No Guilt Burgers

By on September 1, 2011

By Erica Galindo –

The cravings for juicy char-broiled burgers run wild in my house. But the truth is I’ve never much liked fast food. So we have an understanding in my family– when mom goes out of town, my boys eat fast food–every night if they want. It’s the running joke. My guys get quite a laugh out of it. So regardless of how this foodie feels about the McDonald’s menu, I’ve come to accept that my guys will always have a love affair with fast food burgers. The greasier the better. Male bonding goes deep in the drive–thru.

Intent on finding a healthy substitute for the fat burger syndrome, I debated if I could deliver a tempting stand-in for the MacDaddy mindset. Could I intrigue them with something high in omega-3 fatty acids? Could watercress and tartar sauce ever win them over?

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

Salmon Burger Smothered in Grilled Onions

I decided my answer to Burger King is a salmon burger, fresh from the sea, hot off the grill and slathered with grilled onions. Deep seared, smokey and properly sandwiched on a fancy brioche bun. For color, texture and flavor, I top them with watercress, juicy tomato and ripe avocado. And for the royal surprise, I use a jalapeno tartar sauce and a big squeeze of lemon.

The hi-definition color is a party for the eyes. The taste is a mouthwatering combination of briny, fresh-from-the-sea salmon with a bite of acidity. The heat is perfectly smoothed out by velvety avocado. My family might not even suspect they’re packed with tons of protein and amino acid super powers!

Fresh Salmon is a healthy source of Omega-3

The end result is a meal far lower in fat content and much higher in nutritional benefits. A recent study by The George Mateljan Foundation revealed that high omega–3 foods such as salmon provide the following health benefits:

✭ Reduce inflammation throughout your body Keep your blood from clotting excessively

✭ Maintain the fluidity of your cell membranes

✭ Lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream

✭ Reduce the risk of becoming obese and improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin

✭ Help prevent cancer cell growth

Feta Cheese & Spinach Salmon Burger on Simple Green Salad

If you’re looking to save on calories, simply serve the salmon burger with the toppings and skip the bun. Another low fat alternative is to serve them on top of a big fresh green salad tossed in light vinaigrette.

Salmon Burgers with Low Fat Chips & Corn on the Cob

For a healthy side dish with lots of crunch I love Laurel Hill Kettle Cooked Potato Chips with 40% reduced fat. They are one of the most delicious low fat chips I’ve ever tasted. Barbecue flavor rules as my personal favorite but the traditional Sea Salt are great too.

Salmon burgers are easy to prepare. The secret is getting the patties to hold together while grilling. Some recipes call for egg or mayonnaise to bind the ingredients however, another method that results in a more low fat and pure salmon burger calls for the use of either a meat grinder or food processor.

If you use a meat grinder, simply grind the skinless de-boned salmon, and then gently combine the additional ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. If you use a food processor, be careful not to make the meat too fine. This technique works best if you only puree 1/4 to 1/3 of the salmon to a thick paste, which then becomes the natural binding agent. Then just add the remaining coarsely chopped salmon and other ingredients, mixing gently with a spoon.

Feta & Spinach Salmon Burgers on the Grill

One of my favorite combinations is made with Feta cheese, scallion and spinach. Other popular variations include: lemon, garlic & chive; red & green peppers with parsley; capers, shallots & mustard; and tequila lime. However, if you don’t have the time to make them yourself, you can usually purchase them pre-prepared at seafood shops and major specialty food stores.

California Salmon Burgers
Recipe by Erica Galindo –

Makes 4 large Salmon Burgers


  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon, center cut, skinless and boneless
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil for stove top cooking
  • Burger toppings: watercress, tomato, grilled onions and jalapeño tartar sauce
  • Lemon wedges for garnish


  1. Run the salmon through a meat grinder.
  2. In a large bowl combine the salmon with all the other ingredients, mixing gently. Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator until well chilled, about 1 hour.
  3. Place the butter or oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes each side, turning once. You can also cook these on the BBQ. To prevent sticking, make sure to cover the grill with vegetable oil before cooking. Grill the burgers on high about 4 minutes on the first side, as you see dark brown sear marks, flip the burgers gently and cook for another 2 minutes or until the bottom side is slightly golden brown. Be careful not to overcook as fish can dry out quickly.
  4. Serve on a toasted brioche bun with jalapeño tartar sauce and all the toppings. Garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy!


For more recipes, cooking tips or menu ideas, contact Erica at:

About Erica Galindo

Erica Galindo is a Chef, Writer and Stylist. A native of South Florida and veteran Manhattanite, Erica now lives in the beautiful wine country in Sonoma, California with her husband David and son Jack. She has worked as an editor and feature writer for various national and regional publications including: Woman's Day, Country, Ocean Drive, The South Florida Business Journal and Erica’s passion for food, faith and family has inspired her to create a new online magazine -

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

No Guilt Burgers