Our New Favorite Burgers Have a Wallet-Friendly Secret

June 21, 2018

Summer starts on June 21st! In honor of all the BBQing, sprinkler-hopping, and ice cream truck-chasing to come, we give you Hello, Summer, a picnic basket full of easy-breezy recipes and tips to help you make the most of every minute this season.

We found your new favorite burger. It’s easier on the wallet than beef and heartier than veggie. It’s everything you wanted and nothing you expected. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… A half-veggie, half-meat burger!

I stumbled upon the idea in Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown, a cookbook written for those with limited income, specifically a $4/day food stamp budget. She writes:

When a reader named Quinn suggested a recipe that used both lentils and meat, I started thinking about how veggie burgers and beef burgers each have their own strengths. Why not combine the two ideas to create a burger with meaty flavor but the lean protein and low cost of lentils?

Brown’s recipe features those ingredients, plus finely chopped bell pepper and an optional egg. But the possibilities are endless:

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“I have tried lots of combinations!” she told me. “Ground pork and lentils with Moroccan spices. Chorizo and black beans. My current favorite is a half chickpeas/half beef or lamb with lots of herbs. It’s kinda like a falafel-inspired meatball.”


While meat burgers are all about the toppings—cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, secret sauce, you name it—half-veggie burgers let you get creative with the patties themselves. And they stretch an expensive protein to boot.

“So many people are looking for more veggie-centric meals but still wanting protein and at the same time looking for something inexpensive,” Brown said. “This ticks all those boxes.”

Sure does. Which is why, when I started developing my own, I somehow ended up with three. Oops. When you start brainstorming all the possibilities, it’s sort of hard to stop.

What half-meat, half-veggie combo would you dream up? Share your ideas in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • cookinalong
  • beejay45
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


cookinalong July 1, 2018
Interesting concept, but some specifics would be nice.
BoulderGalinTokyo July 4, 2018
Click on each picture and the recipe will come up.
beejay45 June 24, 2018
Seems like a good idea with endless possibilities. I'm pretty much a plain beef pattie person, but when I want a veggie burger, I want a VEGGIE burger. ;) However, I may just give this a try when I'm in an inbetween sort of mood. Thanks for the concept!