Greek Lamb Burger recipe (BIFTEKIA)

Greek Lamb Burgers (Biftekia) are succulent, juicy, exploding with flavor and always a showstopper!  If you love Greek food, these Greek burgers are a must-make-recipe!

This Greek Lamb Burger Recipe (Biftekia) is out of this world flavorful, satisfying and refreshing all at the same time!  The Greek Burgers are laced with feta, garlic, dill, mint, cumin and oregano, grilled to succulent juicy perfection then topped with roasted red pepper hummus, sun-dried tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled red onion, tomato, arugula and tzatziki.  It is a juicy, textural flavor bomb that you don’t want to miss.  Of course, all of the toppings are customizable to make it YOUR best Greek Burger! I’ve included tips and tricks on how to cook lamb burgers (grilled or stove top), how to make ahead and how to freeze and the Greek’s secret to the JUICIEST burgers.  Serve this lamb burger recipe with a simple Greek salad, watermelon feta salad, Greek tortellini salad, feta fries or lemon rice, for the ultimate feast!

If you love fresh, vibrant Mediterranean cuisine, don’t miss reader favorites Greek meatballs,  Greek chicken marinade, baked Greek chicken, Mediterranean CAVA bowls recipe. souvlaki, dill salmonlemon garlic shrimp and orzo, lemon chicken orzo soup, chicken souvlakiGyro pizza.

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up close of Greek lamb burger recipe with tzatziki, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions

Lamb burger recipe

Summer is the season of burgers!  We love great burgers around here from Hawaiian burgers, Asian Burgers,  Best Burgers, BBQ Crispy Onion Burgers and Korean Burgers, so it was only a matter of time before these Greek Burgers (biftekia) made their debut.  And it was worth the wait.  This lamb burger recipe is out of this world flavorful, juicy and might just be my favorite burger recipe of all time.

This lamb burger recipe is adapted from my Greek meatballs but with the addition of feta! It’s extremely flexible so don’t let the lamb intimidate you. You can use all lamb or any other ground meat in this recipe. Of course, for the most authentic Greek flavor, go with lamb. Lamb is a highly underrated protein in America, in my opinion, but is a staple on the Greek dinner table. Lamb has the same number of calories as grass-fed beef but actually has more health-promoting omega 3 fatty acids, is a fantastic source of iron and a vitamin powerhouse.  

As far as the toppings, I’ve shared my favorite combination for what I think makes the best lamb burger recipe, but you can top them with anything your heart desires, from minimalistic tomatoes and cucumbers to all the bells and whistles.

Lastly, you will love that these Greek Burgers are 100% make ahead friendly. You can prep all of the toppings and make the burger patties a day in advance. When it’s lunch or dinner time, just fire up the grill and let everyone dress their biftekia with their favorite toppings. There’s no better burger bar than a Greek Burger bar!

WHAT ARE biftekia?

Biftekia (mπιφτέκια), (singular, bifteki or biefteki) means hamburger in Greek, but not just any hamburger, a Greek-style flavor-packed burger seasoned with feta, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs. Greek burgers are traditionally made with lamb for the distinctive earthy, grassy flavor.

Greek Burgers usually include eggs and breadcrumbs, just like Greek meatballs, keftedes. In fact, the term biftekia refers to the method of flattening meatballs with the palm of the hand.  So, essentially, Greek burgers are flattened keftedes!

The traditional biftekia method of adding eggs and breadcrumbs to the meat mixture allows for the addition of extra liquid (in this recipe we use lemon and balsamic) which makes the lamb burgers extra juicy.  The Greek Burgers are also extra juicy from the technique of grating the onion straight into a bowl and using all of its juices in the patties. Now you have the most flavorful and the juiciest Greek Burgers!

Above all, what truly sets Greek lamb burgers apart is their explosive seasoning – you will never find a more flavorful burger!  Biftekia are generously seasoned with fresh herbs including mint, dill, oregano, and parsley, as well as aromatic garlic and onions, paprika, cumin and red pepper flakes.  The herbs, aromatics and seasonings make for incredibly flavorful burger and the lamb lends the signature earthy flavor. 

