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72 best burger recipes for summer cookouts

From juicy beef patties to flavorful turkey burgers, fire up these recipes.
Guarnaschelli Burger
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Summer cookout season may just be the best time of year. There are potato and pasta salads, covered with thin veils of plastic wrap to keep bugs at bay, juicy watermelon that will soon be dripping from the little ones’ chins, bacon-blessed baked beans steaming despite the sweltering heat. Guests pour ice-cold lemonade and trade cheap bottles of beer while the iced tea pitcher sweats even in the shade of a nearby tree.

No summer cookout is complete without the best burger recipes. Something about a patty wedged between two soft buns seems so essential for a summer cookout. We love a classic, no-frills, ketchup-topped burger as much as the next person, and you’ll find plenty of simple and easy burger recipes in this list.

But you’ll also encounter less-traditional, more-inventive burgers that break down conventional burger boundaries and redraw them in the most delicious ways. A recipe for a double-decker burger served with smoky tomato relish will have you rethinking the way you use condiments on your burgers, and Sunny Anderson’s idea for a burger bar will make burger night the best night of the week. And who would’ve known that you can use portobello mushrooms as burger buns?

For your next summer cookout, stick with the standards or branch out into new territory with one of our favorite burger recipes. No matter what kind you grill, you’re guaranteed to create some delicious summer memories.

Victory Chicken Burgers

Who said burgers had to be big and beefy? This chicken burger recipe packs all the flavor you crave when you want a burger without any red meat. The not-so-secret ingredient here is a salt blend, which combines salt, celery seed, cumin and onion powder, delivering the patties’ signature savoriness.

Triple Decker Burgers with Cheese Sauce

When you’re serious about your burger ambitions, make this recipe for triple-decker burgers. They’re massive enough to split between two people, but if you set your mind to it, you can tackle one all on your own. The combination of Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese and Tabasco creates a rich sauce to top off your towering burger.

At first glance, the Pig Beach burger may seem a bit intimidating considering the long list of ingredients you’ll need. But once you have everything gathered together, this sauce-slathered burger is actually very simple to make. Don’t forget the quick pickles, which add a flavorful tanginess to the finished bite.

The Gotham Double Smash Burger

Smash burgers are appealing because of their thin, crisp edges that you won’t find in a standard burger. The one downside? You usually don’t get a lot of meat. The solution? Two patties! You still get those crunchy edges you love without sacrificing the meatiness you’d get from a regular burger. Don’t forget the special sauce—made with a blend of mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup and relish—which plays an important, flavorful role in this recipe.

These shrimp burgers, in all their crispy, bouncy glory, may just transform the way you see seafood — especially when paired with homemade spicy mayo. The burgers and sauce are so flavorful that all you’ll really need is some iceberg lettuce to finish everything off. Stack it all on a brioche bun for a truly transformative burger experience.

When you’re hosting a proper cookout, you probably won’t have time to carefully construct every burger from start to finish. That’s why setting up a burger bar is such a great idea: Everyone can add their own toppings as they please. Include the ingredients you’ll need for all-American burgers, Italian-inspired burgers, Western-style burgers and Tex-Mex burgers, and you’re sure to get rave reviews from every single guest.

Salmon filets get the burger treatment with this simple but spicy recipe. Jalapeños and cheddar are already a perfect match, but by pairing them with a light salmon burger instead of a heavy beef one, they’re allowed to take center stage and shine. The fish adds a layer of light but flavorful savoriness to the equation.

Jalapeño and bacon join forces for a spicy, ultra-flavorful jam that tops these juicy beef burgers. The combination may not be traditional, but it’s so delicious that it might just become a regular part of your burger rotation. The recipe calls for you to remove the seeds from your jalapeños, but you can leave them in if you want your jam super spicy.

Italian Chicken Smashburger

What if chicken meatballs were burgers? By essentially smashing chicken meatballs and piling them with spicy tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves and provolone cheese, you’ll get a chicken burger that’s so flavorful, no one will miss the beef. 

