How to Make Healthier Burgers with Quick Swaps & Strategies
Nothing compares to biting into a juicy burger. Lighten up this summertime grilling favorite with a few healthy swaps. For your next backyard cookout, try these simple, fresh ideas to build better-for-you burgers filled with flavor and nutrients.
The first step in crafting a healthy burger is keeping the portion in check. Five ounces is the recommended serving size for a patty (four after cooking). Replace some ground beef with chopped mushrooms, grains or beans for added fiber, elevated flavor and texture, as well as reduced saturated fat. For other lighter burger bases, use ground turkey, chicken or salmon, or meat alternatives like the Impossible™ Burger, The Beyond Burger® or veggie burgers.
Condiments like mustard and ketchup are low in calories but often contain added sugar or sodium. Use small amounts of these tried-and-true favorites or turn to healthier condiments such as pesto. Made with basil, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts, pesto adds color and dimension to burgers. Experiment with yogurt to make homemade, protein-rich sauces and spice them up with a mixture of jalapeños, cilantro and salt, or curry powder and ginger for an Indian-inspired sauce. To give burgers another global twist, top them with a Thai chili sauce and peanut butter mixture for flavorful Asian flair.
Replace the traditional bun to give your sandwich a healthy upgrade. Try whole wheat buns that add filling fiber and nutrients to your meal, or cut the calories from the bun in half with open-face burgers that showcase your patty and toppings. Or, swap out your bun for sturdy leafy greens that can stand up to your freshly cooked burger with all of the fixings.
Adding a full serving of high-fiber produce to burgers will help keep you full. Beyond the standard lettuce, tomatoes and pickles combination, try the following fresh ingredients that pack plenty of flavor and nutrients!
Elevated Greens: Top burgers with vitamin-rich spinach, arugula, watercress, kale and your other favorite leafy greens for added calcium, iron and fiber.
Grilled Pineapple: With vitamins A and K, zinc and potassium, grilled pineapple imparts burgers with immune-boosting benefits and sweet charred flavors.
Avocado: For a dose of healthy fat, top burgers with avocado slices or guacamole made with smashed avocado and lime juice that both make for a more filling burger with contrasting textures.
Chile Peppers: Peppers are big on flavors and low in calories. From jalapeños and anaheims to habaneros, choose your preferred pepper to spice up your burgers.