Dinner

8 Drool-Worthy Healthy Burger Recipes (Vegetarian Options Included!)

Read this to become a healthy burger making pro.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

There’s nothing quite like a fresh-off-the-grill summer burger. Easy to customize and delicious to enjoy, burgers are one of those quintessential summer foods that often make their way onto our plates. The good news is that healthy burgers do exist and, when made with the right ingredients, can make a healthy addition to our summer eating plan! So, for all you burger lovers out there, get ready to fire up the grill! Ahead, eight healthy burger recipes (plant-based and pescatarian options included) that may be just what you need to bust summer cravings. 

But First — What Makes a Burger Healthy? 

Before diving into the juicy recipes, let’s break down how we’re actually classifying a healthy burger. 

For a burger to be healthy in our book, it must be free of:

Trans & hydrogenated fats: Be mindful of what the burger is cooked in. Avoid hydrogenated and highly refined oils. 

Unhealthy fats: Such as margarine, traditional mayonnaise, vegetable oils. 

Added sugars: Especially refined and artificial sugars. 

Some things we’re mindful of:

Gluten. While some people can tolerate gluten, gluten-filled burger products — like burger buns — are often in their least nutritious, most processed state. Instead, we’re spicing things up with some healthy swaps in these healthy burger recipes! 

Toppings! Oftentimes the burger itself is quite healthy — the toppings are the culprit!

6 Tips For Making a Healthy Burger

#1 Add Lots of Veggies 

Top your healthy burger with an added nutritional punch with plenty of extra veggies — the more color, the better!

In addition to the classics (pickles, sauerkraut, onion, tomatoes, and lettuce), some of our favorites include: 

  • Arugula 
  • Mushrooms 
  • Jalapenos 
  • Beets 
  • Pineapple 
  • Sauteed (or grilled) veggies like zucchini and eggplant 

#2 Top With a Healthy Fat

Adding some healthy fat to your burger not only adds flavor but also helps balance things out. It keeps you feeling fuller for longer, supports healthy digestion with natural fiber, and provides you with a steady stream of energy! Plus, it’s the perfect creamy swap for not-so-nutritious condiments like mayo and cheese. Add some healthy fat to complement the protein and complex carbs in your burger. 

We love using avocados in place of cheese or traditional mayonnaise (yum!) 

RELATED: The Healthiest Fats You Can Eat Every Day

#3 Get Smart About Condiments 

If you love layering up your burger with added sauces and flavors, this healthy burger tip is for you! Store-bought condiments are often filled with sneaky ingredients like added sugars and oils. So, be sure to check the ingredients! 

If you’re a big mayo fan, try avocado oil mayonnaise, use unsweetened ketchup (double-check to be sure it’s free of high fructose corn syrup), and use an unsweetened Dijon mustard in place of the sweetened varieties. 

Some other yummy condiment ideas? Hummus, guac, pesto, tzatziki, coleslaw… there are so many healthy options out there! Don’t be afraid to get creative.

RELATED: The Healthiest Sauces & Dips For BBQ Classics 

#4 Ditch The Carby Bun  

Did you know that veggies can make a delicious, low-carb swap for traditional burger buns? 

Try these healthy swaps: 

  • Avocado
  • Bell peppers
  • Roasted sweet potato
  • Lettuce-wrapped burgers (made with romaine or butter leaf lettuce)
  • Collard green-wrapped burgers

Or, check out your local health food store for gluten and grain-free bun alternatives! Just be sure to read the ingredients. 

#5 Add Fiber Where You Can 

When making your healthy burger, think about how you can add some fiber. Fiber is important for digestion, helps support blood sugar levels, and helps keep us full. Adding some fiber to healthy burgers is an easy way to add an additional health boost. 

Psst… our plant-based burger recipe is bursting with fiber and may just satisfy those summertime burger cravings the healthy way. 

RELATED: 11 Fiber-Rich Foods For a Healthy Gut

#6 Stick to Whole Foods Ingredients 

Foods in their least processed, most nutrient-dense form (i.e., foods like fresh veggies and lean proteins that haven’t been refined and processed) are best! 

And being mindful of your ingredients — in general — is a good idea too. If you’re using meat, stick to leaner beef. If you’re opting for veggies, keep the dirty dozen in mind! These simple but easy-to-implement tips make a difference!

8 Healthy Burger Recipes That Prove Just How Delicious Healthy Eating Can Be 

#1 Plant-Based Superfood Burger

Makes: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked beet, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 cups canned black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • For serving: lettuce leaves for the bun, sliced avocado, tomato, onion 

Directions:

Step #1: Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Step #2: Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to make the dough easier to form into patties. 

Step #3: Remove from the fridge and form into 6 patties. Place on the lined baking sheet. 

Step #4: Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. 

Step #5: Top with desired toppings and enjoy! 

#2 Lemon & Dill Salmon Burger 

Makes: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can of wild-caught salmon
  • ½ cup almond flour 
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • For serving: your favorite gluten-free bun or lettuce leaves, sliced avocado, dijon mustard 
  • Coconut or avocado oil for cooking 

Directions:

Step #1: Start by adding all the ingredients, minus the toppings to a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend until combined. 

Step #2: Form into four burger patties and cook in a skillet with coconut or avocado oil for about 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.  

Step #3: Serve with desired toppings and enjoy. 

