These Whole30 burger joint burgers are just as good as they sound and look. Two thin hamburger patties, brushed with mustard; loaded with pickle slices, deeply caramelized onions, a creamy sauce spiked with my Whole30 ketchup recipe, coconut aminos, and relish; all sandwiched between two perfect iceberg lettuce “buns”. These burgers are made with totally real food and are paleo, Whole30, and low-carb friendly.
Maybe you’re fully devoted to your Whole30/paleo/low-carb lifestyle, but every now and then you miss those glorious burger-joint burgers that previously graced your plate. Well, grieve no more. I’m not lying to you when I tell you that you can have even-better, totally-compliant burger joint style burgers made right in the comfort of your own kitchen.
What Makes This Recipe So Good
- Juicy burger patties, creamy sauce, over-the-top-rich caramelized onions. If the pictures don’t have you drooling then the ingredients list will! These are loaded with everything that makes the burger joint version so great.
- The burger patties are grilled in mustard, and the burger is loaded with extra pickles, extra sauce, and caramelized onions. It’s straight up HEAVENLY.
- This recipe actually makes more burger sauce and grilled onions than you need for your burgers. If you can stand it, I highly recommend using them for a batch of burger joint fries – sweet potato fries topped with creamy, relish-spiked animal sauce and super-rich caramelized onions. If that’s a slippery food-slope for you, though, then save it for food freedom and thank me later.
Mustard – Cooking the burger patties IN mustard gives them SO MUCH incredible flavor, I promise you’ll never want to cook them any other way again.
Lettuce Buns – If bread doesn’t have a starring “roll” (I couldn’t resist) in your way of eating, odds are good you’ve struggled with a messy lettuce-wrapped burger at least once. Well, now you won’t waste your energy (or your lettuce) ever again. I’m about to introduce you to the best, greatest, most perfect way to encase burgers in lettuce. You are WELCOME.
Onions – Another can’t-skip ingredient. Rich, deeply caramelized onions make this Whole30 burger taste AAAAAMAZING. Trust me on this one. Don’t skip the onions.
- Make sure your burger patties are thin. No, thinner. Ok, now even thinner. Seriously! Make them as thin and wide as possible, then press them out on a piece of parchment paper to make them even thinner. They’ll get taller and not as wide as they cook, and you want them to be thin and giant when all is said and done.
- Don’t just cook the onions. Get in there and really caramelize them. You want them to be rich and deep and dark, like the color of toffee or coffee or George Clooney’s eyes. You’ll be tempted to call it “good enough” before then but I promise you, have patience. It’s important, and so, so worth it.
- These burgers aren’t wimpy. No, no. This is a big burger, packed full with delicious toppings. I highly recommend wrapping it in parchment paper (or foil would work, too) before serving to help hold everything together. Plus it looks more authentic and fun that way, too.
More Whole30 Recipes You’ll Love
- Whole30 Loaded Sweet Potato Fries (Paleo, Dairy Free, Gluten Free)
- Whole30 Marry Me Chicken (Paleo, Dairy Free)
- Creamy Whole30 Bacon Mushroom Chicken Thighs with Thyme (Paleo)
- Whole30 Chicken Tenders (Paleo, Low Carb, Gluten Free)
- Whole30 Lasagna Soup
- Taco Stuffed Peppers (Whole30, Paleo, Low Carb)
For the Sauce
- ½ cup Whole30-compatible mayonnaise store-bought or make your own, see Notes
- 3 tablespoons Whole30-compatible ketchup store-bought or make your own, see Notes
- 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos + another 1-2 teaspoons if on Whole30
- ½ teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup do NOT use if on Whole30, see Notes
For the Lettuce "Buns"
- 1 small-medium head iceberg lettuce
For the Burgers
- Small bowl
- Large non-stick skillet
- Large cast-iron skillet
- parchment paper or aluminum foil to wrap burgers
For the Sauce
- Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, dill relish, coconut aminos, vinegar, and maple syrup (only if not on Whole30) in a small bowl. Stir well to combine, then place in refrigerator to chill while you continue cooking.
For the Lettuce "Buns"
- Slice off the stem of the head of iceberg lettuce, about ½"-¾” from bottom. Cut into fourths: down the center, then slice each half in half to make wedges. Take out the middle ⅔ of each iceberg wedge, so it leaves just a ¾” thick lettuce “bun”. Set aside.
For the Burgers
- Heat 2 teaspoons avocado oil in a medium skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Add onions and ¾ teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are browned, about 15 minutes.
- Once onions are browned, they will start to sizzle and look dry. Add 1 tablespoon water to skillet and stir, cooking until water evaporates and onions begin sizzling again. Repeat the process with 1 tablespoon water until onions are dark brown and extremely caramelized, about 3 times, a total of about 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
- Shape ground beef into four 2-ounce patties that are very thin and very wide, about ¼" thick and at least 4" wide. Season patties with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Heat remaining 1 teaspoon avocado oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around the pan to coat with a thin layer. When the oil is very, very hot, add burger patties. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard on the top, raw side.
- Cook patties, without moving, until they're very well browned and a bit crusty on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip patties so the mustard side is down and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Assemble the Burgers
- Spread 1 scant tablespoon of sauce onto inside of one lettuce "bun" (one lettuce quarter).
- Top lettuce quarter with 2 pickles, then add 1 tomato slice.
- Top tomato slice with 1 burger patty, then add 1 tablespoon of caramelized onions. Feel free to add more if you like.
- Add second burger patty, then another 1 tablespoon caramelized onions.
- Top with another scant tablespoon sauce, then add 2 more pickles and cover with top lettuce "bun". Wrap in parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Repeat to assemble second double burger and serve.
- This recipe makes enough caramelized onions and sauce to serve on top of some homemade sweet potato fries or hash. You will have extra besides what you need for the burgers.
- Maple Syrup: Note that you MUST omit the maple syrup in the sauce for this recipe to be Whole30!
- Make it Keto: Omit all coconut aminos and maple syrup; instead, sweeten the sauce with a maple-syrup flavored keto liquid sweetener. You’ll also need a keto-friendly ketchup (store-bought or make your own with my keto ketchup recipe).
- Make Your Own Whole30 Mayo: Use my immersion blender recipe!
- Make Your Own Whole30 Ketchup: Use my Whole30 Ketchup recipe!
- Recipe yields 2 burgers, each with 2 patties Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. You won’t use all of the caramelized onions or sauce on your burgers.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.