Martha Stewart's Fish Burger

On those hot summer days when you’re craving a burger, these fish burgers are a welcome bite. Use hake or cod to make the light burgers, then top them off with some quick-pickled red onions, which are a crunchy, funky contrast to the mild seafood.

Cheeseburger Sliders

Why eat one burger when you could have four? That’s exactly what you’ll get when you make these cheeseburger sliders. They utilize pantry staples you probably already have on hand, and they come together in a matter of minutes. Build your burgers on Hawaiian rolls instead of a traditional bun for a buttery sweetness you can’t get from average bread.

We all love a fast food night, so why not recreate one of your favorite burgers at home? This copycat recipe is surprisingly simple to make — and dare we say it might even taste better than the real thing. With the addition of some mustard, caramelized onions and dill pickles, you can make your burger animal-style.

New York’s House of Xtravaganza has been a staple in the city’s underground ballroom scene for decades, and this creative burger pays homage to its decadence. A blue cheese spread, caramelized tomato and onion jam, and candied bacon are the perfect accompaniment to the thick, juicy patty and cheese-crusted bun.

Peach Caprese Burgers

Nothing says summer like peaches, which is why this recipe for peach caprese burgers has to make an appearance at your next summer cookout. Layers of mozzarella, fresh basil and peaches provide a taste of summer that contrasts nicely with lean turkey burgers, while arugula adds a peppery twist to the classic combo.

Can’t decide between fajitas and burgers for dinner tonight? Make these fajita-inspired burgers so you can enjoy the flavors of both in one big bite. When served with corn tortillas, these bunless burgers are perfect for the gluten-free crowd. 

Turkey burgers can sometimes be dry and bland, but that’s certainly not what you’ll get with this recipe. Your favorite fruit jam and Dijon mustard join forces to create a perfectly balanced spread that pairs beautifully with the peppery arugula and turkey-bacon burgers. 

Green Goddess Turkey Burgers

These turkey burgers get their all-star savory quality from the addition of anchovies. Even if you’re not usually a seafood person, you don’t want to leave the anchovies out — they play a much-needed role in seasoning the ground turkey. After the burgers are cooked, top them off with lettuce, onion and mayonnaise.

Chicken Potpie Burgers

You’d probably never bring chicken potpies to a summer cookout, but you can capture all of those same cozy flavors in a burger. These ones are packed with veggies, and a touch of chicken bouillon gives them that salty, soupy flavor you love. The pea gravy drizzled on top may be messy, but it’s worth a few extra napkins.

Salmon Burgers

When you want dinner on a dime, make these leftover-friendly burgers that the whole family will love. The recipe calls for leftover salmon and prepared mashed potatoes, which means it’s the perfect dish to whip up when you’re trying to make your dollar stretch and are short on time.

Akhtar Nawab's Bison Burger with Balsamic Onions

If you’ve never prepared bison before, this is your chance. It’s leaner than your average ground beef burger, and it has a slight gaminess to it that pairs beautifully with homemade balsamic onions. You may never go back to beef again once you get a taste of this alternative.

Cookouts on hot summer days call for the most refreshing possible version of a burger, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you make these healthy Greek-style burgers. The turkey burgers are served on pitas instead of the standard bun and are topped with a creamy tzatziki sauce and freshly sliced tomato.

Shrimp burgers are even more delicious when they contain chile peppers, soy sauce and chopped scallions. Serve the pickled cabbage slaw on top of the patties for a bright, summery accompaniment.

Jimmy Fallon's Air-Fried Chicken Burgers

Air fryers are perfect for cooking everything from fries and nuggets to tofu and cabbage, but who could’ve guessed they would’ve been perfect for making chicken burgers? This recipe from Jimmy Fallon explains how to use the beloved kitchen appliance to cook crispy burgers that are void of greasiness.

