With a good dash of German October Fest spirit, this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli might be my ultimate favourite burger. The brioche pretzel buns are chewy, with the typical flavourful pretzel crust, while having the sweetness and tenderness of brioche.
The burger patty is combining the juiciness of pork with classic beef, adding flavour and crunchy edges with some additional ingredients. Brought together by the umami-sweetness of Black Garlic Aioli lifting this to the level of a feast rather than fast food.
Why You Want to Make This
The Burger as Feast
To me, especially after being on my weight loss journey, a burger is a feast, rather than a convenient fast food. Which is exactly the treatment they get in this recipe.
Having worked in the kitchen of a Rock Café in Hanover for most of my 20s, known for the best burgers in town, I had a few ideas on how to take a burger to the next level.
While we used simple store bought sesame buns in said pub, (Gourmet Burgers weren’t a thing back then, though they were still really good) I decided I wanted the sesame, but up my bun game. As described in detail in my post for the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns I developed especially for this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli, you get the rich, soft, and slightly sweet Brioche experience, needed for contrast to the salty burger. It holds the patty firmly in place, avoiding the dreaded patty slip, while soaking up all the flavourful juices, giving you the perfect flavour in each bite.
A mix of Sourdough, Pretzel and Brioche for the perfect Burger Bun
But Brioche alone wasn’t what I wanted, or I could just use storebought brioche buns, right? I wanted the added flavour of sourdough and the crust and chewiness of Pretzel buns, topped with salt and sesame. Adding a decidedly German Octoberfest touch. That’s not something I found anywhere. So I made it, and now you can too.
Of course, if you don’t feel like making your own buns, but want to try the rest, feel free to use your favourite shop bought buns.
The recipe for the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns is separate, since you’ll want to start the preparation of them 2 days before and can easily bake them the day before, to just reheat them in the oven. Or prepare to just before boiling in baking soda water and get them into the oven an hour before you want to eat, so they can cool down a little.
While burger purists may object, to me, the pure beef patties were never something I found particularly tempting. I feel they are rather dry with mainly iron flavour from the beef, which I’m sure appeals to the steak lovers. And don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good steak, but I’d rather have it in its whole form, not ground.
Then what makes a great patty to me?
Let’s start with crispy edges. At said Rock Café, they were created by first frying the patties in a pan for meal prep, then deep frying them to heat up before serving. But also: The ingredients of said patties, which I will explain in the Ingredients section.
While I obviously have no intention of deep frying my burger patties every time, I figured that both air fryer and a second brief fry in the pan will give a very similar crunch. So they get fried just until browned and cooked through first, at which point they are already delicious, but they will be even better when reheated, making them perfect for meal prep and a proper burger feast.
Black Garlic Aioli
Sauces make or break a burger. That much is clear if you look at how popular the Big Mac is. It’s the secret sauce that makes it so addictive. Now I’m not re-creating it here, but rather looking for a gourmet burger sauce, to take this to the next level.
I found it in Black Garlic Aioli.
Black Garlic is created by very slowly caramelising bulbs of garlic over several weeks, transforming it into black, shiny nuggets of sweet umami notes, with hints of fruit and garlic. Think balsamic and liquorice, utterly addictive and complex. Some supermarkets offer it these days, or you can make it yourself very easily in a rice cooker or dehydrator. It’s not complicated. All it takes is time, to cause a very slow Maillard reaction.
The addition of herbs and lemon takes this aioli over the top and makes it utterly addictive. You’ll want it with all kinds of things from fries over sandwiches to using it in a Grand Aioli, it’s just so good.
If you have a stick blender, it also takes just 5 minutes to make and is super easy. Not that the classic method is hard, slowly drizzling oil into the egg and whisking, it just takes a bit of feel and patience.
If I’m creating a feast worthy burger, I’ll create my own Peach BBQ Sauce with Single Malt for it. I mean, who wouldn’t?
You? Ok, yes, I can see why. And sure, you could use a good shop bought BBQ sauce, I won’t blame you. But if you have 35 minutes to spare, I urge you to try this Peach BBQ Sauce with Single Malt. It’s worth it!
Sweet and summery fruity notes from the peaches come together with smoky malt whisky together with molasses and brown sugar and liquid smoke, to create a stunningly delicious sauce for all your BBQ needs. It’ll keep for a while, so make extra and enjoy with spareribs or steak.
Black Garlic Butter with Lemon
What do you mean “butter”? In a burger?
