It’s burger time!

All the secrets to making the best burgers around

Text and Recipes By: Sharon Lurie

What makes a burger “A BURGER”?

Is it the patty? The toppings? The condiments? Or the bun?

The secret to these unique tasting burgers is a combination of all of the above. Nothing beats a simple home-made burger bun (recipe below), especially when cut open and toasted. Toasting the buns gives it an even better taste, texture, and surface to prevent the sauces from seeping through the bun and making it soggy.

All the burgers below use the ‘No Fuss Basic Chunky Burger’ recipe as their base, except the Falafel and Safari burgers, but each one tastes so different, it’s worth trying them all!

Sharon’s new cookbook “A Taste of South Africa with the Kosher Butcher’s Wife” is now available at Nussbaums and all good book stores!


1½ kg coarse ground mince (coarse helps with aeration to make it lighter)

2 large finely grated onions. (I prefer to fry my onion in a little oil to caramelise it, which gives the meat a richer taste, however, if you’re in a hurry, raw grated onion is still fine)

1 heaped tsp freshly crushed garlic

1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard (I like Schneiders)

1 tsp BBQ spice (Your favourite supermarket variety)

1 tsp crushed ground black pepper

Combine all the above ingredients gently, as overmixing can make them too compact and firm.

Divide the meat mixture into 6 balls then flatten to resemble burger patties. You can make them a little smaller to get about 8 balls, but I prefer them bigger and thicker. Refrigerate for at least an hour as this helps prevent them from falling apart in the pan or on the grid. When ready to cook, paint both sides of the burger with oil, not the frying pan or braai grid. Press your thumb in the centre of the burger as this helps the burger from puffing up in the middle.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based frying pan and fry or fire up the coals and braai the burgers (nothing better than a flame-licked beef burger!).

Cook until desired ‘doneness’, about 3–5 minutes per side. Don’t move your patties around while cooking, as they can break up. Leave them to cook untouched and if they don’t come away from grid with a burger lifter, wait a bit until they come away from the pan or braai grid without sticking. Burgers only need to be flipped over once.

Always have your burger accompaniments sliced and ready to use on the side so that you can start piling them high as the burgers come off the heat.

Now let’s see what we can do with these patties!


Use the basic recipe for chunky burgers and add the following accompaniments.


2 Tbls of Basil Pesto (store bought or home-made) spread on either side of toasted burger bun

2 slices lettuce to be placed on top of pesto to prevent pink sauce below from seeping through bun

A couple of pieces of fresh rocket

2 Tbls ‘pink sauce’ (mix tomato sauce and mayonnaise), spread on either side of the burger bun

Onion rings sliced and fried until golden brown then pile on thinly sliced pickled cucumbers, green/red/yellow peppers, avocado, and tomatoes


Use the basic recipe for chunky burgers and add the following accompaniments.


3 Tablespoons mayonnaise mixed with 1 Tbls mustard sauce and a Tbls of Truffle oil (optional, but so delish!). Spread this on the toasted burger buns

2 Vienna sausages, cut at 1cm intervals, not all the way through, then grilled or fried

1 small onion, sliced into thin rings and fried with a pinch of salt

½ cup sliced mushrooms, to be added to sliced onion and continue to fry

1 tomato, thinly sliced and added to onions and mushrooms for a minute or two

Fresh cucumber, very finely sliced to add a hint of freshness and a subtle crunch

4 slices macon, fried to a perfect ‘drape’ to be placed on top of patty and finally top with

1 fried egg


400g can of chickpeas, drain, and set juice aside

1 medium onion finely grated

½ cup flour

½ cup plain breadcrumbs/cornflake crumbs

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cumin spice

1 tsp paprika

1 egg

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 handful finely chopped fresh coriander or parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the above in a food processor until smooth

If you find the mixture a little too firm, add a little liquid from the chickpeas you set aside earlier

Roll into balls (a little smaller than a tennis ball) flatten and fry in oil until golden brown


6 Tablespoons humus – use 4 Tbls to spread on the toasted insides of the burger buns, keeping the other 2 Tbls to place on top of the patty later

4 Tbls eggplant mayonnaise divided and spread on both sides of the burger bun

Place a slice of lettuce on top of the eggplant mayonnaise followed by the falafel burger, followed by the other 2 Tbls of humus.

Add ready-made Israeli salad or chop tomato, onion, cucumber, fresh coriander, and a handful of red or white cabbage and place it on top of the patty. Cover with Humus and eggplant spread lid.


1kg boerewors

1 large onion sliced into rings and fried until golden brown

1 can Tomato and Onion Braai Sauce (All Gold)

3 Tbls hot chutney

Roll the boerewors into spirals slightly larger than the burger bun as they do shrink a little when cooked. Hold boerewors in place with toothpicks to keep shape. Fry or braai boerewors in its spiral shape until cooked through. Meanwhile, fry the onions until golden brown. At the same time, bring the Tomato and Onion Braai Sauce to the boil, add the chutney, reduce the heat, and allow it to reduce and thicken without the lid on for about 25 minutes. Place sauce on the insides of the toasted burger bun. Place boerewors onto bun, baste it further with a little more Braai sauce, cover with onions, and place lid of burger but on top.

SHREDDED BEEF BURGER (The ingredients are for 1 burger)

1 small onion sliced into rings

1/3 cup store-bought BBQ sauce or home-made (recipe below)

4-5 slices rare roast, shredded (or any leftover roast you may have)

4 Tbls chrayonnaise sauce (1 Tbls drained white chrain + 3 Tbls mayonnaise)

3-4 Radicchio leaves

Fry onions in a little oil until soft. Add BBQ sauce to onions and stir. Add the meat and heat it up in the onion and BBQ sauce. Place the chrayonnaise onto both sides of the toasted bun. Add the Radicchio leaves, which are slightly peppery, but delicious with the beef. Add the shredded beef with fried onion and BBQ sauce and cover with burger bun lid.


2 large onions, sliced into rings

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1½ cups cold water

2 Tbls chicken stock

Combine all of the above ingredients and whisk well. You may need to add a little more water to get that smooth batter consistency. Place the onions into the batter ensuring they are well covered then immerse a few at a time into hot oil and cook until golden brown.


4 cups flour

1 x 10g packet rapid rising yeast

1½-2 cups warm water

2 tsp salt

½ cup oil

1 egg mixed with 2 Tbls water

1/3 cup sesame/poppy seeds

Place flour and yeast into a bowl. Add 1½ cups water, salt, and oil, and mix until well combined. You may need to add more water to get it to a nice dough consistency. “What’s a nice dough consistency?” I hear you say. Well, the final product, after kneading, should end up being a soft, smooth piece of elastic dough that doesn’t stick to your hands or the kneading board. Allow to rise until double in size. Divide into 6 or 8 balls and roll into circular buns. Flatten slightly with a rolling pin and roll into burger buns shape. Allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Paint with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, and bake at 190°C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

KBW Q&E HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE – This sauce is wonderful when burgers are looking a little dry and could do with a little moisture.

2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

1 cup tomato sauce

¼ cup honey

1 tsp freshly crushed garlic

¾ cup chutney

1 Tbls brown vinegar

Combine all of the above in a jug, mix well, and pour into a squeezy bottle.

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