how to accommodate all sorts of appetites for the upcoming summer grilling parties you aim to host! Now we know that people who don’t eat meat aren’t doing it to make your life as grill master difficult, but if you aren’t used to vegetarian options, it can be a daunting task.

  • How do you accommodate these guests?
  • What’s the etiquette in food options for such an occasion?
  • Should you ask them to bring their own entree?
  • What’s the best brand of veggie burger to buy?
  • Should you grill up shrimp or fish as an alternative?
  • Or should you grill a load of vegetable kabobs? 

Never fear – it’s time to take a deep breath in (and out). We can get through this together and with relative ease.

If you’re hosting the grilling party, you’re probably not funding it all on your own (at least I hope not). In my experience, we’ve always made these parties into potlucks, where everyone brings an item so the expense isn’t all on one person. If your party is like this and you know you have some vegetarians or vegans attending, ask them if they would mind bringing their desired burger alternative.

If you’re providing the burgers, decide ahead of time what your menu is going to look like. Offer 1-2 meatless alternatives to the guests and plan to provide these. If one is preferred over the other – even better!

Now what options should you offer? That’s where I can help! Below are some of my favorite hamburger alternatives.


Black Bean Pecan Burgers

  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 T tomato
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp yellow or spicy mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp coconut oil + more for cooking the patties
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  1. In a blender or food processor, place all ingredients (pecans through liquid smoke) and pulse until pasty.
  2. Add half of the black beans and rice. Pulse again until the mixture comes together, scraping down as needed. Set aside.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the remainder of black beans and rice, along with burger mixture, to the bowl. Using your hands, mix throughly. Form 3-4 patties.
  5. In the same skillet, melt more coconut oil and add patties. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, being careful when flipping the patty.
  6. Serve with your favorite toppings!



Chicken Avocado Burgers

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 large ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 clove chopped of garlic
  • 1/3 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1 minced Jalapeño pepper, optional
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until avocado is thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Shape into 5-6 patties.
  3. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat and add patties. Cook for 5-6 minutes before carefully turning. Cook an additional 5 minutes and serve with your favorite burger toppings.


FullSizeRender 38

Salmon Burger with Pink Grapefruit Salad


  • 8 oz wild salmon, canned
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup kale or spinach, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp Old Bay
  • 1 large egg, beaten


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T champagne or white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups greens of choice,
  • 1 large pink grapefruit, peeled and diced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup cucumber, diced
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. This is your salad dressing.
  2. Drain water from wild salmon and dump into the bowl. Mix together until combined.
  3. If using kale, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until wilted and tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. If using spinach, skip this step.
  4. Add cooked kale or spinach to burger mixture along with quinoa, mustard, Old Bay and egg. Mix to combine, forming 2-3 patties.
  5. Lightly heat skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Place salmon patties in skillet and cook 4-5 minutes, then gently turn. Cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
  6. Toss the dressing with salad greens, grapefruit, tomatoes, and cucumber. Top with a salmon burger and enjoy!


FullSizeRender 39

Spicy Chickpea Burgers

  • 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and mashed
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 small zuchinni, grated
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 T natural peanut butter
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup quick oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 T olive oil, for cooking
  1. Place chickpeas in a bowl or food processor. Mash or pulse until relatively flat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and use your hands to mix very well. Form 2-4 patties.
  3. Heat a skillet wil olive oil over medium heat and add patties. Cook for 3-5 minutes before flipping. Cook an additional 3-5 minutes and serve with your favorite burger toppings or with fresh vegetables!


FullSizeRender 40

Spinach Burgers

  • 8 oz. chopped spinach
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 whole egg
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Shape into patties and cook over medium heat in a skillet with a small amount of coconut or olive oil. Cook patties for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  3. Serve with your favorite burger toppings!