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I'm not exaggerating when I call these the ultimate Lamb Burgers: freshly ground lamb shaped, seasoned and cooked to perfection, creamy feta cheese, peppery arugula, sweet tomato and a feather light brioche bun slathered with harissa aioli.
It was the wonderful day I spent with my dad photographing his paintings. While we sat at a little table in his backyard, Keith was having lunch with a friend at Hole in the Wall - not 'a hole in the wall', but a lovely little restaurant in Sebastopol, California by that name. We already knew that we loved their breakfast dishes and that a Dutch Baby for the table is an absolute necessity, but this time Keith came home raving about their lamb burger.
It had some of the typical items you'd expect on a lamb burger, like feta and arugula (rocket), but also something new to me - harissa aioli. And you know what? It is magic. Magic! Combine a generous portion of harissa (a spicy Moroccan pepper sauce) with fresh garlic and mayonnaise and you have a beyond delicious condiment. (You could also stir harissa into your own homemade Garlic Aioli or swap in Sriracha Aioli as your spread.)
Can you eat lamb burgers medium-rare?
Though other cuts of lamb (like lamb chops) are fine to eat at a medium-rare temperature, the USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 160˚F for ground lamb.
Since we like our burgers still pink in the middle, I like to know that the meat is freshly ground, so we decided to grind our own. For Christmas a couple of years ago, Keith's dad bought me a meat grinding attachment for my stand mixer. Now I'm kicking myself for taking so long to try it.
We ground a 5-pound leg of lamb in 4 minutes flat. I don't know why it matters, but the flavor of the burger was notably better than any ground lamb I've had from the grocery store. If you don't have a manual grinder or mixer attachment, you can also use your food processor or ask your butcher to grind it.
How do you know when Lamb Burgers are done?
To check for doneness, check the center of each patty with an instant read thermometer. When it reads 160˚F, you know your burgers are done. No need to rest the burgers before eating.
This is one of those burger recipes that's so versatile, easy enough for a weeknight, but festive enough for a weekend get-together. During the cooler months of the year, we cook these on the stove top, but in the summer, these burgers are great for grilling.
Sometimes we mix it up by adding thin slices of red onion and fresh herbs like fresh mint leaves, fresh parsley, fresh oregano along with the arugula. We've also swapped in tzatziki sauce - a Greek yogurt sauce (made with either strained or Greek yogurt). If you have friends or family who don't care for lamb, you can make this recipe subbing in ground beef.
You can serve these burgers on a pita bread instead of a bun if you prefer. And if you're up for a fun project, I highly recommend making your own Brioche Hamburger Buns or Brioche Rolls or Brioche Slider Buns for smaller slider-style burgers. The recipes are surprisingly easy and the flavor is worth the effort.
Greek Style Lamb Burgers with Feta and Harissa Aioli
For the Harissa Aioli
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons harissa
- 1 large clove garlic minced
For the Lamb Burgers
- 1 ⅓ pounds ground lamb ideally freshly ground
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 brioche buns
- 2 ounces feta crumbled (Valbreso brand is my favorite)
- 2 cups baby arugula or baby greens
- 4 slices tomato
- Make the Harissa Aioli by whisking together mayonnaise, harissa and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
- Meanwhile, divide ground lamb evenly and form four, 1-inch thick burgers, making a depression in the center for even cooking. Season both sides of burger with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Transfer burgers to hot grill pan and cook 5 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F on an instant read thermometer.
- Assemble burgers: slather bottoms of each brioche bun with aioli and top with burger, feta, arugula and tomato. Slather inside of top bun with aioli and place on top. Serve.
Was good! The harissa aioli was very tasty.
Marissa Stevens says
So glad you enjoyed this, Ali!
This burger is incredible. What a scrumptious combination of flavors -- and the brioche buns are perfect! I checked out your dad's paintings, too. Beautiful! 🙂 ~Valentina
I’ve never had a lamb burger, but this looks like a satisfying one! The photos are so eye catching! And harissa aioli sounds like it should go on all burgers!
Marissa Stevens says
I think harissa aioli should go on all burgers, haha! Thanks so much, Leanne!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
I wish I could reach through my screen and grab this burger Marissa! That aioli and feta sound like the perfect additions to this epic burger! Pinned!
Marissa Stevens says
aww...thanks so much, Mary Ann! xo
Cha boi says
I was rly worried bc my lamb amounts were wrong and I only got three burgs!?!? THEN I tried the harrissa aioli and it's definitely fave. Thank you for your contribution.
Glad you enjoyed!
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Love finding new recipes with harissa. So good!