Finally, the boldly flavored, succulent, juicy, biftekia can be sandwiched between toasted hamburger buns, pitas or lettuce. Traditionally, they are topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions.  In this lamb burger recipe, I’ve also added roasted red pepper hummus, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, tzatziki and swapped the plain onions for pickled red onions for the ultimate Greek Burgers! So, double the batch and freeze some patties for later because these Greek Burgers are going to be the best burger you’ve ever sunk your teeth into!

showing how to make Greek burger recipe by layering buns with arugula, lamb burger patties, tzatziki, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions

INGREDIENTS FOR LAMB BURGER recipe

These Greek Burgers are mega juicy and SO easy.  You will need a few fresh herbs, but they are definitely worth the splurge – and the biftekia still cost less than dining out.  For this lamb burger recipe, you will need:

  • Ground lamb: is sublime in this recipe and is what gives Greek Burgers their signature taste because lamb is grass fed for a “pastoral” flavor.  You should be able to locate ground lamb in the meat section of your grocery store or ask the butcher if you’re having trouble locating it. If you can’t locate ground lamb or it’s not your thing, substitute it with ground pork, ground turkey or ground chicken, or a combination of two meats for richer flavor. 
  • Feta: ½ cup rich, creamy, salty, tangy feta cheese adds SO much flavor directly to the ground lamb patties.  You can use crumbled feta or crumble it yourself, but make sure to leave a few larger chunks.
  • Red onion:  half a red onion is grated directly into meat mixture so we get the onion and the juices!  By grating the onion, you aren’t left with any raw onion pieces and the biftekia emerge extra tender and flavorful. 
  • Egg: binds all the ingredients together – just like in meatballs! 
  • Panko: is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb more flavor while still providing structure. This keeps the patties extra moist and tender.
  • Lemon juice and balsamic:  are used to moisten the lamb burgers and add more flavor than using milk. The lemon juice adds bright fresh flavor and the balsamic adds subtle fruity tanginess, mellow tartness and complex richness. You may use fresh or bottled lemon juice.
  • Garlic: loads of fresh garlic adds the signature garlicky flavor.  Of course, you can add more or less depending on your garlic love.
  • Fresh dill: adds the quintessential flavor with its fresh, citrus-like taste, slightly grassy undertones and subtle sweetness. Dill should not be omitted or substituted and please use fresh dill for the best flavor.  Fresh dill is often sold in small packages in the produce section located next to the other herbs. 
  • Fresh mint:  boasts a subtly sweet taste and cool sensation that comes from the menthol contained in the herb.  It is sublime with lamb – please don’t skip!
  • Oregano:  boasts minty undertones laced with peppery, grassy and earthy notes. You may use fresh or dried oregano.
  • Parsley:  tastes clean and peppery with a touch of earthiness.  Again, you may use fresh or dried. 
  • Seasonings: the biftekia are rounded out by paprika, ground cumin, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. You can add more red pepper flakes depending on how spicy you would like the Greek Burgers.

RECIPE VARIATIONS:

  • Onion substitute: substitute with ½ sweet onion or with ¼ cup dried minced onions.  If using dried minced onions, add an extra splash 1-2 tablespoons of milk because you will be missing the juices from the onion.
  • Panko substitute:  swap the panko with saltine or Ritz cracker crumbs and reduce the salt or swap the panko with homemade bread crumbs.
  • Make it gluten free:  use your favorite gluten free panko, crackers or toasted gluten free bread in place of the panko.
  • Swap lemon juice: use red wine vinegar instead of lemon juice.
  • Swap balsamic vinegar:  use red wine vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar.
  • Play with herbs:  add more or less of the herbs to mix up the flavor profile.
  • Make them spicy!  Increase the red pepper flakes to 1 teaspoon to make Spicy Lamb Burgers – my fav!
showing the inside of Greek burgers by cutting half to show lamb burger patty layered with tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions

What can I use in place of lamb?

  • Ground chuck:  80/20 ground chuck is optimal for flavor, juiciness and texture.  Ground chuck can easily be found at the butcher counter of any grocery store.  Freshly ground chuck is best because it hasn’t been compressed together in packaging which means more tender beef.  The more freshly ground the meat is, the more tender and flavorful the biftekia.
  • Lean ground beef:  if you choose ground beef, look for 80/20 ground beef (which will most likely be chuck anyway) and avoid anything higher or leaner.  Some ground beef can have 30 percent fat which is way too greasy.  Leaner than 20% and you are left with dry burgers. Also, take care you use QUALITY ground beef, as any combination of cuts can be labeled “ground beef.”
  • Ground pork, turkey, chicken: are leaner than lamb or beef so you may wish to add an extra tablespoon or so of olive oil to the ground meat mixture so the burgers aren’t dry.

What should I serve Greek burgers on?

Biftekia can be served in pitas, buns or lettuce.  Look for buns in the bakery section for extra soft buns.  I like brioche buns for their rich, golden-brown, buttery decadence with a hint of sweetness. No matter what buns you choose, you’ll want to toast them first for added flavor and texture and to prevent the lamb burgers from becoming soggy.

showing how to make Greek lamb burger recipe with top view of lamb burger patties and toppings: hummus, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tzatziki

WHAT GOES ON A greek BURGER?

