Long Weekends — Or Any Day — Were Made for Hoisin-Glazed Lamb Burgers

Five-spice, hoisin sauce, and quick pickled carrots and cucumbers turn this lamb burger sensational.

Five-spice, hoisin sauce, and quick pickled carrots and cucumbers turn this lamb burger sensational.


It’s reminiscent of a steamed clamshell bun folded over Peking duck — but done up burger-style with lamb instead.

How can that ever be bad?

Those sweet, savory, garlicky, addictive Asian flavors of hoisin sauce are what make this burger such a winner. That unmistakable Chinese condiment not only combines with five spice powder to flavor the ground lamb that makes up this burger, but gets slathered on the cooked patty for a final flourish. In a sense, hoisin sauce takes the place of ketchup. One taste, and you’ll never go back, too.

“Hoisin-Glazed Lamb Burgers” is from the new cookbook, “The Ultimate Burger: Plus DIY Condiments, Sides, and Boozy Milkshakes” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

Ultimate Burger

It’s one of 138 recipes for burgers of every type, as well as home-made buns, condiments, side dishes and drinks. With summer around the corner, it’s the perfect time to whet your whistle with recipes such as “Italian Pork Burgers with Broccoli Rabe,” “Spicy Brown Rice-Edamame Burgers,” “Grilled Southwestern Salmon Burgers,” and “Smoky Grilled Potato Salad.”

There’s a wealth of information on the best way to grind your own meat at home, why you need to rest your burgers before chomping down, and the best equipment for burger making.

These lamb burgers also get garnished with a quick and easy mix of pickled carrots and cucumbers. It calls for an English cucumber, but I used a Japanese one because I had it handy in the fridge, and it worked just fine.

These burgers are as easy to make as any version you already do at home. They’re super juicy, as well. Although this recipe directs you to cook them on the stovetop, you can easily take them out to the backyard grill instead.

If lamb is not your favorite, this recipe also would work incredibly well with pork, turkey or even duck, especially since I now know how easily it is to find ground duck at the right store.

Just don’t forget to pick up a big jar of hoisin sauce, too. After all, it’s about to become your burger’s new BFF.

How's this for a burger? (I added the green onions after snapping this when I nearly forgot about them. Don't make that mistake because they add a nice fresh sharpness.)

How’s this for a burger? (I added the green onions after snapping this pic, when I nearly forgot about them. Don’t make that mistake because they add a nice fresh sharpness.)

Hoisin-Glazed Lamb Burgers

(Serves 4)


3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks

2 scallions, sliced thin on bias


1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

1/4 cup hoisin sauce, divided, plus extra for serving

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired


For the pickles: Whisk vinegar and salt in medium bowl until salt has dissolved. Stir in cucumber and carrot and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 our. Drain vegetables, return to now-empty bowl, and stir in scallions; set aside for serving.

For the burgers: Break ground lamb into small pieces in large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons hoisin and five-spice powder and gently knead with hands until well combined. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions, then gently shape each portion into 3/4-inch-thick patty. Using your fingertips, press center of each patty down until about 1/2 inch thick, creating slight divot.

Season patties with salt. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Transfer patties to skillet, divot side up, and cook until well browned on first side, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip patties, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until browned on second side and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (for medium-rare) or 130 to 135 (for medium), 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer burgers to platter, brush with remaining 2 tablespoons hoisin and let erst for 5 minutes. Serve burgers on buns, topped with pickled vegetables, passing extra hoisin separately.

Note: Avoid pickling the cucumber and carrots for longer than 1 hour or they will begin to turn limp and gray.

From “The Ultimate Burger” by America’s Test Kitchen

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