Green Chile Burger

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We don’t think anyone would argue with us when we say that Bobby Flay knows his burgers, and this one showcases his love of Southwestern fare with roasted poblano peppers, pickled red onions, and queso cheese. Not only is this burger a best recipe in our books, but it also won the People’s Choice award at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash event.

Click here to see 50 Best Burger Recipes


For the BBQ Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Cups canned plum tomatoes and juices, puréed
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1/4 Cup ketchup
  • 1/4 Cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 Cup molasses
  • 3 Tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 3 Tablespoons pasilla chili powder
  • 2-4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, puréed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the coleslaw

  • 1/4 Cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 small white onion, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons celery seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small head cabbage, cored, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, finely shredded

For the burger

  • 2 Pounds ground chuck, 80 percent lean
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Coleslaw
  • Dill pickles, thinly sliced, for garnish

Eat a Better Burger

Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it: New Mexico has a lot of mediocre green chile cheeseburgers. Overcooked patties. Spiceless peppers. Unmelted cheese. Soggy buns. Get out of here with your soggy buns! I suppose that’s the consequence of their ubiquity. Green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico are like gumbo in New Orleans: You can find it on every block, but inevitably there might be a few just okay versions.

The thing is, we also have the best green chile cheeseburgers. And that’s why we’re here. We want you to eat a better burger. Because hot damn, after a long day outside, is anything better than a juicy, spicy hamburger on a perfectly toasted, airy bun? Feeling good? I am! Let’s add some avocado, crispy bacon, onions, and, hey why not, a fried egg, too. That stack of indulgence right there might just be the most New Mexican thing we know. Now let’s talk about how to build your own. —JCD


Step 1: Sage Bakehouse, in Santa Fe (and sold throughout the state), makes our favorite buns. Choose to use yours right out of the bag, as in the photo here, or give the interior a light toast on the grill.

Step 2: Sacrilege? Maybe not. Lettuce keeps the bun from getting too soggy. We know, we know. Some of you adore that soggy bun. Whatever. Go for it.

Step 3: La Montañita Co-op carries beef raised on Native American ranches. We won&apost tell if you go meatless or choose buffalo, lamb, or all of the above. Note: Chicken makes a chicken sandwich, not a burger.

Step 4: Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory’s gouda melts beautifully and adds a mellow tang.

Step 5: The star of our show: GMO-free 505 Flame-Roasted Green Chile comes in a jar, so it’s available no matter the season. Whether mild, medium, or hot, apply liberally.

Step 6: Eat your veggies. Tomato and onion are great. So are avocados, roasted jalapeños, and pickles. But watch it, cowboy. You’re building a burger, not a salad bar.

Step 7: Favorite condiments? Ketchup, mustard, horseradish, and sriracha. Mayo and ranch dressing, too, we guess, but only if you must.

You Broke (under $10)

  • Blake’s Lotaburger : Everywhere Itsaburger, $3.09
  • Shake Foundation : Santa Fe Junior Foundation, $4.45
  • Owl Café : Albuquerque and San Antonio Green Chile Cheeseburger, $5.90
  • Foster’s : Chama Green Chile Cheeseburger, $8.75

You Doin’ All Right ($10–$15)

  • Sparky’s : Hatch Combo #1 World Famous!, $10.99
  • Range Café : Albuquerque, Bernalillo, and Las Vegas the Original Range Burger, $12.99

You Goin’ for It ($15 and up)

  • Joseph’sSanta Fe NM Lamb Burger, $16
    Sheep’s milk cheese and green chile
  • The Compound : Santa Fe Compound Burger, $16
    Local Lone Mountain Ranch Wagyu beef, avocado, tomato, griddled bulb onions, and aioli, with french fries
  • Izanami : Santa Fe Umami burger, $18
    Wagyu beef blended with shiitake mushrooms, shiitake-onion ragout, tempura green chile relleno stuffed with Spanish goat cheese, house-made brioche bun, homemade pickles

When we asked our readers where they have to go for a green chile cheeseburger, some familiar names floated to the top. Sparky’s, in Hatch, got a lot of love. Although it represents quite the drive for most of us, every time I’ve gone, I’ve run into friends from all over the state. The Owl Café grills 𠆞m up in Albuquerque and San Antonio, but the San Antonio locale seems to be most folks’ fave. And then came the laments for the closing of the Buckhorn Tavern, which sits right across the street from the San Antonio Owl. In the middle of that street, the two-lane US 380, lay many a tasty argument over who made the better burger.