Yup, butter. One of the best kept secrets of that famous “Booster Burger” from said Rock Café (which has long since been eradicated from existence, much to my dismay) was the home made herb butter from the owners’ wife. It was spread onto the cut bun sides, which were then toasted under the Salamander, to have it deliciously melt into the bun, soaking it with garlic-herb flavour.
I don’t have her secret recipe unfortunately, which consisted of copious amounts of garlic and a lot of fresh herbs, brought to us in huge boxes, we were using so much. But I got pretty close with this one and feel the Black Garlic, which wasn’t in the original, improves it even further.
Could you just use shop bought garlic butter? Sure. It’ll be delicious. But home made takes 5 minutes (either with black garlic or just fresh, if you can’t find it) and works with so many dishes, you’ll just want it in your fridge all the time. You can also make double and freeze a batch, to have the perfect steak or sandwich butter at your fingertips. Or just make the best garlic bread you ever had.
If you use any of the above mentioned ingredients, your burger will already be delicious. So you can choose whichever toppings you love. For me, it’s always the classic combination of crunchy lettuce, fresh cherry tomatoes (Or a really flavourful heirloom tomato if you can find it), sweet dill pickles, red onion rings and crispy fried Serrano ham. Or fried bacon, depending on your preference. I just love how fried Serrano ham shatters into pieces when fried and adds so much salty umami flavour, I don’t miss the fat bacon would bring. And the type of patty I’m making isn’t dry as beef would be, so we don’t need the added fat.
You could of course add avocado, melted cheese, caramelised onions or go a completely different way by using a vegan burger patty.
Since this Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli is on the rich side, I wanted something light to go with it, hinting to Germany, but not…well…Sauerkraut. So I made a super quick Herbed Cashew Aioli Slaw (recipe coming soon), which has white cabbage, basically what Sauerkraut is made of, but fresh and playing with the garlic theme of the burger.
In the picture you also see Sweet Potato Fries, which I made following this easy recipe.
My wild guess is though, that, depending on the size of your buns, you probably won’t need many sides. But with this being a proper feast, of course you’ll want all the options.
Use either my Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns recipe or get your favourite shop bought burger bun. If I’m in a hurry, I love Brioche Buns.
While these are super easy to make, it’s part of where the magic of the famous Booster Burger stemmed from. Now this will be controversial with the beef purists, but they are, in fact, made from half pork and half beef mince. Not low fat either, as we want them juicy. I’m using ready minced beef and pork here, but if you want to take this completely over the top, mince your own.
Wait what? Not your standard burger, the Booster Burger was going more into the direction of really good and homemade meatballs the German way. Made with eggs and soaked white bread to bind the burgers and add crispy edges and juiciness.
Another controversial one, water (or milk) soaked baguette which is then squished, to lower the water content again, is used in a similar way as breadcrumbs in meatballs. It binds and adds both juiciness and crunch to the burger patties, making them utterly delicious on their own.
Finely chopped onions, ideally caramelised (though I’ve used raw in the past, when in a hurry) add a lovely backbone to the flavourings of this Burger patty. Some dried parsley, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper complete it. Make more than you need. You’ll definitely want one straight from the pan and freeze some for emergency burger cravings. My freezer is not complete without these.
Black Garlic Aioli
Since the black garlic is sweet, the balsamic complements it perfectly, but I felt it needed a more acidic counterpoint, to lift it, hence the addition of lemon zest and juice.
While the herbs are optional, I urge you to try fresh dill, as it’s very fresh version of anise flavour goes perfect with the black garlic and takes this to a whole different level. The parsley adds minerality, to balance both sweetness and umami. You could use dried, but personal I always miss the freshness when I do.
For oil you could use ¼ cup of a very mild olive oil instead of part of the neutral oil (I’m using Grapeseed oil), but don’t replace it all with olive oil, as it tends to get bitter when used for mayonnaise.
And fresh egg of course. This emulsifies the aioli together with the mustard.
Liquid smoke – I’ve added this specifically for these Black Garlic Aioli Burgers, to complement the flavour and despite not grilling them, give a reminder of summer BBQs. You can leave it out if you don’t have it.
Black Garlic Lemon Butter
Use good quality unsalted butter here, so you control the saltiness. Several cloves of Black Garlic. You can vary how strong you’d like the flavour of it. Same goes for fresh garlic.
Some fresh herbs. I like Dill, Parsley and Basil. Though I left out the basil this time, as mine had died it’s usual winter death.
If you chose to make these incredible Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns to take your burgers to the next level, start by feeding the sourdough 2 days before you want to eat them. Then follow the recipe here for the whole process.
