16 Healthy Burger Bun Alternatives

It might seem like burger buns are an integral part of backyard barbecues, summertime cookouts, or quick-and-easy meals, but it turns out that with a little creativity, they're not necessary at all. In fact, getting rid of them in favor of some healthier alternatives is exactly the kind of small change that can start adding up to make a big difference.

Let's start by giving burger buns the benefit of the doubt and taking a look at what you're adding to a meal if you opt for the whole wheat variety. While Verywell Fit stresses that exact numbers vary by brand, the USDA says that a whole wheat bun is approximately 140 calories, a little over two grams of fat, and a whopping 248 mg of sodium. For some context, the American Heart Association says that while the average adult should limit their sodium intake to 2300 mg per day, 1500 mg is an ideal limit for improving heart health.

So, what if you don't want to give up that hamburger, turkey burger, or chicken sandwich? That's all right! Let's talk about some healthy alternatives that can make that burger better for you and add some much-needed variety to your meal planning. It's a win all around.


Anyone who has ever planted zucchini in their yard knows that these prolific producers have even the biggest zucchini-loving families wondering what to do with their abundant yield. After all, there's only so much zucchini bread one can make. But here's some good news — you can absolutely turn them into faux burger buns.

Simply Quinoa suggests ditching burger buns for slices of zucchini, noting that these thick-sliced veggies work particularly well with things like turkey burgers, as they help combat that notorious dryness that comes with a well-cooked burger.

Slice the zucchini thick, then grill it using a grill pan or on the outdoor grill — right alongside your burgers. Just two to three minutes on each side will produce the grill marks and firmness needed to stand up to the burger and whatever toppings you decide to pair with it. (Pro tip: Gardeners, share this idea with your neighbors, so they'll take more of that zucchini off your hands!)


This one comes with a shout-out to Five Guys, who have made it known that they offer a gluten-free, keto-friendly, low-carb option for anyone who loves their burgers (and all those toppings) but might not be a fan of the bun. That is, of course, the lettuce wrap. And it isn't just for a trip to Five Guys — it's easy enough to do at home, too, especially if you're making and shaping your own burgers.

There's nothing that says burgers have to be round, after all: Form some oval-shaped patties, so they'll fit even better inside a long leaf. While Five Guys uses iceberg lettuce, reaching for romaine is a better option. Not only will the leaves provide better coverage and grip, but according to Taste of Home, they also come with nutrients — like iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. Iceberg just can't compete with that — not to mention the robust flavor that comes with some of the other types of lettuce. 


Ditching the burger bun for a tortilla is a great idea, especially for those hot summer nights when you want something that's not going to fill you up and make you uncomfortable. Make your own patties, shape them into a long oval or rectangle, and wrap them like a burrito. Brilliant, right?

But this one comes with a bit of a caveat. Not all tortillas are created equal, and it's important to read the labels. According to the Cleveland Clinic, tortillas can come with more calories and carbs than that burger bun you're skipping. The key is to make sure you're opting for whole-grain wraps and skipping the white flour ones.

Surprisingly, they also recommend you pass over the ones that sound "healthy," like so-called spinach wraps. They're typically made with a tiny amount of vegetables, so it's better to put the actual veggie on the burger. Read labels and choose wisely, and this can be a great option for going light.

Rice paper

The downside to using a burger bun on a patty loaded with toppings is that the meat can become an afterthought instead of the star of the show. And that's a shame. Fortunately, opting for rice paper to hold the whole thing together isn't just healthier, it helps put the focus right back where it belongs.

The Food in My Beard did quite a bit of experimentation before coming up with the perfect rice paper-wrapped burgers, and it's easier than it sounds. They took the cooked patty and put it in the middle of a double layer of rice paper that had been quickly dipped in water. Then, they added toppings and wrapped up the paper. Depending on the size of your burger, it might not be enough — just add another paper, flip, and wrap again.

Love the idea and looking for a variation on it? Mind over Munch suggests using browned ground beef instead of patties, adding all your favorite burger toppings, then rolling the rice papers into a summer roll.

Sweet potato

There's nothing that goes better with a burger than fries. And sweet potato fries? That's a big, "heck, yes!" That said, let's talk about how Taste of Home is combining fries and burgers to ditch the bun.

They opt to make this work with sliders but depending on the size of the potatoes, it's perfectly possible to use it for a full-on burger, too. Especially if you cut the potatoes into the recommended ½-inch slices before shaping your patties. That way, you know what size and shape to make the burgers.