Last year, though, Buckhorn owner Bobby Olguin made it through a cancer scare and decided he𠆝 rather spend whatever time he had left with the people he loved best. Unfortunately, that wasn’t those of us who crowded into his longtime family-owned restaurant seeking the burger that literally Beat Bobby Flay, as the Food Network show is titled. Good news: In April, Ernie and Stephanie Sichler announced that they had purchased it, with a planned reopening this June. 

May the Owl vs. Buckhorn burger battle live on. —KN

These aren’t your ordinary dills.

With all the talk about gut health, the usual contenders, aka the three K’s—kombucha, kimchi, and kefir—typically outshine the humble pickle. But let us not forget that, when fermented in saltwater brine (and not vinegar), the pickle carries a lot of probiotic muscle. 

Pat Block, a retired assistant director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, who has a love of fermentation, founded Barrio Brinery, in Santa Fe, on those pickling principles. Since then, his pickles, escabeche (mixed vegetables, including jalapeños, carrots, and onions), and sauerkraut have added the tangy crunch that cheeseburgers, tacos, and hot dogs would be incomplete without. Pop into the shop at 1413 W. Alameda St., where you can taste everything before you buy it, and pick up some classic kosher pickles, garlic pickles, or hot and spicy pickles made with New Mexico red chile for that extra kick.

WHERE TO BUY: Barrio Brinery, Cheesemongers, or Dr. Field Goods Butcher Shop, in Santa Fe, Los Poblanos Farmshop, in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and FARMesilla, in Las Cruces. Skarsgard Farms and Squash Blossom also deliver. 𠅊IG

Begin by mixing the cumin, chile powder, salt, garlic power, and smoked paprika in a small dish.

Form the meat into a patty shape, pressing down in the middle so that it's got a dent in the middle. Sprinkle all sides with the seasoning salt and set aside,

Grill or heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the seasoned beef patty and cook for a few minutes on each side, trying to only flip once, until the burger is cooked to your likeness.

When the meat is done, remove the cast iron from the heat, leaving the patty inside - and place 2 slices of the pepper jack cheese to the top of the patty, cover with a lid or tinfoil and let the residual heat melt the cheese for a few minutes.

Once the cheese starts to soften and ooze down, place the green chiles on top of the burger and put the lid back on.

Meanwhile, toast the bun under the broiler - being extra careful not to let the brioche burn.

Once the bun is toasted, smear each interior side with a half the mayo and add the green chile pepper jack patty to the bottom of bun. Top with tomatoes, a sprinkle of salt and the top half of the brioche bun.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 ½ pounds freshly ground chuck
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pasilla chiles, roasted on a gas burner or under a broiler until blackened, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Buy the right meat. For juicy burgers, get ground chuck with a fat content of at least 18%. Lean and extra-lean meat make tough, dry burgers. Also, the more freshly ground the meat is, the more tender and flavorful the burger: If your store has butchers, ask them to grind the meat fresh for you. (Or just grind your own, following our no-fuss method, see below.)

Mix in your seasonings very, very gently. The more you handle the meat, the tougher your burger will be. In a large bowl, pull the meat apart into small chunks, add salt, chiles, and cheese, and toss gently with fingers spread apart until loosely mixed.

Use wet hands to form patties. This keeps your hands from getting sticky. It also allows the meat to come together faster and prevents overhandling.

Make patties thinner in the center. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and form patties about 3/4 inch thick at the edges and 1/2 inch thick in the center. They'll shrink and even out when cooking.

Keep meat cold until it goes on the grill. Put the patties in the fridge while the grill heats up. This helps more of the flavor-carrying fat stay in the meat.

Use a clean, well-oiled, preheated grill. Bits of debris encourage sticking, as does an unoiled surface and too low a temperature you want your burgers to quickly sizzle, firm up, and release from the grill.