Now let’s talk toppings!  The toppings complete the biftekia symphony of flavor by adding the cool and creamy, the fresh and crunchy and the sweet and tangy.  The toppings are customizable but please don’t skip the tzatziki!   

  • Tzatziki: is a lusciously creamy, cooling, Greek yogurt sauce made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers, fresh dill, lemon juice and garlic.  The creamy consistency and refreshing tanginess cuts through the earthy, robust lamb burgers.  My homemade tzatziki is phenomenal but you may use store-bought in crunch, usually located in the deli section.
  • Hummus: is slathered over the buns instead of mayonnaise and weaves the ingredients together with a layer of complex silky smooth, divinely creamy, nutty, smoky, bright, sweet, roasted red peppers, garlic goodness.  You’ll never use mayo on your burgers again!  Go plain or I highly recommend roasted red pepper for a tantalizing creamy counterpart.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: is added on top of the hummus.  I tried just using sun-dried tomato hummus, but it wasn’t the same; you really need the pop of lots of sun-dried tomatoes.  Use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil in a jar, not water; the oil keeps the tomatoes bold and moist. They are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Don’t be tempted to buy the dry shriveled ones that come in a package. The oil keeps the tomatoes bold and moist.
  • Tomatoes: the quintessential burger topping!  Pick ripe yet firm tomatoes.
  • Cucumber:  adds the needed fresh crunch to compliment the creamy, juicy textures.  Use an English cucumber or a peeled slicing cucumber.
  • Pickled red onions: I have an entire post dedicated to pickled red onions because I love them so much!  Even if you don’t think you love pickled red onions, I highly suggest you try them; they’re bright, tangy with a slight sweetness and subtle crunch and 1000X better than fresh onions! You can purchase jarred pickled red onions at the grocery store located by the capers, pepperoncini, etc. or they only take 15 minutes to prep and then 30 minutes to rest with my quick recipe.
  • Lettuce:  any of your favs!  I used baby arugula but you can also use spinach, butter lettuce or Romaine.  Sprouts would also be tasty.

Other topping ideas:

  • Harissa: one of my favorite hot condiments! I always add harissa to my Greek burgers to spice them up a bit, but be careful, a little goes a long way! I slather it over the burger patty just before adding the tzatziki. If you aren’t familiar with with harissa, it a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste that’s arguably the most popular condiment in Israeli, Moroccan, Libyan, and Algerian cuisine. It is made of roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin and olive oil.  It is unlike other chili pastes because it boasts deeper, earthier, nutty, more complex flavors, with strong whispers of lemon and garlic.
  • Kalamata olives: gems of dark, rich intensely fruity, salty flavor.  Make sure to use pitted Kalamata olives so you don’t break a tooth!
  • Artichokes hearts:  are tender, slightly sweet and nutty and divine paired with sun-dried tomatoes. Purchase artichoke hearts in water NOT marinated. The marinated ones often have an acrid taste. 
  • Roasted red bell peppers: add a complex roasted sweetness that compliments the tangy pickled red onions.  You can roast bell peppers yourself, if desired, but or just pick up a jar at the grocery store located near the jarred sandwich fixings such as pepperoni. Make sure to drain the jar of bell peppers before using.
  • Pepperoncini peppers: add a tasty tangy, vinegar zing as well as a lovely mild crunch.  If you only can find whole pepperoncini instead of sliced, then you can slice them yourself.
  • Giardiniera:  is an Italian preparation of marinated, pickled vegetables with loads of tangy flavor.  It often contains celery, cauliflower, onions, carrots, red bell peppers and green olives.  It comes in both MILD and HOT – so pay attention!  Giardiniera can be used not only as a topping for this lamb burger recipe but for any sandwiches, hot dogs, eggs, salad, pizza, pasta salad, etc.   Giardiniera can be found in a jar near the pepperoncini at your grocery store.
  • Guacamole or avocados:  for the avocado lover!  Guacamole could be used in place of the hummus for an earthier vibe.
  • Jalapenos:  this lamb burger recipe is flavorful but not spicy, so I suggest adding jalapenos or harissa on top of the tzatziki if you wish to add a kick.
  • Red onions:  you may swap the pickled red onions for plain, thinly sliced red onions, but trust me, it’s not the same!
  • Caramelized onions:  rich, deeply complex, sweet, savory onions, one of my favs!  You can follow my recipe used my French onion chicken.
  • Mushrooms: grilled Portobellos would be superb on biftekia.

HOW TO MAKE lamb BURGER recipe, greek-style

This lamb burger recipe is super easy to make! Simply combine the meat mixture, form the patties then chill the patties while you prep the toppings. This prep work can all be done a day in advance or it comes together quickly at dinner time. Once the patties are chilled, the you are less than 10 minutes away from the best Greek Burgers of your life.

START WITH A breadcrumbs and egg

To make biftekia, you’ll start by grating the onion on the largest holes of the grater straight into a large bowl (we want all the juices!), then add the eggs, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, balsamic, herbs and seasonings.  Mix everything together, then add the ground lamb very last.

As previously mentioned, Greek Burgers are essentially flattened Greek meatballs made with both eggs and breadcrumbs which results in super juicy burgers.  Whenever you cook or grill meat at high heat, you run the risk of losing juiciness and flavor but eggs + breadcrumbs is the secret, fool proof way to guarantee juicy lamb burgers every time. 

The breadcrumbs help the biftekia stay moist by absorbing and trapping the meat juices as they cook.  The breadcrumbs provide structure by preventing the meat proteins from contracting which causes significant amounts of moisture to be squeezed out. The egg binds the ground meat, breadcrumbs, and herbs together. As the meatballs cook, the eggs cook which helps all the ingredients stick together instead of crumble apart. 

a collage showing how to make Greek lamb burger recipe by mixing onions, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, lemon, dill, mint, oregano together in a glass bowl

DON’T OVRWORK THE GROUND lamb

Stop mixing the ground lamb ingredients as soon as they are combined – the more you handle the meat, the tougher your burger will be and the more likely it is to dry out and crumble.

To mix gently, use clean, wet hand, with fingers spread apart then combine until loosely mixed. Damp hands will prevent them from becoming sticky which will help the meat combine faster and prevent over-handling. 

a collage showing how to make Greek burgers with lamb by mixing lamb into the herb, egg, breadcrumb mixture

DON’T PACK

When shaping the patties, don’t overwork or pack the meat together or else you’ll end up with tough, dense burgers. 

MAKE PATTIES LARGER THAN BUNS

Lamb burgers will inevitably shrink when cooked as the proteins constrict so it is important to make the burger patties larger than the buns – no one wants a wimpy burger patty sitting on a larger bun.

To make the patties, divide the meat into 6 equal sections.  You can use a kitchen scale to make sure they are equal, but I just eyeball it. Form each section into a loose, big meatball, handling it as little as possible. We don’t want the balls too compact or overworked or you’ll have a hard burger.

Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand until it is about 1-inch larger than your bun, then proceed to dimple per below instructions.

showing how to make Greek lamb burger recipe with top view of lamb burger patties and toppings: hummus, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tzatziki

DIMPLE THE PATTIES

Dimpling the patties, or making a shallow depression, helps the lamb burgers cook evenly, prevents them from bulging in the center when cooked and minimizing shrinkage.

But not all dimples are created equal!  Instead of just indenting the center of the patty with your thumb, it is best to create a shallow center surrounded by raised edges. Once you flatten the burgers to the desired width, shape them so the outer 1/2-inch of the patty is roughly 1-inch thick and the centers are 1/2-inch thick in the center.

Since patties vary in size, here is a simple formula: make patties 1-inch larger than the buns and the outer edges twice as thick as the center.

showing how to make lamb burger recipe Greek style by dimpling the patties

CHILL BURGERS

Unlike almost every other protein that cook better when brought to room temperature, we want to keep our burger patties cold until cooked.  The colder the patties, the better the flavor-carrying fat stays in the meat which means juicer Greek Burgers and patties that don’t crumble when cooked.

Make your patties at least 15 minutes before cooking, place on a parchment lined plate or tray, cover and refrigerate.

HOW TO COOK lamb BURGERS ON THE GRILL

Cooking lamb burgers on the grill is incredibly easy with almost zero cleanup! First, heat the grill to medium-high heat, then grease the grill.  Once hot, place the biftekia on the grill directly over the heat so they aren’t touching and cover. We want to make sure there is enough room in between the burgers so they grill and don’t steam. 

Grill the Greek Burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the bottom, about 3-5 minutes.  You’ll know to flip the patties when you see liquid pooling on the uncooked surface.  Don’t push down on the burger while grilling or you will lose juices and cause flareups. If flareups occur, move the burgers away from direct heat until the flames diminish.

Flip the lamb burgers over only once then continue to cook until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side. It will take 3-5 minutes depending on desired doneness. If the outsides get charred before the burgers reach desired temperature, move the burgers away from the direct heat, cover, and continue to grill until done.

