German Pork Burger

My father turned to me the other day and remarked, “I like anything made with pork.” No duh dad. With a name like Bauer, what do you expect? The man practically has sauerkraut juice running through his veins.

Here is a burger that does my daddy proud. We call it German not because they make them this way in Germany (who knows?) but because of the ingredients often found in many German dishes—caraway seeds, ground juniper berries, black pepper, sour cream, and of course, pork. Oh yes, and you top it with grainy mustard and sauerkraut. Any more German and this burger would be wearing lederhosen. This is one hellava burger, the kind that makes you close your eyes and smile while you eat it. The kind that makes you want to steal a bite from your dad’s plate when he isn’t looking and you ate yours too fast and finished before he did, but you don’t because you know better than to get between your dad and the food he loves. Enjoy.

German Pork Burger Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Juniper berries are available whole in most good supermarkets, you'll need to crush them or grind them for this recipe. If you can't find juniper berries either omit them or substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds instead. It will be a different flavor, but still good. If you don't eat pork, you can use ground beef instead.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground juniper berries (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sauerkraut and whole grain mustard to top burgers
  • Burger buns

Method

1 Using your hands, mix in the salt, ground juniper berries, caraway seeds, and pepper in with the ground pork. Mix in the chopped parsley and sour cream.

2 Form into patties, anywhere from 1/4 pound to 1/2 pound each.

3 Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the burger patties to the pan, and cook slowly, 4 to 5 minutes each side, until the interior of the burgers reaches a temperature of 155°F. Alternatively, cook on a grill on medium heat, 4-5 minutes each side, until the burgers are cooked through.

4 Remove the burgers from the heat and toast the buns on the pan or grill. Top each burger with a dollop of whole grain mustard and a sprinkling of sauerkraut.

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31 Comments

  1. Shanna

    Do you have any recipes for homemade sauerkraut? I despise the sauerkraut in a bag that you buy at the grocery store! (I can’t even stand the smell lol!) The hubby and I are stationed in GA and we have a authentic German restaurant down here, and they make their own using Red Cabbage! I had to try it, even though I figured I’d be grossed out, and to my surprise it was Amazing, I couldn’t stop eating it!
    P.S. Love the site! Visit it often!!
    P.S.S. Love the comment about your dad, we’re from MN also! Too Funny!

    Hi Shanna, don’t have one yet, but you might want to check out Marc of No Recipes Homemade sauerkraut. By the way, if you can find it, Bubbies makes a terrific sauerkraut. You’ll find it jarred and in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. ~Elise

  2. Marie-Sophie

    :-D No, we don’t make them that way in Germany – but it sounds really good!! I am pretty sure my boyfriend is going to be in love with your blog when I make this for him *g*
    Hi from Mainz, Germany!!

    • Marie

      Hi Marie,

      Same concept. It’s Frikadelen, which is the German version of Burger, which happens to be one of my favorites!

      Marie,
      Lived in Germany for 7 years.

  3. Stefanie

    Hi there, so – I am German and I can assure you that I never ever came around such a thing as Sauerkraut on a burger. haha! Sounds good, though!

  4. Janina

    Hi,

    First of all, this looks good (like all of your recipes)!

    I’m German and I love your recipes, so I thought, I’d give you a little feedback on burgers in Germany: In general, we don’t do burger, that’s American food for us. (we appreciate them anyway ;) ) we do however eat patties (“buletten” or “frikadellen” or “fleischkirchle”) made of ground meat and eat them with potato salad or French fries or put them into rolls (that’s as close as you can get to a burger in traditional German food). I make them form a mixture of ground pork and beef and season with salt, pepper, maybe a little chili and onion bits that I browned in a pan. Some people add parsley when they are feeling fancy. We normally add breadcrumbs and an egg to lighten the texture and make the patty a bit softer. The patties are often less flat than the version you show in the photo as they are not intended to be eaten between a bun. Caraway seeds and juniper are popular spices in Germany, but in my family, we do not use them in a patty. No sauerkraut neither (Here, Sauerkraut is a winter food that is cooked with white wine, caraway seeds, juniper berries and bay leafs, and served with preserved meats such as smoked and salted pork or sausages and boiled potatoes or homemade schupfnudeln (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schupfnudel, depending on the region) )

    Even if it is not really German food, I hope you and your family enjoyed the “German” burgers anyway! Maybe I will try your version some day; you might be able to change my mind ;)

  5. Dara

    What an original burger recipe! I’ll bet your dad was thrilled when you presented him with this tribute to all-things German.

