Hot Grill Summer: Burger trends elevate the all-American classic

These three burger trends can bring back nostalgic summer feels while satisfying our grown-up cravings.

click to enlarge Feel free to give these trends a try on your home grill or indulge in them as part of San Antonio's Burger Week. - SHUTTERSTOCK / MARCIN JUCHA
Shutterstock / Marcin Jucha
Feel free to give these trends a try on your home grill or indulge in them as part of San Antonio's Burger Week.

Nothing suits a hot summer day quite like a juicy burger right off the grill.

There's something about the flame-grilled flavor of a patty that's been lovingly tended to over a fire that brings back childhood memories of traipsing through sprinklers and inadvertent belly flops at the neighborhood pool.

Of course, we're not kids anymore, so it stands to reason that some of our culinary expectations have matured past the flimsy grey patties and half-melted American cheese slices of yesteryear.

With that in mind, here are three burger trends that can bring back those nostalgic summer feels while satisfying our grown-up cravings and even our healthy eating habits. Feel free to give these a try on your home grill or indulge in them as part of San Antonio's Burger Week. Heck, we even provided suggestions for pairing drinks with them. We're adults, after all, right?

Global Flavors

For burger purists, seasonings and condiments may dead end at good old salt and pepper, and maybe just a smear of mustard or mayo. But adventurous eaters tend to look at the trusty burger as a blank canvas. If you're among the latter, inspiration can come from anywhere around the globe. Try these additions and toppings for a globally inspired bite:

Asian: gochujang, scallions, fresh ginger, garlic, sesame oil

Mediterranean: lavender (trust us on this), turmeric, harissa, mint-yogurt sauce

Middle Eastern: fenugreek, sumac, ground pine nuts, mint, garlic hummus

Indian: garam masala, cardamom, curry paste, spicy mango chutney

Pairs with... Go all the way and pair your international burger with drinks from its region of origin. Try boba tea for an Asian-inspired bite or a puckery margarita to accompany a sando built around Mexican flavors.

Non-Beef Options

For burgers, beef is king — especially in Texas. However, many burger lovers across the nation are experimenting with patties made with earthy lamb, lean turkey and omega-3-packed salmon. Whether you're looking for a healthier choice or just a little variety, options abound. Since these alternative proteins can be dryer than traditional beef patties, home-cooks can — and should! — have fun pumping up the flavor with compound butters, aioli, jams and assorted pickled items. If that sounds like too much work, restaurants increasingly offer fun burger options with alternative proteins as the star.

Pairs with... Think vino. A medium-bodied pinot noir would complement a burger made with lamb or turkey. The general rule for rich, oily fish like salmon is to pair it with a full-bodied white wine like oak-aged Chardonnay or Marsanne.

Veggie Patties

Whether you're making the switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet or just looking to lose a bit of your quarantine gut, replacing a beef burger with a veggie patty can be a delicious and guilt-free way to go. Meaty, umami-rich portobello mushroom caps are arguably the easiest and most common veggie alternative. Just scrape out the gills to lose the muddy taste. But the non-meat burger patty market has also expanded significantly in the last few years, bringing a wider variety of ingredients and some options such as Beyond Meat burgers that taste damn close to the real thing. Patties made with edamame, black beans, cauliflower and sweet potatoes also offer tasty, nutrient-packed stand-ins.

Pairs with... When dining on a veggie-based burger, your tipple shouldn't overwhelm. Go for a pilsner or lager, preferably Czech, for a light, crisp and summery beer companion.

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