There’s nothing easier to make and more satisfying to eat than a classic beef burger. With the right toppings and condiments, lean ground beef can be made into the most delicious and juicy burger. Make this your own with your favorite toppings, or even make a “build your own burger bar” with fixings to please all taste buds. This lightened-up classic burger is sure to be a menu staple.
What makes this burger lightened-up?
Truthfully, all of the ingredients here are traditional burger ingredients: a bun, cheese, beef. The only aspect of this recipe that makes it “lightened-up” is the fact that the beef I use is 96/4 lean ground beef.
A lot of people might be hesitant to use beef when they are trying to eat healthier or lighter; but, many people will be surprised to learn that extra lean ground beef actually has comparable stats (or even preferable stats) to some cuts of ground turkey. It’s easy to assume that ground turkey is going to be lower fat and lower calorie than beef, but when it comes to a cut like 93/7 ground turkey, the 96/4 extra lean ground beef actually “wins” here.
So, bottom line is: don’t be afraid to eat beef! It can be a fun and healthy alternative in your diet.
What you’ll need to make a lightened-up classic burger
- 96/4 lean ground beef
- I find this at Trader Joes (Aldi also sells it). Some regular supermarkets do, too.
- hamburger buns
- ranch seasoning
- dehydrated minced onion
- Worcestershire sauce
- American cheese
- mixed greens or lettuce of choice
- red onion
- special sauce
How to make lightened-up classic burgers
Mixing and cooking the patties
For the ultimate beef burger patties, it’s all about flavoring and seasoning the meat. Especially when you are using a leaner cut of beef, it’s really important to add some good flavor into the patties. I do that by adding dehydrated onion, Worcestershire, and ranch seasoning.
Add those flavors into the meat, and then use your hands to combine everything. Once it’s combined (careful not to overmix!) divide the meat into four equal-sized patties. Since we are using 1 lb of ground beef, each patty will be a little more than 4 ounces (accounting for the additional seasonings and ingredients).
Roll the meat into balls, and then press down to form patties. Create a divot in the center of each patty so that when they cook, they stay flat, and don’t puff up.
Grill the patties over medium high heat for a couple of minutes per side, or until your desired temperature. At the same time as the patties cook, cut the red onion into 1/4″ slices and add those to the grill, too. Grilled red onion adds a delicious flavor component to any sandwich or burger because its slightly sweet, but charred.
How do I prevent the lean ground beef from being too dry?
Any time I show any of my burgers, I get this question. Lots of you seem to struggle with your lean ground beef patties tasting dry. To avoid that, I recommend not overcooking the patties. I use my meat thermometer to ensure that I am pulling my patties off the grill at the exact moment they need to be pulled. I like to aim for a medium to medium-well internal temperature in order to avoid a dry burger.
Also, when it comes time to melt the cheese, place the cheese slices on the patties, and then remove the pan from the heat, or put the patties onto a plate to the side. This will stop the cooking process, but the patties will be warm enough to melt the cheese.
As always, I also recommend adding all of your favorite condiments and toppings to really up the flavor profile of your burgers. A delicious condiment like my special sauce is a great addition to any burger patty to make it really juicy and flavorful.
The toppings for this classic burger are melted American cheese, grilled red onion, lettuce, and special sauce. Here is the recipe for my special sauce, I highly recommend using this for the ultimate burger experience!
Other class burger toppings include, but are not limited to: bacon, tomato slices, pickles.
What to serve with the lightened-up classic burger
I love having fries with my burger, of course, but if you are looking to keep things even lighter, I recommend a bright cucumber salad on the side. Just toss sliced cucumber with raw red onion slices, salt, pepper, and some white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (no exact measurements are needed here!).
I also recommend any of these delicious side salads for a great barbeque spread:
Lightened-Up Classic Burger
- grill pan or skillet
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 lb 96/4 extra lean ground beef
- 1 tsp ranch seasoning I use Hidden Valley brand
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- 4 slices American cheese I use Velveeta
- 1 red onion
- 1 cup mixed greens
- 1 batch special sauce
- Mix the ground beef with the ranch seasoning, dehydrated minced onion and Worcestershire.
- Combine all ingredients, and using your hands, form four 4-oz patties.
- Press your thumb into the middle part of the burger to create a divot. This will prevent the burger from puffing up when it cooks.
- Slice the red onion into four slices.
- Grill the burgers or cook on a griddle to your desired internal temperature. At the same time as the burgers cook, grill the red onion slices.
- Top each burger with one slice of cheese to melt.
- Assemble your burgers: 1 bun, 2 tbsp special sauce, one patty with cheese, one of the grilled onion rings, mixed greens.
- 9 WW points (all plans, including bun)
Try out these other healthy beef burger recipes: