Who says you can’t eat something elegant with your hands?
I’m an advocate for the idea that my hands are the best tools I have. Unfortunately, this rule doesn’t always apply to eating (or at least eating in public).
But when it does, I’m a happy girl.
These salmon burgers will be the posh handhelds at your next cookout that everyone is eager to meet. Beef patties, hot dogs, and chicken always seem to take center stage on the grill, but this fantastic fish sandwich is about to change the game.
Thanks to an infusion of peppery ginger, sweet red onion, and fresh herbs, not only does the protein between the buns perform like a rock star, the homemade green goddess dressing takes this sandwich to legendary status.
The combo of seafood and citrus is a definite “no duh” pairing, so dolloping the salmon with a condiment fully loaded with lemon – not to mention garlic, oniony chives, and a hefty handful of parsley and cilantro – will please even the most particular eaters.
Growing up, when it came to trying different types of food, I was certainly not the pickiest in my family. I would gladly sample whatever was put in front of me, while my older sister steadfastly stuck to two items.
You can imagine how this pleased my dad, who would spend hours in the kitchen lovingly preparing homemade dishes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking – only to find that my sister would refuse his buttery rice soubise and adamantly demand banana yogurt and canned ravioli instead.
As is often the case, her palate expanded as she got older, and she actually learned to love salmon long before me. Not that I ever had an aversion to the full-flavored fish, but it took a while before I found it in the form I loved most.
I would gobble the stuff down smoked, sliced paper-thin, and draped over a crackly, cream cheese-smothered bagel.
But fresh salmon filets were a mystery to me. Before I learned to make it myself in fresh and bold preparations like grilled and covered in dill sauce, I would rely on restaurants to order them. But they never seemed to present them with the level of flakiness I liked, and there was always a lack of flavor.
My first bite of a homemade salmon burger, however, was anything but bland.
Maybe it was the familiarity of holding a soft bun between my fingers. Maybe it was the fresh herbs woven throughout the patty. Maybe it was the classic combo of lettuce, tomato, and onion that gave it that refreshing zip.
No matter the reason, I knew I was going back for another bite. And then another…
As for making them yourself at home, these fish burgers have two secrets I’m glad to spill!
The first is the crispy, airy panko that not only helps to bind everything together, but also creates a crusty outside coating that holds up over high heat.
Second is the chill time the patties have in the fridge before being moved along to the grill.
If you’ve ever made salmon burgers before, you know there’s only one way to fail: the whole thing crumbles apart. Though, I guess if you forgot to buy the fish in the first place, that would also be a pretty epic flop…
So maybe there are two ways to fail!
The beaten egg, of course, acts as a binding agent. And while the burgers hang out in the fridge, the breadcrumbs are also helping to soak up some of the moisture.
The result? Everyone comes together as one big, sturdy, happy family.
I mean patty.
Flavor-wise, the salmon speaks for itself, saying “Hi, I’m mild and rich with some oily undertones.” The fresh, spicy ginger adds an enormous layer of aromatic flavor while the chives, parsley, and dill bring a grassy bite.
The herbs in the burger echo those in the green goddess dressing, which makes for a mouthful of magic that you can eat with your hands.
See? Not only are these grilled salmon burgers graceful and sophisticated, but they’re a no-forks-required kind of meal. You could even skip the plate.
But you might want to grab a napkin to catch those stray dressing drips!Print
Dripping with herby green goddess dressing, these ginger-infused grilled salmon burgers are a healthier spin on a cookout classic.
- 1 pound skinless salmon filets
- 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 8 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, divided, plus more as needed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 cup green goddess dressing
- 4 hamburger buns (such as brioche or whole wheat), sliced
- Your choice of burger toppings (butter lettuce, sliced tomato, shaved red onion)
- Chop the salmon into 1/4-inch chunks and place half in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the other half to the bowl of a food processor with the red onion, chives, parsley, dill, ginger, 4 tablespoons of the panko, egg, salt, and pepper. Pulse several times until the salmon is finely chopped and the other ingredients are evenly mixed into the fish.
- Transfer the mixture to the mixing bowl with the reserved chunks of salmon. Gently fold everything together. Divide and form into 4 patties that are about 1 inch thick, placing some panko in your hands if the mixture is too sticky to form.
- Transfer the patties to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably for 1 hour.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high, about 350-400°F.
- Place the remaining 4 tablespoons of panko on a plate. Uncover the salmon patties and lightly coat them with the panko, pressing firmly to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere. If they feel too sticky or delicate, add more breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to the outside to keep them intact. Brush or drizzle lightly with the canola oil on both sides.
- Place the patties on the grill and cook undisturbed until a crust forms on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes, and then carefully flip them over. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. The internal temperature of the salmon burgers should read 135°F.
- Remove the patties from the grill and then assemble on the buns. Top with even amounts of the green goddess dressing and dress with your desired toppings.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Burgers
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: salmon, grilled, burger, green goddess dressing, panko
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Measure, and Prep Ingredients
If making the green goddess dressing from scratch, make the dressing in advance before prepping the remaining burger ingredients. Measure and refrigerate the dressing until ready to use.
If you weren’t able to find skinless salmon filets, you can remove the skin by placing your hand flat on a the filet, skin-side down, and sliding a very sharp knife between the flesh and the skin to separate the two.
Chop the salmon into 1/4-inch chunks.
Measure the panko, salt, pepper, and canola oil.
Prep the burger toppings, cover, and place them in the fridge.
Lightly beat the egg with a whisk in a small bowl.
Slice the buns with a bread knife.
Step 2 – Make and Chill the Patties
In order to give the burgers some texture, only half of the salmon will be processed, while the other half remains cubed.
Setting aside half of the cubed salmon in a large bowl, add the rest to the bowl of a food processor along with the red onion, chives, parsley, dill, ginger, 4 tablespoons of the panko, and the egg, salt, and pepper.
In short, quick bursts, pulse until the fish is finely chopped and the other ingredients are mixed well throughout.
Transfer the mixture in the food processor to the bowl with the reserved cubed salmon and set out a large clean plate nearby. Using your hands or a soft rubber spatula, delicately fold everything together until it’s just combined.
Measure out 4 evenly-sized portions. An easy way to portion any kind of ground meat or seafood is to gently score the mixture in the bowl with the side of your hand or a spatula first, creating approximate portions so you can visualize the final yield.
Form each portion into a patty that is about 1 inch thick and transfer to the clean plate. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Is the mixture a bit too sticky when you’re handling it? Place some extra panko in your hands prior to forming each patty.
Cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate the patties for an hour for the best results, or for at least 30 minutes if you need to get these on the grill quickly.
The patties are delicate, so chilling them in the fridge helps to keep them together on the grill without crumbling through the grates.
Step 3 – Grill the Burgers
Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high, about 350-400°F, and place the remaining 4 tablespoons of panko on a clean plate.
Uncover the salmon patties and gently press each one into the panko one at a time, to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere. If they still feel too sticky and seem like they may fall apart, you can add more breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to the outside to help keep them intact.
Either drizzle the olive oil on both sides of each patty, or place the oil in a small bowl and use a basting brush to gently brush both sides, being gentle so you don’t remove the breadcrumb coating. The oil will help to prevent the patties from sticking to the grates.
Place the patties on the grill and cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes. You want a nice golden-brown crust to form on the bottom.
Carefully flip them over, keeping in mind that if the patties seem to be sticking to the grill, they’re not ready to flip.
Cook for an additional 2 minutes. The internal temperature of each salmon burger should read 135°F on a meat thermometer.
An easy way to test the patties for doneness without a meat thermometer is to push down lightly on the center of a burger and make sure it feels firm to the touch.
Step 4 – Assemble the Burgers
Assemble the finished patties on the buns and top them with even dollops of green goddess dressing.
You could also spread both sides of the buns with dressing before placing the burgers inside, if you like!
Dress with your desired toppings and serve. Arugula would also make a nice alternative to the lettuce, or maybe a few thinly sliced cucumber rounds, just picked from the garden.
Cooking these on a charcoal grill adds undeniable smokiness, but working inside in a heavy-bottomed skillet like a cast iron is equally acceptable for this recipe.
Since the outsides of the patties are coated in panko, pan-searing them in oil will give you a thick, even, golden-brown layer of deliciousness.
Just remember the basic rules of not crowding the pan and making sure your oil is fully heated before dropping in the goods.
For the finale, feel free to ditch the buns if that’s not your thing, or if you are following a gluten-free diet. These gorgeous burgers do just fine stretched out over some greens and drizzled with the tangy dressing.
Will you add any extra toppings like arugula and cucumber, or maybe avocado or sprouts, to your salmon? Share your serving suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Known for being high in yumminess and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a great choice to cook with. Try the fabulous fish in these recipes next:
- Broiled Salmon with Shiitake Mushrooms and Parmesan Grits
- Honey Ginger Salmon
- Salmon Tacos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Red Cabbage Slaw
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Lori Jo Hendrix on July 13, 2016. Last updated on July 14, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”