Flavor-Bursting Mexican Burgers


My wife Molly and I love burgers, and we love Mexican food. This recipe is all about putting those two together.

Several years ago, before we got married and I learned Molly made delicious homemade tortillas, I cooked up a batch of tortilla-wrapped burgers with taco-seasoned beef, using store-bought flour tortillas. Recently, while browsing a burger cookbook in our library I thought, “Why not make a better Mexican-flavored burger with Molly’s homemade tortillas?”

Last year, we learned from a Rick Bayless cookbook how to make Huevos Rancheros, which include a mega-flavorful tomatillo sauce and queso fresco, two ingredients that add the perfect kick and cool to our Mexican burgers, too.

So, it’s as simple as that: homemade tortilla, seasoned beef, tomatillo sauce and queso fresco. We were blown away by the burst of flavor in every bite. First, you get the taste of seasoned beef and the soft heartiness of the tortillas, which serve as your bun. Then you get the fresh spiciness of the tomatillo sauce. Finally, the queso cools you off to close.

You can pick this burger up, but we’ll warn you that it is very messy. You can also eat it with knife and fork as an open-faced sandwich. Here’s how you make it, piece by piece, to serve four people. It will probably take you 60 to 90 minutes in the kitchen to prepare, but we guarantee you it will be worth it. Just crumble your desired amount of queso fresco, assemble the parts at the end of the process and enjoy!




2 cups tortilla flour

2/3 cup water

Directions: Put the tortilla flour in a large bowl. Slowly add the water, mixing in with your hands until fully incorporated. Form into a large ball until all the flour is absorbed. If the dough ball is too sticky, sprinkle a little more flour in and mix in. Tear off and form small balls (slightly bigger than the size of a golf ball; you should end up with about 9) and sit them on a floured surface. Take each ball and flatten between a lightly-floured burger press. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat and cook each tortilla until lightly toasted on each side. (Watch carefully. Tip: You may want to use a fork or other utensil to flip the tortilla over since it will be hot.) You may need to flip the tortilla a few times to get it just right. Practice makes perfect! Stack on a plate until ready to use.



Seasoned Beef

1 pound fresh ground beef

1 T chili powder

¼ t garlic powder

¼ t onion powder

¼ t crushed red pepper flakes

¼ t dried oregano

½ t paprika

1 ½ t ground cumin

1 t salt

1 t black pepper

Directions: Mix your spices together thoroughly in a small bowl. Tear apart your ground beef in a medium bowl. Pour your spices over your beef and then blend together thoroughly with your hands. Divide evenly into four parts, and roll each into a ball. Smash with your hands or a burger press and form into patties. You can cook on a stovetop, but we like to cook on foil on a pan in the oven. Heat to 375 and cook until done, about 20 minutes. We’ve found that cooking burgers in the oven produces done, tender, juicy meat, while the excess grease pours off.



Tomatillo Sauce

5 tomatillos

2 small garlic cloves

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup chicken broth

1 jalapeno

½ cup chopped cilantro

½ teaspoon salt

Directions: Use a food processor, if you have one, or chop your garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and tomatillos. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add chopped ingredients and cook on medium-high for 7 minutes until sauce thickens. Add chicken broth and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Taste and season with salt.



Bonus Side Dish: Fiesta Fried Potatoes

4 or 5 small to medium potatoes

1 small garlic clove

1 tablespoon butter (for browning)

½ lime for fresh juice

pinch fresh cilantro

pinch salt to taste

Directions: Dice your potatoes and preheat them by cooking them in a microwave-safe bowl for 5 or so minutes. Add potatoes to a saucepan with butter, garlic, cilantro and salt. Stir from time to time, but don’t overstir to allow to brown. Cut lime and squeeze over potatoes to coat with juice. When potatoes are soft inside and slightly brown outside, they’re done. Serve up beside your Mexican burger!

5 Tips for Easier, Better Burger Grilling



The family backyard barbecue marks the arrival of spring and summer for many of us. And as amateur domestic chefs, there are few things that thrill us more than firing up the grill (either gas or charcoal) and cooking our favorite homemade burgers to share with the most special people in our lives.

Unfortunately, grilling can be a hassle along with the fun. It takes skill and patience to cook good beef on a grilltop. And it takes energy and time to guide and maintenance your grill through the process.

But grilling burgers doesn’t have to be all pain and no pleasure. Here are five very quick and super simple tips I’ve discovered that I guarantee will both improve your cooking results and increase your enjoyment in the grilling process. Cooking is a science, and you should experiment and find your own tricks, but it doesn’t have to be a rocket science process.

