HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Interesting Burger Ingredients?

Hello all,

I am in charge of purchasing items for a iron-chefish burger cooking contest between friends this weekend. They'll be limited in prep ability - basically, a grill and a knife - and we're not talking about professional chefs here, either.

Standard condiments like ketchup, mustard, etc, will be there already.

So: I can think of some obvious ingredients that are useful if not creative, such as tomatoes, onions, lettuce/greens, and pickles. But I want to get some stuff that'll give them a chance to be more creative, obviously, and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions?

It could be a suggestion for a particular type of burger you've had, or just for something that you think would be an interesting ingredient for people to try and work into (or on to) burgers.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. IMHO, why are you buying the ingredients - considering that they need to come up with their own "special burger?" Isn't that what makes it a contest?

    Of course, unless YOU are the one in the competition - hmmm, just saying. :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: breadchick

      Ahh, I should have been more clear. The purpose of the competition is to give people random ingredients (some normal, some not) and see what they can come up with. I won't be in town the day of the competition; unfortunately, a cousin's wedding is on the same day, and while I love burgers I so much prefer the in-laws not being mad at me, heh.

      I am buying the ingredients both because they are intended to be a surprise to the contestants and because I am typically the person people I know turn to with questions about food - little do they know my secret, that I farm the questions out to Chow. :D

      1. re: nickblesch

        "they know my secret, that I farm the questions out to Chow."

        We promise not to tell...I am also guilty.

    2. a green chili cheeseburger never fails.

        1. I came across this site today while searching for some burger ideas for myself; I haven't had a chance to read through it but it certainly looks like it has lots to offer in the way of surprising ingredients or odd ingredients, and could be right up your alley:


          We had burgers tonight with grilled red and yellow peppers and red onions, topped with mozzarella and a little pesto.

          1. Stuff with blue or any kind of cheese.

            1. here's a random smattering of ideas... mushrooms (sauteed), caramelized onions, tahini, pesto, sundried tomatoes (tapenade if desired), olive tapenade, tamari, ginger, herbs of all kinds, curry, cumin, coriander, turmeric, celery, plum sauce, edamame (beans), cranberries, beans... to get started...

              are you considering doing different combos of meat? i.e.beef, pork, lamb, turkey, etc?

              1. I'd start with different cheeses, because there are so many ways to go. You can stuff burgers or top them, and some can even be mixed into the patties if you don't cook them well done. Fresh herbs, roasted chiles like poblanos or even canned chipotles in adobo, and chopped scallions are all good additions with which to play, too. Pickled red onion slices are great, and I've served burgers with pickled carrots on the side. You could offer different types of buns, too, if you like. If you can find a local bakery that makes buns, they are always fresher.

                1. Peanut butter! That's the most unique ingredient I've made a burger with, and it was awesome.

                  1. Donuts - I dunno if it was Simpsons inspired or where I saw it... but someone out there has used donuts in place of the bun. I've heard other people rave about fried eggs on burgers.

                    Sounds like an interesting competition. Can't wait to hear how it all went!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: maplesugar

                      Two Krispy Kremes with a burger between
                      Is the ghastly creation of Paula Deen.

                      Burgers and hot dogs topped with coleslaw are regional American favorites but mixing mayo-based slaw WITH the meat before forming the patty makes a flavorful, juicy, tender burger. I put it in my meatballs and meatloaf, where the longer cooking melts the cabbage into the meat so it's no longer identifiable. It gets sweet and people think it's onion.

                      1. re: maplesugar

                        Ooh, Maplesugar, fried eggs on burgers! It pairs so well with heat, greens and tomato, or nothing but the burger and egg. Pepper jack is a good cheese with the egg and beef, but a really sharp cheddar always brings the heat to the fore.

                        Nick, I've been thinking about burgers lately (in anticipation of the weather in Chicago *ever* warming up), and I like the idea of cheese-stuffed burgers (something I've yet to try), and started thinking about a cheese stuffed something in the middle, in the same manner as a hunk of cheese. Stuffed mushrooms? Jalapeno poppers? This lacks finesse, in a way (appetizers AND burger in one bite verifies that I am from the midwest), but sometimes that's what people want.

                        I love rosemary and garlic with beef. There are so many possibilities there, but I like the idea of a roasted garlic blended with finely ground rosemary either worked into the meat, or into a softened cheese for the topping.