#3 Avocado & Lime Turkey Burger 

Makes: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (or cooked turkey breast, sliced) 
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • For serving: your favorite gluten-free bun or lettuce leaves, sliced avocado, onion 
  • Coconut or avocado oil for cooking

Directions: 

Step #1: Start by adding all the ingredients, minus the oil, to a large mixing bowl and mix well. 

Step #2: Form into four burger patties and cook on a skillet with the coconut or avocado oil for about 7 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through. 

Step #3: Serve with desired toppings and enjoy!

#4 Chicken Pesto Burger 

Makes: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken 
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • For serving: your favorite gluten-free bun or lettuce leaves, pesto 
  • Coconut or avocado oil for cooking

Directions:

Step #1: Start by adding all the ingredients, minus the oil to a large mixing bowl, and mix well. 

Step #2: Form into four burger patties and cook on a skillet with the coconut or avocado oil for about 7-8 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through. 

Step #3: Serve with desired toppings and enjoy!

#5 Portobello Mushroom Burger

Another plant-based classic (brought to you by Nutritionist Mona Sharma) that’s easy to whip up and will be loved by vegans and non-vegans alike! 

Serves: 1 

Ingredients

  • 2 portobello mushroom
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tomato
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup mixed sprouts
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (optional)
  • sea salt & black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Step #1: Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Step #2: Slice the mushroom stems off. Slice to smooth bottom layer if needed as if slicing a bun.

Step #3: Combine the balsamic, tamari, garlic, basil, salt & pepper in a large bowl and mix well to combine.

Step #4: Place mushroom caps in the marinade mix for 10 minutes minimum to absorb some of the liquid.

Step #5: Place the mushroom caps on a cookie sheet, stem side facing up, with some olive oil to prevent sticking (parchment paper optional). You can spoon any additional marinate into the mushroom caps. Bake the mushrooms for 10 minutes, then flip them, add sesame seeds to one mushroom cap, and bake for another 8-10 minutes until cooked through.

Step #6: Place the smooth side of the mushroom cap down on a serving plate to mimic the bottom of a bun. Add sprouts, avocado slices, tomato, mustard, and any additional toppings of your choice and then top with the top portion of the baked mushroom cap with sesame seeds and serve with the remaining heirloom tomato and basil. You can also add your favorite salad of choice.

#6 The Ultimate White Bean Pizza Burgers

Pizza + burgers. Your favorite comfort foods combine for one healthy recipe! Filled with protein-rich white beans and fresh herbs, these vegetarian-friendly burgers will keep you satiated and satisfied. 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 15 oz white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning, divided
  • ½ cup pasta sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns or bun alternative of choice 

Directions:

Step #1: Preheat the broiler.

Step #2: Mash the white beans in a bowl. Add the egg, breadcrumbs, half the Italian seasoning, basil, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Form into patties. Set aside.

Step #3: Heat half the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onion. Cook for 6-8 minutes until tender, adding the water if they begin to burn. Season with remaining Italian seasoning and set aside.

Step #4: Add the remaining oil and burgers and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until cooked through.

Step #5:Top the burgers with peppers, onions, 2 tbsp. marinara sauce, and 2 tbsp. cheese.

Step #6:Place in broiler until cheese melts.

#7 Ranch Chickpea Veggie Burgers

The only thing standing between you and these protein-rich veggie burgers is a few simple ingredients (less than 10!) and 20 minutes. Fill up on loads of protein, fiber, and nutrients, while savoring every flavorful bite!

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 oz ranch seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 14 oz chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 4 tbsp ranch dressing
  • 4 hamburger buns

Directions:

Step #1: Mash the chickpeas using the back of a fork. Stir in the egg, breadcrumbs, ranch seasoning, and green onions. Mix together.

Step #2: Divide into patties. If they aren’t staying together well, freeze for 10-15 minutes before cooking.

Step #3: Cook in a skillet for 4-5 minutes per side.

Step #4: Serve on a whole grain bun with tomatoes, lettuce, and a drizzle of healthy ranch.

#8 Anything-But-Basic Black Bean Burgers

Just like it says, these burgers are *anything* but basic. They have a similar texture and taste to classic burgers but are loaded with good-for-you ingredients like protein-rich black beans and fiber-rich oats. With a healthy balance of protein and fiber, you’ll stay fuller for longer and avoid those sneaky summertime cravings!

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 hamburger buns of choice
  • 14½ oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • ½ cup oats
  • sea salt & black pepper

Directions:

Step #1: Add the oats to a food processor and pulse 3-4 times until chopped into smaller pieces. Then add half the black beans and pulse a few times until a thick paste forms. Add the egg and cumin and pulse until well combined.

Step #2: Remove the mixture from the food processor and add the remaining beans, cheese, jalapeno, red onion, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Step #3: Form into patties and refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the burgers to firm up.

Step #4: Cook the burgers in a hot skillet sprayed with cooking spray for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping when they brown and crisp up.

Step #5: Serve in toasted hamburger buns with greens and all your favorite toppings.

Here’s What to Serve With Your Healthy Burger 

Ready to get healthy burger prepping but not sure what to serve on the side? Check out our list of healthy swaps that taste better than the real thing!  From healthier fries to dips and veggies, this list has something for everyone.

You’re Now a Healthy Burger Making Pro

So, there you have it — the hacks you need to make healthy burgers taste delicious! Make some healthy swaps, add some veggies, and get side dish and condiment savvy and you’re on your way to satisfying burger craving the healthy way.