1 – MIX IT UP: Season and blend your own beef. No doubt, it’s easier to use frozen or pre-prepared fresh patties. But if you really want your burgers to impress your diners and yourself, buy fresh ground beef and mix in your own seasonings. It takes a little more effort but not much more cost, and you’ll thank yourself when everybody (you included) takes the first bite.

2 – TAKE SHAPE: Press a thumb print into the center of each patty before cooling (see tip No. 3) and cooking them. This indentation will help your patties hold their shape during cooking, instead of swelling in the center and shrinking on the outsides.

3 – COOL IT: Flash freeze your burger patties after you hand-shape them. We’re not talking long here so that your burgers turn into frozen patties. Just 15-20 minutes or so in the fridge or freezer or long enough to cool the meat so that it holds together better on the grill. This will keep you from dealing with your fresh meat trying to fall apart on the grill.

4 – DON’T CROWD: Don’t put too many burgers, or other foods, on your grill surface at any one time. Your meat, and everything else for that matter, will cook better with space around it. No matter your cooking method, you get better heat on your food if you’re not distributing it to more items. So be sure you allot enough time and be patient with the cooking process.

5 – KEEP IT CLEAN: When you’re done cooking and after your grill cools down, go ahead and clean it up before putting it away for next time. (I use a charcoal grill and have found that soap pads and warm water work wonders on a dirty grill top. I clean it and then store my grill grate in our pantry until the next use. And I go ahead and remove all of the used coals from the bottom of my grill to be ready to add fresh coals the next time I grill.) You’ll thank yourself when you get ready to grill next time and you don’t have to go through a long process to clean before you begin cooking.

What are your best tips for grilling out? Share them in our comments section or on social media. Find us @foodiescore on Facebook and Instagram, or on Twitter at @Foodie_Score.

Flavor-Packed, Restaurant-Quality Texas Burgers


Texans are known in the culinary world for their ability to create powerful flavors in meats. That’s a good explanation for why this Weber recipe for Texas Burgers is one of the all-time favorites in our house. This has become one of our favorite ways to season our burgers, no matter how we cook and top them. We’ve used this blend of seasonings for burgers cooked on the grill and in the oven, and we’ve now topped these delicious sandwiches with more varieties of toppings than makes sense to list here.

What makes this combination so good? It all starts with just a little bit of kick. You don’t want to give your burgers a funny taste that strays too far from what beef tastes like. But you don’t want a bland burger with no flavor. This blend is just the right amount of taste without going too far.

So far, my favorite way to top these burgers is the assortment you see in the picture above. A few pieces or a small bed of shredded lettuce, a hunk of fresh-sliced cheddar cheese and the desired amount of your favorite barbecue sauce. Per my experiences as a Texas barbecue consumer, I’d suggest a sauce that’s a bit more smoky than sweet, but not one that’s heavy on vinegar. Honestly, one of my favorites for this recipe is Heinz’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce, right out of the bottle. Top off your burgers with a couple of pickle chips for an extra little crunch if you like.

Most importantly though, be sure you can enjoy the flavor of your beef. Here’s how you can do that. The yield for this recipe is 4 burgers.


1.6 pounds of fresh ground beef (I like at least 80-20, and 90-10 is even better)

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic salt

4 hearty buns (I like Brioche)

12 pickle chips

BBQ sauce (of your choice)

4 pieces of freshly sliced cheddar cheese

lettuce (small pieces or leaves to shred)


1 – The most important step is to blend your own burger meat and hand-patty the burgers yourself. The best burgers I’ve ever had – at home or in a restaurant – were clearly hand-pattied. So get your hands dirty and mix your beef, chili powder and garlic salt together. Start by tearing the ground beef into small pieces in a bowl, then top with the seasonings, and finally incorporate by hand.

2 – Once everything is nice and mixed, divide the meat into four equal amounts (if you want all of your burgers to be the same size) and roll each one into a ball. Then, if you don’t have a burger press, use your hands to press the burgers into patties less than an inch thick (any thicker and cooking will take longer and be more difficult to gauge).

3 – Cook your burgers with your desired method and to desired doneness, either on a grill, stovetop or in the oven. I prefer using the oven method – cooking them in an aluminum foil packet – and seeing all of the grease that drains off. You end up with a well-cooked burger that maintains its juiciness without all of the fat. The oven process can also be ideal to save time and hassle with the grill, and if you cook the meat in a packet to catch the juices, you won’t have a dirty pan or grill grate to clean up later.

4 – Lightly toast your buns, then top with your burger patty and a piece of cheddar cheese. Put your burger and cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to melt the cheese perfectly and re-soften the now-toasted bun (this is a trick I like to use to toast a bun and then remove any excess crunch…I don’t like a toasted bun that creates all of the pieces that fall off, meaning parts of the bun I don’t eat).