                        Spinach is also an addition to burgers that I enjoy, prepared in many ways (cooked and mixed in, wilted and served in a cheese sauce or as a green on top), as are sundried tomatoes (minced and worked into either the beef or the cheese). Garlic-chili paste is also another ingrediant I might employ, if I were in your shoes.

                        I have to stop, before I go on for a paragraph about mustard, or *salt*.

                        1. BBQ sauce. Not necessarily on top, but as an ingredient when mixing the meat prior to forming the patties.

                          1. The yummiest burger I have made had the following: slow roasted tomatoes with herbs, s and p, meat stuffed with blue or gorgonzola, arugala, and a dijon mustard.

                            1. One of the best burgers I had years ago had the fried egg and some juicy ham on it as well. How about a burger with pepperoni and salami?

                              1. What about some different meats? Ground lamb, pork, bison. I definitely second the bbq sauce idea (or tonkatsu instead). Spinach, feta cheese, pesto, guacamole or avocado slices, soy sauce, pickled ginger, caramelized onion, cajun spices... And how has nobody mentioned BACON?!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Emmmily

                                  My favorite is venison. I like it much better than beef.

                                  1. re: Emmmily

                                    In some realms, bacon goes without saying. And by some realms, I mean most of mine. I mean it's bacon. *Bacon*. For every one of my suggestions, I was thinking, "Of course, they'll know I intend crisp, salty, fatty goodness to top this creation, and make this a burger without compare."

                                    Bacon is like a god, one who needn't be named.

                                  2. I'd say provide a variety of meats and seasonings for them. At the very least, I'd have beef, lamb and turkey. For seasonings: allspice, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, s&p, paprika (sweet and smoked), cayenne, ancho/chipotle powder, cajun seasoning, mustard, worcestershire sauce, dark and light soy sauce, vinegar, bbq sauce, sambal and sweet chili sauce. That should leave plenty of room for creativity.

                                    1. Different ground meats or seafood (shrimp burgers?)

                                      Asian ingredients like sriracha, kimchee, hot bean paste,

                                      All sorts of cheese including soft and hard cheeses, brie, parmesan, etc.

                                      Hot peppers

                                      Different varieties of pork products, pancetta, prosciutto, bacon, salami, ham

                                      1. Cheese varieties:
                                        Cotswold - Double Gloucester w/onion & chive
                                        Carmalzied Onion English Cheddar
                                        Red Dragon - Welsh cheddar with whole grain mustard
                                        Harlech - Welsh cheddar with horseradish & parsley
                                        Buttermilk Blue - creamy blue, perfect for burgers

                                        Bacon - Nueskes Applewood smoked

                                        Meat - use instead of beef

                                        1. Thanks for all the great suggestions, everyone. If I can get someone to send me the results of the competition, I'll let you all know what won. The weirdest thing I bought was a box of Cap'n Crunch. I figure it can't be awful to mix with some peanut butter as a topping, but... We'll see if anyone uses it. :D

                                          And I'll also keep an eye on this post so that I can have some excellent ideas for stuff to make over the summer. :D

                                          1. i make sofrito (very finely diced) for chicken burgers. mediocre to average ground beef will come alive with caramelized onions and rubbed with grain mustard and horseradish before grilling.

                                            1. beetroot! its a tried and tested ingredient on an authentic australian hamburger

                                              also bacon and egg are really popular too

                                              pineapple is another (although im not a huge fan of it on burgers myself)

                                              but beetroot all the way!

                                              1. I love "chili garlic paste", "hot garlic sauce", sambal bajak, and "pepper sa-te" sauce ( tia chieu sa-te sauce) on my burgers.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                  I will try the chili garlic paste next burger eating session. Thanks.

                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                    I combine the chili garlic paste with allspice and ketjap manis to make really tasty gehaktballen burgers. They are quite spectacular with fry sauce as well.

                                                2. I have a query. My husband likes his burgers to be blended with Lipton onion soup mix (he also likes to "smash" them, and likes salmon and fillet mignon "well done" so.......). Recently I've read I should season burgers on the outside only, to avoid over handling the meat. My solution has been to keep his "meat paste" separate. Any thoughts?

                                                  Also; this whole "sambal" thing. I much prefer cooked chiles and with other inredients, i.e. the addition of garlic, vs sriracha, or oolek vs. bajak . Any thoughts about how to differentiate the lables, regions, and products?