Dinner Tonight: Lamb Burgers with Red Onion Relish Recipe

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Dinner Tonight: Lamb Burgers with Red Onion Relish Recipe

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Even the most ardent burger purists, in my experience, will acquiesce once in a while to a lamb burger. Though beef accented with nothing but a little salt and pepper will always be king, there is something about the gamy richness of a lamb burger that is impossible to dislike. While turkey burgers and other healthy alternatives tend to pale in comparison, lamb actually holds its own.

I found this recipe in the one-time MasterChef "bookazine," which keeps things simple by avoiding too much flavoring of the patty (just a tiny bit of minced garlic, plus salt and pepper). The majority of the punch comes from a caramelized red onion relish, where classic lamb accompaniments like fresh rosemary and whole-grain mustard make for a sweet-and-tangy condiment. My only addition to the recipe was mixing up a yogurt-lemon-mustard dressing for the leafy greens, which brings that crucial creaminess that lamb, for me, requires. It was a fantastic and quick dinner—perfect for the grill.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:40 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 pita pocket halves
  • 1 cup spring greens
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. 1.

    In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and caramelized, adding water to the pan if necessary to prevent burning. Add the vinegar, rosemary, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of mustard and continue cooking for a few more minutes to blend the flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. 2.

    Crumble the ground lamb loosely into a bowl. Add the garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gently work the garlic and seasoning into the meat, taking care not to overwork the meat so they burgers are not tough. Gently hand-form the meat into 4 patties.

  3. 3.

    Prepare a grill or preheat a grill pan over high. Brush the grates or grill pan with olive oil to prevent sticking, then grill the burgers to desired temperature. Remove from the grill and allow to rest for a few moments.

  4. 4.

    Brush the pita pockets with a little olive oil and grill briefly until soft. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, and remaining mustard and toss with the greens.

  5. 5.

    To construct the burgers, stuff the pitas with dressed greens, then burgers and onion relish. Serve immediately.