16 Ingredients Celebrity Chefs Use To Spice Up Their Burgers

Born from humble beginnings as a convenient and portable meal, the classic burger has undergone a gastronomic revolution, evolving from a food of the people to a versatile canvas for upper-crust creations while at the same time maintaining its original accessibility to all tastes, preferences, and budgets. Perhaps alone in this achievement, the hamburger stands at the intersection of casual dining and gourmet indulgence, lending itself freely to any and all levels of simplicity or opulence. More than that, the burger transcends cultural and culinary boundaries, reaching all spectrums of the human gastronomic experience.

That said, some methods of spicing up a burger are better than others, and here we will focus only on what is better. Embarking on a journey to discover the ultimate burger ingredients requires a thoughtful blend of technique and artistry. From sourcing the finest toppings to selecting the ideal condiments, every detail plays a crucial role in achieving burger nirvana. So let's take a look at how some of our most seasoned chefs season amp up their burgers. Unraveling the secrets of the ingredients will demystify the methods that transform an okay burger into an unforgettable culinary experience.

Gordon Ramsay - Roll the burger in seasoning mixture

Gordon Ramsay's burger with seasoning mixture sits firmly in the realm of the upper crust burger. To make this highfalutin creation, you must roll your burger in your homemade seasoning mixture, made with spices of your choice, the day before you want to actually cook your burgers. Then keep the patties in the fridge to ensure they maintain their firmness. Ramsay also recommends including powdered garlic and onions in your patty for extra flavor.

Although this method may seem relatively simple compared to some of the other burger recipes we'll look at in this list, the complexity of the flavor itself really just comes down to what you choose to put in your spice mix. Any spices known to go well with beef, such as paprika or cumin, are going to be safe bets, but if you're at a loss as to what to put in there, have a look through Ramsay's own spice cabinet and you'll be sure to find inspiration there.

Alton Brown - Mustard

Many people add mayonnaise or ketchup to their burgers almost without thinking about it, and those are both fine choices for the job, either individually or together. But you'd be missing out if you decided never to add mustard instead.

Now, although Alton Brown's recipe is actually for tiny little sliders, there's no reason you can't use it for full-on burgers, with some adjustments. The basic idea is to roll out your ground beef on a surface until flat, then spread "as much yellow mustard as you can stand," on top, as he says on his YouTube channel, sprinkle in some garlic powder, and then fold the meat onto itself once. After this step is complete, you can cut your burgers into whatever shapes or sizes you like before steaming them over chopped onions, with some American cheese on top, until done. This might not be the same as slathering mayo on top of your prepared burger patty, but that's quite alright, as this way, the flavor of the mustard will be more powerful throughout the dish.

Ina Garten - Blue cheese

On a Father's Day Instagram post this year, Ina Garten finally showed us how to make the perfect dad burger that anyone can enjoy. The trick is to complement your burger, arugula, and tomato with a generous helping of blue cheese. But don't worry, Ina knows that blue cheese isn't for everyone, which is why she tells us we can switch out the strongly-flavored cheese for a good, old slice of cheddar and the recipe will work just as well. Either way, she suggests pairing it with an ice-cold beer. As if she needed to remind us of that.

To make this recipe, combine ground chuck, ground sirloin, steak sauce, egg yolks, salt, and pepper into thoroughly blended patties. Cook on a grill until your desired doneness and let the patties rest before adding your slice of cheese on top. The simple but tasty effect of this burger is typical of Ina Garten's style, and because it's so simple, you can really cook your burgers any way you like. Garten suggests a charcoal or stovetop grill, but you can also pan-fry them, air-fry them, or even bake them.

Jamie Oliver - Top a pork burger with fresh fruit

If you think a burger only needs to be made from ground beef, then you're severely limiting yourself. There's no reason you can't make one from any type of ground meat, and Jamie Oliver suggests that pork, in particular, makes a fine burger, especially when topped with thin slices of ripe, fresh pear.

According to his recipe, you'll want to toss the pear with your choice of salad leaves and some light and simple dressing, such as a combination of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Then simply top your pork burger with these mixed greens. To make the burger itself, just craft your ground pork into patties with some seasoning and fry on your stovetop until your desired doneness. To further complement the pork and pears, crumble some blue cheese onto the burger pan, and once it's melted, dip the burger in it until coated. This creates the ideal combination of powerful cheesy, fruity, and meaty flavors. 

Bobby Flay - Green chilies

Bobby Flay is in part known for his great passion and skill for Southwestern food, which is probably why one of his best tips for spicing up a burger is to include green chilies on top. As legend has it, on a trip to New Mexico he once tried a burger with green chilies and loved it so much that he created his own version for not one, but two of his restaurants, including his various Burger Palace locations.

