These Italian Burgers are a delicious fusion recipe that combines the flavors of Italy with an all-American hamburger.
This recipe takes inspiration from some of our favorite Italian foods like Caprese salad, Giant Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs, and zesty homemade marinara sauce. But we take things to a whole new level by layering the melty mozzarella, fresh tomato, and aromatic basil onto a juicy burger patty.
The bold flavors of the garlic-toasted bun covered in our favorite spaghetti sauce are enough to make your mouth water, but then the combo of the savory beef, gooey melted mozzarella, and spicy herbs will leave your belly happy and satisfied.
And because Italian Burgers use fresh seasonal basil, they are the perfect cookout recipe to feature at your gatherings all summer long, especially if you want to show off the bounty of your backyard herb garden.
Why You’ll Love Italian Burgers
Easy - Once you swap a few ingredients (sesame bun for a Ciabatta roll, the iceberg lettuce for some fresh basil, and the condiments for spaghetti sauce) there’s nothing tricky or unfamiliar about these Italian burgers. They’re just as easy to make and satisfying as a classic cheeseburger.
Variety - After a few weeks of eating burgers at every graduation party, camp out, parade, cookout and summer kickoff event, you’ll be glad that these Italian Burgers offer something different. The ground beef you love is still here, but the basil, marinara and garlic bun offer just enough variety to keep things interesting. Not to mention that these are super…
Customizable - Like any burger recipe, these Italian burgers can be tweaked and tuned with your favorite toppings to exactly your preference. Add some sharp red onion for a little crunch, some sauteed mushrooms for a bit more savoriness, or spread some homemade basil pesto or balsamic reduction on that roll for some added flair.
Key Ingredients for Italian Burgers
- Ground beef - Choose a fattier (80/20) beef for the juiciest burger.
- Ciabatta Bun - This bread adds a rustic flavor and is better at holding red sauce than a traditional burger bun.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic cloves and dried garlic powder are both used to add some big flavors to the meat AND the bun of these Italian Burgers.
- Marinara sauce - A zesty red tomato sauce is one of the hallmarks of this recipe. We prefer a chunkier sauce since it sort of pulls double duty as a condiment AND replaces the need for a fresh slice of tomato.
- Mozzarella - Get the thick kind that comes in a roll or in large mozza balls, and slice your own slab to top the burger patty.
- Fresh basil - Too many Italian-inspired recipes overdo the oregano and parsley, but we've found that a few fresh basil leaves does the trick nicely and will even make you forget about the need for lettuce.
How to Make Italian Burgers
- Shape the patties. Shape 4 equal burger patties from 1 lb of ground beef, and season with a mix of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Fry the burgers. Cook your burgers for about 3 minutes a side in a hot oiled skillet, adding mozzarella for the last minute.
- Make the garlic bread buns. Make fresh garlic butter and brush it on your ciabatta buns. Broil the buns for 3-4 minutes until toasty.
- Assemble burgers by spreading marinara on the buns, add the patties, and top the meat with fresh basil leaves.
What Goes with Italian Burgers?
Our Balsamic Grilled Veggies are another great cookout veggie that feeds a crowd and is a nice alternative to the obligatory veggie tray.
And if you need a beverage for your guests, you can't go wrong with a pitcher of our refreshing White Wine Sangria.
- 4 ciabatta buns
- 3 Tablespoons salted butter (melted)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Vegetable oil to coat
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup marinara sauce (warmed)
- 12 basil leaves
- Prep the buns. In a small bowl, mix together butter and garlic cloves. Brush the mixture on both sides of all the buns. Set aside.
- Prep the burgers. Divide the beef into four equal sections and use your hands to gently shape each section into a ball. Use the palm of your hand to press each ball into a burger shape. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round. Press your thumb into the center of each burger to prevent doming.
- Season. Mix together the salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the burgers with the seasoning mixture.
- Fry the burgers. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add just enough vegetable oil to coat. When the oil shimmers, place the patties in the skillet. Fry about 3 minutes or until liquid starts to pool on the top of the burgers, then flip and fry an additional 2-3 minutes or until internal temperature reaches desired doneness (see temp chart below). Place a slice of mozzarella on the burgers for the last minute and cover with a lid or sheet pan to allow it to melt. Remove the burgers to a plate and loosely tent with foil.
- Broil the buns. While the burgers are frying, place the buns buttered side up on a baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes. Some will likely brown quicker than others, so you might have to remove some sooner and let the others continue to brown another minute or so.
- Assemble. To assemble the burgers, spread both sides of the toasted garlic buns with the marinara. Top the bottom bun with the burgers and fresh basil leaves and sandwich with the top bun.
Need More Italian Recipes?
For simplicity, you can't beat our Chicken Margherita. It's quick, easy, flavorful, and makes a solid meal that almost anyone can love.
Italian Nachos are a perfect party dish that puts Italian flavors on a bed of cheesy pita chips.
Maybe our new favorite Italian dish is this Cottage Cheese Stuffed Shells with Ground Beef casserole. This isn't just another boring casserole. The cheese filling in these stuffed shells is DIVINE!
If you love these Italian Burgers, then try our Caprese Panini! Same flavors, but in a package that's more grilled cheese sandwichy.
If it's the Mozzarella cheese that you can't get enough of, then don't miss our Mozzarella Burgers!
For a soup option, Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup is a warm comforting soup that's perfect for sharing, and packed with Italian seasonings.