13 Grilled Burger Recipes for Memorial Day

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[Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt, Morgan Eisenberg]

Walk into any Memorial Day cookout and you're likely to find burgers on the grill—few foods are as synonymous with grilling. At its heart, a great burger is an exercise in simplicity. All you really need is beef, salt, pepper, and fire. Once you've got the base down it's time to start experimenting with toppings like pimento cheese and jalapeños, teriyaki sauce and scallions, or Spam and pineapple. To get your Memorial Day barbecue going we've rounded up 13 of our favorite grilled burger recipes (including a few meat-free options for your vegetarian friends).

Beef Burgers

Thick and Juicy Home-Ground Grilled Cheeseburgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

The best way to upgrade any burger is to ditch the store-bought ground beef and make it yourself. Taking the grinding into your own hands gives you much more control over the texture and flavor of the finished burger. My preference is to start with short rib, brisket, and sirloin and grind it pretty fine to make flavorful burgers that stay juicy on the grill.

Get the recipe for Thick and Juicy Home-Ground Grilled Cheeseburgers »

Barbecue Bacon Burgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Our ultimate bacon cheeseburger is packed with flavor, but it's not particularly grill-friendly. For Memorial Day go with these bacon burgers instead, which we infuse with smoke by grilling the bacon, burgers, and onion. Not just any old bacon works here—you're going to want to find meaty slices a quarter inch thick.

Get the recipe for Barbecue Bacon Burgers »

The McWhopper

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

We live in a divided nation, and while I can't solve many of our problems, I think I can broker peace in the McDonald's vs Burger King debate. This hybrid burger crosses party lines with the Whopper's flame-broiled patty, the Big Mac's special sauce, and both fresh and dehydrated onions.

Get the recipe for The McWhopper »

Quadruple Chili Cheeseburgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

This fiery burger starts like a classic green chili cheeseburger, but then ups the heat with three extra kinds of hot peppers. We throw chilies onto this burger in just about every form we can think of: pepper Jack cheese, pickled jalapeños, and chipotle mayo in addition to the roasted Poblanos (if you can find Hatch chilies, use those instead).

Get the recipe for Quadruple Chili Cheeseburgers »

Pimento-Jalapeño Cheeseburgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Pimento cheese might not be your first choice for topping a burger, but once you see how rich and creamy it gets as it melts onto the patty you'll realize what you've been missing. We use our standard pimento cheese here and add slices of pickled jalapeño for an extra kick.

Get the recipe for Pimento-Jalapeño Cheeseburgers »

Teriyaki Burgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

While it's traditionally a glaze for fish, teriyaki sauce gets slathered on all kinds of meats—in this case a hearty grilled burger. Homemade teriyaki sauce is a must here, and you have to wait until the burgers are almost done to brush on the sauce so that it doesn't burn. Shredded cabbage gives the burger some crunch.

Get the recipe for Teriyaki Burgers »

Cajun Burgers With Spicy Remoulade

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[Photograph: Morgan Eisenberg]

Purists might tell you that burgers need to be 100% beef, but we see no problem grinding up some spicy andouille sausage with the chuck to make extra-flavorful patties. We keep the Cajun theme going by topping the burgers with bell pepper, onion, celery, and a spicy remoulade. Blue cheese isn't Cajun, but we think the burger needs the little bit of funk.

Get the recipe for Cajun Burgers With Spicy Remoulade »

Sichuan Peppercorn Burgers With Chili-Ginger Mayo and Cucumber Pickles

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

To give your guests something unexpected, try these burgers seasoned with a spice blend of cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel, star anise, and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. We keep the heat coming with a chili- and ginger-spiked mayo, but crunchy pickled cucumbers stop the burger from getting too hot.

Get the recipe for Sichuan Peppercorn Burgers With Chili-Ginger Mayo and Cucumber Pickles »

Cemita Burger With Refried Beans, Chipotle Mayo, Avocado, and Oaxacan Cheese

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

New York-style cemitas are filled with lots of meats that aren't traditional back in Puebla, so why not use a hamburger patty? Make sure people come hungry though—loaded with refried beans, avocado, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, and papalo, these burgers aren't for the faint of stomach.

Get the recipe for the Cemita Burger With Refried Beans, Chipotle Mayo, Avocado, and Oaxacan Cheese »

Hot Hawaiian Burgers (Spam, Pineapple, Swiss, and Sriracha Mayo)

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Say what you will about Spam—I love the salty pork product, especially when it's grilled and paired with sweet, acidic pineapple. We use both to top these burgers, along with Sriracha mayo and melted Swiss cheese. English muffins aren't particularly Hawaiian, but they're perfect for catching all the juices from the meat and fruit.

Get the recipe for Hot Hawaiian Burgers (Spam, Pineapple, Swiss, and Sriracha Mayo) »

Other Burgers

The Best Lamb Burgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Lamb is one of my favorite meats, but I usually steer clear of lamb burgers, which I find tend to be dry. By grinding your own meat and working it gently, you can make lamb burgers that are perfectly moist. Be sure to cook the patties at least to medium-rare—lamb fat tastes best when it gets hot enough to melt.

Get the recipe for The Best Lamb Burgers »

Homemade Vegan Burgers That Don't Suck

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

If I'm make a vegan burger I'm not looking for a beef replacement—I want to really taste the vegetables and grains. This burger fits the bill thanks to a long list of ingredients: beans, barley, nuts, and lots of veggies. Not only is the patty tasty enough for both vegans and omnivores, but it cooks just like ground beef.

Get the recipe for Homemade Vegan Burgers That Don't Suck »

Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

This black bean burger gets a meaty texture from partially dehydrated black beans, chopped cashews, and panko bread crumbs and a Southwestern flavor from sautéed onions, garlic, and Poblano peppers. The recipe is vegetarian but not vegan—we use egg as a binder and mayo and cotija or feta for extra moisture.

Get the recipe for Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers »