Za’atar chicken burgers are popping with flavor. Juicy spiced burgers topped with tangy labneh, roasted peppers, and avocado. Hot damn!
Y’all, have you seen my Instagram? If a girl who is mildly obsessed with grilling is something of interest to you, then go check it out. Because I. JUST. CAN’T. STOP! Some of it has to do with May and the onslaught of Spring, but I’m suspicious as to whether there is something primal going on and my genetics are telling me I need to cook all my food over an open flame. And I am not going to shut that voice down.
Luckily, I made these za’atar chicken burgers that makes your traditional beef burger so passé and will fulfill that primal need. And with Memorial Day just around the bend it is totally appropriate to fire up the barbecue, crack open a beer, and lounge on your patio, or in my case front walkway (living in a city is exciting and exhilarating, but there are some draw backs).
3 reasons why I am in love with these za’atar chicken burgers:
- As with most of the recipes on POP KITCHEN, these are ea-sy. No slaws to toss together. No aiolis to whip up. No compromise on flavor.
- ZA’ATAR! Za’atar is a spice mixture that is used all over the Middle East and Mediterranean that is comprised of a blend of dried herbs with sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. It is often served with olive oil and pita bread, over hummus, and as a spice rub for meat. You can buy za’atar in the Middle Eastern section of your grocery store or at Middle Eastern food stores, but I’m going to show you how to make it from scratch.
- Labneh is a soft cheese made out of strained yogurt. It’s similar to cream cheese but more tangy and velvety. You can buy it at specialty food stores, Middle Eastern food stores or make labneh yourself. Spread this on your za’atar chicken burger for classic Mediterranean taste meets North American grill culture. Pass me the lighter fluid.
When we first moved out to Toronto, half of our monthly income went to our rent. We pinched every penny. But we ALWAYS ate delicious, healthy food. And it’s not that we were prioritizing food in our budget. At times we only had $80 a week to spend on groceries, which for a family of 3 in Toronto is a miracle. But we did it by making almost all our food from scratch. We only bought the essentials we needed for the week which required a thorough meal plan. But we also kept a liberally stocked spice pantry. I love that minimalist lifestyle but it’s important that you have the things you love in your life. And in my case, spices. Having a variety of spices and fresh herbs available to you is one way to make your food interesting and healthy without breaking the bank.
These za’atar chicken burgers are an affordable, healthy option for your summertime grill outs but like on a foodie level. Things don’t need to get crazy expensive to be crazy interesting and flavorful.
Make it a Party!
Having friends and family over for a summer barbecue or dinner party? Add some fresh spring, Rhubarb Negronis and a swiss chard salad with grilled asparagus and roasted sweet potatoes. And chips. There’s always got to be chips.
Experiment with your eating arrangement. We laid a blanket down on our 4-square-feet of yard space with pillows and a tiny folding chair my Opa made us. And yes, we really did eat there after I took all these photos. And now my daughter Willow asks if we can eat there every night.
When you try these za’atar chicken burgers, let me know! I absolutely love seeing your photos of POP KITCHEN recipes up on Instagram. Use the hashtag #popkitchen when you post photos of recipes you’ve made to your Instagram and tag @pop_kitch. I’ll share my favorite photos on POP KITCHEN’s account.
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- ¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped
- ¼ cup sumac (you can mind sumac in the Mediterranean or Middle Eastern section of your grocery store. You can also buy it on Amazon. Use lemon zest if you can't find sumac and get a really similar flavor)
- ¼ toasted sesame seeds
- ¼ cup cumin
- 4 tsp sea salt
- 4 tsp dried oregano
- 4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 lb/0.5 kg ground chicken, mine had 6 g of fat per ½ cup
- ¼ cup za'atar
- *if you buy za'atar and it is low in salt add ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 tsp oil
- pinch of sea salt
- ½ cup labneh, cream cheese or extra thick greek yogurt
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- Lettuce such as bibb or romaine
- 4 buns or use bibb lettuce to make a healthier version
- Put on some chill out rock to play while hanging by the grill. Check out the dreamy vocals of Girlpool on their new album "Powerplant".
- Preheat your grill. If you're using charcoal, the grill will take 15-25 minutes to be ready. A gas grill takes about 10 and you want it to reach about 350 F/175 C. If you do not have a grill you can cook these on the stove top in a cast iron or sauté pan.
- Toss together the spices for your za'atar. If you just want to mix enough for this recipe, just make a quarter. But trust me, you're going to want to put this stuff on everything you eat from avocado toast, to eggs, to sweet potatoes. Store in an air tight container such as a spice or mason jar.
- Combine 3 tbsp of za'atar with the ground chicken, leaving a tablespoon to the side. Mix the chicken with clean or gloved hands until the spices are fully incorporated. Divide the meat into 4 equal size balls. Slowly flatten out the burgers pinching the middle of the burger so that the middle is thiner than the outside edges. Burgers will shrink considerably while you cook them so make them wider than you want them, flattening them out with your hands. Place them on a plate and sprinkle the remaining za'atar over the tops of the burgers. Pour a little bit of olive oil into a dish and set it and a pastry brush near the grill. (Make sure you wash your hands really well after handling raw meat. Get under those nails and in between fingers. Sorry, I'll stop being a mom.)
- Deseed and chop the peppers into large pieces that won't fall through grill cracks. You can always make them smaller later. Toss them in a medium bowl with 1 tsp of oil and a pinch of sea salt.
- When your grill is ready, lightly brush some oil over top of your burgers and place them on the grill, oil side down. Then brush the side facing up with oil as well. If you have a grill bigger than my tiny charcoal, place your peppers on there too. Keep the lid closed and cook for about 10 minutes. Flip when the burgers are golden and caramelized. Cook for another 7-10 minutes or until golden on both sides and the internal temperature reads 165 F/74 C. The red peppers should be slightly charred and nice and tender.
- You can also grill your buns too by buttering each side and placing them on the grill for 2-4 minutes or until just turning golden around the outside edges.
- Slather your buns with labneh and top with chicken burgers, grilled peppers, sliced onion, sliced avocado and some lettuce. Enjoy!