All of this said, the grilling time ultimately depends on the thickness of your burger patties, the actual heat of your grill and desired doneness, so I recommend an instant read thermometer for the most accurate, which translates to the juiciest, lamb burgers.

showing how to make lamb burger recipe Greek style by grilling the lamb burgers

HOW TO COOK lamb BURGERS ON THE STOVE

To cook this lamb burger recipe on the stove, choose a cast iron skillet.  This will give you a beautiful char.  If you’re feeling extra fancy, get ready with a slab of butter to add once you flip the burgers. 

Heat some vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat. We want the skillet hot so it will create a nice crust but we don’t want it too hot or the outside will burn before the center is cooked to 160 degrees F.  I find medium to be perfect but you may need to adjust your stove temperature as needed.

Working in batches, cook the Greek Burgers until brown and charred on each side, about 4-6 minutes, or until the burger cooked to desired doneness.

WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD ground lamb BURGER BE COOKED TO?

The FDA recommends lamb burgers be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to be considered safe for consumption.  I highly recommend an instant read thermometer otherwise you won’t know the temperature of burger without breaking it open. 

You can purchase an instant-read thermometer at any grocery store, Target, Amazon, etc.   When taking the temperature, make sure you insert it into the middle of the burger, as this is the part that cooks last.

If you would like your lamb burgers grilled to a different temperature, here is a quick guide:

  • MEDIUM-RARE BURGER: 125 to 130 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side
  • MEDIUM BURGER: 135 to 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side
  • MEDIUM-WELL BURGER: 145 to 160 degrees, 3 to 5 minutes per side. 160 degrees is recommended for safe beef consumption
  • WELL-DONE BURGER: 160 degrees and up, 5 minutes and up per side
showing how to make Greek burgers with lamb by grilling until there are dark grill marks

Add Toppings!

Greek Burgers are every bit as much about the herb infused, lamb patties they are about the toppings! I’ve won’t go into detail (see ingredients), but here is an illustrated look at how I layer my biftekia:

a collage showing how to make biftekia (Greek Burgers) by layering with hummus, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, lamb burger, tzatziki, tomatoes, cucumber and onions

TIPS FOR COOKING greek lamb BURGERS (Biftekia)

  • Don’t skip grating the onion.  I have tried this recipe with grated onion, dried minced onions and onion powder and the recipe with grated onion was by far the juiciest. 
  • Don’t overmix biftekia ingredients. Overmixing results in tougher burgers.
  • Follow ground lamb safety tips.  Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat.  Clean any surface the raw patties touch as well as the mixing bowl to prevent cross contamination.
  • Chill the burger patties. After you form the patties, chill them in the refrigerator for at least or 15 minutes.  This allows the flavors to build and meld, the protein to relax and most importantly, it helps the flavor-carrying fat to stay in the meat which means juicer Greek Burgers and burgers that don’t crumble when cooked.
  • Use the correct pan. Use a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan because they distribute heat more evenly and therefore cook your biftekia more evenly. 
  • Thoroughly clean the grill. If grilling, start with a clean grill for the best flavor and texture.
  • Use a hot pan. Get the pan nice and hot (note, this doesn’t mean high heat), before adding the biftekia to create a nice crust/char for maximum flavor and juiciness. 
  • Don’t press the burgers.  We’ve all seen it done, but don’t EVER press down on your burgers with your spatula. Pressing down on the burgers squeezes out the flavorful juices just like a sponge which are what make a juicy burger juicy.  Every time you press, you lose flavor and moisture resulting in a drier burger.
  • Flip the burgers once. As the lamb burger goes from cold to warm, to cooked, it is more likely to fall apart, so handle your burger as little as possible on the stove top or grill.  You should only need to flip your burger once.  This will also ensure even cooking.
  • Let lamb burgers rest. Once the biftekia are done, place them on a plate and let them rest for 5 minutes.  This allows the juices that have been pushed to the outside of the burger when cooking to be redistributed throughout the burger.
  • For extra thick burgers, first sear over direct heat, then finish cooking over indirect heat.
  • Don’t overcook.  Overcooked lamb burgers are dry lamb burgers.  Cook just until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees F to ensure the lamb is properly cooked and your burgers are still juicy.
  • Cook lamb at medium heat on the stove.  These Greek Burgers are on the thicker side so they take longer to cook.   Cook them over medium heat so the outsides don’t burn but have time to develop beautiful caramelization and rich flavors.
  • Turn the heat down as needed. If the burgers are charring or burning before they are finished cooking, turn down the heat or move the burgers off the flame to another part of the grill.
  • Prep the tzatziki first.  If you decide to make tzatziki, prep it before making the lamb burger recipe because it tastes the very best after being refrigerated for at least one hour so the flavors have time to meld.

HOW DO I TOAST BURGER BUNS?

