Up your burger game and be the hero of your next barbecue with Greek lamb burgers and homemade tzatziki!
Assembling the Best Homemade Lamb Burger
I season these lamb burgers with some of Greece's most-loved flavors – like garlic, dried lemon peel, and oregano – before grilling them up and serving them on toasted buns.
I like to set out a little buffet of Greek-inspired toppings near the grill for everyone to help themselves. Some of my favorites are fresh tomatoes, lettuce, feta, red onion, and of course, that tzatziki.
You can make your tzatziki up to three days in advance. I like to pre-salt and drain my cucumbers for a few hours or as long as overnight. If you’re pressed for time, you can salt the cucumber, let it drain for just 10 minutes, and then use a tea towel to press out as much moisture as you can.
Can I Use Other Meat for These Burgers?
If you’re wary of lamb because you find it too gamy and strong-tasting, I recommend trying lamb from New Zealand. It has a clean, grassy flavor and stays nice and juicy after cooking.
And If you’re really unsure about lamb, you try mixing it with some ground beef — up to half of the total weight of the meat in this recipe.
Lamb burgers may not be the most popular burger in the US, but this recipe might very well convince you that it should be!
How to Prep Lamb Burgers in Advance
You can make and refrigerate the patties for the lamb burgers a day in advance, or freeze them up to 3 months. Follow Steps 2, 3, and 4 as written, omitting the last part of Step 4 that says to rest the patties on the counter.
If using the next day, wrap each patty in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate. Before cooking, unwrap the patties and allow them to rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes to bring to room temperature.
If freezing, wrap each patty in plastic wrap and then place all the patties in a freezer-safe zip top bag or container with a lid. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Allow the patties to rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes to bring to room temperature before cooking.
Prepare the tzatziki up to 3 days ahead, storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We don't recommend freezing tzatziki.
Other Options for Cooking Lamb Burgers
No grill? You can still make tasty lamb burgers with the following methods.
- Cook on the stovetop in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Preheat the skillet to medium-high heat and cook the burgers to your desired doneness, flipping halfway through.
- Use an air fryer to cook the lamb burgers. Cook at 375°F for 4 minutes, flip, and cook another 4 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cooking burgers.
How to Tell When Lamb Burgers are Done
The best way to know if your lamb burgers are fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer and follow these temperature guidelines for your desired doneness.
- Medium rare: 145°F—cooked on the outside with a juicy, red center.
- Medium: 160°F—cooked on the outside with a pink center.
- Well-done: 170°F—fully cooked on the outside and inside with a brown center.
Lamb Burger Variations
- Serve in a pita, perhaps making smaller patties and using 2 or 3 patties per pita.
- Substitute goat cheese, Havarti, cheddar, Swiss—or another cheese you enjoy—for the feta.
- Substitute 3/4 teaspoon of lemon zest for the dried lemon peel.
- Substitute lemon garlic aioli for the tzatziki sauce.
5 Sides for Lamb Burgers
- Cucumber Yogurt Salad
- Easy Muhammara
- Mediterranean Mezze Platter
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Spinach and Orzo Salad
Greek Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce
Recipe can be doubled or tripled to serve larger crowds.
Look for dried lemon peel in the spice section of your grocery store, or order it online. Skip it if you can’t easily find it.
You will likely have some leftover tzatziki sauce after making this recipe. It will keep refrigerated for about a week, and it can be used on sandwiches or as a dip with pita chips
- For the tzatziki
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (full fat is best here)
- 1/3 cup lightly packed chopped fresh herbs (I used equal amounts of mint, parsley, and dill)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- For the lamb burgers
- 1 tablespoon dried onion granules
- 1 tablespoon dried garlic granules or powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel, optional
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or a combination of beef and lamb)
- 4 burger buns
- To serve
- Sliced tomatoes
- Crumbled feta
- Red onion
- Tzatziki sauce
Make the tzatziki:
Salt the cucumber slices with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and place in a sieve over a bowl to drain. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours, occasionally turning cucumbers. (If you need to prepare the tzatziki right away, salt the cucumbers for just 10 minutes, then squeeze out excess moisture with a clean tea towel.)
In a large bowl, mix cucumbers, yogurt, herbs, vinegar, and garlic. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.
This step can be done up to 3 days before serving.
Whisk together the dried onion, dried garlic, dried lemon peel, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Shape the lamb burgers:
Sprinkle the ground lamb with 2 teaspoons of the spice mix and gently work it into the meat with your finger tips or a spatula; try not to over-mix the meat or compact it too much as you work in the spices.
Turn the seasoned meat out on a work surface and form into four (6 ounce) patties. Press a shallow dimple in the center of each patty to help the patties cook evenly and prevent them from forming domes in the middle.
Season and rest the burgers:
Sprinkle additional seasoning onto both sides of the patties. Rest on counter for 20 to 30 minutes to allow burgers to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare your grill:
If you have a gas grill, preheat at high temperature for at least 10 minutes with the lid closed. For charcoal grills, fill a grill chimney with charcoal and light it. When the coals are hot (they should be covered with a layer of fine gray ash) empty the coals into the grill. Set the grate in place and cover the grill. Heat for 5 minutes.
Grill the burgers:
When your grill is ready, lightly brush the grates with oil. Add the burgers and close the grill. Cook the burgers to your desired doneness, flipping halfway through cooking. (Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, or to 145°F.)
Finish and serve:
Rest your lamb burgers for 3 minutes while you toast the buns on the grill. Then serve immediately with tzatziki sauce and other toppings.