These black pepper burgers can take me back to simpler times or satisfy my most creative gourmet impulses. It all depends on which version I make. I give you two options in this recipe. I make black pepper burgers with three different kinds of ground meat: lamb, chuck (beef), and venison.
Now, I won’t blame you if you look at the recipe below and think to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of black pepper!” But really, the pepper is what makes these burgers so great, along with the blend of three different kinds of ground meat: lamb, chuck (beef), and venison. The earthy flavor of the venison alone is enough to make your mouth water.
Choose Your Side: Tradition vs. Artistic Pepper Burgers
When it comes to food, I have two different sides that are often in competition: a traditionalist side, and an artist-on-the-fringe side. Since burgers are so classic and perfect, I mainly switch up the condiments to affect the flavor profile and satisfy my artistic chef’s side.
The traditional side of me plays on the memories from my childhood. Those memories bring me right back to my granddad’s house. My dad would be sitting in his cut-off blue jean shorts, watching the Braves play baseball and eating his simple hamburger on two pieces of white bread. Except for granddaddy’s black pepper seasoning, there wasn’t much else to it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, that simple pepper burger was delicious in itself. But both my granddad and my dad liked their burgers with raw onion, mustard, and cheddar as the only toppings. For myself, I like to take it up a notch sometimes. That’s why I’m providing two versions of this burger recipe.
If I get into one of my “artsy need a little more” kind of moods, then the amped up version is my all-time go-to. I like to electrify my taste buds with a remoulade sauce made with capers and my homemade dill refrigerator pickles. Oh. My. Goodness. Heart be still.
What is your beef (or lamb or venison)?
Both of these black pepper burgers contain the same meat: equal parts beef chuck, lamb roast, and venison. The meats are excellent and lend themselves to a simple preparation. You can certainly substitute regular ground beef if you want, but this particular blend of meats makes an amazing burger in my opinion. Besides, I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy the deer meat stocking our freezer!
Grinding your own meat will allow you to use your favorite cuts of meat and serve these burgers rare to medium without fear of getting sick. You will know the quality of meat you are using.
What’s a pepper burger, anyway?
Now, besides the meat, the real secret to this burger is the one my granddaddy and dad knew: black pepper. Yes, freshly ground black pepper, and a lot of it. Seriously, you will think, “there’s no way this is going to be good,” but believe me, it is! Once you have a pepper burger, you might never go back to the plain ones.
What is the best burger bun?
As I mentioned, my dad liked plain white bread for his burger bun. I have nothing against old-fashioned white bread–in fact, I have a great recipe for it on this site. But I love a good, fresh brioche bun for my pepper burger. Brioche dough is egg-y and a little bit sweet, and the firmness of the bread holds up to any grilled meat.
What do you put on pepper burgers?
The toppings for your pepper burger are totally up to you. I love the remoulade sauce with capers, but you can go basic like my dad did or add your favorites.
Possible toppings include lettuce leaves, red onions, green or red bell pepper, roasted pepper, avocado, cilantro, garlic, and jalapeño or other spices if you like your burgers with an extra kick. And of course, ketchup is always an option! I know many people can’t have a burger without it.
Grandaddy’s Black Pepper Burgers
Chuck, Lamb Roast and Venison Burgers with Cheddar Two Ways
- 1 pound ground chuck steak (or regular ground beef)
- 1 pound ground lamb shoulder
- 1 pound ground venison loin
- 1/2 cup freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 9 brioche hamburger buns
- 4 tablespoons butter melted
- 9 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tomatoes sliced
- homemade refrigerator pickles
- 1 large Vidalia onion sliced thin
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- pinch of salt
- In a large bowl, mix the meats, salt, and pepper together. Don't over-mix. It's will cause the meat to get too warm and mushy. If you are grinding your own burger meat, add the salt and pepper to the meat before it goes through the grinder. That way you will handle the meat less with your hands, keeping it from getting too warm.
- Form the meat mixture into nine 1 1/2-inch patties, making slight indentations in the center of each patty. Season each patty with a little more pepper.
- Brush the melted butter on the inside and outsides of each bun. Heat a grill pan or large skillet — I use a cast-iron skillet — over medium heat. Place the buns cut side down on the grill or skillet and cook for about one minute. Turn the buns over for about 30 seconds and move to a plate or cutting board, cut side up.
- Place the burgers in the pan over high heat and allow to cook for about one minute, then reduce the temperature to medium. Allow the burgers to continue cooking for about four minutes. Flip the burgers over and place a slice of cheddar cheese on top of the patty and cook for another four minutes. Place a dome over the patties to melt the cheese quicker. When the cheddar has melted, remove the patties to a cooling rack. Choose the condiments from the ingredients list above and build your burger accordingly.
For the Burger with Remoulade
- If serving the burger with caper remoulade, place capers, mayonnaise, mustards, and a pinch of salt into a food processer or blender and blend until completely smooth. Spoon a generous amount of remoulade sauce onto the bottom bun and place the patty on top of the sauce. Add a tomato slice and pickles to the top of the patty and place on the top bun.
For the Traditional Pepper Burger
- If serving the traditional burger, spoon mustard over the bottom bun and top with the patty. Add a generous amount of sliced onions over the patty and top with the top half of the bun. Serve hamburgers with sweet potato fries or homemade potato chips. Enjoy!