August, 2015 — The Beef-free Burger Issue

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet Bacon Bison Burgers on the Hybrid Fire Grill

When we think of burgers, all-beef patties come to mind. While we love beef, there are a whole host of other ingredients that make an incredible burger. With that in mind, we have compiled a few of our most delicious, non-beef burger recipes. Our Buffalo Chicken Burgers transfer the classic flavors of Buffalo wings straight onto a bun. A celery seed mayonnaise drives the flavor home. Our Bacon Bison Burger is a play on the classic cheeseburger, with a bacony twist. The patties are made from a blend of ground bison and smoky bacon. We then add our own secret sauce, butter pickles and a schmear of cold-packed cheese. Last, but certainly not least, is one of our favorite recipes. Pork is ground fresh with a selection of spices to create delicious Brat Burgers, and we top them with a homemade fennel slaw.

We hope these recipes inspire you to try something new with your burgers this weekend. 


Russ Faulk

Other great non-beef burger recipes:

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Burgers

We have brought you a number of variations on Buffalo wings over the years. We even shared a recipe for Buffalo shrimp. We are long overdue in sharing this great recipe for Buffalo Chicken Burgers. Buffalo sauce is whipped together from scratch and mixed into the patty along with crumbled blue cheese. We add a hint of celery flavor by mixing the seeds into the mayonnaise we spread on the buns. As written, this recipe is mild in spiciness. For hotter burgers, add a little dried cayenne pepper to the patty mixture.


  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I use Cholula)
  • 1 dried pasilla ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and ground
  • 3 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 1/2 pound Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
  • Bread crumbs (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Coarsely-ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, finely ground
  • 6 golden hamburger buns
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 6 slices tomato


Prepare the grill for direct grilling over a hot fire.

Whisk together the butter, hot sauce and ground chile in a large bowl. Add the chicken breast and blue cheese. Gently fold the ingredients together with a spatula. (Try not to over-work the ground chicken. I think it ruins the texture of the burger.) You may need to add a little bit of bread crumbs if the mixture is too soft. Form into 6 patties shaped so that they are slightly thinner in the middle (a trick from Bobby Flay to keep burgers flat once they begin puffing up in the center). Lightly brush the patties with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Stir together the celery seed and mayonnaise. Spread a thin coating of the mixture onto the cut sides of each bun. Reserve the rest.

Grill the chicken burgers for 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning only once, until cooked through. Grill the buns until lightly toasted.

Spread a small amount more mayonnaise onto the bottom half of each bun. Add a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice and the burger. Finish with the top bun and enjoy. Serve with a little extra hot sauce on the side for people, like me, who love their Buffalo burgers spicy.

Bacon Bison Burgers

Bacon Bison Burgers

While in Charleston earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting The Bar at Husk. Their burger is awesome! They are one of many places that blend bacon into the beef in their burgers, but their specimen is the best I have had. I’ve been thinking about the blend ever since, and have finally pulled together a recipe to share with you. In this version, I use lean bison that adds an incredible delicate flavor, mixed with apple wood-smoked bacon. The toppings are quite simple to let the smoky, grilled flavor of the meat really shine. Some high-quality butter pickles, a little secret sauce and some cold-packed cheddar are all you need to complete this phenomenal burger.


  • 1/2 pound good quality apple wood-smoked bacon
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground bison
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 18 good quality butter pickles
  • 6 golden hamburger buns
  • Cold-packed cheddar cheese

For the Secret Sauce

  • 2 green onions, light green and medium green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of fine sea salt


Prepare the grill for direct grilling over a medium-hot fire, preferably a charcoal fire.

Finely chop the bacon with a knife so that it is similar in texture to the ground bison. Gently mix the chopped bacon into the bison. Use caution not to overwork the meat blend, or the texture of the finished burgers will not be as desirable. Divide the mixture into 6 equal parts and form into patties slightly larger than the hamburger buns. Recess the centers of the patties so that when they plump up they take on a flat profile (thank you Bobby Flay for the tip). Brush the patties lightly with olive oil and season generously with salt.

Let the burger patties rest for a few minutes while you prepare the buns and the Secret Sauce. For the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients. For the buns, brush them generously with olive oil on the cut sides and season lightly with salt.

Grill the burgers directly over the fire until cooked to medium-well (170°F), about 4 minutes per side. It is important to cook to at least medium-well because of the bacon worked into the mixture. After the burgers have been flipped, top each with a spoonful of cold-packed cheddar cheese. (Note: cold-packed cheddar cheese has some of the mild “cheeseburger flavor” qualities of American cheese, but it is real cheese and has a bit more character.)

While the cheese is melting, lightly grill the hamburger buns.

Spread a little secret sauce and add a few pickle slices to the bottom half of each bun. Add the burgers and the top of the buns and serve. These burgers are incredibly flavorful – no additional condiments should be necessary.


Brat Burgers with Fennel Mustard Seed Slaw

Grilled Brat Burger with Fennel Mustard Seed Slaw

One of the best parts of cooking from scratch is that you know exactly what is in the food you eat. This has never been truer than with sausage. While it’s a great food, there are often questions as to what is actually in there. These Brat Burgers are made from pork shoulder and delicately spiced with juniper berries and fragrant cardamom pods. The fennel slaw on top will make your mouth water.


  • 3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo chili (you can find this at Williams Sonoma)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground juniper berries
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seed, coarsely-ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
  • 2 pinches fine sea salt
  • About 6 ounces of thinly-shaved fennel bulb plus the wispy fronds
  • 6 slices Emmenthaler Swiss cheese
  • 6 pretzel hamburger buns, sliced
  • 6 large tomato slices


Cut the pork shoulder into 1/2 –inch cubes. Pork shoulder is roughly 80% lean, so it is perfect for a grilled burger application like this.

Place the meat pieces in a single layer and sprinkle evenly with the salt, Aleppo chili, coriander, cardamom and juniper berries. Please note that the flavor of freshly-ground spices is much stronger than pre-ground spices. A coffee grinder is a perfect piece of equipment for the task.

Transfer the seasoned meat to a metal bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. A metal bowl will help transfer the cold to the meat. It is important that the fat be well-chilled prior to grinding.

Place the mayonnaise, mustard seed, champagne vinegar and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Toss in the fennel and reserve.

Use a meat grinder, a food grinder attachment on your mixer or a food processor to finely grind the meat. Form into 6 equal patties, slightly larger than the buns and recessed in the middles (check out Bobby Flay’s burger tip in our Heavenly Burgers recipe).

Prepare the grill for direct grilling over a medium-hot fire, about 500°F. Grill the burgers, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Add a slice of cheese to each for the last minute of cooking. Lightly toast the buns on the grill at this time.

Assemble the burgers with a slice of tomato and the fennel slaw and serve.

Innovation is at the heart of every Kalamazoo product. Each part of the collection – from grills and pizza ovens to refrigeration and cabinetry – represents a significant departure from the established norm. Our passion for outdoor cooking and our fiercely independent design philosophy drive us to establish new industry benchmarks. Consequently, our list of exclusives and innovations speaks for itself.

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