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Have 30 Minutes? Have Herby Grilled Salmon Burgers for Dinner

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On Memorial Day, you swore you'd never want to eat anything that wasn't a beef burger again. Ever. But now summer's end is nigh, and while you're ashamed to admit it, you're looking for something different.

Hi there, thirty-minute grilled salmon burgers.

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Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli
Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli

Skeptical? Hear me out. While "fish patties" often have a what's-in-here sort of mystery, these are 100% salmon and any mix-ins are up to you. A smear of avocado aioli stands in for the fattiness fish burgers sometimes lack.

Hang onto the recipe as the days get colder and shorter, too: You can always cook the burgers on a grill-pan or in a nonstick skillet. And that avocado aioli? You'd be wise to use it as a dip for roasted sweet potatoes come fall.

Tips for this recipe:

  • Be sure that your salmon is very cold before you grind or process it: Otherwise, you risk salmon mush rather than fine flakes.
  • If you don't have a meat grinder, use a food processor: Chop up the salmon finely, then pulse about 1/3 of the mixture in the food processor (or mash it in a plastic baggie) and mix both parts together. Just be careful not to go too far with the food processing or you'll end up with salmon purée.
  • You can use canned salmon, but you might need to add an egg and additional breadcrumbs (or panko or crushed Saltines) in order to get the mixture to cohere into burgers.
  • If you're not into raw red onions but you still want a sharp bite, mellow the slices in an ice water bath while you grill the burgers. (Or make a quick pickle!)
Photo by James Ransom

How to mix it up:

  • This recipe is purely salmon, flecked with some chives and good old S&P, but you could add to the mixture: chopped onion, minced garlic or ginger, a sprinkling of chile flakes, a dash of curry powder, chopped parsley, horseradish...
  • Forge your own path and swap in tuna for the salmon, taking inspiration from this recipe.
  • Instead of grilling, pan-fry the burgers in a large nonstick pan with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil.
  • Could you dip the burger in beaten egg and panko before pan-frying it? We wouldn't stop you!
  • Try basil and lemon juice instead of cilantro and lime juice in the avocado aioli. Or replace the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or sour cream.
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Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli

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Serves 3

Salmon Burgers

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  • 1 pound boneless, skinless salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 handfuls mixed greens
  • 3 burger buns, toasted
  • Avocado aioli, recipe below
  • Canola oil, for brushing

Avocado Aioli

  • 1 very ripe avocado
  • 1 serrano pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 scant cup mayonnaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Can any non-beef burger stand up to the classic hamburger? Take a stance in the comments!

Tags: fish, seafood, salmon