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Make a Perfect Burger

Celebrate the Fourth of July with your favorite main dish, plus super sides and dessert

Falafel Burger Plate

Try one of the many healthy alternatives to beef burgers this summer. — StockFood/Getty Images

As we celebrate Independence Day, we crave such all-American favorite foods as the classic grilled hamburger and homemade ice cream. But why not declare our freedom to try a handful of exciting new recipes for the grill and picnic table as well? This selection of dishes for a healthy and delicious Fourth of July combines recipes for the ever-popular all-beef burger with a menu of alternative burgers, from wasabi tuna to Southwestern black bean. Finish off your backyard bash or beach picnic with some satisfying desserts that stay on the lighter side of indulgence. We have something for everyone.

See also: Avoid food safety risks when eating outdoors.

First, you'll need a tall glass of lemonade by Christopher Idone. Lemonade should be refreshingly tart, not cloyingly sweet, and provoke a telltale pucker. This one fits the bill. Now, on to the grilling!

The Great American Burger by Steven Raichlen

The perfect burger begins with a flavorful cut of beef like ground chuck or sirloin. Handle the meat gently when forming patties for maximum juiciness. Grilling expert Steven Raichlen recommends refraining from the urge to add a lot of spices to the meat, and let the garnishes add the flavor. If you want to add a slice of cheese to the top for a classic cheeseburger, add it after the first side is done. And lastly, avoid turning over the meat on the grill multiple times. Instead, cook on each side 4 to 5 minutes only once to keep in the juices. 

As delicious as the all-beef burger may be, many people are looking for meat alternatives. These innovative burgers make use of vegetables, poultry, seafood and legumes in place of the traditional ground chuck, serving up a myriad of inventive flavors without all the calories and saturated fat. 

Turkey Burgers With Chipotle Sour Cream by Steve Poses

Seasoned with cilantro, cumin and chili powder, these Latin turkey burgers are moist and tender. The chipotle sour cream makes the most of smoky jalapenos stewed in adobo sauce.

Shrimp Burger by Matt and Ted Lee

If hearty shellfish is more your speed, these shrimp burgers are the way to go. Corn kernels give them a chunky texture and sweetness, while fresh ginger, scallions and lemon zest provide depth of flavor.

Portobello Burger by Sally Sampson

This baked low-calorie dish stands on its own without even needing a bun: smoked mozzarella, arugula and tomato, and the meaty portobello caps make a satisfying sandwich by themselves.

Wasabi Tuna Burgers by Andrew Schloss

These unique tuna burgers feel a little fancier than average barbecue fare, but are simple to cook. Green onions, wasabi, soy sauce and dark sesame oil give them a Japanese flavor profile.

Caramelized Onion and Chickpea Burgers by Sally Sampson

Sharing some characteristics with falafel, these Mediterranean-inspired patties are seasoned with cilantro, tahini, rosemary and lemon juice. Serve with salad or grilled pita.

Tofu Burgers by Terry Golson

With plenty of protein and whole grains, these tofu burgers would be delicious spread with stone-ground mustard on nutty whole-wheat buns.

Next: More burgers, chicken, side dishes and dessert. >>

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