The inspirational burger was made with Wagyu beef, applewood smoked bacon, extra sharp cheddar, and the fateful roasted green chile. Bobby Flay's version at the Burger Palace includes queso sauce, roasted green chilies, and pickled red onions. If you like green chilies and burgers, you can try one or both of these combinations and you'll be glad you did. As for cooking the burger itself, don't overcomplicate things. Bobby, in fact, only uses two basic ingredients to flavor his patties: salt and pepper.

Rachael Ray - Sprinkle on plenty of seasoning

The power of Rachael Ray's burger presents itself in the seasoning, which unlike Bobby Flay's, is far from simple. The celebrity chef has been known to make many a wonderful burger over the course of her career, including her drunken onion jam burger, or the Canadian-inspired green ketchup and poutine burger. But the one she would make for herself, her favorite of all, includes grill seasoning, fennel seeds, Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes on top of a sirloin steak and ground pork patty, which is then served with provolone, smoked mozzarella, tomatoes, and red onions.

If all that sounds like too big of a risk, and you're worried about wasting ingredients, just follow Rachael's tip for testing out burger seasoning: just make a tiny little patty and fry it up with the target ingredients in 30 seconds or less. If you like it, make a big one, and if you don't, just move on to the next experiment.

Stephanie Izard - Rhubarb mostarda

For something even more involved, try Stephanie Izard's burger with rhubarb mostarda, asparagus tapenade, and brown-butter miso aioli, all toppings you can prepare yourself at home before you start on the actual burger. For this one, you're going to have to set aside a good chunk of time. Start by pickling mustard seeds and sliced rhubarb and combining them with Dijon to form your mostarda. Then, roast your shiitake mushrooms for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit before finely mincing them and adding them to your ground meat.

For the tapenade, combine cooked asparagus with olives, fresh mint, and lemon zest. And lastly, combine toasted white miso with brown butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and sour cream. To enjoy all of these concoctions put together, spread the sauces over your buns, add the cooked burger patty, and top it with your tapenade. This recipe may take some time and effort, but if you've ever sampled Stephanie Izard's cooking, you know it's worth it.

José Andrés - Piquillo pepper confit

José Andrés can make pretty much anything taste amazing, including burgers, which, quite frankly, typically taste amazing, to begin with. His version, which he put together in collaboration with the fast-food chain Umami Burger, but which is sadly no longer available on the menu, was made with a ground pork and prosciutto patty, which was topped with a piquillo pepper confit, caramelized onions, and as a nod to Andrés' homeland, Spanish Manchego cheese. You may not be able to order this particular burger anymore, but there's no reason you can't try it at home.

And in keeping with the Spanish bent of this burger, why not serve it with patatas bravas instead of French fries? Make them at home by roasting the potatoes for 30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and then covering them in brava sauce, made with a mixture of mayonnaise, hot sauce, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and water.

Martha Stewart - Asian chili sauce

Martha Stewart is famous for being fairly prim and proper, but that doesn't mean she won't dig into a nice, juicy, spicy burger. The burger in question is the one topped with Sambal Oelek, an Asian chili sauce made with salt, chili peppers, vinegar, lime juice, and a few other ingredients. She also adds ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickle juice.

You can put this together yourself by following the recipe for what Martha calls her "extra-special sauce" on her website. Just mix the above-mentioned ingredients together and spoon the sauce onto your perfectly cooked burger patty. Just remember that Sambal Oelek is one of the hotter chili pastes out there, so use it with caution if you're not used to the heat. But if you love it, and have some left over after your burger venture, you should know that there are many different ways to use it. For instance, Sambal Oelek is a great spicy condiment to spruce up gravy, eggs, and soups.

Giada De Laurentiis - Lighten it up with something green

Giada De Laurentiis is great at putting together recipes that are both tasty and healthy, and she's done it again with one of her burger recipes, which includes caramelized onions and avocado. This is the ideal burger to try if you're craving one on a hot summer day, as it's filling enough without being too heavy. First, caramelize the onions by grilling them with some salt and olive oil and dressing them with sugar and balsamic vinegar. Let them sit for about 10 minutes while you prepare the burgers and smash up the avocado with lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes. Then all that's left to do is to add some cheese to the burger and place it in a bun with some arugula, caramelized onions, and the avocado mixture.

Another green go-to burger ingredient for Giada De Laurentiis is pesto, which she mixes into her burger patty along with Parmesan, salt, and pepper. She also combines fresh pesto with some mayonnaise, which she then spoons onto the mozzarella slice that tops the burger. Then, all you have to do is add a slice of fresh tomato to make this a caprese burger.