Keep grill at a steady high heat (you can hold your hand 1 to 2 inches above grill level for 2 to 3 seconds). If using charcoal, you want ash-covered coals to produce even heat. With a gas grill, keep the lid down while cooking with a charcoal grill, leave the lid off.

Flip burgers once and at the right time. Constant turning will toughen and dry out meat, and if you flip too soon, burgers will stick. Cook 2 minutes per side for rare, 3 for medium-rare, 4 for medium, and 5 for well-done.

Don't press on the burgers while they're cooking. The juice that seeps out holds most of the flavor and moisture.

Let burgers rest a few minutes before eating. This allows them to finish cooking and allows their juices, which have collected on the surface during grilling, to redistribute throughout patty.

The real secret: Grind your own meat.

Grinding meat at home is not only easier than most people think, but also makes the moistest and most flavorful burgers. And, given the periodic safety concerns about commercially ground meat, home-ground is the way to go if you like your burgers cooked rare or medium. Manual meat grinders (about $30) are available at kitchen supply stores, and grinder attachments (about $50) for standing mixers work very well.

For four 6-ounce burgers, buy 1 1/2 pounds chuck roast or sirloin, keeping a thin layer of fat on the meat.

For added safety, bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil the roast for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove meat and rinse with cold water.

Cut the meat into 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss meat pieces with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Chill the grinder for 30 minutes before starting (a cold grinder grinds more efficiently).

Set up grinder according to manufacturer's instructions, using the coarse plate or setting. Feed meat into funnel and grind, stopping to clear the grinder if necessary. Put ground meat through grinder once more and proceed with step 2 above.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cans (4 ounces each) diced green chiles, drained
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped, plus sprigs for serving
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Neutral oil, such as safflower, for brushing
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, cut crosswise into 4 slices (each about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 4 sesame buns, split
  • Sour cream, green-leaf lettuce, and Dijon mustard (optional), for serving

Heat grill to medium-high. Combine chicken, cumin, chiles, chopped cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon salt season with pepper. Divide mixture into 4 patties. Brush grates with oil and grill burgers, flipping once, until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into thickest parts registers 165 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly brush tomato slices with oil grill, flipping once, until charred, 2 minutes. Season with salt. Grill buns, cut-sides down, just until toasted, about 1 minute. Serve burgers on grilled buns with tomato slices, cilantro sprigs, sour cream, lettuce, and mustard.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and brown the stew meat and the onions until onions are translucent about 5 minutes

Pour in the diced tomatoes with chiles, beef broth and chile peppers. Stir in the garlic salt and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add a little more beef broth or water if needed during simmering.

Stir in cubed potatoes to the mixture and simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

An Inspired Cook

You’d better come hungry because this is the ultimate burger with 2 patties of ground beef glued together with cheese and green chile. You may not see it now but within this burger lies a volcano of cheese and green chile just waiting to erupt. I found a recipe for a stuffed burger in Chile Pepper Magazine 1996 and ever since then my family has hounded me to make them again and again. The original recipe wrapped a couple strips of bacon around the patties so if that sounds good, go for it. I know that for me, I can only eat half, between the burger itself and all the toppings that are piled on it’s a lot for any one person but it’s sure fun to try.

I start with 1/4 pound of ground beef. Place between 2 pieces of wax paper to form a thin patty.

Make the patties thin and about 6 inches

I try to make them the same size.

I usually make these up ahead and keep them cool in the fridge until ready to assemble and grill. Just place them between sheets of wax paper to keep them separated.

For 4 burgers I diced up 4 Hatch green chiles.

I used Monterey Jack cheese but Cheddar is good too!

Add a layer of cheese onto a patty. I’m generous with the cheese in case some leaks out.

Next a layer of green chile, as much as you like.

Set the second patty on top of all that cheese and green chile and start to pinch together the edges until it’s securely sealed.

4 – 5 minutes on each side over a hot grill.

The toppings were fresh guacamole, lettuce tomato, and onion.

And this is what happens when you take a bite. It just oozes cheese and green chile.

