Lamb Burgers – An Easter Tradition

I raised my kids in sunny Southern California and I can not remember an Easter egg hunt on an overcast day. It’s always on the perfect, Los Angeles, Sunday afternoon – perfect for family and friends to gather, grill out, and revel in each other’s company. Grilling burgers is an American tradition I have adopted with gusto. So much so, I have created a dinner menu at 3 Square Café of the burgers I have made over the years. The Lamb Burgers are a crowd pleaser – everyone loves them. This is why these burgers have become my Los Angeles Easter Tradition.


I suppose these lamb burgers are the California cousins of frikadellen the German version of meatballs made with day-old bread and shaped like patties. To keep the moist patties from sticking, oil the grill and your spatula well. And if you’re a diehard rare or medium-rare fan, keep in mind that with so many ingredients, you still need to cook the burgers a little longer. You can dress these burgers any way you’d like, but if you have some of the chutney in the fridge, it’s pretty hard to beat that. In Das Cookbook, it’s paired with Jalapeño Raisin Chutney.

Makes 4 burgers

1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ large onion, minced

1 medium clove garlic, minced

¼ cup whole milk

1 cup roughly chopped day-old brioche or other white bread (about1 medium slice), crusts removed

1 large egg

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste

1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt

1 pound ground lamb

Vegetable oil, for grill

4 small pretzel buns (recipe in Das Cookbook) or good-quality store-bought buns, lightly toasted and buttered

2 medium roasted red bell peppers,


  1. Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add fennel seeds and toast until fragrant and just beginning to color, 11/2 to 2 minutes, shaking the pan often. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, and turn off heat. Add milk and bread, stirring in bread until well combined. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Add egg, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt to bowl with fennel seeds and mix well to combine. When cool enough to handle, break up any large chunks of soaked bread and pour over egg mixture. Add lamb and gently mix with your fingers until well incorporated. Chill at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour or more.
  4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Form meat into 4 4-inch patties. Brush grill surface generously with vegetable oil. Use a lightly oiled spatula to gently transfer burgers to grill and cook, covered, until meat just begins to feel firm to the touch, about 6 to 8 minutes. Oil spatula, gently flip burgers, and continue to grill, uncovered, until firm to the touch (medium to medium-well), 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Place a lamb patty on each bun and top with few slices of bell pepper. Serve immediately.


Image by Staci Valentine