Fire up the grill for Greek-inspired, mint and dill laced Lamb Burgers with Lemon Feta Tzatziki topped off with baby spinach, cucumber, tomato and red onion. Flavors abound with this gluten-free burger!
A few years ago Epicurious published a blog post titled, “America, What’s your Beef with Lamb?” It’s easy to see how they came up with that title considering Americans consume only about 1 pound of lamb per year compared to 60 pounds of beef. A pretty staggering difference. America has been slow to embrace lamb compared to the rest of the world. According to Sheep101.info, the annual per capita consumption in Australia and New Zealand is 25 pounds, and 5-6 pounds in Africa. Lamb and mutton (sheep older than 12 months) are the primary source of animal protein across regions in North Africa, the Middle East, India, and parts of Europe.
It’s also a cross-cultural meat approved by the major religions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Lamb is often served at Easter (especially Orthodox or Greek), Passover, and Muslim holidays. Here are a few reasons Americans should consider eating more of ‘the other’ red meat:
- Lamb has great flavor! Its’ mild and tender, and easily gussied up with garlic, lemon, and fresh herbs.
- Lamb is good for you! It’s a nutrient-dense source of high-quality protein complete with all eight essential amino acids. Plus, lamb is high in B vitamins, zinc, and iron.
- Lamb has omega-3’s! Because it’s mostly grass-fed, lamb is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a potent antioxidant. According to the American Lamb Board, a 3-ounce serving of lamb has almost five times as much omega-3’s as an equivalent piece of beef.
Admittedly, I didn’t try lamb until my 30s. It wasn’t something my mom made growing up so I was skeptical of trying it when eating out. Had I only known what I was missing! I’m happy to say my kids don’t fall in that camp, and are pumped whenever I make it, whether it’s burgers, shepherd’s pie, or lamb loin tacos (recipe coming soon!).
Lamb Burgers with Lemon Feta Tzatziki
Lemon Feta Tzatziki
Like hamburgers and ketchup, and hot dogs and mustard, lamb and tzatziki go hand in hand. Similar to tomato salsa and salsa verde, it seems like everyone who is into tzatziki (pronounced tsäˈtsēkē) has their own spin on the Greek sauce. The traditional base is yogurt, cucumber, and garlic. Variations then include vinegar or lemon juice, and some combination of fresh herbs like mint, dill, parsley, or thyme.
This recipe is adapted from Anne Burrell, the Food Network chef with blond, spiky hair and a huge personality. Compared to her version, I added lemon juice and zest, and drained grated cucumber with salt to avoid a watery spread. The grated garlic, fresh dill, and mint round out a delicious balance of tangy, refreshing flavors.
The beauty of tzatziki is you can make it a few days in advance. Plus, it’s great on fish and chicken, and an awesome dip served up with plenty of pita wedges.
For the burgers, I caramelized some red onion and garlic to add a touch of sweetness and texture to the burger mixture. To maintain a consistent flavor profile, there’s a palmful each of mint and dill along with lemon zest and a splash of worcestershire sauce. Once combined, form six patties, each about four inches in diameter and one inch thick.
Grill the burgers over medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be 160°F for medium doneness. Using a meat thermometer, I took these off the grill at 155° and they reached 160° while resting a few minutes. Also, it’s good to let them rest before serving so those delicious juices don’t end up running all over the plate. Love those grill marks!
Set up a burger bar with rolls, pitas, baby spinach, shaved cucumber, thinly sliced tomato, red onion, and whatever else your gang likes. And, top with a big dollop of tzatziki. Enjoy!!
Change up the backyard barbeque menu with mint and dill laced lamb burgers topped with creamy lemon feta tzatziki.
- ½ of an English cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely grated (about ½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, ½ diced for burger mixture (about 1 cup), and ½ sliced for topping
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup water
- Salt and pepper
- 6 pitas or high-quality burger rolls
- Toppings: baby spinach, thinly sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, red onion
Place cucumber in a sieve sitting over a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss gently to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes to drain. Squeeze cucumber in paper towels or a dishtowel to remove as much water as possible. Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in yogurt, feta, lemon juice and zest, garlic, mint, and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use. (Can be made 2-3 days ahead.)
In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions soften, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine lamb, onion mixture, dill, mint, Worcestershire, lemon zest, and water. Season with salt and pepper. Form lamb mixture into 6 equal patties, about 4 inches diameter and 1 inch thick. Sprinkle patties with kosher salt.
Prepare grill over medium-high heat. Grill burgers 6-7 minutes per side for medium. Internal temperature should be 160°F. Let burgers rest a few minutes before serving. Serve burgers with Lemon Feta Tzatziki, burger rolls or pitas, baby spinach, sliced cucumber, tomato, and red onion.