Green Chile and Cheese Stuffed Burgers

2 pounds Ground Beef
4 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
4 Hatch Green Chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
Salt and Pepper
Toppings: Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Fresh Guacamole
4 Hamburger Buns

Press ground beef between wax paper to make 8 thin patties. Take one patty and add a layer of grated cheese, green chile and another layer of cheese. Top with second patty and secure edges. Season with salt and pepper and place on hot grill. Grill 4 – 5 minutes on each side. Place on toasted hamburger bun and top layer with choice of toppings.
Makes (4) 1/2 pound burgers

Green Chile Burgers

New Mexico's much-famed green chili burger, now made at home with homemade green chili sauce and plain burger meat.

So first? I made Green Chile Sauce, it was the beginning of my quest for green chile burgers just like the cult-favorites in New Mexico.

At first I fussed with ideas for gussied-up gourmet burgers, y’know, where you grind this with that, add this and poke there. My butcher laughed at these notions and packed up a big hunk of good ground beef. “You won’t be able to tell the difference,” he promised.

So simple good is simple does. Good ground beef. Salt and pepper. A toasted bun. Warm freshly made Green Chile Sauce. It.Gets.No.Better.

EATING TIPS FOR DIABETICS To avoid bread, diabetics and those who follow low-carb and low-glycemic diets often forgo sandwiches entirely. But for anyone with a serious burger hankering, here's a quick tip that reduces bread consumption. (I'm not diabetic but this technique is so simple, I'm doing it too.) Use whole-grain bread rolls, not bread slices and use a fork to scoop out the centers of the rolls without piercing the crusts. (Don't waste the centers – save them for bread crumbs for another dish.) Now fill the roll with the burger, sandwich filling, etc. Easy, yes?!


  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 4 soft hamburger buns, split
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound good ground beef (I used a 90% mix)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 slices pepper jack cheese, optional
  • 1 cup Green Chile Sauce, warmed

In a large heavy skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter on medium high until beginning to sizzle. Add the buns, cut-side down, and let toast until beginning to turn golden. Set aside.

Meanwhile, gently form the ground beef into four flat patties about a half inch thick. (Handle the ground meat as little as possible, so not to compress it. You want to be able to see the strands, not mush them all together.) Season one side with salt and pepper.

Add another 1/2 tablespoon butter to the skillet until beginning to bubble. Place the seasoned side of the patties onto the skillet, they should sizzle. Season the upper side. Without moving, let the patties cook until a thin crust forms on the underside, about 3 minutes. Turn over (this is where you’d add a slice of cheese, if so inclined) and cook for another minute or two, until meat has reached desired doneness.

Place patties on bottom buns, top with hot green chili sauce, top with top buns. Prepare to be transported all the way to New Mexico.

  1. Heat a grill, stovetop grill pan, or cast-iron skillet. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Form 4 patties, being careful not to overwork the meat.
  2. When the pan is hot, add the burgers. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side (until nicely charred), then flip and immediately top each with a tablespoon of chiles and a slice of Swiss.
  3. For medium-rare burgers, continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the patties are just firm.
  4. Remove the burgers and toast the buns on the hot grill or pan.
  5. Dress the bottom of the buns with the tomato and onion slices, then top each with a burger.

Eat This Tip

We wanted to fill this entire book with delicious burger recipes, but we decided to show some restraint. Here are some other great creations that didn't make the cut.

  • Beef burgers with mozzarella, pesto, and roasted red peppers
  • Beef burgers with pickled jalapeños, a slice of ham, and a fried egg
  • Turkey burgers with pepper Jack cheese and fresh guacamole
  • Salmon burgers with wasabi-spiked mayo

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

Recipe Summary

  • 2 1/4 pounds ground chuck, preferably organic
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound mild American blue cheese, such as Maytag Blue Cheese, cut into 4 thin slices
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 brioche buns, split
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Green-Chile Relish, warmed up

Light a grill. Gently form the beef into 4 thick patties and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred on the outside and medium-rare within, about 5 minutes per side. Just before the burgers are done, top each one with a slice of cheese and let it melt.

Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet and brush it lightly with oil. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook sunny-side up over moderate heat, about 4 minutes. Spread the cut sides of the buns with the melted butter and toast on the grill. Transfer the burgers to the buns. Top with the Green-Chile Relish and the fried eggs and serve.