Ima Burgers


Every once in a while, my husband walks into the kitchen with a little smile on his face.

“I’m in the mood for Ima Burgers,” he says.

“Ima Burgers” is his nickname for the little mini spiced burgers his mom used to make when he was a kid in Israel. We don’t eat beef very often, reserving it for special occasions, but once in a while he craves an Ima Burger. I’m more than happy to oblige. They are so easy to make and super tasty!

I thought it would be fun to share the Ima Burger method here on my blog. It’s a fun, quick dinner that can be thrown together at a moment’s notice.

“Ima” means mom in Hebrew, so it’s no surprise that these Ima Burgers are the creation of my husband’s mom. He used to watch her in her Israeli kitchen while she worked, studying the way she would chop the herbs and spice the meat. Her method of soaking a slice of bread in oil, then shredding it and stirring it into to the meat, adds moisture. It allows you to use a leaner cut of meat without sacrificing on juiciness. You can cook the burgers by frying them if you want to (Ima’s method). During the warmer months, I prefer to grill them for that smoky char-grilled flavor.

These cute little burgers can be served with or without a bun. We usually serve them with a side salad and no bread to cut down on calories. If you want to use a bun, get slider-sized mini buns– they’ll fit the burgers better. Or you can make bigger burgers, of course… we just happen to prefer them more bite-sized. Garnish with fresh parsley and red ripe tomato slices. I like them topped with spicy sriracha mayo sauce. Delish!

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Ima Burgers


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 slice white bread, crust removed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp onion, very finely minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (optional)

Sriracha Mayo Sauce ingredients

  • 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: About 8 burgers
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Place ground beef in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Cut the crust off of your piece of bread. Pour olive oil onto a small plate. Soak the crustless bread in the olive oil, turning the slice once, till all the oil is soaked up by the bread.
  • Shred and crumble the oil-soaked bread into tiny pieces and add it to the meat along with the parsley or cilantro, onion, egg, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually add about 1/2 tsp each of salt and black pepper).
  • Stir ingredients with a fork and/or clean hands until the spices and herbs are well blended with the meat.
  • Gather the meat mixture in 1/4 cupfuls and make small thick patties (they will shrink up during cooking).
  • Cook the patties. If grilling, grease the preheated grill before you start cooking.
  • We like to brush the burgers with olive oil periodically as they grill to keep them nice and moist.
  • Grill for 15-20 minutes till cooked through to desired doneness. Cooking times may vary by grill type.
  • If you prefer not to grill the burgers, you can cook them in a skillet using 1/4 cup of oil. I like using an oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed. Heat the oil over medium heat till hot but not smoking. Fry the burgers for 10-15 minutes, flipping occasionally, till cooked through to desired doneness.
  • TO MAKE SRIRACHA MAYONNAISE: Mix mayonnaise together with sriracha sauce in a small bowl till well blended, adding more sriracha for spice if desired. Serve as a sauce for the Ima Burgers.

Comments (59)Post a Comment

    1. Margie, sriracha sauce is purchased pre-made in the Asian section of the market– it’s red and usually comes in a bottle. Just mix 2 tsp with 1/3 cup of mayo as the recipe instructs. There are kosher certified brands out there as well. Hope that helps!

  1. I have been wanting a burger recently ( I don’t eat much meat)…These look fabulous….I’m going to try them!

  2. Very cute name! I don’t eat very often either, but I definitely could splurge and have one of these Ima Burgers! Love the name

    1. Ravie, you don’t “EAT very often?” did you mean to say, you “”don’t eat “meat” very often???””or you “”don’t eat “beef” very often??””

  3. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    These look incredible! I want an Ima Burger, too! I’ve never heard of soaking bread in olive oil, but I can see where that would be a great alternative to using a higher fat beef!

  4. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    This look so lovely, and I love the story. Sriracha mayonnaise is brilliant! Great to see you yesterday, so fun =)

  5. If you don’t want any ‘hot and spicy’ condiments in this burger and sauce, can you suggest flavorful substitutes?

    1. Yes! First of all, cut the cayenne in the burger mix, as it will add some spice. Sub 1/2 tsp of mild chili powder and squeeze in a little lemon juice (about a tablespoon). For a less spicy sauce, mix the mayonnaise with 2 tbsp fresh minced parsley, 1 tsp lemon zest, and lemon juice to taste. Let me know how you like it!

    2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      Thanks for the feedback, but you mentioned mild chilli powder. Doesn’t that bring ‘heat’ to the recipe? I can’t stand even mild ‘heat,’ in anything, so I’m looking for substitutes that will bring great flavor without the presence of any heat.

    3. Mild chili powder doesn’t really have any heat (to my tastebuds, at least), it adds more flavor than heat. But if you’re super sensitive to heat, add the lemon juice and throw in some fresh chopped thyme leaves (about 2 tbsp). You can also experiment with other herbs and spices that you enjoy, these burgers are pretty adaptable. Good luck!

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    In reveiwing the ingredients and method here, I would say these are a winner. I like the olive oil bread method as well as all the add ins. Thanks for sharing the recipe for these tasty burgers!