    Are you kidding? He was in heaven. Piled on even more sauerkraut. ~Elise

  6. My Kitchen in the Rockies

    Well, we Germans make a similar meat patty to a hamburger that we fry in a pan. It is usually a mix of beef and pork called “Frikadellen”. My mom used to serve it with mashed potatoes and leek in a Bechamel sauce on the side. It is very delicious. Sorry, no sauerkraut with this one.
    I am sure your dad loved his Sauerkraut burger. It looks delicious.

  7. Susan

    What a novel idea for a burger! Gosh, we top our rubens with sauerkraut, why not a burger. The only thing I’d add would be to stir some caramelized onions into the kraut..just to sweeten it a bit. Otherwise, perfect! Can’t wait to make them.

  8. Anna

    Mmmm, count me in as a pork fan, too. I often mix 1/3 portion of ground pork in my bison or beef hamburgers.

    I know some cultures/religions shun pork, but so many diverse cultures around the world also do magnificent things with pork, too. I especially like the heritage breeds instead of the new breeds carried in the supermarkets that are bred to be lean and fast-growing. The new breeds are too dry and bland, IMO. I’m NOT looking for “the other white meat”. Praise the lard!

    I’ve been reading through Ruhlman & Plocyn’s Charcuterie book lately, and they make a great argument for grinding tough (thrifty) cuts of meat when pressed for time instead of cooking slowly for hours to tenderize them (my favorite pork butt roast recipe slow roasts for about 10-12 hours in the oven – definitely a plan ahead meal).

    Grinder attachments are available for many stand mixers (like Kitchenaid) but dicing, then pulsing with a food processor might work, too (with some caution not to overprocess the meat into mush). I have a heavy duty meat grinder already, so it’s pretty fast to cut up a pork butt roast into large chunks (esp if it is boneless), toss with spices, and grind up for fresh sausage or burger meat.

    Of course, a burger bun is not an option for me (wheat and BG issues), so I’d serve this on a bed of sauerkraut, chopped braised cabbage, or slaw.

    And I second someone’s earlier recommendation for Bubbie’s sauerkraut – it’s the real deal, made by traditional lacto-fermentation (which is naturally probiotic if is isn’t heated too hot) instead of the industrial method with vinegar. If you can’t or wont make homemade kraut (which is the best and thriftiest, of course), then Bubbies is really good and relatively easy to find option from the supermarket (Bubbie’s website has a store finder). Bubbie’s lacto-fermented dill pickles & pickle relish are really good, too.

  9. Christina

    Hmm… looks yummy. Over here in Germany, the patties are usually a mixture of ground pork and beef(halb und halb). Instead of sauerkraut, we eat it with a German-style white cabbage salad(Krautsalat) and mustard.

  10. Foodiewife

    My mother taught me all about cooking authentic German food. While this isn’t authentic, it’s a very clever burger, indeed! As for the person who asked about homemade sauerkraut and mentioned a restaurant who made their own with red cabbage– these are two different animals. I don’t particularly like sauerkraut, but if I rinse it really well it becomes palatable to me. Red cabbage is made completely different, and I do have a killer recipe of my own (if I do say so myself). I could eat a LOT of red cabbage, anytime of day. Anyway, glad you shared this burger. LOL on it practically wearing Lederhosen!

  11. Farmgirl Susan

    Ha, the ‘No duh dad,’ comment cracked me up. Thanks for the laugh. As for the burger, I think my hunky farmguy Joe (who dearly misses raising hogs) would love this!

    We went through a grilled pork burger phase a few years ago right after having a hog butchered, and they’re such a nice change from beef. I love the idea of a little sour cream mixed into the meat – and he LOVES mustard and sauerkraut. In fact, the other day we were at the store and I said, Do you want to get some sauerkraut? Do we have anything to put it on? He said we didn’t but grabbed a jar anyway. And the other day I found a forgotten package of ground pork in one of the freezers. Must be foodie fate. Thanks, Elise! :)

  12. laura @ alittlebarefoot

    Now all you need to add is beer!

    I actually ate a beer-braised pork sandwich with sauerkraut on a pretzel bun at a restaurant yesterday, it was their special Oktoberfest sandwich. So authentic or no, I think putting sauerkraut on your burger is a great homage to the Germans!

  13. Susan

    Prepared this last night with venison on the grill, it was delicious. My husband and I both enjoyed it, I will be making it again!

  14. Denise Michaels

    Sounds like it has a bit of a Sauerbraten “feel” to this recipe with the juniper berries and other stuff. Since I’m trying to be a little healthier (yes – I believe pork can be a healthy choice) I’d skip the bun and melt a slice of Muenster cheese on top. Maybe put the sauerkraut on the side or serve it with German red cabbage. Then it becomes low-carb but cabbage is always a healthy way to go and adds very few calories. Okay, okay – I know it’s different from the burger concept – but you still get most of the flavors and the fun – but with a lot less guilt.