I strongly believe the buns need to be toasted in order to achieve the best Greek Burgers!  The toasted exterior prevents them from becoming soggy as well as delivering a golden, crispy outside, giving way to a soft inside. 

OVEN

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line top and bottom buns on a baking sheet, cut side up.
  3. Spread with softened butter if desired.
  4. Bake until warmed and lightly crispy about 5 minutes.
  5. Don’t over bake or they can become dry – we don’t want croutons!

STOVE

The stove is perfect if you only need 4 buns, although it will still require 2 batches, to toast both the top and bottoms.

  1. After the biftekia are cooked, don’t wipe out pan.
  2. Heat pan to medium low heat.
  3. If there isn’t much grease left, then you may want to melt 1-2 tablespoons butter.
  4. Add buns, cut side down.
  5. Toast until golden, tilting a bun up to check for doneness.

GRILL

If you’re grilling your lamb burgers, toasting the buns is super simple and doesn’t require any additional pans.  You can toast the buns ahead of time or wait until your burgers are almost done.

  1. Spread some softened butter on the cut side of the buns for extra decadence, but they are still delicious without.
  2. Add buns to the grill in a single layer, cut side down.
  3. Grill until slightly charred, about 1 minute. Watch closely because they can burn very quickly!
top view of sliced Greek lamb burger with grilled zucchini and chips

WHAT TO SIDES TO SERVE WITH GREEK LAMB burger recipe?

Serve Greek Burgers alongside easy sides such as Greek salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, chips, fries, sweet potato fries, etc. or here are some more elaborate tasty options: 

HOW DO YOU STORE greek BURGERS?

Store lamb burger patties separate from buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  For longer storage, freeze burger patties instead (see below).

up close of Greek burger with lamb and tzatziki

CAN YOU MAKE greek burgers AHEAD TIME?

Yes!  You can make all of the elements for this lamb burger recipe ahead of time so all you have to do is grill and eat:

  • Burgers: shape the burger patties, place them on a parchment lined plate or tray, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.  Store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. DO NOT bring to room temperature before cooking – cook straight from the refrigerator.
  • Tzatziki Sauce:  make tzatziki sauce according to recipe directions and store in an air-tight container for up 5 days, but it is best used within the first 2.  
  • Pickled Red Onions:  store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  • Toppings: prep the toppings while the burgers are chilling so they are all ready to go as and all you have to do is cook and eat!  

CAN YOU FREEZE biftekia?

Yes, these Greek lamb burgers freeze very well:

  • Place cooked patties in a freezer size plastic bag and separate patties with parchment paper OR place patties in individual plastic bags.  
  • With either option, make sure you squeeze as much excess air out as possible in order to prevent freezer burn.  
  • Alternatively, you can wrap individual patties tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil.
  • When ready to eat, let burgers thaw overnight in the refrigerator then cook within three days.

CAN YOU BAKE FROZEN BURGER PATTIES?

Baking burgers-from-frozen is a great option because it cooks them more evenly than grilling from frozen or cooking on the stove from frozen.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet with sides.
  3. Line the frozen patties on the sheet without touching.
  4. Cover the sheet loosely with aluminum foil by creating a “tent” and peaking the foil in the center and sealing on the sides.
  5. Bake for 30-60 minutes depending on thickness of burger and how well done you like them.

CAN YOU FREEZE UNCOOKED BURGER PATTIES?

You can freeze uncooked patties by flash freezing first so they don’t lose their shape.

To freeze uncooked burger patties:

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Line patties on the parchment paper in rows so they aren’t touching.
  3. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until solid, about 1-2 hours.
  4. Using kitchen shears, cut the along the imaginary grid to separate the patties, this way each patty has its own parchment square. 
  5. Stack patties separated by parchment paper into a freezer bag.
  6. Squeeze out as much air as possible in order to prevent freezer burn then seal and label.
  7. Freeze for up to four months.

HOW LONG CAN YOU FREEZE lamb BURGERS?

Ground lamb is technically safe to freeze indefinitely but it can suffer freezer burn and lose quality.  For bests results, consume your frozen biftekia within 3 months.

COMMONLY ASKED lamb burger recipe QUESTIONS

What are lamb burgers?

Lamb burgers are made from rich, earthy flavored young ground lamb. Ground lamb contains lean meat and trimmings from the shank, leg, loin, rib, shoulder, flank, neck and breast. The fat content can vary, but typically ground lamb is comparable in fat to lean ground beef (18 to 20 grams of fat per 3 1/2-ounce serving).

Where to buy ground lamb?

