As you may know, my mom has greatly influenced my eating habits and taste, as most mothers, right?. She is very loyal to Greek cuisine and we pretty much ate only Greek food at home. Occasionally she would make what she called “American” food. One of those times she made “hamburgers”. Now for Greeks a piece of ground beef cooked on the grill without adding anything to it would be considered bland. “The beef needs to have herbs and spices added to it, otherwise what’s the point?” she would say (and still does). My mom could never understand the point of the hamburger: cooking a plain piece of meat and then loading it with ketchup, mustard and a bunch of other condiments. Why not just add things to the meat before you actually cook it? To make a long story short, my mom would make hamburgers, but in fact they were Greek patties that she then would put into a hamburger bun along with a bottle of ketchup and mustard on the table.
Years later I’ve come to appreciate a good juicy American burger but I also realized that those Greek patties did not need any condiments added to them, nor did they need to be disguised as a hamburger, all they needed was a squeeze of lemon because they were so tasty.
Greek Burgers and Health
These Greek burgers are known as biftekia, they may be grilled or cooked in a pan. The meat is mixed with a variety of herbs mostly, and they contain a bit of egg and breadcrumbs, the result is a very tasty piece of meat.
The oregano and the other herbs that are added are all excellent sources of antioxidants that give a nutritional punch to your patty. They also reduce the levels of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), compounds that develop when meat is cooked at high temperatures and have been associated with certain types of cancer. By using dry herbs such as oregano and mint on the meat you can reduce the levels of these harmful compounds.
This recipe is very easy and I used my cast iron grill pan. These were delicious and juicy and we paired them with a simple tomato salad. Other classic combinations include boiled horta (greens) and tzatziki (Greek garlic yogurt dip) or any type of other green or salad. Make sure you let the meat sit for at least an hour to get all the flavors to meld.
Greek Burgers - Biftekia
- 1 pound ground beef (chuck)
- 1 small onion grated
- 3-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon dry mint
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper
- Place the beef in a bowl.
- Add all the ingredients to the beef and knead with your hands until all the ingredients are well mixed and blended with the meat for about 5 minutes.
- Cover the bowl and let the meat sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.
- Remove the beef 10 minutes before cooking. Form in 5 patties (these are made slightly smaller than a hamburger). Flatten them.
- Heat the grill pan, Place the patties and cook for about 4 minutes on each side.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
[…] Greek Burgers – Biftekia […]
I’m so excited to make these! My stepfather was Greek and I miss his cooking more than anything. I do have a Greek cookbook that I often use. I live in a very small town in Pennsylvania and I make the best tzatziki in town because I learned from him. Thank you so much for this recipe. I’ll get back to you on how it went.
Hi Elena, The burgers were delicious. I loved the combination of the favours too.
Thankyou for the recipe.
Thank you Aikaterina!
Can you freeze these burgers?
Hi Aikaterina, Yes you can.
The best bifteki I’ve ever tasted were served in Toxotis in Scala on Agistri Island, Greece
Yummy recipe! I used lamb with the egg and fresh and dry oregano . Also a bit of baking soda in a little water per my Greek friend’s mom. They are very light and delecate. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing Fredi. I’ll keep in mind the baking soda.
Are the oregano and parsley dried or fresh?
The oregano is dry and parsley is fresh. Will add that clarification on the recipe.
Wow a girl from the other side of the world (Australia) makes almost this exact same mix with either beef or lamb! The only difference is that I use a small amount of stale bread softened with a little milk in the mix instead of the breadcrumbs. Oh and if I use lamb, I dispense with the egg – must be the extra bit of fat in the meat, I guess – but they hold together fine. Yum
Thanks for sharing Cheryl! Yes bread is normally used, breadcrumbs save time for me and I have ones from Crete made from barley which I use.
What’s the best bread crumbs to use if following a Mediterranean diet?
I agree with your mom Elena! It feels like such a wasted opportunity not adding these flavors at the start. I’ve had success adding a small amount of chopped frozen spinach or finely grated carrot too.
Question, your narrative mentions a bit of egg, but I don’t see that in the ingredient list. Can an egg be added to the mix?
Thank you so much for your blog Elena! You have had a huge impact on my cooking/eating habits!
I recently did this with lamb burger which made them just a little more Greek.
My grandmother used to do all her biftekia with lamb too!
My dad dispensed with the burger façade completely and served the ground lamb on a stick! Pretty much otherwise using Elena’s recipe.
Thanks Amy! Yes there is one egg, I’ve added it to the list of ingredients.
Love the spinach-carrot idea!
I love biftekia! (And I love your blog!) My mom would always serve in red sauce- brown the patties and then add the patties to tomato sauce/paste seasoned with cinnamon and then add quartered potatoes and simmer over low heat for about 30mins-then add peas at the very end. I cook like this now for my family! Who knows how or why she started doing this, but delicious!
Thanks Demetra! Sounds good! The sauce with the cinnamon reminds of soutzoukakia, and I like the peas added after.
Very true! Keep up the great work!!