Beefy Black Olive Burgers

July 21, 2022
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins.
  • Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

During the peak summer months when I was a kid, my mom would ask me what I wanted for dinner, and my answer would most likely be, “Olive burgers!” said with enough vim and vigor to convince her to pull the grill out of the garage. The burgers—flavored with chopped black olives and pantry staples like Worcestershire and soy sauce—made any summer night feel extra special. The original recipe was a small tattered newspaper cutout tucked in my mom’s recipe box, which has long since been lost. This is my version, which still makes any weekend (or weeknight) feel special, even decades after I first ate them.

These burgers star good ol’ canned Mission black olives. Resist the urge to use fancier olive varietals like Kalamata or Castelvetrano, because the mild salinity and umami that mission olives have to offer here is key. A generous amount of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce adds even more depth and enhances the burger’s beefiness, while grated onion provides moisture and a dash of vinegary hot sauce (plus a few big cracks of black pepper) rounds everything out.

When it comes to toppings, keep it simple. Since the patties pack a wallop of flavor, you only need lettuce, tomato, some thinly sliced onion, a little mustard, and a swipe of mayonnaise to reach burger bliss. If you’re going to go the cheeseburger route, American cheese is king here, but cheddar and even smoked Gouda are also delicious.
Asha Loupy

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with Pinterest as part of their Golden Recipe Contest, a call for recipes treasured by your family or community. To enter, submit your recipe by August 15. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 (2.25-ounce) cans sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 medium white onion, whole, peeled with the root left intact
  • 1 pound ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or vinegar-based hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  • 4 slices American cheese (optional)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 8 leaves butter lettuce
  • 4 hamburger buns of your choice, split
  • Dijon mustard, for serving
  • Mayonnaise, for serving
  1. Place the drained black olives on a cutting board, finely chop, and transfer to a large bowl. On the large side of a box grater, grate half the onion then transfer the grated onion (about ¼ cup) and any juices to the bowl with the olives. Thinly slice the remaining half of the onion, transfer to a small plate, and set aside.
  2. Add the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, low-sodium soy sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper to the olive-onion mixture. Using your hands, mix to combine, making sure to not over-mix (you don’t want tough burgers). Take a small piece and cook it in a skillet or in the microwave, taste, and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, up to 8 hours.
  3. Drizzle the oil on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and divide it into 4 equal portions. Take one portion at a time form into a ball, place on the oiled sheet pan, and flip each ball so it is lightly coated in oil. Then, take one ball and form it into a patty a little larger than the size of your buns, and make a small divot in the center of the burger (this will prevent the burger from doming when cooking). Repeat with the remaining balls.
  5. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. Transfer the burgers to the grill pan, gently pressing them down onto the grates, and cook until the burger looks cooked around the edges (about 3 to 5 minutes). Flip and cook burger to your desired doneness, about 3 to 5 minutes more (with these burgers, I like medium to medium-well, but it is up to you!). If using cheese, place the American cheese slices on top of each burger during the last minute of cooking. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Alternatively, if you are using an outdoor grill, prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high. For a charcoal grill, heat coals in a chimney until red and half ashed on top, pour into the grill, place the grate on the grill and allow the grate to heat up for 3 to 5 minutes. Cook the oiled burger patties to your desired doneness, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  7. While the burgers are resting, toast the buns cut-side down in the grill pan, about 1 to 2 minutes. To assemble, spread the bottom buns with a thin layer of Dijon mustard, then add the burgers. Top each burger with 2 leaves of butter lettuce, a thick slice of tomato, and some thinly sliced onion. Slather the top buns with mayonnaise and place on top of the onions. Enjoy immediately.

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