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Where’s the Beef?

Jul 7, 2016

Our farm isn’t home to cattle or hogs. We feed lambs. South Dakota ranks fifth in U.S. sheep production, and my husband is one of those producers. Roughly 10,000 lambs per year are fattened in our feedlot, and a couple of them usually end up in my freezer.

I didn’t always cook with lamb. It wasn’t something that I grew up eating. The first time Hubs brought home a package of ground lamb, he told me to use it as I would hamburger. As I browned it up one evening to make chili, the pungent aroma made it clear that it was not beef. Lamb has a distinctive flavor that is delicious when prepared properly, but chili isn’t really its thing.

Greek-Style Lamb Burgers showcase the unique character of ground lamb. Garlic, shallots, and mint enhance the lamb, and the resulting burgers are mouthwatering. Tzatziki is a creamy traditional topping, along with thinly sliced red onions and tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese. Each bite is delectable.

I will never give up great beef cheeseburgers, but grilled lamb burgers are a summer tradition in our home, and I hope that you give it a try with some outstanding American lamb.


When prepared properly, ground lamb burgers are just as tasty as traditional beef.

Greek-Style Lamb Burgers

2 slices whole grain bread, crusts removed and cubed

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground lamb

olive oil


Preheat grill.

Moisten bread with milk in a bowl.

Mash to form a paste, and combine with shallots, garlic, mint, oregano, salt and pepper; mix well.

Add the ground lamb and carefully combine. Do not over mix, or burgers will be tough.

Form into 4 to 6 burgers patties.

Drizzle patties with olive oil and rub to coat.

Grill patties, about 4 minutes on each side.

Serve on a toasted bun (or in a pita pocket) with crumbled feta, thinly sliced red onion and tomato and tzatziki. (Serves 4-6)



2 cups sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1 seedless cucumber, grated and squeezed dry

2 cloves garlic, grated with microplane

2 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped


Combine all ingredients.

Cover and chill for about an hour for flavors to blend.

Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their three dogs ranch near Colome.


11:54 am - Thu, July 7 2016
Laura Andrews said:
We had bottle lambs one year. They lived in our basement (Dad's idea, not Mom's), came up for birthday parties, and generally considered themselves human. I wouldn't have wanted to eat Lambchop and Floyd, but I'd sure go for one of your lamb burgers, Fran. Extra tzatziki for me, please!
12:38 pm - Mon, July 11 2016
Heidi said:
Tzatziki? Yes please. Thanks for the recipe Fran.
01:44 am - Thu, August 4 2016
Paula Gretton said:
I have a subscription to your magazine from my dear South Dakotan friend Shelli. I love it. It gives me a real insight into your world.
I very often make lamb burgers, I find them tastier than beef and the fresh mint gives a delicious flavour.

I like to add other greek influences to the meal with dips of hummus and grilled aubergine ( eggplant) and peppers.
05:55 pm - Fri, July 7 2023
Jim Askew said:
Thanks so much for the recipe. We learned to love lamb after traveling to the Britain and its former colonies. New Zealand Subway Sandwich shops feature lamb on their menu. Good lamb is hard to find in the U.S. I'd love to try some from your South Dakota farm someday. We do have good lamb grown locally here in Colorado, too. Again, thanks so much and I'll definitely give your recipe a try.

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