Kufta Style Lamb Burgers with Garlic Tzaziki

This post has been a few months in the making. It was one of those things that had been in the back of my mind to do but took a while for me to actually get around to cooking.

Back in February I threw my annual Oscar Party and served these Middle Eastern Kufta style sliders:

Hat tip to The ElVee for the photo. 

One taste of these and I knew I wanted to recreate them in a regular sized burger. The different spices gave the meat such an interesting depth of flavor that was only highlighted by its accompaniments – fresh plum tomatoes, caramelized onions, cool creamy garlic tzaziki, spicy store-bought harissa, and a savory dakkous. I didn’t have that many toppings this time around, but as far as I’m concerned, (nearly) anything goes.

Start by measuring out all your spices and set aside. Grate one half of a medium sized onion (white or yellow) into one pound of ground lamb. Add a clove (or two!) of grated garlic, and 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley. Add spices and mix thoroughly to combine.

Form into 4 oz patties and allow to rest 20-30 minutes so the flavors combine and meat comes to room temperature. Press a small dent into the middle of the burgers when forming to prevent them from “puffing up” in the center while cooking.

While my burgers rested I made my tzaziki sauce. Greek yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated garlic, chopped dill, grated english cucumber, salt, pepper. Stir.

Set aside.

To serve with the burgers, I made Ina Garten’s Meditteranean Vegetable Salad, minus the chickpeas. It’s not a true fattoush, but many of the flavors are the same – cucumbers, tomatoes, lots of parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. So fresh and delicious. There’s a reason why Ina’s the queen, you know.

We also had dakkous, or a savory tomato sauce, for topping the burgers. It’s tasty and so easy to make. One can of diced tomatoes, one garlic clove minced, a bunch of cilantro, chopped fine. Bring to a low simmer in a pan with some olive oil, mash it up (I used my immersion blender), and serve.

So much better than ketchup. (Shout out to my friend Sara who made this in exchange for dinner.)

Onto grilling the burgers on my sad excuse for a grill.

Seriously, that thing’s getting replaced before next spring. That poor burner is hanging on for dear life.

Grill the burgers on medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes.
I served the burgers in large, thin pita I found at a local market (Elias Market on Linden in Bethlehem. A little dumpy but some great finds.), but you can use any type you prefer — or just on a regular bun. I wrapped the pita in foil and placed them in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes before I was ready to serve. The pita were so big I was able to cut one in half for my burger.

Top burger with preferred toppings and serve. I went for it here – tzaziki, crumbled feta, tomatoes, the harissa, and dakkous.

It was messy but so worth it.

Lamb Kufta Burgers 

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 Grated onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine spices and set aside. Grate onion and garlic into a bowl with the ground lamb. Add chopped parsley and spices and mix thoroughly. Make four 4 oz patties, forming them with a slight dent in the middle of the patties. Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. Grill over medium to medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from grill, allow to rest, and serve.

Garlic Tzaziki

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup grated English cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt
  • pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes and serve.