Gyro-Inspired Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce Recipe

Even for those diehards who sweep snow off their grill and brave the elements to get that great smoky flavor, the onset of “official” grilling season is an exciting time. Who wouldn’t rather hold a cold one while grilling than be one? In honor of the season, here’s a different twist that takes inspiration from the Greek gyro, mixing in flavors with meat and topping them off with even more. There’s a reason those burgers at restaurants often have that something special; it’s in the extra touches, such as flavorful sauces.

Meat expert Bruce Aidells, author of The Great Meat Cookbook, who contributed this recipe to Real Food, likes to serve these burgers gyro style—in warm pita bread and garnished with tzatziki, a yogurt and cucumber sauce. The crumbled feta cheese adds a wonderful tangy flavor. You can also try this recipe with a mixture of beef and lamb or with just lamb.

And for more inspiration to kick off grilling season, check out Minnesota Monthly’s GrillFest happening this weekend at CHS Field, the new home of the St. Paul Saints.

Gyro-Inspired Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Makes 4 servings

1 lb. ground chuck, 80% lean
12 lb. ground pork, 80% lean
3  oz. crumbled feta cheese
2  tsp. fresh dill, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (or 12 tsp. dried)
2 tsp. fresh mint, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
12 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

34 c. Greek yogurt (preferably full-fat)
12  English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into a small dice
1 tsp. lemon zest
12 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. fresh mint, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped (or 12 tsp. dried)
freshly ground black pepper

2 pita rounds
1 vine-ripened tomato (heirloom if available), diced
12 c. sweet red onion, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the burgers: Drop meat in a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Using a fork, gently combine without overworking. Form into 4 oval-shaped patties the size of half a pita bread. Set aside.

For the tzatziki: Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Grill burgers over a medium-hot fire about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.

Meanwhile, wrap pita in foil and place in oven to warm.

To assemble, cut each pita in half and gently spread to form a pocket. Place each burger into a pita pocket and spoon tzatziki over meat. Spoon tomatoes and onion over yogurt, and serve.

Nutrition info (per serving) Calories: 518 (272 from fat); Fat 30g (sat. 12g); Chol 131mg; Sodium 1041mg; Carb 20g; Fiber 2g; Protein 39g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.