Rethinking Burgers-Here's how to make a burger healthier

  • 2 Minutes Read

You are watching your weight and working out, but wonder how to make a juicy burger healthier come Friday night? We've got you covered with simple tips on doing just that, whether at home or on the town.

how to make a burger healthier

How to make a burger healthier-It all starts with the meat

No matter what type of diet plan you choose, you'll save on fat grams and calories through the choice of meat you use to make your burger.

A standard hamburger made with 3 ounces of 80% lean/20% fat ground beef contains 231 calories and 6 grams saturated fat. Save some calories and fat grams by choosing ground bison, which comes out to only 152 calories and 3 grams saturated fat for the same 3-ounce portion. More restaurants have bison on the menu these days than in the past.

Another lean choice is ground turkey. A 3-ounce cooked portion of 85% lean/15% fat ground turkey contains 204 calories and 4g saturated fat To keep the meat from drying out and sticking to the grill or pan, knead in a teaspoon of heart-healthy olive oil to each patty before cooking.

Never cooked with ground turkey? Try these lean and flavorful turkey burger recipes to get you started:

Tasty turkey burgers - one of many recipes in the MyNetDiary Premium recipe collection

Southwestern turkey cheddar burger

How to build a heart-healthy burger

Make a burger healthier for your heart and hips by opting for a plant-based patty. Veggie burgers made from whole grains, vegetables, or legumes are lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber, both important for heart health.

Shopping for a pre-made, frozen, plant-based patty? Read the nutrition facts label, and find a patty that contains at least 5 grams of plant-based protein and other whole-food ingredients such as this brand.

No need to be stuck with pre-made veggie patties any more than you need to be stuck with pre-formed beef patties. Recipes for homemade veggie burgers flood the internet searches. Here are 2 healthy, plant-based burger recipes to get you started:

Red-Lentil Burgers with Aioli: 324 calories, 1.6 grams saturated fat
Portobello Burgers: 251 calories, 2.3 grams saturated fat

Choose these healthier burger toppings

It is no surprise that cheese and bacon pile on the calories on that otherwise healthy burger. Did you know that one ounce of cheddar cheese contains 110 calories and 5g of saturated fat? Two strips of bacon amount to 108 calories and 2.8g of saturated fat. Swap out those toppings for heart-healthy avocado (2 slices contain 40 calories and 0.2g of saturated fat). Looking for some extra flavor without a lot of extra calories? Opt for grilled onions, roasted garlic, sprouts, or green chiles.

In this case, mix-ins mean a more nutritious burger

To cut back on calories and fat grams yet maintain texture and flavor, try mixing in sauteed mushrooms, onions, or garlic into very lean ground beef (95% lean, 5% fat). The combination of beef and mushrooms makes a moist, flavorful patty.

To increase your burger's quality, purchase your ground meat from a trusted butcher, or grind it yourself. You might also consider grinding a trimmed beef brisket, which makes for a lean and tasty patty.

What about the bun?

Easily increase the health profile of your burger by modifying the type of bun you use. By swapping out white for whole wheat, you'll increase your fiber and B vitamins. And while a brioche bun may be a nice indulgence, it has even more fat and calories than a standard hamburger bun. Leave it behind and go for a lettuce-wrapped burger or a naked burger. If your burger began with a high-quality patty, you won't miss the bun. You'll end up saving upwards of 250 calories and 6 grams of fat.

More ways to make a burger healthier

We hope these tips and recipes help you think creatively about how to make a burger healthier! May your next burger night be full of flavor and enjoyment and help you move closer towards your health and weight-loss goals.

Note: MyNetDiary does not endorse nor get paid to promote products mentioned in this post.

This blog was reviewed and updated by: Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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Sep 3, 2020
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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