Bake the slices of potatoes until they're tender, but — and this is super important — don't bake them too long. You're not going to want the same texture that you might use for mashed potatoes, because you'll end up with a mess. Just 30 to 35 minutes in a 425-degree oven, and your potato slices will be perfect for putting on either side of whatever burger you want. Burger and fries? Check!

Sticky rice

Sure, some social media trends are cringe — raw water, anyone? — but sometimes, they hit the jackpot. That's definitely the case with Instagram's #sushiburger. And it's exactly what it sounds like: burger buns are replaced with patties made from sushi rice.

How does that work? The Roasted Root gave it a try and came up with some great suggestions for making sure it worked well enough for a burger that doesn't just look neat but is possible to eat, too.

They recommend cooking the rice in exactly the same way you would for sushi (and yes, sushi rice does work best for this because of the high starch content and stickiness). Cook the rice with water, vinegar, and a dash of sea salt, then chill until it's completely cold. They also recommend using a cookie cutter to shape and pack the rice firmly, noting that a 3.5-inch shape is perfect for a half-pound burger. Use just a dash of high-heat oil to fry them in a pan for around 12 minutes on each side, then add your burger patties and toppings.

Bell peppers

The first bite is with the eye, the old saying goes, and this burger bun substitution is both colorful and cool. Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, and all are perfectly acceptable substitutions for your burger bun — especially, once they're given a nice char on the grill (or in a grill pan).

Another bonus? We're talking about minimal prep here. Slice off the top and the bottom then cut the pepper in half. Press them flat, give them a light spray with your favorite cooking spray, then put them on the grill. For how long? That depends on whether you want them to still have a little bit of a crunch, or if you would rather they were a bit on the softer side. Then, just sandwich the burger patty in there, and don't forget the toppings. (Can we suggest a few avocado slices? We just did!)


The idea of eating the stuff you get tangled in when you're trying to have a nice, relaxing dip in the ocean sounds a little weird, but here's the thing: According to Healthline, eating seaweed comes with all kinds of health benefits, including a ton of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and iodine (which is crucial for thyroid health). It's also full of antioxidants and has been shown to improve gut health, too. But, how do you use it without your family turning up their collective noses?

Well, use your nori wraps in lieu of a burger bun. It's what educator and weightlifter Steph Gaudreau recommends, saying it's a particularly brilliant way to use up a leftover burger that happens to be lingering in the fridge. Best of all? It's quick and easy. Just slice a standard, round burger in half, add your toppings and wrap it up like a burrito. Need to use up some leftover coleslaw or veggies? One last piece of cheese? The final pickle in the jar? Throw them on your nori burger and know you're not only taking steps toward no waste but getting some serious goodness while you're doing it.

Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are recognized as a grill-friendly option for vegans and vegetarians, but we're here to say that they're a great option for meat lovers, too.

Livestrong says that not only do they make great substitutions for burger buns, but there are a couple of different ways of making them that ensure you end up with the texture you're looking for. Brushing your portobellos with a bit of oil, sprinkling them with some seasoning, then putting them on the grill is a great way to make what they describe as a "knife-and-fork burger option."

Alternately, place them on a baking tray — gills up — and roast them for a time that depends on how crispy you'd like them to get. Love mushrooms? Never seem to find enough ideas for working them into a meal? Here's one solution that's lower in carbs, calories, and fat, but provides plenty of vitamins and nutrients.

Pineapple rings

Love pineapple and ham on your pizza? Even if you don't — but still love the idea of combining sweet and savory into one delicious dish — you'll need to give this one a try.

According to Kotanyi, replacing a burger bun with slices of pineapple is super easy. They recommend using fresh pineapple, cutting it into thick slices, and topping it with flavors that are going to work well with the sweet-savory mix (although you can also opt for giving it a quick char on the grill first).

They suggest mashed avocado, onion, tomato, and arugula as possible toppings for your burger. And while bacon is also a tasty possibility, it might be off-the-table if you're trying to make these replacements with the goal of getting healthier. But you could also make a trade-off between the bacon and the healthy bun swap. Because you know what? Adulting is hard. And sometimes, you deserve a bacon-pineapple burger.

Spiralized veg

Spiralizing veg to make faux pasta was all the rage, but here's some good news for anyone who happened to pick up a spiralizer: They make great burger bun replacements, too!

