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Recipe of the Week: Hamburgers for Every Diet

by Trevor Hiltbrand | Reviwed by Advisory Board

Recipe of the Week: Hamburgers for Every Diet

With Memorial Day approaching and summer just around the corner, you might be looking forward to some fun cookouts with friends and family. One of the stars of the show of many backyard BBQs is the hamburger. This American classic is simple, yet quite tasty, and can be easily adapted to fit any diet plan or eating style.

First, let’s start with just a classic hamburger recipe then modify it three ways: vegan, high calorie, and low calorie. For our classic recipe we adapted this one from the Betty Crocker website.


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat grill. Place meat in bowl, add Worcestershire sauce and mix. Divide into balls and shape into patties (about 4 oz each).

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and place on grill over medium heat. Cover grill and cook 10-12 minutes, turning once, until meat is 160 degrees F.

Serve on top of hamburger buns of choice and top with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles, ketchup, and mustard.

Nutrition facts for meat only (4 oz)

Calories: 294, Fat: 17g, Carbohydrates: 0g, Fiber: 0g, Protein: 34g.
Bun and toppings would add additional calories and veggie servings.

Vegan Burger Options

Vegan BurgersMaking a hamburger vegan is incredible easy. There are many products on the market, usually found in the frozen health food section, that taste quite a lot like ground beef patties. You can also make vegan patties yourself with a variety of different grains or legumes.

An “veggie” burger base are black beans which have a pretty neutral flavor and are easily seasoned to taste a lot like the original. Here is a recipe we adapted from this one at


  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 whole grated carrot
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp seafood seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili-garlic sauce (like Siracha) to taste
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ¾ cup unbleached flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Smash black beans in a bowl. Add diced onion, garlic and carrots. Mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together cornstarch, water, chili-garlic sauce (if using), chili powder, cumin, seafood seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir into black bean mixture.
  3. Mix in bread crumbs. Start to stir in flour ¼ cup at a time until mixture becomes sticky.
  4. Shape into burger patties.
  5. Grease cookie sheet. Bake in oven about 10 minutes each side until crispy on the outside.

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories: 264, Ft: 1.4g, Carbohydrates: 52g, Fiber: 12g, Protein: 12g.
Servings of vegetables: ½ serving of non-starchy vegetables (onions and carrots); 1 serving starchy vegetables (beans).

High-Calorie Burgers:

Transparent Labs Burger Recipes

There are several ways you could modify burgers to make them higher in calories and protein:

  • Make a larger patty. The nutrition facts above are based on a 4 oz burger patty, you could easily make a 6 or 8 ounce patty instead.
  • Use a higher fat % meat such as the 85/15 or 80/20, this will add additional calories due to the higher fat content.
  • Top the burger with high calorie toppings: cheese, avocado, mayo, bacon, etc.

Low-Calorie Burgers:

Burgers can surprisingly also fit into a low-calorie diet, here are a few suggestions for making them work:

  • Make a smaller patty. Make 3 ounce patties instead of the normal 4 ounces.
  • Choose the leanest type of ground beef available for the lowest number of calories.
  • Change your protein: ground turkey is lower in calories and if seasoned correctly, it can be just as tasty.
  • Wrap it in lettuce. A hamburger bun adds around 200 mostly empty calories. Wrap your burger in some iceberg lettuce or eat it over a plate full of dark leafy greens of your choice.
  • Avoid high calorie toppings such as mayo, cheese, bacon, and even avocado.
  • Load it with all the veggies. To help you feel satisfied, get creative and top your burger with as many veggies as you can. Add tomato, pickles, lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, etc. The fiber in the veggies will keep the meal low in calories, while helping you stay full longer.

Burgers are a delicious way to get your protein up! However if you are still lacking, consider our grass-fed whey isolate or organic vegan protein powders.

Trevor Hiltbrand
Trevor Hiltbrand


Trevor Hiltbrand is one of the owners/co-founders of Transparent Labs and head of content creation. He got his start with supplement research back in 2013 when he began researching cognitive enhancement. With the help of the Transparent Labs Expert Panel and Advisory Board, we aim to bring our evidence based nutrition and exercise research to the world.

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