Anne Burell's Killer Turkey Burgers

If your turkey burgers always come out tasting lackluster, try this hack: simply add soy sauce and fresh cilantro, and you’ll avoid the curse of a bland turkey burger. Water chestnuts offer an unexpected crispness and texture, while Sriracha provides a subtle spiciness.

Lamb Burgers

Looking for something light and gluten free-friendly? Serve zucchini lamb burgers alongside a crunchy salad loaded with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, radishes, parsley and whole-wheat pita.

Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Bacon Burgers

Pimento cheese is a game-changer when served on a cheeseboard, so just imagine how amazing it is when stuffed inside a burger. Stack some bacon strips on top of the cheese-stuffed burger, and you’ll get an extra layer of meaty flavor. The bread and butter pickle slices add just a touch of sweetness that balances out the saltiness of the other ingredients.

Shake Shack's ShackBurger

Inspired by the fast food chain’s bestseller, this recipe will guide you through how to make a copycat burger at home. Make sure you use potato hamburger buns for the best result, and don’t be afraid to try your hand at your very own five-ingredient Shacksauce. 

Cheese-Stuffed Short-Rib Burgers

Why make your burgers with ground beef when you can make these intensely rich, juicy short rib burgers instead? The meat itself will change the way you think about burgers, but once you add cheese in the middle of the patty, it’s game over — you’re bound to have the best bite at the summer cookout.

Siri Daly's Chicken Burgers

After forming the patties for these smoky chicken burgers, make sure to place them in the refrigerator to set so that they maintain their shape on the grill. They only take a few minutes to cook and once they’re ready, you can top them with good-for-you accouterments like avocado, lettuce, tomato and jalapeños.

Mile-High Brunch Burgers

Yes, burgers belong at brunch, which is why these mile-high burgers are such a fun addition to your morning spread. The recipe takes its inspiration from the famous Denver omelet, which comes complete with bell peppers, onions and plenty of Swiss cheese.

It’s always a good idea to have a few delicious plant-based options at your summer cookout and these chickpeas burgers are absolutely the move. Make them ahead and freeze them for the easiest prep possible, then serve them with all your favorite toppings. A creamy Sriracha sauce is really the star of the show here — it requires just five ingredients and a few minutes of your time.

Trying to take your turkey burgers to the next level? Grilled fruit will give them a little sweet something. In this recipe, grilled peaches top the patties, while bacon and cheese poke through for a rich, ridiculously delicious burger. 

If you’re feeding an especially hungry crew, you can’t miss with these double-decker burgers. And the smoky tomato relish is a must-make. It only requires three ingredients, but when the smoked ketchup, pickle relish and chili sauce come together, you’ll realize that it’s been missing from every burger you’ve ever had.

Crispy bacon, creamy queso blanco and fiery jalapeños transform an average burger into a spice lover’s dream. If you don’t have time to make the queso, you can enhance those fiery flavors by using a slice of pepper jack cheese instead.

Speedy Scrumptious Burgers

Craving burgers but crunched for time? This easy-to-make recipe may just be the quickest way to get your fix without a stop at the drive thru. All you need is some good-quality beef and some seasonings to make your burger come to life.

Mango-Guacamole Crunch Burgers

Summer cookouts call for light and refreshing dishes, which is why this mango-guacamole crunch burger is guaranteed to be a hit. Top these rich black bean burgers with spicy mango salsa, then spread some smashed avocado on the bun for a cooling, creamy layer. 

Ryan Hardy's Carne Cruda Burger

This recipe from Ryan Hardy doesn’t yield your average cheeseburger. By adding brown butter, fried herbs, truffles, chili flakes and Parmigiano-Reggiano to the burger blend, you’ll get a vaguely Italian-inspired patty that only tastes better with mozzarella cheese.

You haven’t truly enjoyed a bunless burger until you’ve made these Mediterranean turkey burgers, which are served with grilled portobellos. Don’t forget the balsamic onions, which provide sweetness, acidity and a subtle bite.