Guy Fieri - Donkey Sauce

Guy Fieri is famous for his elaborate burgers and his even wilder sauces, so it should come as no surprise that the combination of the two makes for a great burger experience. But don't worry, his donkey sauce is not actually made out of donkeys. This sauce is simply a blend of mayonnaise, roasted garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

And the rest is up to you. As long as you have donkey sauce on your burger, you can add any other toppings you think might go well with it, and you can prepare and cook your patty in whichever manner you see fit. Just be sure to season it properly before cooking. Specifically, Fieri recommends using kosher salt to season the beef after you've properly shaped it. He also suggests having your buns and toppings all ready before you start cooking your burgers. You're going to want to construct the burger while it's still hot.

Bobby Flay - Potato chips

If they can put potato chips in Reese's peanut butter cups and make it work, then you can certainly put them on top of your burger for some crunch successfully, just as Bobby Flay does. The trick is to use about a handful of chips per burger –- add too many, and you might end up with bits of potato chips falling all over the place as you bite into your bun. Burgers can be messy, of course, but that's just difficult to eat.

You can also feel free to choose whichever type of potato chip your heart desires. After all, the keys to this ingredient are crunch and saltiness, criteria that pretty much any type of chip can fulfill. If you're having trouble deciding, or you just want to try different options, check out our 20 best potato chip brand ranking for some inspiration.

Todd English - Italianize it

At the end of the day, there is not such a big difference between a burger and a meatball. They're both made with ground beef, have been seasoned at some point, and are crafted into a roundish shape. But only chef Todd English seems to have capitalized on this similarity for his own burger creation. He calls it the Rat Pack burger and it comes smothered in tomato sauce, just like a meatball.

To make it, you just need to follow a recipe for classic Italian meatballs, and when it's time to make the patties, switch into burger mode and roll the meatball into one, large ball before frying it in a pan covered in your favorite canned tomato sauce or using this homemade version you can whip up in no time. Lastly, top your burger/meatball with burrata, tomato slices, arugula covered in Caesar dressing, and fried garlic chips.

Emeril Lagasse - Orange habanero ketchup

There's no denying that a good dose of ketchup can do a lot to add flavor to a plain burger. But if you're in the mood for something more sophisticated, or even if you don't usually like ketchup, this orange habanero version of the condiment might be just the thing for you.

To make it, start by sautéing onions, habanero chile, minced ginger, and minced garlic in olive oil before adding red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, kosher salt, mustard, and mace. Then pour in a can of whole plum tomatoes, juices and all, and cook for about 20 minutes. Purée the mixture until smooth, and you'll have your special habanero sauce ready to spoon onto your burger. But the beauty of this recipe is that the flavor soaks all the way through to the center of the burger. In fact, Emeril recommends pairing this sauce with burgers made with bacon, onion, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic marinade that is poured over diced beef chuck before the meat is passed through a home meat grinder and turned into patties.

Paula Deen - Cracker crumbs

One of the many perks of burgers is that they can be made just as easily on the campfire as they can on the grill. All you have to do is combine ground beef, a beaten egg, lemon juice, your choice of grated cheese, green peppers, and your favorite seasoning mix and craft it all into burger patties. But what makes this recipe special is that it also calls for the addition of cracker crumbs, which give the burger a thicker texture and a bit of crunch.

And when we said you can make this on the campfire, we weren't kidding. To cook them, just pull out some thick aluminum foil and put the burger patties on top along with thinly sliced potatoes, onions, carrots, and bacon. Then close up the foil and cook the burgers for about 45 minutes. But don't worry, you don't have to actually build a fire to make this recipe. You can also cook these burgers in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, also wrapped in foil, for about the same amount of time.

Josh Capon - Bacon jam

You may know that bacon goes exceedingly well with burgers, but did you know that this is true for bacon in practically any form? The form we want to consider here is bacon jam, as seen in Josh Capon's award-winning burger.

To prepare the jam, cook the bacon with some onion before adding balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper. But the joys of this recipe don't stop here. It is an award-winning burger, after all, specifically of Rachael Ray's Burger Bash competition, so it's going to have to do better than that. In fact, it involves secret sauce, the very sound of which makes everything better. In this case, we're dealing with a mixture of ketchup, mayo, relish, red wine vinegar, Sriracha, and seasoning –- maybe not so secret, but definitely good. Lastly, cook your burgers, brush them with mustard, and place them in your buns along with your secret sauce before topping them with bacon jam and pickles.