Beyond Beef: 10 Surprising — and Healthy — Burger Alternatives

Our safari-like guide to burger meats that are healthy alternatives to standard 80/20 beef

These healthy burger swaps will have you asking, "What's beef?"

There are a few things you can look at in this world that make you think, “Wow, that’s horribly American.” One of the best examples of this is the cheeseburger.

Click here for 10 Surprising but Healthy Burger Alternatives.

In our list of the 101 Best Burgers in America, The Daily Meal’s Dan Myers writes:

“In a recent interview, meat-blending master Pat LaFrieda shared some of the key characteristics of the foundation of a great burger: the patty. LaFrieda has found that ‘An eight-ounce burger, inch-thick, is perfect for a barbecue — it can get a good sear without overcooking it.’ What it’s actually made of, or not made of, matters, too; the butcher likes to keep it an all-beef affair and thinks that mixing in additions such as beans and red peppers makes it ‘taste like meatloaf. It no longer tastes like a burger.’ Finally, not all meat blends are created equal, and he warned us that the meat-to-fat ratio should be 80/20 because ‘Anything else is a marketing ploy.’”

Not every burger is a gut-crunching two all-beef patties, with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun. Not every burger is beef. There is an increasingly large camp of nutrition-conscious folk, in fact, who say that beef isn’t as healthy as we once thought it was. Many people cite its potential to cause cancer and high levels of fat as reasons not to eat beef. An example of high-fat beef is the previously mentioned (and calorically dense) 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio of beef that most burgers thrive on.

For comparison’s sake, we’ve listed the nutrition information for 10 exotic, surprising alternatives to the standard American all-beef patty (each at four ounces or a serving size very close to four ounces). A four-ounce serving of 80/20 ground beef has about 287 calories including 23 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein.


All of the following healthy beef alternatives have more protein than they do fat, immediately making them more tempting burger options than our beloved 80/20. The real question, however, is: Can you stomach these rather exotic meats served grilled and sandwiched between two buns?