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Lamb Burger With Harissa Mayo and Pickled Red Cabbage

May 15, 2024

Hearty and bold, this Morocco-inspired grilled lamb burger gets a little kick from harissa mayo and a topping of crisp pickled cabbage.


A Lamb Burger With Harissa Mayo, Pickled Red Cabbage and chèvre cheese on a brioche bun on a plate on the counter
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Refresh Your Burger Night!

Classic burgers never get old, but if you love them as much as we do, you’re always looking for more ways to enjoy one of summer's very best foods! This lamb burger recipe is just made for peak summer, when it’s too hot to even begin to think about warming up your oven. Lamb and the grill are natural partners—they just go together so well. If you’ve never cooked with ground lamb before, don’t be intimidated—it’s much like any other ground meat and you’ll be a pro in no time. OK, let’s make some burgers!

ground lamb, red cabbage, brioche buns, chèvre, mayo, mint, red wine vinegar and other ingredients in bowls on the counter

How To Season a Lamb Burger Patty

Meaty and a bit gamey, lamb meat has a powerful flavor that we love. It holds up beautifully to the heat of the grill and it can be paired easily with other bold flavors without being lost. To us, that’s really exciting! It means we can bring all of our favorite big, strong, savory ingredients to this lamb burger party—no need to hold back! So to make these super delicious lamb burger patties, you’ll need:

  • Ground lamb.

  • Worcestershire sauce

  • Onion powder

  • Garlic powder

  • Black pepper

  • Salt

mayonnaise, harissa and chopped mint in a bowl to make harissa mayo for topping homemade lamb burgers
mayonnaise, harissa and chopped mint stirred together in a bowl to make harissa mayo for topping homemade lamb burgers
red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar being poured over shredded red cabbage in a saucepan to make pickled red cabbage
water being poured over red cabbage, apple cider and red wine vinegars, sugar & seasonings in a pan for pickled red cabbage

What’s the Perfect Doneness Temperature for a Lamb Burger?

If you cook lamb often, you may know that the general rule of thumb for lamb doneness is that for medium-rare lamb, you should be looking for 145˚F on an instant-read thermometer. You may also know that lamb can get tough if it’s overcooked, and so you might be inclined to aim for that lower number. However! Ground lamb is the exception to the lamb done temp rules—to be super safe, the USDA is very clear that you really need to cook it all the way to a medium doneness, or 160˚F on an instant-read thermometer. But, as soon as you see that number, pull those burgers off the grill!

ground lamb, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl to make lamb burgers
lamb burger patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet seasoned with Worcestershire, onion & garlic powders, salt & pepper

What to Put On Lamb Burgers

While they’re solidly, recognizably in the burger family of foods, lamb burgers are a bit of their own thing. We wouldn’t reach for ketchup and cheddar cheese for these. Instead, we like to top our lamb burgers with:

  • Harrisa! We adore harissa. This North African chili paste is always in our pantry. It’s smoky and spicy and it’s just the best. Lamb meat is a natural partner for Moroccan flavors and this harissa mayo has two other classic Moroccan ingredients—harissa (of course) and fresh mint. It’s simple to make and terrifically tasty, like our Sheet Pan Harissa and Cabbage recipe.

  • Pickled cabbage. Crunchy and colorful, pickled cabbage lightens the mood of a grilled lamb burger a bit in a way that’s really nice. It adds a welcome acidity that cuts through the richness of the lamb meat. YUM.

  • Cheese! Chèvre (fresh goat cheese) is our favorite cheese to use on a lamb burger, but feta is nice, too. You want something fresh and light—lamb burgers don’t really need anything else too powerful to top them off!

a jar of homemade picked red cabbage on the counter for hamburgers with harissa may and pickled red cabbage
an open lamb burger topped with picked red cabbage and chèvre with Harrisa mayo being spread next to bowls of more fixings

3 Tips for Making The Best Lamb Burgers Ever

  1. Don’t overmix the lamb meat. As with any ground meat recipe—meatballs, patties of all kinds!—a gentle touch is the way to go. Mix the lamb and seasonings with your hands until the mixture looks relatively uniform and the spices seem distributed, but it doesn’t have to be exactly perfect.

