This grilled halloumi lamb burger is packed with fresh herbs, topped with red onions caramelized on the grill until sweet and a thick layer of sun-dried tomato pesto spread making each bite burst with delicious Mediterranean flavors.
Every year we try and make it to the local Greek festival. It’s my annual excuse to eat all the gyros, souvlaki and loukoumades (<–little fried dough balls coated in honey, nuts and cinnamon that basically put zeppole, the Italian version I grew up on, to shame) I can uncomfortably shove into my mouth in the hour or so that we spend there.
I’d stay longer (to eat more) but the decibel busting Greek music and dancing children eventually get to me.
*This post is sponsored by the American Lamb Board.
There’s one thing at the Greek festival though I’ve yet to try. Saganaki. Otherwise known as flaming cheese.
If there’s something that’s going to catch my attention at a crowded festival, it’s the combination of grill flames + cheese. The only problem with this amazing dish is the crowd it normally gathers around. I don’t care what the food item, there aren’t many things I have the patience to stand in line for 30+ minutes.
Not when there’s a gyro and tzatziki sauce waiting for me at least.
So this year, in partnership with the American Lamb Board and their fun Summer Lambventures contest (remember last year’s recipe for lamb jerky? It’s still one of my favorite outdoor, on the go snacks!) I decided to take the saganaki experience home to my own grill and create these grilled halloumi lamb burgers.
Like last year, they had me pegged as a Fit Foodie or Outdoor Adventurer and while I definitely fit both of those categories, with our new patio space both at home and at the lake (where I try to be every non-working hour during the summer), I’ve ventured into the Grilling Guru space this season and sorta love it.
I used to hand everything over to Ulysses when it came to the grill (usually while I did other things in the kitchen for whatever meal was being made) but more and more I’ve just decided to make the entire meal on the grill because clean up is a million times easier and the less time I have to spend in the kitchen cleaning means the more time I can spend outside, whether it’s at home on the patio chilling by our fire pit or at the lake on the kayak, paddle board or boat (<–there’s that outdoor adventurer)!
From the the burger to the cheese to the red onions, almost all the components of these grilled halloumi lamb burgers made on the grill. The one exception is the sun-dried tomato pesto spread. But good news, this is a simple, ‘make ahead if you want to’ addition. You throw everything in the food processor and it’s done in minutes. I made mine the night before these burgers went down, stored it in a tupperware container in the fridge and it was ready to go when I was ready to eat.
I treated these lamb burgers almost like a meatloaf when prepping them. An egg, some breadcrumbs and milk really kept them moist and juicy. They’re packed with fresh herbs and combined with the sun-dried tomato pesto spread, each bite is bursting with Mediterranean flavor. The salty, charred halloumi and softened caramelized red onions just intensify that even more in the best way possible.
I may be a bit schizophrenic in my summer personality but, the Grilling Guru, Fit Foodie and Outdoor Adventurer in me are ALL happy to chow down on this grilled halloumi lamb burger!
Make sure to check out the Summer Lambventures contest, pick the most fitting category and get a chance to win lots of cool prizes!
For the burger
- 1.5 pounds ground American lamb
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 egg
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 block halloumi, cut into thick slices
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4 inch thick rings
- bibb lettuce leaves
- 4 buns
For the sun-dried tomato pesto
- 1 cup packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the burger:
- Add the lamb, parsley, basil, breadcrumbs, milk, garlic, harissa paste, tomato paste, egg, salt and pepper to a large bowl. Mix until well combined and form into 4 evenly sized patties.
- Preheat outdoor grill to high.
- Place the burgers, onion rings and halloumi on the grill.
- Flip the halloumi once grill marks appear on the bottom and the cheese starts to turn golden brown. It will be ready to come off the grill first.
- Flip burgers once bottoms are slightly charred and cook until desired temperature. I like my lamb burgers medium so I usually pull them off while juices are still running slightly pink.
- Cook onions, flipping once until desired caramelization occurs. I left mine on a few minutes past pulling the burgers off the grill for a deep char.
- Assemble the burgers by spreading the pesto on each side of the bun, placing lettuce on the bottom of the bun, the burger on top, then grilled onions and halloumi.
For the pesto:
- Add all the ingredients except olive oil to a food processor.
- With processor running, slowly add olive oil, scraping down sides as needed.