What is a burger? It’s a patty sandwiched between two pieces of bread, usually with some lettuce, and maybe a tomato thrown in for good measure. There’s a bit of sauce on the inside and most of us (let’s be honest here) have it with fries. 

When you think about it like that, it’s hard to see how burgers are one of the unhealthiest foods we can eat. There’s not a great deal going on, yet the calories in one burger can be absurd – not to mention all the fat and possibly added sugars too. 

But what if we could take an unhealthy burger and make it healthy? Is this doable? It certainly is – healthy eating isn’t as hard as people think – so here are multiple ways you can eat healthy burgers for dinner. 

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Make Your Burgers From Scratch

The first idea to switch up an unhealthy beef burger is to make your patty from scratch. Never buy them from stores as they’re usually packed full of fat and loads of added salt. Instead, get some ground beef with as minimal fat as possible. 

That’s all you really need, and then put it through a grease strainer to get rid of even more fat. Mix it up in a bowl with salt, pepper, and maybe a dash of paprika or Worcestershire sauce. Mash the mixture, turn it into patties, and you’re done. 

Cook and form your burger however you want – making it your own like this will dramatically reduce the calories as there will be far less fat in the burger. It also makes it easier to eat and way less greasy, so you feel better eating it! 

Switch From Beef To Chicken Burgers

Alternatively, swap out your beef patties for something healthier. Chicken is the perfect choice as it’s white meat and therefore better for your heart. Eating too much red meat can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so it’s good to reduce your consumption whenever possible. 

Swap in a chicken breast and use basic seasoning on it so it’s not super plain. You’re not getting the same experience as you would with a big beef burger, but this option is much lower in calories and healthier for you.   

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Make Vegan Burgers

Another possibility is to ditch the meat entirely and make vegan burgers. We’re not talking about the processed vegan “meats” here; we’re on about burgers made entirely from whole foods like lentils, chickpeas, etc. 

Making a burger like this is an excellent source of vegan protein and makes for a tastier treat. They’re usually seasoned with a lot more stuff in the mix too, so you can play around with how yours tastes. It’s going to be a direct meat replica, but that’s not the point. 

It will be way healthier to eat vegan burgers every week than a traditional beef burger. You’ll find loads of vegan burger recipes nowadays but this one with black beans is a great starting point if you’ve never made one before. It’s so easy to make, most of the ingredients will be in your store cupboard, and all you need is a food processor/powerful blender. 

Use Wholegrain Buns

Don’t forget; it’s not just the patty that makes a beef burger unhealthy. A lot of the time, it’s the stuff around it that turns it from an okay meal into something truly bad for you. Believe it or not, but the buns are a major source of issues for loads of burgers. Normal burger buns you see in grocery stores are usually packed full of sugar and very high in calories. 

Ditch these. 

Try to find wholegrain buns instead. They’re much better for you as the whole grain is a great source of fiber and helps you digest. Try to locate small ones too; there’s no need to have too much bread here as it just adds calories to the dish. 

Cook Your Burger In The Oven Or Air Fryer

The way you cook a burger also dictates its potential to be healthy. Traditional burgers are fried in a pan or griddle, usually with loads of oil. 

Did you know that a tablespoon of olive oil can contain up to 135 calories? That’s a crazy amount of calories in something that’s essentially used to help the burger cook and crisp up around the edges. 

You can use other oils, but a better option is to ditch them entirely and cook your burger a different way. Put it in the oven and it’ll be far healthier for you to eat – you’re not using any oil, so no calories are added. Granted, it will take longer than frying, so if you have an air fryer we suggest using that instead. You can get the crisp outer parts that you love but without using any oil. 

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Use Healthier Sauce Alternatives

You could follow all the tips above and ruin your burger with sauces. Buying burger sauce, mayonnaise, or even ketchup from the store is never good if you want to be healthy. Sure, you could apply them in moderation and it won’t be a problem. 

Or, you could use healthier sauce alternatives. Find ketchup that’s specifically low in sugar or salt. Swap mayo out for Greek yogurt or creme fraiche, and consider making your own healthy burger sauce. It’s not hard to make a few swaps in the sauce department and you’ll genuinely reduce the calories in your burger by a fair bit. 

Of course, don’t forget that your sides play a crucial role in making the whole dish healthy. If you’re having a burger, you don’t need fries as you already get carbs from the bread. So, think about having it with a nice crunchy salad instead. 

If you insist on having fries for a treat, then think about how you cook them. Again, an air fryer works wonders here as you don’t need to fry your potatoes in oil. You can boil the fries and then cook them in an oven too. 

The fundamental point of this post is to show how you can take an inherently unhealthy meal and turn it into something pretty good for you. Use any of the ideas to make your burgers healthier and enjoy them more often with minimal guilt.