Ground lamb can be found in the meat department or ask your butcher.  Unlike beef, ground lamb isn’t sold in a variety of fat-to-lean ratios, so you should be good to go with whatever lamb is sold at your grocery store.  If you can’t locate it, ground beef is a great substitute with a similar fat content, but will taste “beefier.”  For a milder flavor, substitute with half ground beef and half ground pork.  That being said, for the best lamb burgers, I ordered trusted lamb from Silver Fern Farms which is 100% grass fed, antibiotic free lamb from New Zealand.   You can also use ground lamb in any other dish you use ground beef, turkey or chicken such as meatballs, meatloaf or kabobs.  It is a particular favorite in Shepherd’s Pie, Greek Moussaka and Indian samosas.

Are lamb burgers healthy?

Lamb is a red meat rich in high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals.  It contains varying amounts of fat depending on how much of it has been trimmed away, as well as the animal’s diet, age, gender, and feed. The fat content is usually around 17–21%.  Lamb is a particularly outstanding source of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.  Unlike beef, it is also packed with omega-3’s because it is grass fed instead of grain fed.

Beef burgers verses lamb burgers

The nutritional value of ground lamb used in lamb burgers is influenced by the cut, but is often comparable to beef in terms of calories and fat. In a study by the United States Department of Agriculture, they found ground beef and lamb to be almost identical in levels of fat and protein.  Lamb had slightly higher saturated fat at 8.1g of saturated fat per 100 grams compared to beef’s 7.3 grams but lamb did not contain any significant amount of trans fat compared to beef’s 1.2 grams per 100 grams. Beef and lamb contain similar amounts of cholesterol, with beef at 88mg of cholesterol per 100 grams and lamb at 97mg of cholesterol.  Beef and lamb contain similar amounts of Vitamin D, K, E, but lamb has higher amounts of vitamin B and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Can lamb burgers be pink in the middle?

The FDA recommends that ground lamb be cooked to 160 degrees F, which means it will be fully cooked without any pink in the middle.  When lamb is ground, bacteria from its surface is mixed throughout the meat. This increases the risk of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella being mixed right into your food. In order to eliminate any harmful bacteria, it needs to be fully cooked.

Why are my lamb burgers tough?

Lamb burgers can be tough and dense instead of light and juicy because of three reasons: 1) there is too little liquid in ratio to the breadcrumbs (which can happen if you don’t use grated onion and its juices), 2) the meat mixture was overworked while mixing or when forming the patties, 3) the lamb burgers are overcooked.  To prevent tough burgers, add all of the meat mixture ingredients to a large bowl except the ground lamb, stir to combine and then mix the ground meat in with your hands. This method allows you to handle the meat as little as possible. You don’t want to over-mix the lamb meat into a paste, instead, pieces of ground meat should still be visible. Also, take care when forming the patties to use a light touch by not squeezing them too much.  Leave them airy instead of compact.

Do I have to add eggs and breadcrumbs?

Eggs and breadcrumbs are added to traditional Greek Burgers because they are an adaptation of Greek meatballs, plus they make for extra juicy burgers!  The breadcrumbs serve three purposes:  1) help bind the ingredients together so the lamb burgers don’t fall apart, 2) add structure to allow you to add additional liquid to produce moister/more flavorful burgers and 3) help the burgers stay moist by absorbing and trapping the meat juices as they cook. The eggs bind the ground meat, breadcrumbs, and herbs together. As the patties cook, the eggs cook which helps all the ingredients stick together instead of crumble apart.

How long can raw lamb patties stay in fridge?

Technically, raw patties can be refrigerated for three to four days, stored in an airtight container or covered tightly in plastic wrap.  Still, I recommend using them within 24 hours for optimal freshness and juiciness.  Cooked lamb burgers are also good for up to three to four days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

showing toppings for lamb burger Greek style by topping buns with arugula, lamb patties, tomatoes, cucumbers, tzatziki and red onions
showing toppings for lamb burger Greek style by topping buns with arugula, lamb patties, tomatoes, cucumbers, tzatziki and red onions

Greek Burgers

This Greek Lamb Burger Recipe (Biftekia) is out of this world flavorful, satisfying and refreshing all at the same time!  The Greek Burgers are laced with feta, garlic, dill, mint, cumin and oregano, grilled to succulent juicy perfection then topped with roasted red pepper hummus, sun-dried tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled red onion, tomato, arugula and tzatziki.  It is a juicy, textural flavor bomb that you don’t want to miss.  Of course, all of the toppings are customizable to make it YOUR best Greek Burger! I’ve included tips and tricks on how to cook lamb burgers (grilled or stove top), how to make ahead and how to freeze and the Greek’s secret to the JUICIEST burgers.  Serve this lamb burger recipe with a simple Greek salad, watermelon feta salad, Greek tortellini salad, feta fries or lemon rice, for the ultimate feast!
Servings: 6 burgers
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