5 – Add the lettuce and top with the barbecue sauce and pickles and serve.

We’ve tried a lot of burger combinations at our house, but this simple two-seasoning, hand-pattied option has become our go-to method for a delicious homemade burger. And if you’ve read to the very end, I must leave you a golden coin of information that may be the best part of all. The recipe above costs me less than $2 per serving, without sacrificing good meat, good bread, fresh cheese and other ingredients for toppings. Good luck finding a $2 burger this good at any restaurant. (I suggest you try this recipe instead!)

Simple Citrus Shrimp Burgers

img_8247When I lived near the Crystal Coast region of North Carolina in the early 2000s, I had my first experience with a shrimp burger in Morehead City, the site of the annual N.C. Seafood Festival. (This year’s festival starts today and runs through October 2.)

I had never seen or heard of anything like it. These incredibly crispy, fried shrimp stacked on a hamburger bun, sometimes with nothing else and sometimes with a variety of accompanying toppings.

As a pure cheeseburger lover – meaning I enjoy beef, cheese and bun most of all – I had a hard time calling it a burger. But regardless of its name, it was good, and I ended up trying a variety of shrimp burgers during my time “Down East” in the Tar Heel State.

I decided recently that I wanted to venture creating my own shrimp burger at home. I didn’t expect the first trial to be all that great, but I wanted to share the shrimp burger with others, and I wanted to do it from my own kitchen.

So, here’s what I came up with on a recent Friday night, and what my wife Molly and I thought about it. I don’t know that it’s worthy of something as prestigious as the N.C. Seafood Festival, but it was good enough to earn praise in our home (more on that way below). One thing to know before reading further: Many shrimp burger recipes mix the shrimp in a food processor to create a patty with the shrimp. I took a different route based on the shrimp burgers I ate in Eastern North Carolina.

The Burger Ingredients

20 medium-size shrimp, deveined and without tails

all-purpose flour

dash of salt

dash of pepper

dash of paprika

1 egg

dash of worcestershire sauce

dash of lime juice

dash of lemon juice

1/8 stick of butter

Cooking oil

2 large hamburger sandwich buns

The sauce

1 teaspoon of mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon of ketchup

1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

The process

1. Your shrimp need to have no external coverings, including tails. Saute the shrimp on medium heat on your stovetop in a pan with butter with a dash each of salt, pepper, and lime and lemon juices.

2. Cool the shrimp. (You can flash freeze in the freezer, but don’t let them get too cold or icy. You want them where they just aren’t hot or too warm to dredge.)

3. Mix the egg and a dash of worcestershire sauce in a bowl and toss in your shrimp.

img_82444. Once the shrimp are coated enough with egg mixture, toss them into a separate bowl with a mixture of all-purpose flour and a dash each of salt, pepper and paprika.

5. When your shrimp are well-coated with flour, add them to your frying pan in a thin coating of cooking oil of your choice (can use the same one you sauteed in if you clean it out beforehand). You don’t need too much oil for something as small as shrimp.

6. Once one side is well-fried, turn them over and fry the other side. You can add a hearty dash of both lemon and lime juices over the shrimp as they fry but before the coating solidifies.

img_82457. Remove your shrimp and drain the grease off as desired.

8. For your sauce, mix 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon of ketchup and 1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar in a small mixing bowl. Mix throughly until all blended into one solution. You can add a dash of paprika to this sauce and mix it in well, too, if you like.

9. Spread the sauce on the inside of each half of your sandwich buns.

10. Add the shrimp on top by placing a layer one-shrimp-deep on the bun. Add the extras on top. You can always add lettuce, tomato, onion or any other topping you desire before serving. We went with the basic shrimp burger.

This recipe yields two shrimp burgers.

Be brave and try it! Let me know what you think!

Molly’s Take: I’ve never actually had a shrimp burger, so when some friends came over and we were discussing Matthew’s new dinner idea, everyone was curious. Is it formed into a patty? Is it just shrimp on a bun? Is it shrimp on a burger? To be honest, I didn’t know myself! But I found out soon enough that Matthew’s style of shrimp burger is tasty, crispy fried shrimp on a hearty bun, with a happy helping of tangy sauce to boot. I loved the simple three-ingredient sauce, as it complemented the shrimp’s subtle lemon and lime flavors. Overall, the shrimp burger was quite delicious and I can’t wait for Matthew to make it again. I’m sure next time, he’ll have even more new additions!

