These Middle Eastern Burgers are known as “ima burgers” in our home. With a flavor reminiscent of kebab, these slider-sized burgers get their flavor from a traditional combination of typical Middle Eastern ingredients and spices – cumin, onion, garlic, cayenne and fresh herbs. Throughout the years I have added my own touches to the original recipe, like turmeric and smoked paprika, for even more flavor.
Growing up, my husband used to watch his ima (the Hebrew word for mom) in her Israeli kitchen while she made these Middle Eastern-style burgers, 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. Bread stretches the amount of servings per pound of beef. It also adds moisture, meaning you can use a leaner cut of meat and still get a very juicy burger. Nowadays I tend to omit the bread (which makes the burgers gluten free), but you can add it using the optional recipe note below.
We don’t eat beef very often, reserving it for special occasions, but once in a while we all crave this recipe. I am more than happy to oblige if we have organic grass fed meat on hand. They are so easy to make! Cook the burgers by pan-frying or grilling them for that smoky char-grilled flavor.
We usually serve these Middle Eastern Burgers with a side salad and no bun to cut down on calories. The recipe amounts below create slider-sized burgers, which is the way we make them, but you can also make larger burgers if you prefer. Serve alongside some Middle Eastern mezze for a healthy and delicious meal. Top them with spicy sriracha mayo for a really zesty flavor.
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Food Photography and Styling by Kelly Jaggers
Middle Eastern Burgers
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, finely minced
- 2 tbsp onion, very finely minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1 slice white bread (optional - see note below)
- Olive oil (optional, for pan frying - can also be grilled)
Sriracha Mayo Sauce Ingredients (optional)
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp sriracha sauce
Middle Eastern Burgers
- Place ground beef in a medium mixing bowl. Add the parsley or cilantro, onion, egg, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and turmeric. Cayenne is very spicy - the amount here will give the burgers a slight kick, but won't add a lot of heat. If spice sensitive, adjust to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste - I usually add about 1/2 tsp each of salt and black pepper.
- Omit bread if keeping recipe gluten free or keto. If adding bread, cut the crust off of your piece of bread. Pour 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil onto a small plate. Soak the crustless bread in the olive oil, turning the slice once, until all the oil is soaked up by the bread. Shred and crumble the oil-soaked bread into tiny pieces and add it to the other burger ingredients.
- Stir all 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. Grill for 15-20 minutes until cooked through to desired doneness. Cooking times may vary by grill type. Brush the burgers with olive oil periodically as they grill to keep them nice and moist.
- If you prefer not to grill the burgers, you can cook them in a skillet using 1/4 cup of olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat. Fry the burgers for 10-15 minutes, flipping occasionally, until cooked through to desired doneness.