Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Melissa Reome
This recipe is sponsored by the American Lamb Board. Rest assured, all opinions are my own.
Lamb burgers are becoming more prominent on restaurant menus but why eat out when you can make them even better at home? My recipe for grilled lamb burgers with roasted poblanos and queso fresco are perfect when you want to enjoy a kicked up flavor profile. These burgers are topped with lettuce and sweet grilled onions and a slice of grilled tomato. Ingredients in this recipe can easily be switched out for substitutes if you prefer or locally cannot source something.
Ingredients For American Lamb Burgers
For this recipe I used American ground lamb which is flavorful, delicious and helps out local farmers. Family farmers and ranchers throughout the U.S. are passionate about providing high quality, flavorful lamb in a way that sustains our industry, supports our communities, and preserves our land and resources for future generations. Visit the American Lamb Board to easily find out where you can purchase it locally.
Poblano peppers are not overly spicy peppers and do tend to mellow out when grilled or roasted. Like any other pepper, remove all of the seeds to prevent the pepper from being overly spicy. Having said that, everyone’s idea of “spicy” does vary quite a bit. If you are unsure if the peppers will be too spicy for you, try a little piece of cooked pepper prior to mixing into the lamb. Adjust the amount you add to the burgers if desired.
For this recipe, grill or roast the poblano peppers prior to mixing the ingredients together. Do not add warm peppers to the cold ground lamb. I prefer to grill the peppers, let them steam for a while, then chill them in the refrigerator or freezer. The lamb burger mixture can also be made up to a day ahead of time as long as all the ingredients are fresh and it is kept covered and refrigerated prior to use.
Queso Fresco / Queso Blanco
Queso Fresco or Queso Blanco is a mild, fresh, crumbly white Mexican cheese. It is delicious as a topping on a variety of Mexican dishes and I love it mixed into burgers as well.
If you can’t find queso fresco (queso blanco), try cotija instead. In my local grocery stores, the Mexican style cheese is typically kept in a special section for hispanic foods, or it is kept in the refrigerator by American cheese, blocks of cheese such as cheddar etc. Rarely do I find it by the mozzarella or parmesan and other specialty cheese. If in doubt, ask for assistance at your local market.
Cheddar would also be a delicious alternative for cheese to mix in these burgers if queso fresco or cotija is not available.
Grilled Onions and Grilled Tomatoes
Grill the onions to make them taste sweeter and less harsh. Grilling thick slices of tomato helps them to maintain their shape but also develop a more complex concentrated flavor profile. After the tomatoes are grilled, season them with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime if you desire. It gives it a flavor reminiscent of pico de gallo which pairs nicely with this lamb burger.
Fresh Green Leaf or Butter Lettuce
Adding lettuce to these lamb burgers gives it a fresh delightful crisp. Like all ingredients, add whatever you love to top your lamb burger with.
How To Grill Lamb Burgers
Lamb burgers can be cooked on any type of grill. If you do not own a grill, they can easily be made on a skillet indoors as well. I am a big fan of setting up any grill whether gas, charcoal or wood for two zoned cooking. In other words, have one side of the grill at a much higher temperature than the other side.
This is important for a few reasons. Different foods may cook at different temperatures and this provides two areas to do that. In addition it creates a safety buffer in case some food cooks faster than the rest. Simply move the food from the hotter area to the cooler area of the grill until everything is cooked. In addition, if the grill flares up one one side, you have a safe area on the cooler side to move the food to.
Most importantly, always make sure your grill grates are clean, and wipe them down with a thin coating of cooking oil with a paper towel before grilling.
Time to cook lamb burgers will vary depending on the size burgers you decide to make and the actual temperature of the grill. Always use an instant read thermometer to ensure your burgers are cooked properly. The USDA recommends cooking ground lamb to an internal temperature of 160℉.
Once the lamb burgers, onion, tomatoes and rolls are grilled, it’s time to assemble the burgers! I like to season the grilled tomato with a bit of salt and fresh ground black pepper then squeeze some fresh lime juice on top. Having the combination of tomato, onion and lime gives you the taste of pico de gallo without having to chop up all of the ingredients. It pairs nicely with the taste of the burger itself.
Since the grill is fired up, I love grilling corn if it’s in season as a side dish or any grilled vegetable for that matter. A side salad or fresh chopped fruit would pair nicely with this flavorful burger.
Love lamb? Check out my other lamb recipes!
Lamb Burgers With Roasted Poblano and Queso Fresco
- 1 lb ground American lamb
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
- 1 tbsp onion, minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp olive oil (to coat poblano pepper, tomato, onions)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 burger buns/rolls
- 1 large tomato, sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds
- 1 large red onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds
- 1/2 head green leaf or butter lettuce leaves
- 1 lime cut into wedges optional to squeeze on tomato
- salt and black pepper to taste
Grill Poblano Pepper
- Set up the grill for two zone cooking with one side on medium-high heat and one side for low heat. Clean grill grates and lightly spray or rub with cooking oil.
- Toss whole poblano pepper with olive oil and place directly on the grill grate over medium-high heat. Rotate pepper until all sides are slightly charred.
- Remove poblano pepper from the grill and place on a small plate and cover with plastic wrap to allow the pepper to steam. Alternatively, place pepper in a brown paper bag closed tightly. Once pepper cools to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for 5-10 minutes to cool further. Once chilled, remove stem and seeds from the pepper and chop the pepper into a small dice. Reserve 1/2 cup for the recipe (or more if you desire)
Combine Ingredients For Lamb Burger
- In a medium sized bowl, combine lamb, poblano pepper, queso fresco, garlic, onion, cumin, salt and pepper until uniformly mixed.
- If not cooking immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to grill lamb burgers. Otherwise, form into 3 burger patties (to make roughly 1/3 lb hamburgers or make into 4 patties to make 1/4 lb burgers). Make a large dimple in the middle of each burger. This will help the burgers to remain flat when grilling.
Grill Lamb Burgers
- Place lamb burgers on the grill grates over medium-high heat and cook until desired temperature is reached when measured with an instant read thermometer. The USDA recommends and internal temperature of 160℉ for ground lamb. If some burgers cook faster than others, slide them over to the lower heat side of the grill to hold until all are ready.
- Place the rolls on the hot side of the grill face down until lightly toasted. Remove from grill until assembling the burgers.
Grill Onions And Tomatoes
- Lightly coat onion and tomato rounds with olive oil then place over medium-high heat on the grill. Grill the onions until softened somewhat to your liking. Cook the tomatoes for about 2 minutes on each side using caution when lifting off of the grill as they will be fragile. Remove onion and tomato from the grill and set aside until ready to assemble burgers.
Assemble Lamb Burgers
- Place lamb burgers on rolls and top with tomato, onion and lettuce. Optional: season tomatoes with a bit of kosher salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime. Serve immediately.