One of the biggest advantages of cultural diversity in America is the diversity of culinary practices.
Over the past decades, there’s been a trend toward fusion cuisines that combine traditional ingredients and flavors from the fatherland with newer American cuisines.
There’s no dish more American than a burger. However, even an all-American burger is a blank canvas for fusing culinary traditions.
Below, I’ve listed various unusual burger toppings that exemplify an unlikely yet delicious melting pot of flavors and traditions and that I find delicious.
Unusual Burger Toppings
Check out some less common burger toppings that still taste great!
If you thought burgers were juicy, try topping them with a thick ring of pineapple to double your pleasure.
While pineapple may sound like an unusual burger topping, many tropical cultures use it to season or garnish meat.
Take, for example, the sweet, savory, and juicy tacos al pastor.
While many people consider pineapple the worst pizza topping, you should give pineapple a chance on a burger!
Mac and Cheese
This unusual burger topping is not a fusion of two different culinary cultures, but instead is a fusion of two American dishes into one extravagant hand-held.
It takes “cheeseburger” to the next level.
Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and the combination of burger and mac and cheese isn’t new. Just think, hamburger helper!
A savory and healthy Mediterranean mezze, hummus is an all-purpose spread that’s delicious on its own or as a garnish for pita sandwiches.
Additionally, you can add any flavoring agent you like, from roasted red peppers to olives.
I would choose a hot paprika-spiced hummus to pair with pickled carrots and jalapenos on a burger.
Envisioning coleslaw on a burger isn’t a stretch for me.
It’s my favorite side dish at any barbecue joint. The mayo-based sauce softens shredded veggies into a perfectly creamy and fibrous salad.
Coleslaw is slightly sweet but often features mustard or horseradish for a spicy kick.
I would love to top a burger with coleslaw and a Texas-style, tomato-based barbecue sauce.
While coleslaw makes cabbage creamy and sweet, kimchi ferments cabbage into the epitome of umami richness.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this age-old Korean food has become the new “it” food in America.
I’ve had kimchi grilled cheese sandwiches, so why not try it on a burger?
Crab & Cocktail Sauce
Cocktail sauce consists of a tomato base with horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
It’s a wonderfully complex sauce that’s light and liquid enough to pair well with shellfish.
I’ve heard of topping steak with crab and cream sauce a la Oscar, but cocktail sauce with crab on a burger is a novel idea.
Given the cost of crab, I’ll let someone else see if it’s a winning combination before preparing it for myself!
Fried Green Tomato
A true taste of the South, fried green tomatoes are a delicious dish featuring cornmeal battered slices of green tomatoes deep-fried to a golden crisp.
They taste wonderful with remoulade sauce or pimento cheese.
The thick cornbread batter on top of thick slices of green tomatoes is substantial enough to act as a burger bun.
Hoisin sauce is a thick, sugary soy sauce that most recipes combine with water over Asian stir-fries.
Its thickness coats veggies and meat alike in a flavorful glaze.
I would recommend thinning out hoisin sauce with a little water to garnish a chicken burger with Asian vinegar-based coleslaw.
Goat Cheese & Honey
Goat cheese and honey is a sophisticated pairing, combining a strong yet creamy cheese with a rich, syrupy sweetness.
I enjoy it as a common cheese plate pairing with a baguette, but it sounds a little too unusual for a burger.
I usually add another savory topping like bacon or prosciutto to make goat cheese and honey work on a burger.
A common ingredient in cuisines worldwide, from Canadian Poutine to Indian Saag Paneer, cheese curds are firm and chunky with a very mild flavor.
I would go the Saag Paneer route for a burger pairing, using chunky cheese curds mixed with creamed spinach atop a rich beef burger.
It may be blasphemous to Indian cuisine, but I think we’d be happy with it in America.
Buffalo Bleu Cheese
Far from unusual, buffalo bleu cheeseburgers are a mainstay on many restaurant menus.
Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressings are popular dipping sauces for spicy chicken wings. Bleu Cheese sauce is also a popular garnish for steaks.
The combination of a spicy pepper sauce with creamy, chunky, and powerful bleu cheese is a match made in flavor heaven.
It would taste wonderful on a burger with butter lettuce and roasted tomatoes.
A Caprese salad is a classic Italian dish consisting of thick slices of tomato topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella, garnished with fresh basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
A Caprese burger places this complex flavor combo atop a grilled burger. What’s not to like?
I recommend an Italian-style ciabatta bun with homemade aioli to top it all off.
In my opinion, there’s no better topping to any sandwich than an avocado.
Guacamole is the most festive and zesty form an avocado can take. It adds a tangy zing from lime juice and a spicy crunch from chopped garlic and onions.
A dollop of guacamole on a pepper-jack cheeseburger would be a crowd-pleaser.
Cream cheese is a versatile ingredient that works just as well with sweets as it does with meats.
If you’ve ever been to a New York bagel shop, you know that cream cheese has countless iterations.
For a burger, I think I’d use a bacon and scallion cream cheese spread.
Maple Syrup and Bacon
This must be a common burger topping in Canada. Maple syrup and bacon are a match made in breakfast heaven.
The latest fad is making maple and bacon donuts. A burger just doubles the savory flavor, but it isn’t anything maple syrup can’t handle!
I usually eat a maple bacon burger as a breakfast sandwich, topped with a fried egg.
Pastrami is a classic deli meat. I’m used to having layer upon layer of spicy beef pastrami with some spicy mustard on rye.
Pastrami undergoes every cooking method known to man. It’s brined, dried, seasoned, smoked, and steamed.
It certainly deserves its presence on a sandwich and would make a burger even richer.
I love topping my turkey sandwich with potato chips, smashing a slice of white bread on top, and grinding the chips into a meal-like texture.
I think potato chips taste just as delicious on top of a burger, adding a much-needed crunch.
I’d choose jalapeno-flavored potato chips or some other strong seasoning to complement the richness of the burger. Check out some spicy chips you can try on your burger!
Curry is a globally beloved flavor agent with countless varieties.
In Japan, they use brown curry in a thick sauce to coat beef or chicken.
In Thailand, they offer yellow, red, and green curries, combined with coconut milk for a soupier and spicier dish.
I think the brown curry served in Japan or as a sauce for British “chips” (French fries) would work best on a burger.
Chili is as American as a burger and a major source of pride in many regions.
Chili will sometimes use up to twenty different spices and be stewed for hours.
It’s delicious and complex just by the spoonful, but on top of a burger, it just triples the ground beef ratio!
I usually add a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar, and chives to my chili burger.
Unusual Burger Toppings
- Mac and Cheese
- Crab & Cocktail Sauce
- Fried Green Tomato
- Hoisin Sauce
- Goat Cheese & Honey
- Cheese Curds
- Buffalo Bleu Cheese
- Caprese Burger
- Cream Cheese
- Maple Syrup and Bacon
- Potato Chips
- Curry Paste
Burgers are an all-American treasure, but they’re also a blank canvas for culinary interpretation.
Whether you want an extravagant double dose of comfort foods or an innovative fusion of culinary cultures, this list of unusual burger toppings is as diverse as the American population.
Check out some other classic burger toppings if you want to keep it simple!
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