Even if you hold the beef and spring for an alternative protein, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor. Just in time for Labor Day grilling, these five unconventional patties are ready to step up to the bun.
Vegan Lentil Burgers (above)
Don’t let the lentil-spinach mixture fool you. There’s nothing hippie-crunchy-tasting about these delicious meat-free patties. Give them a whirl on the grill — or a quick pan-fry session — then tuck them into whole-grain buns with a wallop of spicy mustard.
Vegetarian Bean-Kale Burgers with Sweet Potato Wedges
Slide this mashed kale and pinto bean concoction, melded with pepper Jack cheese, into a whole-grain English muffin. And know that even with a side-dish-slash-dessert of yogurt and ripe peaches, the veggie burger is light enough to earn an accompanying mess of curry-dusted sweet potato wedges.
This Asian-inspired number — enlivened with ginger, water chestnuts, sambal oelek chile paste and cilantro — will make you happily forget all of the blah turkey burgers that ever preceded it.
Apple cider isn’t just for sipping. Combine the sweet-tart beverage with Golden Delicious apples and salmon for a tangy potato-bun burger that unites panko breadcrumbs with cilantro and curry powder.
Asian Chicken Burgers
A simple ground chicken and panko burger gets the special treatment with grated carrots and ginger. Thinly sliced white mushrooms and a hoisin-sambal sauce add bursts of earth and spice.
Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer who covers the intersection of food, drink, travel and design. She launched her career by opening boxes of Jamie Oliver books as a Food Network intern.