My pleasure! Thanks, Billy!
Never thought to make a lamb burger before! Definitely going to make this tonight, how do you think bleu cheese would do instead of feta? Thanks for sharing, can't wait to try it at home!
Hi Sam! I think blue cheese would be great!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Okay, first of all, your dad is uber-talented!!! I clicked the link and was blown away by his paintings! I could spend all day staring at them, but I wanted to come back and stare at this burger too. 😉 lol. This burger is all sorts of fabulous, Marissa! I LOVE lamb and harissa, so this burger has my name written ALLLLL over it! This is the ultimate burger indeed!!! Pinned! Cheers, sweets! XO
aww, thanks, Cheyanne! I agree about my dad - so proud of him and he's an amazing man in so many other ways too. About the burger, please, please try it! It's ridiculous...
I had to run right over and check out your dad's gallery....so, so beautiful! You're a family of artists... Speaking of art - this burger is incredible and I can imagine the flavor of the meat being freshly ground took it over the top! My hubby has always wanted a meat grinder, I'm going to have to check out that attachment. Pretty sure I'd put that harissa aioli on everything! Pinned!
Thank you so much, Annie! I'm such a sap - totally get teared up reading the sweet comments about him. And on the harissa aioli, so good. Promise.
Jenny| The Baking Skillet says
That Harissa aioli is calling my name! Loving all the flavors going on here and your pics are beautiful.
Thank you so much, Jenny!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
This burger looks so good, Marissa! So awesome that you ground your own lamb! We have a meat grinder and it's just sitting on the shelf all lonely and this reminds me that we have to use it 🙂 I love when favourite restaurant dishes are recreated at home - the little thing, right 🙂 ? I would seriously put that harissa aioli on everything!! Fabulous video too! P.S.Your dad's paintings are gorgeous, by the way - so talented! Hope you're having a wonderful week! XO
I love that you already have a grinder, Dawn. we were the same - took us forever to try it. But it really makes the meat almost fluffy...haha...sounds weird, tastes awesome! Thanks so much for the kind words about my dad's work - so proud of him.
David @ Spiced says
Awesome burger! So I've gotta say that I love grinding my own meat, too. I have an attachment to my countertop mixer, and it's always fun to pull that one out...but I haven't done it in a long time. I think I just fall into the 'convenience trap' but I'll totally have to grind my own meat for a burger soon! Also, I love the feta + harissa aioli here. Believe it or not, I can't find harissa in this area. I've looked long and hard, so I guess I Just need to break down and order it online. Oh, and your Dad's paintings. Holy cow! Those are incredible!! 🙂
Thanks so much, David! I'm glad you like my Dad's work! Me too - super proud of him. Wish I could beam some harissa to you, haha...It really is worth getting some! Good on so many things. Have a wonderful weekend!
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
You're speaking my language with the feta! And that harissa aioli? That sounds like a burger game changer. Brilliant!
Katherine | Love In My Oven says
Lamb burgers!! How wonderful. I will admit I'm a little lost when it comes to lamb. My husband grew up eating a ton of it and would simply love these. What a wonderful idea to use feta!!
Thank you, Katherine! I was the same way - I didn't even taste lamb until I was in my 30s. And now it's a favorite... It's definitely a different flavor from beef, so this is a great way to try it because there are a lot of flavors going on and the lamb accentuates everything, but doesn't take over...
Ben | Havocinthekitchen says
Oooh, these burgers look utterly delicious and succulent, Marissa. And I'm not even a burger guy. I can eat it once or twice a year, but I can easily skip it too. These guys look so good that I would probably pick one without hesitation. Besides, I do love lamb and feta here...I'm completely sold!
Thank you so much, Ben! Wish I could make you one myself. 🙂
Dorothy Dunton says
Hi Marissa. These are making my mouth water! Ground lamb is not available here, actually not much lamb of any kind. However, a while back we were talking to the butcher at our local store. A week or so later we asked to have some ribeye steaks cut to order and he actually came out of a manager's meeting to cut our steaks himself, but also said he had gotten permission to special order both lamb and veal based on our recently conversation. I will be talking to him very soon! I've had a grinder attachment for a number of years and I agree with you that grinding your own meat is so much better. I can not only control the fat content, but also the grind. Plus when bigger cuts of meat go on sale it's quite often cheaper to grind my own. .
Wow, Dorothy. You charmed the butcher, which is NO surprise to me! If you give these a try, I'd love to hear what you and Gary think.
Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness says
This lamb burger looks and sounds delicious. Very flavorful! Your pictures are gorgeous!
What a sweet comment! Thank you, Dawn.