Salmon Sweet Potato Cakes

These salmon patties are especially nourishing, thanks for the mashed sweet potato, which acts as a binder and negates the need for eggs. A sprinkle of cinnamon adds an unexpected depth of flavor that plays well with the slight spice of chili powder.

Joy Bauer's Tex-Mex Burgers

This recipe is perfect for those hot summer nights when you’re craving a burger but still want to keep things light. Ground turkey and kidney beans join forces to create one of the most flavorful, filling turkey burgers you’ve ever eaten. Don’t forget to add barbecue sauce, which provide a smoky Tex-Mex flavor. 

Sunny's Nacho Bacon Burger

At first glance, it looks like this recipe yields a fairly standard burger. But once you bite into the burger’s nacho cheesy center, you’ll realize why this is a must-make recipe for summer cookouts. Diced green chiles and pepper jack cheese give the burgers that hint of spice you want from a good batch of nachos, and the avocado provides just the right amount of creaminess.

Tater Tot Turkey Burger

You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to make this unconventional turkey burger. The tater tot waffle bun itself is a game changer (and totally acceptable to eat on its own), but the gravy, stuffing and tart cranberry-orange relish come together in such a deliciously unexpected package.

The Downlow Burger

If you’re a fan of the Double-Double at In-N-Out, you’re going to fall in love with this recipe for an elevated version of the fast food classic. By cooking your patties in a sauté pan, they’ll retain as much of their juices as possible, which is exactly what you want for this backyard BBQ showstopper.

Say goodbye to ground beef. In this recipe, mushrooms and chickpeas are used to give these plant-based patties plenty of hefty sans meat. It’s an easy recipe that comes together in a matter of minutes, making it the essential vegetarian pantry staple burger. Prep it for dinner when you don’t have time to go to the grocery store.

The Hampton Burger

The details really matter when it comes to this flavor-packed burger. The miso-mustard mix gives the wagyu beef patties a burst of umami, which is balanced by the addition of Kewpie mayo. Pickled beets add some brightness and crunch, and the slice of American cheese finishes it off with a mild creaminess.

The Mushroom Monster Burger

This recipe only calls for half the meat of a standard burger, but it packs twice the flavor. By mixing meaty mushrooms with ground beef, you’ll enjoy a lighter patty that tastes fantastic when paired with traditional burger toppings like lettuce, onion, tomato and fontina cheese. 

Grilled Salmon Burgers

You can’t lose when salmon, capers and Dijon mustard join forces like they do in this recipe. The dill is an essential ingredient here, as it gives the burger a light, floral quality, while tartar sauce delivers that classic, creamy seaside flavor that makes these burgers so appropriate for summer.

Bobby Flay pulls out all the stops for this potato chip-topped masterpiece that’ll satisfy everyone at your summer cookout. For the best burger, use seeded soft burger buns for a soft but structurally sound texture and salted potato chips for that signature crisp.

Pork burgers belong at your next cookout, and so does the crunchy slaw that completes them. By using both apples and limes in the slaw, you’ll harness a brightness that works exceptionally well with the fattiness of the pork–turkey blend. Sweet Hawaiian rolls bring it all together in one summery package.

Spicy Salmon Burgers

Salmon is at its best when it’s enhanced with some spice. Enter: Sriracha. Greek yogurt balances the heat, and fresh dill delivers a fresh, floral note to highlight the salmon’s briny flavor.

Red White & Bleu Chicken Burger

Chicken burgers are easy to make, and with this flavorful recipe, they’re guaranteed to be a hit. The bleu cheese-infused chicken burger is ultra-juicy and pops when paired with grilled onions marinated in red wine. Whip up some roasted garlic aioli, and you have a burger that’s as delicious as it is simple.

These mini fried chicken burgers are an essential party staple. Use chicken thigh meat instead of the breast for tender meat, and make sure you spring for the Kewpie mayo — it has a richness you won’t get from other varieties. Pile it all onto a brioche bun for maximum deliciousness.

