Tomatillo Burgers

Apparently, there is such as thing as “grilling season”–a term I’d never heard until I went to college in Washington, D.C. and mingled with all kinds of Yankees Northerners.  In Phoenix, we grill all year long, preferably not in the summer, which I learned is when said “grilling season” occurs.  In Oklahoma, the ability to grill is determined more by the wind than by the temperature. 

But still, I acknowledge many of you have a grilling season and it won’t last much longer.  So please, please, please make these tomatillo burgers while you still can.  They were even better than I’d imagined they’d be.  Sure you can cook them in a skillet during the winter, but grilled burgers always taste so much better.  Plus, if you act quickly, you might be able to get your hands on some delicious, roasted New Mexico Hatch chiles to really ramp things up.  

I’m sure your family and friends will love this recipe just as much as we did.  So invite a small group over this weekend for a cookout (not a barbeque Yanks, that involves a smoker and barbeque sauce), hang out, have a few cold beverages, and watch the kids play in the sprinklers before it’s too late.

Tomatillo Burgers

heavily adapted from Billie McCabe

seen on Made in Oklahoma Coalition


1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, washed & quartered

1 c. cilantro, lightly packed 

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, divided

1 (4 oz.) can green chiles, drained (replace with Hatch chiles, seeded or not, when in season) 

1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)

1 lb. ground turkey or beef

1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 Vidalia onion, sliced into 1-in. slabs

olive oil, for brushing onion slices and grill

4 thick slices Provolone cheese 

1 ripe avocado, sliced


1.  Preheat grill over medium-high heat.  Alternately, use an indoor grill pan, griddle, or skillet.

2.  Place tomatillos in a food processor.  Pulse until thoroughly chopped, but not pureed.  Pour into a strainer or sieve to let excess liquid drain. 

3.  In the same (now empty) processor, pulse cilantro, garlic, 1 tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. cumin, green chiles, and jalapeño until a coarse paste forms.  Stir tomatillos once more in the strainer to release any remaining juice, then mix with cilantro paste to form a salsa.  Set aside. 

4.  Combine 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Set aside.

5.  Mix ground meat with 1/4 c. tomatillo salsa and form into 4 patties.  Sprinkle each side with equal amounts of salt and pepper mixture.

6.  Brush each side of onion slabs with olive oil, then sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.

7.  Brush grill with oil.  Place onion slabs on grill first and cook 5 minutes.  

8.  Flip onions and cook 5 minutes more.  When you flip onions, add patties to grill and cook to your liking, 3-5 minutes per side.  Remove onions from grill to cook just enough to touch.  Place buns, cut side down, on grill and cheese slices on patties, close grill lid to toast buns and melt cheese, 1 minute.

9.  Separate onions into rings, then assemble burgers by placing patty on bottom bun, then topping with onions, avocado slices and tomatillo salsa.  Enjoy immediately.  Serves 4.

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  1. Cookie and Kate
    August 23, 2012 / 12:40 am

    Oh, I would love to load up a black bean burger with tomatillos like this! Yum!

  2. elly
    August 23, 2012 / 1:31 am

    Oooh I love how there is some tomatillo salsa right in the burger! I'll have to give that a try.

  3. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
    August 23, 2012 / 1:35 am

    Oh yum! I love tomatillos, this looks amazing!

  4. That Girl
    August 23, 2012 / 3:04 am

    Even growing up in the Northeast my dad subscribed to the Bill Cosby school of grilling year round.

  5. Kelsey
    August 23, 2012 / 3:43 am

    That Girl–I like your dad (and the Bill Cosby reference). He's a very smart man 🙂

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