  2. Don’t overcook the lamb meat! Use an instant-read thermometer and keep a close eye on the heat of the grill as well as the patties. Pull those patties as soon as they’re done!

  3. Do make the pickled cabbage ahead of time.

A Lamb Burger With Harissa Mayo, Pickled Red Cabbage and chèvre cheese on a brioche bun on a plate on the counter

Tools You’ll Need

More Burger Recipes to Try

A Lamb Burger With Harissa Mayo and  Pickled Red Cabbage with chevre next to bowls of chèvre cheese and pickled red cabbage

Happy Grilling!

We hope this delicious lamb burger recipe treats you well! We adore it and hope that you—and everyone you share it with—love it too! When you make it, we’d love to hear about it. Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Lamb Burger With Harissa Mayo and Pickled Red Cabbage

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 855


Harissa Mayo

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup harissa
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Pickled Red Cabbage

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Lamb Burgers

  • Vegetable oil, for grilling
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For Serving

  • 8 ounces crumbled chèvre cheese
  • 6 brioche buns


  1. Make the pickled red cabbage: In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the cabbage, both vinegars, sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately transfer the cabbage and liquid to a heat-proof container with a tight fitting lid. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to cool completely before using. The pickled cabbage will keep for two weeks, stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

  2. Make the harissa mayo: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, harissa, and mint.

  3. Preheat the grill on high. Lightly coat the grates with vegetable oil.

  4. Make the lamb burger patties: In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, Worcestershire, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and salt. Using your hands, gently mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Divide the lamb burger mixture into six equal portions and shape into ¾-inch thick patties.

  5. Place the lamb burger patties on the grill and cook without moving until the bottoms are nicely charred, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the burger reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  6. Meanwhile, place the brioche buns on the grill, cut side down. Cook until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Generously spread harissa mayo on the inside of each bun.

  7. Place the grilled burgers on the bottom halves of the buns. Top with chèvre and about ¼ cup of drained pickled cabbage per burger. Finish with the top halves of the buns and serve.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories855
  • Protein44 g
  • Carbohydrates41 g
  • Total Fat60 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol49 mg
  • sodium1175 mg
  • Total Sugars10 g

Lamb Burger With Harissa Mayo and Pickled Red Cabbage

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Kasey

    Would sauerkraut work in place of the pickled cabbage, in a pinch?
    Can’t wait to make this!

    It should be alright!

  • Rachel

    I could only find dried harissa at the grocery store. Any suggestions for how much to use? Thanks!

    Hi Rachel, unfortunately we wouldn't recommend swapping harissa paste for dried harissa in this recipe. The paste is usually made with other spices as well.

  • Kasey

    This might be my favorite TMP recipe of all time... so flavorful and delicious. A total crowd-pleaser!

    Thanks Kasey! We are so happy you loved it!

  • Alan

    First, I'd like to say that I really like everything about The Modern Proper.
    I strongly identify with the core philosophy and approach at The Modern Proper and like how that translates into recipe design.
    As a visual learner, the photography and site make the discovery and cooking process frictionless and fun. So first, a direct "Thanks!" to Holly and Natalie.
    I've made this Lamb Burger recipe 3 times in the last 10 days and have been really happy with the outcome each time.
    Most recently, I made it for some visiting family that are pretty discerning lamb burger people, and they loved it too.
    The pickled cabbage is so good, I now make a double batch and use it on lots of other sandwiches and burgers. We've also tried a honey goat cheese, which is a nice variation.

    WOW! Thank you Alan, this is so kind of you to say all of this. We are so glad you find our site helpful and thrilled to hear how much you are loving these burgers!

  • Jenn

    These were so so good!

    Thanks Jenn! We are so glad you liked them!