Sunny's Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burgers can sometimes be messy and crumbly, but by adding oatmeal to the mix, you’ll get a more cohesive texture — plus some added nutrients. Season the bean mixture with thyme, garlic and cumin, and pile the finished burger with lettuce and avocado for a veggie-forward cookout.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Love chicken parm but don’t want to go through the hassle of making it from scratch? These burgers offer the same flavor profile for a fraction of the work. Ground chicken, panko and Parmesan cheese join forces to create one of the most flavorful chicken patties you’ve ever tasted. Don’t forget to top your burgers with a thick slice of mozzarella.

Reducing food waste is a smart way to make your kitchen more sustainable and save some money in the process, which is why this veggie burger recipe is so brilliant. It utilizes produce scraps that you’d ordinarily just throw in the trash, plus tofu, kidney beans and almonds for plenty of protein.

Black Bean Burger with Sweet Hoisin Glaze

When black beans and brown rice come together in patty form, you know you’re in for a hearty vegan meal. Sweet hoisin glaze adds a surprising kick of flavor to the otherwise mild patties, and the dried figs add a sophisticated sweetness. 

Chicken Chorizo Burgers

Chicken can easily get too dry, but by adding chorizo to the mix, you’ll help keep the patties moist as they cook. Avocados and pickled jalapeños add a Mexican-inspired twist to the standard red onions and tomatoes. Don’t forget to add some lime juice to the smashed avocado to preserve its bright green color.

When you can’t decide if you want pizza or burgers, follow this Italian-inspired recipe. By adding gorgonzola cheese to leftover meatballs, you can easily create a flavor-packed patty that’s at its best topped with tomato and served on a brioche bun. Finish it off with fresh basil for a taste of the Mediterranean without the pricy plane ticket.

There are few burgers that pack as much flavor as this green chile number. The chorizo-cheese sauce is heavy and hearty, so it’s the ideal accompaniment to the ultra-fresh citrus slaw. When it all comes together, this slightly spicy burger is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.

Shake Shack's Roker Burger

This jaw-dropping burger from Al Roker once appeared on the Shake Shack menu and now you can make it at home. It’s a hit for all the meat lovers, with its thick beef patty topped with BBQ sauce-spiked pulled pork. The signature mayo for this burger calls for espresso, which lends it a complex, earthy flavor — don’t skip it.

Not every burger appears between two buns. This lamb burger patty is at its best when it’s served with a heaping plate of fresh vegetables like avocado, tomato and lettuce. Add a fried egg for the runny yolk — and don’t forget the fingerling potatoes.

Juicy Lucy Burger

Why put cheese on your burger when you can have cheese in your burger? Freeze either cheddar or American cheese (or a blend of both) before dicing it and placing it in the middle in your patties. Sear the burgers like you normally would, and then prepare to bite into your cheese-filled masterpiece.

Bright bleu cheese is at the forefront of this burger’s flavor profile, but the heirloom tomato marmalade also does some heavy lifting on the flavor front. They both add a lightness to the intense heartiness of the seasoned beef patties. Basil aioli finishes it off nicely.

Perfect Bloody Mary Burgers

If you’re a fan of Bloody Marys, you’re going to love this burger, which incorporates the cocktail’s signature flavors in every bite. Horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and celery seeds transform an average beef burger into an edible cocktail.

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Burger

Pimento cheese gets a chance to shine in this juicy bacon burger. Use beef brisket for a super-tender burger — the bacon’s crispiness will help achieve a lovely textural balance. Cajun seasoning, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce make the patty supremely flavorful, and the pimento cheese brings even more heat.

Chickpea Burgers

Use canned chickpeas to make these veggie burgers in a flash. Tahini paste or peanut butter is useful as a binder, but both ingredients impart a nutty, earthy flavor that works especially well with the added garam masala, cumin and coriander. Enjoy these patties in pitas with fresh salad and chopped scallions.

