Burgers? Make Mine Teriyaki

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We eat a fair amount of burgers in our house. With a gas grill just outside our kitchen door, grilling burgers is a convenient answer to a quick weeknight dinner.

Sometimes we make them plain, seasoned with salt and pepper, but other times we go for teriyaki. If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you know how addictive teri burgers can be. Ground meat is seasoned with teriyaki sauce before grilling. The flavor of sweet-salty teriyaki sauce makes burgers succulent and the aromas as the burgers cook are simply scrumptious. With lettuce and tomato and mayonnaise for the dressing, it’s a winning combination.

While I think of a plain burger with ketchup for lunch, the teriyaki flavor seems more like dinner. In fact, you can serve these burgers with rice and a veggie if you’re not into sandwiches for dinner.

When assembling the burger on a bun, be sure to add the mayo; there’s something about the teriyaki flavor and the creaminess of mayonnaise that go especially well together.

Steve is the burger maker in our family, and here are his tips:

  • Start with ground beef that is 15 to 20 percent fat; very lean beef will make dry burgers.
  • Keep the beef chilled as long as possible.
  • Do not over-handle the meat or you will toughen the burgers; combine all ingredients gently with a two forks and lightly form patties; do not knead..
  • Press a dimple in the center of each burger. As the burgers cook from the outside, they will push up the middle; the small hollow in the center will keep the burger from mounding up.
  • Steve can pretty much shape equal-size burgers by eye and by feel; if you have trouble, weigh the burgers with a kitchen scale. You want the burgers to be the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Preheat a gas grill on medium heat; if using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals are ash-covered.
  • Add the burgers, cover the grill and leave the patties on about 3 to 4 minutes on each side or longer to reach desired doneness.
  • To determine doneness, USDA recommends using an instant read thermometer and ensuring burgers reach 160°F.
  • Do not keep turning the burgers; turn just once and don’t press down on the burgers with a spatula; you’re just pressing out the juices.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate. Use a different spatula and a fresh plate to remove the burgers.

If you’d just like to make up a batch of teriyaki sauce as a marinade for steaks or chicken before grilling, try this recipe.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Teriyaki Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon naturally brewed soy sauce
4 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon sake or water
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pound ground beef (15 to 20 percent fat)
1 tablespoon plain dry breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 hamburger buns
4 lettuce leaves
4 slices tomato

In small bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, sake, garlic powder and ground ginger; stir to blend thoroughly.

In large bowl add ground beef, bread crumbs, egg and soy sauce mixture. Mix thoroughly with two forks; do not over-mix or you will toughen the burger. Shape burgers into 4 patties about 1-inch thick. Use your finger to make a shallow dimple in the center of the burger. Grill, covered, over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes; turn and grill another 3 to 4 minutes to desired doneness. USDA recommends internal temperature to reach 160°F.

Spread mayonnaise on bun bottom, add lettuce, tomato, burger and bun top. Repeat to make 4 burgers.


  • This recipe uses ground spices for convenience but you can use fresh. Instead of garlic powder, use a small minced garlic clove. Instead of ground ginger, substitute ¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger.
  • To pack brown sugar, press down with your finger to compact brown sugar in the teaspoon as you measure.

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Posted: May 12th by Sandy_Hu