The classic burger is here to stay, but if you want to switch things up every now and then, try adding these bun-free alternatives to your summer cooking rotation.

By Rebecca Morris
June 14, 2021
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Go beyond the bun-and the beef, for that matter-with these five creative takes on the classic burger. Sure, there's nothing quite like a traditional burger hot off the grill, cooked exactly to your liking and dressed with all of your favorite fixings, but there's no need to limit yourself to this one iteration when there are so many other alternatives that you can enjoy for dinner. Read on to find out our other favorite ways to enjoy a burger sans bun.

greek turkey burgers recipe plate
Credit: Sidney Bensimon

Swap in a Pita

For our Greek Turkey Burgers, pictured above, a seasoned ground turkey mixture is boosted with savory-ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and Dijon before being formed them into small patties. For this bun-free burger, it's the small details at the final assembly point that really drive the Greek flavor profile home: a drizzle of easy lemon-yogurt sauce, the swipe of store-bought hummus, the crunchy slices of cucumber, and the round of soft, pocket-less pita.

pinto bean burger
Credit: Armando Rafael

Make Your Burger Crispy

Our Pinto Bean Burger pulls out all the stops for textural appeal: Toasted almonds, panko breadcrumbs, and an egg mean this plant-based burger holds together and has a satisfyingly crunchy outer shell. Truly, putting a bun on this masterpiece would be like painting a peacock-there's no need! Instead, go for California-style accessories on the side like slices of ripe avocado and crisp bean sprouts.

Pesto Chicken Burgers
Credit: Con Poulos

Eat Like an Italian

Where there's pesto, surely there's a pan of focaccia waiting just around the corner, right? That's almost certainly true in the Ligurian region of Italy, which claims these two greats as their own. It's also true in the case of these Pesto Chicken Burgers; they incorporate a fresh basil pesto into the patty mixture and encloses them in a fluffy cloud of focaccia bread.

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Use Lettuce

Here's a recipe that's actually enhanced by a lettuce wrap: This burger makes no claims to be a diet option, but its unique flavor profile means a traditional bun will seem downright out of place. Punchy ingredients like Thai red chiles, lemongrass, and fish sauce are added to Southeast Asian-inspired Lemongrass Pork Burgers. The refreshing crunch of lettuce that envelopes every seasoned bite is the perfect pairing.

Grilled Burgers With Maytag Blue Cheese And Heirloom Tomatoes
Credit: Earl Carter

Try Sandwich Bread

When that special time during summer hits and eating suddenly becomes all about how to incorporate as many heirloom tomatoes as possible into our diet, a burger bun isn't going to be the best format for those Ruby Reds; the juicy nature of the tomato slice will make a traditional burger bun soggy in no time. Instead, reach for two slices of sturdy sandwich bread, like in this recipe for Grilled Burgers with Maytag Blue Cheese and Heirloom Tomatoes.

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