Al's Veggie Burger

These patties, made from both black beans and mushrooms, have a meaty, earthy quality to them — and there’s no meat at all. Brown rice and whole wheat bread crumbs make them even heartier, ensuring nobody will leave the table hungry.

Green chile salsa does the heavy lifting in this recipe, lending some heat and a ton of flavor to a classic beef burger. Crumbled queso fresco is the ideal counterpart to the salsa, and pickled onions finish everything off with a crisp, acidic touch. 

Healthy Grilled Pizza Burgers

All your favorite pizza flavors shine when served with a turkey patty in this unexpected recipe. Mozzarella cheese and basil provide those classic pizza notes, but the addition of sliced pepperoni might just be the best part of the recipe. Top it off with some jarred pizza sauce.

Sweet potato lovers are going to go wild for this vegetarian burger recipe. Sweet potato acts as a binder for the patties, as do the breadcrumbs, but it also adds flavor and a natural orange hue. Serve them on toasted onion rolls with lettuce and sliced avocado.

Anne Burrell's Asian-Style Salad

For a quick salad, put leftover turkey patties from yesterday’s cookout to use. Keep the burgers whole or cut them into bite-sized pieces, and pair them with crunchy chow mein noodles, sliced cabbage and romaine. It’s an easy, fresh meal that’s ideal for hot summer nights.

Sometimes, a good burger is all about the condiments, which is certainly the case when it comes to this Southern burger recipe. The caramelized onion jam may be a simple enough addition to your burger, but its bold, sweet intensity will make for one flavorful burger.

What’s better than a burger piled high with toppings? A burger that’s filled with them. Forming the patties into bowl-like shapes and pack in as many fillings as possible. The combination of bacon, ranch dressing and jalapeños creates an intensely flavorful center, and once the cheese melts, it gives the burger an unconventional but deeply satisfying texture. 

Kofta is a type of meatball found in a variety of cuisines across the Balkans, the Middle East and parts of Asia, and in this recipe, it’s transformed into a burger patty. This ground beef burger is rich with the flavors of cumin, cayenne pepper and fresh mint. Once you try the cucumber and cumin yogurt relish, you’ll want to put it on every burger you ever make. 

Greek Turkey Burgers

These Greek-style turkey burgers are for the garlic lovers everywhere. By adding some garlic purée to the patty mixture, you’ll help the meat bind together — plus, it gives your burgers an intense flavor that’s hard to resist. Serve these burgers with tzatziki sauce on an English muffin for a departure from the classic bun.

Bobby Flay's Nacho Burger

Bobby Flay combines two game day classics into one in this recipe. If you’re serious about making the best nacho burger you’ve ever tasted, take the time to pickle your own jalapeños — you’ll love their intense heat and subtle crunch. However, you can also use store-bought jalapeños if you’re short on time. Don’t be afraid to be generous with the tomato-chipotle salsa and queso sauce.

Pimento Cheeseburger

Pimento cheese is a delicacy on its own, but it’s at its best when it’s served with a cheeseburger. This burger checks all the boxes: It’s creamy, salty and easy to make. If you’re a big pickle person, make sure you don’t skip out on making the pickles yourself — it’s a game changer, and the pickles pair nicely with the cheese.

Why put cheese on top of your burger when you could enjoy it inside? This inside-out bacon cheeseburger recipe requires only five ingredients and it yields a rich, decadent bite that you’ll want to make again and again. Adding scallions to the cheese mixture gives the burger a peppery bite.

You won’t find many veggie burgers as flavorful as this chia lentil patty. These burgers are packed with walnuts, rice and lentils and plenty of fresh vegetables. All of those ingredients come together to create a slightly crunchy patty that you can enjoy now or freeze for later, so you always have top-notch veggie patties on hand.

This meaty burger is not for the faint of heart. You’ll have to contend with pulled pork, sliced brisket and pork belly bacon sandwiched between two buns, but you won’t regret following this recipe as soon as you take the first oversized bite. Brush the top of your buns with melted garlic butter to max out the flavor.