Ah, the juicy burgers of summer cookouts! They taste so good — but are so often huge fat and calorie bombs. The sad truth is that most homemade burgers have well over 800 calories. But it is possible to pack all that savory meaty flavor, oozing melting cheese, and yes, even bacon into a big, satisfying burger without blowing your dietary allotment for the entire day.
A typical homemade 6-ounce burger alone can easily pack 450 calories — and the bun, cheese and bacon will add another 400. And that’s without any sauce or mayo.
So we reconstructed the burger to pack in all that great decadent flavor with about half the calories and saturated fat.
Lightened-up burger tips:
- Use 93% lean ground beef. This is the optimal point, at which the meat won’t dry out but is reasonably lean.
- Swap regular mayo for a canola-based version to save 50 calories and 6 grams of fat per tablespoon.
- Toss reduced-fat cheese with chopped bacon to get more smoky bacon flavor in every bite.
- Think small when it comes to the bun: A smaller bun not only equals fewer calories but also makes your burger seem that much bigger!
Inside-Out Bacon Cheddar Burger
3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 slices center-cut bacon
1 1/2 pounds 93% lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ounces shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
4 potato rolls or hamburger buns
4 small lettuce leaves
4 (1/2-inch) thick tomato slices
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
Prepare the grill for direct medium heat.
Combine the mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat; add the bacon and cook, turning once, until crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel and drain; chop.
Gently combine the beef, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and form each into a 3 1/2-inch-diameter patty; place 4 patties on a work surface. Toss the bacon with the cheese and spoon one-fourth of the mixture on top of each of the 4 patties, keeping the edges clear. Place the remaining patties over the cheese and pinch the perimeter to seal the filling in.
Place the patties on the grill, close the lid and cook, turning once, 9 to 10 minutes for medium doneness. Remove from the grill. To assemble, place the bottom half of each roll on a plate and top with a lettuce leaf, tomato slice and burger. Spoon the mayonnaise mixture over the burgers, then top with the onion slices and the remaining roll halves. Serve immediately.
Per serving (1 burger): Calories 465; Fat 21 g (Saturated 8 g); Sodium 846 mg; Carbohydrate 26 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 45 g
Marge Perry is an award-winning food, nutrition and travel writer and teacher whose work appears regularly in Rachael Ray Every Day, AllRecipes, Newsday, and on her blog, A Sweet and Savory Life. In addition, Marge is a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and an Adjunct at New York University, where she teaches food writing.
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