Gumsaba says they're pretty easy to make. Start by spiralizing your zucchini, mix it with a light sprinkling of salt, and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Drain all the liquid that's pulled out of the veg, and add... well, whatever you want! They recommend using an egg (or flax egg) for the binder and adding things like cashews and scallions. Then, season it with salt, pepper, garlic, and dill (or, if you like, some red pepper flakes or paprika), form them into burger-bun-sized patties, and brown in the frying pan.

That's it! Bonus? It's super easy to sneak some other veggies in there, by adding some spiralized carrots, squash, or sweet potato. Also, since zucchini picks up seasonings really well, it's easy to turn this into an Asian-inspired bun alternative with the right additions.

Butternut squash

You know that time of year — when fall is coming, but you're not quite ready to give up on your burgers and hot dogs. Fortunately, there's a brilliant way to combine the autumn produce at the farmer's market with your end-of-summer cookouts. Just swap out your burger buns for butternut squash.

Supergolden Bakes uses butternut squash buns for their lamb burgers, but this works just as well with any other kind of burger, too! And, it's easy.

Cut the squash into slices that are about ¾ of an inch thick. And while it doesn't have to be exact, evenly-sized slices will mean everything's going to cook properly. Line them up on a baking tray, and roast for about 20 minutes. That's it! Season as you so desire, add a drizzle of olive oil before roasting and after roasting, throw on your burgers and toppings, and finally, drizzle on some green tahini dressing. If that doesn't sound delicious, we're not sure what does.

Tomato slices

The only thing better than ketchup on a burger is a thick slice of tomato. And the only thing better than how it tastes is how it's no more difficult than taking a bun out of a package.

Simply grab your tomato, cut off a healthy-sized slice from the top and bottom, remove the stem, and there are your "burger buns." It's that easy!

Framed Cooks has some tips for making this idea work even better. They recommend cutting your tomatoes first and then letting them drain onto a plate and paper towel while you cook your burgers. That will remove extra moisture that might make this difficult to eat — you might even want to cut these early on in the day. Still, they're bound to be oh-so-gloriously juicy, and if anyone is inclined to judge you, just let them try it for themselves. Sometimes, the mess is absolutely worth it. 


Cauliflower has become a trendy replacement for a number of carb-heavy dishes, and it can absolutely be used as a burger bun substitution, too. Who knew that cauliflower could be so versatile?

The recipe is super simple and calls for cauliflower florets, parmesan cheese, eggs, almond flour, coconut flour, and Italian seasonings. Run the cauliflower through the food processor, microwave for three minutes, and remove extra liquid before mixing in the egg and cheese. Then, just form them into burger bun-sized patties (using a muffin tin can help).

You can also use cookie cutters to form the cauliflower into patties, which then can be lined up on a baking tray and put in the oven for around 20 minutes. When they're browned on the edges, they're ready to come out and serve. Who says veggie burgers are the only burger that can help you get your daily dose of veg?


Ever stop to consider the eggplant at the grocery store but decide to pass on it because you weren't sure how to use the whole thing? The easy answer: burger buns!

Pulses uses slices of eggplant as burger buns for their black bean burgers, but this idea will work with any kind of patty. Simply slice the eggplant, brush with a light coating of oil, and grill — either outdoors or in the grill pan. They should be tender but not overcooked. Three minutes on each side should be plenty to make sure these slices are cooked but won't fall apart on your burger.

There's one more thing to keep in mind: While options like sweet potatoes can be sliced a little thinner, eggplant buns should be at least an inch thick. That'll help them stand up to whatever toppings you put on. Try throwing on a dollop of marinara sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese for an eggplant parm burger. You're welcome!

Whole wheat pita

We've all been there: It's been a long, hard day, and we just want to enjoy our burger ... only to try to take a bite and have the whole thing squirt out the end, ricochet off the plate, and make a general mess. Want to guarantee you'll never have to deal with that again? Make your burger in a whole wheat pita.

That's what HEB suggests, and honestly, who wouldn't love an easier-to-eat burger? Especially on days that you'd like to eat outside? It really is as easy as sliding the burger inside a pita and loading it up with all your favorite toppings (without worrying that they'll slide out). Want a few more of those slippery pickles? Throw 'em on there!

Pro tip? Try making your own patties. Shape them into rounds that are a bit smaller than the pita, and before cooking, cut them in half. That way, when the burger shrinks after cooking, they should fit easily in the pita — with room for all the pickles that your heart desires.