Middle Eastern Burgers

Summer 2004, The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook (2005)

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Exotic-tasting spices and chopped prunes give Middle-Eastern flair to this succulent, healthy burger recipe. Serve the burgers with the cool, savory yogurt sauce and slices of ripe tomato, lettuce and sharp red onion.

Middle Eastern Burgers

Makes: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 burger & 2 Tbsp. sauce

Active Time:

Total Time:


  • 1 6-ounce container (3/4 cup) nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup bulgur (see Tip)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 small)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1/3 cup pitted prunes, finely chopped (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef (90% or leaner)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 small whole-wheat pita breads
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl, leaving at least 1/2-inch clearance from the bottom. (Alternatively, use a coffee filter lined with filter paper.) Spoon in yogurt, cover and let drain in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, while you prepare the burgers.
  2. Combine bulgur with 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl; let soak until the bulgur is tender and most of the water has been absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain any excess liquid. 3. Meanwhile, preheat grill.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat grill.
  4. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until it softens, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and prunes; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. (Don’t let the garlic burn.) Stir in cumin, coriander and allspice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons water; cook until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Combine beef, egg, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, the onion-prune mixture and the bulgur in a mixing bowl; mix thoroughly. Shape into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.
  6. Lightly oil the grill rack (hold a piece of oil-soaked paper towel with tongs and rub it over the grate). Grill the burgers over medium heat, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Warm pitas on the grill, if desired.
  7. To prepare sauce, whisk the drained yogurt, the remaining 1 clove minced garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt and olive oil in a small bowl. (Discard the whey.) Serve the burgers with the pitas and sauce.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the sauce (Steps 1 & 7) for up to 1 day. Stir before using.
  • Fiber-rich bulgur is made from whole-wheat kernels that are precooked, dried and cracked. You can find it in natural-foods stores and large markets.


Per serving: 376 calories; 13 g fat (4 g sat, 5 g mono); 103 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 10 g total sugars; 26 g protein; 6 g fiber; 457 mg sodium; 648 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin B12 (38% daily value), Zinc (36% dv), Iron (20% dv), Magnesium & Potassium (19% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 3 lean meat

More From EatingWell

Recipe Categories

Preparation/ Technique
Health & Diet Considerations
Low sodium
High fiber
High potassium

Ease of Preparation
Total Time
1 hour or less
Type of Dish
Main dish, meat
Main Ingredient
Middle Eastern
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