BURGER PATTIES

  • ½ small red onion
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano OR 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp EACH smoked paprika, ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp EACH pepper, red pepper flakes

ADD LAST

  • 2 pounds ground lamb or other ground meat of choice – beef, pork, chicken or turkey – see notes

BURGER TOPPINGS

Instructions

  • If making tzatziki, make it first so it has time to chill.
  • Grate the onion on the largest holes of the grater straight into a large bowl (we want all the juices!), then add all the remaining burger patty ingredients up to the ground lamb and mix well. Add lamb and mix with your hands just to combine (don’t over-mix or your burgers will be tough).
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the mixture into 6 equal sections on the parchment. Form each section into a loose, big ball. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until it is about 1-inch larger than your buns. Create a shallow depression in the middle of each patty so the outer ½-inch edges are almost twice as thick as the center (see photos in post).
  • Cover the patties with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (cold patties stay intact better) while you prep the rest of your toppings. DON’T bring patties to room temperature before cooking.

TO COOK ON THE STOVE

  • Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, add the patties to the hot skillet and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 4-6 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

TO COOK ON THE GRILL

  • Heat grill to 375-400 degrees F with the lid closed. Once hot, clean and grease the grill with vegetable oil. Add patties and cover. Cook until brown and slightly charred on one side, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Flip burgers (but do not press down), cover and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove to a plate and tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

HAMBURGER BUNS

  • To toast hamburger buns, spread softened butter on the cut sides of the buns (optional). Add to the grill, or skillet, cut side down and toast for about 1 minute or until golden.

ASSEMBLE

  • Top toasted buns with a layer of hummus, plenty of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, burger patties, harissa (a little goes a long way!), tzatziki, tomatoes, cucumbers and pickled red onions. Dig in!

Notes

  • *Ground pork, turkey, chicken: are leaner than lamb or beef so you may wish to add an extra tablespoon or so of olive oil to the ground meat mixture so the burgers aren’t dry.
  • Don’t skip grating the onion.  I have tried this recipe with grated onion, dried minced onions and onion powder and the recipe with grated onion was by far the juiciest. 
  • Don’t overmix biftekia ingredients. Overmixing results in tougher burgers. To mix gently, use clean, wet hand, with fingers spread apart then combine until loosely mixed. Damp hands will prevent them from becoming sticky which will help the meat combine faster and prevent over-handling.
  • Use the correct pan. Use a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan because they distribute heat more evenly and therefore cook your biftekia more evenly. 
  • Flip the burgers once. As the lamb burger goes from cold to warm, to cooked, it is more likely to fall apart, so handle your burger as little as possible on the stove top or grill.  You should only need to flip your burger once.  This will also ensure even cooking.
  • Turn the heat down as needed. If the burgers are charring or burning before they are finished cooking, turn down the heat or move the burgers off the flame to another part of the grill.
  • Don’t overcook.  Overcooked lamb burgers are dry lamb burgers.  Cook just until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees F to ensure the lamb is properly cooked and your burgers are still juicy.

How to store and reheat

  • To store: store lamb burger patties separate from buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  For longer storage, freeze burger patties instead (see below).
  • To freeze cooked burger patties: place cooked patties in a freezer size plastic bag and separate patties with parchment paper OR place patties in individual plastic bags and squeeze out excess air. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To freeze raw burger patties: line a baking tray with parchment paper and add the patties in rows so they aren’t touching. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until solid, about 1-2 hours. Using kitchen shears, cut the along the imaginary grid to separate the patties, this way each patty has its own parchment square. Stack patties separated by parchment paper in a freezer bag.  Freeze for up to 4 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
  • To reheat in the oven: place burger patties on a baking rack placed in a baking tray.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 3-5 minutes.
  • To reheat in the microwave: be cautious when using the microwave because it can make the patties rubbery. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, just until warmed.
  • To reheat on the stove: add about three tablespoons of water to a large nonstick pan and heat over medium heat.  Add the burgers and top with the lid and let steam for 3-5 minutes. Transfer the patties to a paper towel lined plate to release excess moisture.

Make Ahead

You can make all of the elements for this lamb burger recipe ahead of time so all you have to do is grill and eat:
  • Burgers: shape the burger patties, place them on a parchment lined plate or tray, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.  Store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. DO NOT bring to room temperature before cooking – cook straight from the refrigerator.
  • Tzatziki Sauce:  make tzatziki sauce according to recipe directions and store in an air-tight container for up 5 days, but it is best used within the first 2.  
  • Pickled Red Onions:  store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
  • Toppings: prep the toppings while the burgers are chilling so they are all ready to go as and all you have to do is cook and eat!  

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