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    My Mom and Grandmother made similar burgers. I now use the same recipe to make ground chicken burgers. I get the ground chicken at the International Markert in our neighborhood. REALLLLLLY Yummy.

    1. Bubby I bet those are delicious! Sometimes when I’m watching our cholesterol intake I use half ground beef and half chicken, that also works well.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori, these just look so amazing. I am in awe. Would you mind if I try my hand at these this week? I’ve been wanting to give you a big shout out in my blog and this would be the perfect recipe to do it with. I’m grilling pretty much every day here as it is so hot. I could go for an Ima burger. By the way, your grill is so clean. Mine is never that clean and it’s brand spanking new. Lol! I have to figure out how to get better lighting in my kitchen soon, my pics never look as good as yours or others. Old house, bad lighting.

    1. Hi Art, you can use wheat bread as long as it’s not really grainy/mealy or rougher in texture (like whole grain or sprouted grain). Regular whole wheat bread should work fine! :)

    1. CM, sriracha sauce is a hot chili garlic sauce that can be found in the Asian section of the market– it’s red and usually comes in a bottle.

  9. These burgers look like they are just insane with flavor! I had never thought about how to spell “Ima” out in English before, so every time I read it I first think “I’m a burgers”…but I LOVE the cute name and the story behind it.

  10. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    There’s nothing like a good juicy burger in the summertime. Yum!
    Love Ima’s trick of soaking white bread in a little oil for moisture, too… so clever! Sounds like a kosher-friendly twist on the Italian trick of soaking the bread in milk or cream. :)

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori! These look incredible!! All your ingredients compliment each other so well and I bet this is delicious! Making these for my boyfriend this weekend for sure! :)

  12. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    how sweet and nostalgic of him! Every now and then I crave something my mom would make for me too. Its amazing how those simple things stick with us. These look tasty.

  13. Hey Tori, I am going to make these this weekend, sunday to be exact. The only thing I do not have is the sriracha sauce. I have never used it and not sure where to get it. Going to the high end market tomorrow so here’s hoping they have it. This area is horrible for foodies. Hard to find what seems normal to most people. Very frustrating. Will let you know how they turn out.

    1. That can be so frustrating, Kim, I know! Next week I’ll be posting a recipe for harissa which could be subbed for the sriracha, but that won’t help if you’re making them this weekend. Most of the larger grocery store chains will have sriracha in the Asian foods section. Good luck!

  14. These look really good. I am making them tomorrow night for dinner. I am a big fan of sriracha. Thank you for posting the recipe.

  15. Just cooked those burgers for my “Ima” and she liked them very much. The Sambal Oelek I used was a little junkie as you feared but I smashed in a food processor with the majonaise and some garlic.
    Hence I gonna have a non meat barbecue this Monday I gonna try it with Tofu and Thuna.

  16. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hi Tori~ I made these tonight for dinner and they were great. DH just loved them. I had planned on grilling them but due to circumstances beyond my control I was forced to pan fry them. Now, I’m really not a big fan of frying burgers but I have to say these came out so juicy and tender that I was really surprised. I’m thinking that these would be great with ground lamb too! Thanks for a great and easy recipe! ~Peggy

  17. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Try adding a little ketchup and water to the mayo and sriracha for a great sauce. I love this over boiled eggs or a quick sandwich. Great recipes Tori!

  18. Hey lady. I finally found the sauce. Yeah. So I did these up and they are on the blog. They are amazing Tori. We loved them. I can’t do the mayo but the guys had it and loved it. I even used it for fry dip. The burgers just blew my mind. Thanks so much. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  19. Lol, I wasn’t sure if you’d get the reference. My daughter had no clue who she was until I said the Friends episode she was in. She’s gorgeous all grown up and you look a lot like her. Glad you like her. I adored her growing up, I wanted socks just like her too. xx

  20. Oh my goodness, just made these- they are out of this world!!!! Keep it coming with these awesome recipes!!!! thank you

  21. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Great recipe. I have to agree with Isabelle’s comment about your mother-in-law’s cleverness in creating a kosher, dairy-free panade for her burgers.

    For those who don’t speak Hebrew, I thought I’d point out that “Ima” is pronounced “ee-ma,” not “eye-ma.”

  22. Hi there
    My name is eli
    A chef from Iran
    I’ll be happy to visit the website
    Sorry I can not speak English very good
    In addition, your recipes are great

  23. This recipe looks amazing but I was just wondering if I can use breadcrumbs instead of the white bread, and if so how much? Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Hi Shuli, I really recommend using bread in this recipe. It doesn’t have to be white bread, as long as it’s not particularly grainy bread. Challah works well too. Bread will soak up the olive oil without clumping and give these burgers an awesome texture. Do try it, you won’t be disappointed.

  24. Hi, these sound great! My Ima used to use a white dinner bun instead of slice of bread to make her burgers. She would pull the insides out of the bun and soak it . I am going to make these burgers tonight as well, I am making the hamburger buns to go with them. There is a great hamburger bun recipie on the King Arthur Flour website. It is easy easy to make and utterly delicious .

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