Matthew’s Take: Having had a variety of shrimp burgers in coastal North Carolina, where the seafood is fresh and the cooking traditions with it run deep, my recipe isn’t quite ready for primetime. But it was pretty good! And the sauce was a pleasing addition to the citrusy, breaded shrimp. This is definitely one I’d try again. Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that you can adapt it any way you like. You don’t even have to fry the shrimp, which was a new experience for me. I ended up with a thin, crispy coating. As unhealthy as it may be, I’d love to have a thicker coating next time. And I might try some fresh veggies to top the sandwich was well. You can make this one your own!

Juicy Oven Burger Sliders

There’s a strong possibility these cheeseburgers will remind you of something you’ve tasted before if you’re familiar with a wide variety of basic restaurant cheeseburgers. Molly found a recipe for Aunt Kathy’s Oven Burgers online, and I modified it slightly to fit exactly what I craved at the time we tried it out. The result was one of the best burgers we’ve ever made in the #FoodieScore kitchen.

As much as I love a nice, thick cheeseburger, there are times when more of a slider sandwich hits the spot. There’s something about the bite-size option that’s really simple and satisfying. (And I don’t feel bad about eating more than one!) So, that’s the route we took on this burger creation, which is the first to find its way to our #FoodieScore blog by way of Pinterest. Most of our burger creations have actually started as recipes from one of two cheeseburger recipe books I have in our kitchen, or as on-the-fly tests that have popped in my head due to a craving for a specific ingredient combination.

This burger is unique for its sauce and its cooking method. Here’s how we made it. (You can always modify this recipe to meet your tastes and needs.)

Burger ingredients
(yields 6 sliders)

1 pound of fresh ground beef (Never use frozen beef for a great hamburger.)

6 small, fresh hamburger buns (A smallish regular burger bun will do.)

3 slices of American cheese (Change cheese depending on taste, but American offers a nice gooey factor.)

roll of aluminum foil

Sauce ingredients
(adjust accordingly for more burgers, bigger burgers or more/less sauce)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tbsp ketchup

1/2 tbsp mustard

2 slices of dill pickle, finely diced

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp paprika

1 pinch of cayenne pepper


1. Mix a couple of dashes of salt and pepper into your ground beef and then separate and roll into six individual balls of meat.


2. Press the meat balls into flat patties and round the edges.

3. Add the meat balls, three at a time, into a large skillet on medium-high heat on the stovetop. (Repeat this step and the next until all patties are cooked.)

4. Cook the patties until they’re almost done, and you can leave the slightest bit of pink in the center because they’re not done cooking. Drain the burger patties.

5. In a mixing bowl, combine all of your sauce ingredients with a whisk.


6. On the inside of the top half of each bun, spread a generous portion of sauce.

7. Place each burger patty on the bottom of each bun and top with half a slice of cheese. Then put the sauce-covered top bun on top of the burger and cheese-covered bottom bun half.

8. Wrap each completed burger individually in foil and place all wrapped burgers on a baking sheet.


9. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12-15 minutes to melt the cheese and cook slightly.

10. Remove your burgers from the oven and serve.

Matthew’s Take: I expected this burger to offer gooey cheese and a delicious combination of pan-fried and oven-juiced meat. I did not expect baking the full burgers in foil to crisp the buns ever so slightly. I actually worried the sandwich might be a bit soggy with a sauce and a wrapped soft bun, but it was actually toasted perfectly. The sauce was delicious. The meat was juicy. Everything about this cheeseburger was delightful. And on top of that, it was fairly cheap and simple to make. I give it an A+ for taste, an A+ for ease and an A+ for cost. This would be a great cheeseburger on the cheap to make a batch of and serve for a group of children at a birthday party or other gathering, or just for your family one night during the week. And with the method of cooking and wrapping, you can save burgers you don’t eat in the fridge once they cool, take them out and heat them up for lunch or dinner for the next several days. I don’t know who Aunt Kathy is from the original recipe, but she had a great burger idea! What a #FoodieScore!

Molly’s Take: These oven burgers were a fantastic find on Pinterest. I took one look at a picture of the cheesy interior and decided we had to try our own variation. The original recipe called for twice the amounts of sauce, but I knew we wouldn’t need that much. Our recipe is halved already, and it’s the perfect amount of sauce for six burgers. Now, how do they taste? In a word, fantastic. The way the cheese melts and the juice cooks into the burger due to the oven method intensifies the flavor. And the sauce means you don’t need any other toppings once it comes out of the oven. I, too, was surprised at how the oven baking method using tin foil caused the buns to toast on top. Remarkably, nothing was soggy. It was perfectly cooked. These would indeed make a great party option, whether for a picnic or a cookout. The foil will keep them warm until ready to eat, but it’s also super easy to store them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. This was one of my favorite burgers that we have ever made together, and definitely one we’ll try again. Confession: I even ate two!