Sichuan Peppercorn Burgers With Chili-Ginger Mayo and Cucumber Pickles Recipe

Sichuan Peppercorn Burgers With Chili-Ginger Mayo and Cucumber Pickles Recipe

The tingly heat of Sichuan peppercorns wakes this burger up big time. [Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Inspired by beef momo seasoned with the tingly heat of Sichuan peppercorns, these burgers are spiked with a fragrant mixture of that spice, plus cumin, star anise, fennel, chili flakes, and brown sugar. A tangy chili mayo with plenty of fresh ginger and cucumber pickles round it out.

Why It Works

  • Pressing a dimple into each patty prevents it from seizing up into a ball.
  • Minimally handling the beef and seasoning it only at the last minute maintains its loose, open texture.
  • Turning the patties repeatedly during cooking produces a better edge-to-edge gradient that's rare, medium-rare or medium, depending on your preference.
  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 25 minutes
  • Total time:25 minutes


  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, shiny black seeds and stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Thai
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 small star anise pod (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red chili paste, such as Sambal Oelek
  • 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck, preferably about 80 percent lean, formed into 4 (6-ounce) patties
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 English muffins, split and toasted
  • Quick Pickled Cucumbers, for topping burgers
  • Cilantro leaves and tender stems, for topping burgers


  1. 1.

    In a medium skillet, toast Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel, and anise over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in brown sugar until thoroughly combined.

  2. 2.

    In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, chili paste, grated ginger, and rice vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. 3.

    Press a dimple into the top of each burger patty. Season patties generously with salt and pepper. Cook to desired doneness on a hot grill or in an oiled skillet on the stovetop, 120°F for rare, 125°F for medium rare, or 135°F for medium; sprinkle all over with spice mixture during last minute of cooking. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

  4. 4.

    Set burger patties on English muffin bottom halves, and top each with chili mayo. Top with pickled cucumbers and cilantro. Close burgers and serve.