    I put a nice recipe for Red Cabbage that’s probably not 100% authentic but pretty doggone good on my blog a couple days ago.

  15. affe

    Sounds really great but would probably be even nicer in a crispy bun like you have them for breakfast in Germany!

  16. KNatGU

    At Team Trivia once their was a question of what the top 4 or 5 Pork producing countries were? The answers were something like: China, Spain, Germany, USA, Brazil. Well needless to say I had no idea the Germans ate so much pork, but clearly you did ;)

  17. EDCinci

    In some south German (Bavarian) and Austrian (Tirol) pork recipes, the caraway seed is ground before mixing with/being applied to the meat (often as a rub on the exterior of the meat). Have you tried that with these burgers? They look great. I guess I’ll try it first with ground caraway. My wife says ground caraway gives a more interesting flavor than whole-seed.

  18. Tina

    I tried these burgers and they were amazing. Thanks for the recipe.

  19. jonathan

    I love how your Dad was just so completely random in coming out with his declaration: “I like anything made with pork.”
    I’ve been squirreling away $5 from every paycheck since I first discovered your blog years ago so I can cover the airfare to visit and share some beer and pork with your Dad.
    I’m almost there. You have a guest room?

  20. Brooke

    Looks delicious! Where would I find juniper berries?

    Hi Brooke, we get them in the spice section of our local grocery store. But if your grocery store doesn’t carry them, you can probably find them online. ~Elise

  21. Judy H

    The German pork burgers were on the menu last night. Hubby and I loved them. Actually, we departed somewhat from the recipe and they were turned into “German Pork Burger Reubens”. We added a slice of Swiss cheese on the burger, waited until that melted and then off to the bun. Added some grainy mustard, a little Thousand Island dressing and then the kraut. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Looking forward to having them again “soon”. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Kate

    Never used juniper berries before I tried this, but… me like. Also never would have thought to add sour cream, but it really works.

  23. Paula

    I made this for dinner tonight, and it was sooo good! I couldn’t find juniper berries, so I used celery seed, as suggested.

  24. Nick

    This was good, but I would warn people to make sure to use only a little bit of juniper and make sure the proportion is correct with your pork. I actually wish I had ommitted the juniper berries (or substituted with celery seed) as the juniper gave my burger a distinct gin taste that didn’t go over so well during my slight hangover and made me feel like I was taking a bite of gin and tonic each time.

    Interesting. Definitely didn’t taste gin-y to me, and I really don’t like gin. ~Elise

  25. Rose

    I like sauerkraut on all my burgers, German or not. I make my own with red or green cabbage, garlic, sometimes ginger, and maybe grated carrots or beets. It is really easy, except for all the chopping. It also lasts for ages in the fridge, maybe 3-6 months. I’ve never had any go bad before I eat it–it just gets tangier and tangier. Yum! I learned my technique from the book “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz, and it is one of the skills I am most proud of. So my favorite burger is a patty of any sort (veggie, pork, beef) topped with melted sharp cheddar cheese, on a wholewheat bun with some mustard, greens, kraut, and some caramelized onions or sauteed mushrooms. And maybe some avocado. Don’t know why I don’t have these more often…

  26. Laurie

    Really good! I used half pork and half 80/20 ground beef. Moist and delicious! I used all the juniper and thought it was great! Thanks, Elise!

  27. Anonymous

    I made these for dinner last week, and they were amazing – sooo different. My German husband loved them as well. I’ve never had juniper berries, and was a little worried, but they were great. Will definitely make these again. Thanks, Elise!!

  28. johanna

    Dear all,

    isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? And aren’t this blog, Elise and the readers just precious?
    America and Germany are FAR apart, and though we’ve never met a love for food and cooking and Elise’s recipes unites us. How cool is that?!

    very kind foodie regards,
    johanna German living in Brussels

  29. Nick

    A few comments above, I mentioned the juniper berries making the burgers taste like gin. Do you think it’s b/c I used whole juniper berries that I chopped up finely vs. the ground juniper that you state in your recipe? I thought that substitution would be fine, but perhaps whole ones are a lot stronger in taste than dried ground versions…..

    We used whole juniper berries that we ground up in a mortar and pestle. If it is tasting ginny to you, I would just use fewer. ~Elise

  30. Thorsten

    I`ll try out this burger as a German-
    We do an Americian burger cooking evening and this is number 3 and the list.
    You wont find this in Germany, but like you said: “We call it German not because they make them this way in Germany (who knows?) but because of the ingredients often found in many German dishes”

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