If you’d rather not, get some good burger buns from your supermarket. But honestly: Do make the buns. You won’t regret it, I promise.
Peach BBQ Sauce
You can use shop bought. But if you decided to make your own Peach BBQ Sauce with Malt, follow the recipe here.
Black Garlic Aioli
Using a slim jar or container that just fits the stick blenders head with very little room to spare on the sides, you add your egg, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke if using, and lemon juice at the bottom, then top it with all of the oil. Gently lower your blender head, equipped with the whisking disc, all the way down, so it covers the egg. Switch it on at full speed and do not move it for a few seconds. You will see mayonnaise forming right away at the bottom. Keep it still until the white mass doesn’t expand upwards further, then gently tip your blender into a diagonal, and very slowly move it upwards until all the oil is incorporated.
Mash your garlic and black garlic or chop it, chop your herbs roughly and add all of them with some salt and pepper to your mayonnaise. Blend again with the pureeing attachment, to create a smooth and delicious Black Garlic Aioli. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Try not to eat it all with a hunk of fresh bread.
Keep in a lidded container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Black Garlic Butter with Lemon
Add all the ingredients to the small bowl of your food processor and mix until you have a smooth mass.
Alternatively, if making by hand: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, let the unsalted butter soften at room temperature. Add all remaining ingredients to the softened butter and mix thoroughly with a fork until well combined.
Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning if desired.
Once the black garlic lemon butter is well mixed, transfer it to a serving dish or roll it into a log shape using plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the butter.
Prepare your toppings. Slice pickles, tomatoes, and onions. Wash your lettuce. Fry Serrano ham or bacon until crispy, if using and keep warm in the oven.
If you choose to caramelize your chopped onions, do that first. In a pan with a little olive oil, fry them on medium heat slowly, until caramelised. Don’t let them burn, or they will turn bitter.
Alternatively add your chopped onions raw.
Rip your baguette into 3 large pieces. In a medium bowl cover with water (or milk, if you like) and let it sit to soak while you add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl.
In a large bowl, add your pork and beef mince, the eggs, Dijon mustard, dried parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of your baguette, by squishing it with your hands. Add to the bowl with the meat.
Using your hands (this is the fun part), mix the whole thing until you have a relatively uniform dough that holds together nicely.
Heat a pan to medium high heat and add some oil. I’m using standard (not extra virgin) olive oil, but any oil that is suited for frying will work.
Using your hands, form thin, large patties with irregular edges. You don’t want perfectly shaped rounds here, as the edges will crisp up and add the addictive caramelised crunch to the burger.
Once your pan is hot, fry the patties. I usually manage to get 3 into the pan and keep the rest warm, if I plan to eat them right away.
Re-heat for extra crispy edges
However, and this is a step I highly advise you to take, you could prepare them the day before (or weeks and just freeze them) and quickly reheat them when you are ready. Either fry a second time in a very hot pan, to crisp them up or in the air fryer at 400°F/200°C for a few minutes, until hot and with crispy edges.
I know this sounds unusual for burgers, but trust me, it makes them even more irresistible.
Briefly re-heat your burger buns by sprinkling them with a little water, then baking for 5-10 mins at 350°F/175°C in the air fryer or oven. Slice them open horizontally. Spread some Black Garlic Butter with Lemon on each side and briefly fry in a hot pan until golden. Or put them under your grill in the oven, but keep a very close eye on them, as they burn quickly.
Top both sides with a little Black Garlic Aioli. On the bottom side, stack lettuce, followed by a hot burger patty and add your desired toppings. Drizzle with BBQ sauce. Add the top half of the bun and enjoy your Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli.
You can make pretty much everything in this recipe ahead of time, except for slicing your Tomatoes if using, frying the bacon or Serrano ham and re-heating buns and patties.
Both the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns and the Burger Patties freeze well. So does the Black garlic Lemon Butter. The Peach BBQ Sauce can me made weeks ahead, the Black garlic Aioli ideally the day before.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share and comment. It helps me a lot.
Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli
Black Garlic Aioli:
- 1 egg or 2 yolks
- ¾ cup neutral oil such as grapeseed
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 black garlic cloves mashed with a fork.
- 1 fresh garlic clove minced.
- ½ tsp kosher salt or more to taste
- Optional add-ins: 1 tbsp chopped dill or tarragon 1 tbsp chopped parsley
Black Garlic Butter with Lemon
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 4 cloves black garlic mashed
- 1 clove fresh garlic minced
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped dill
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb pork mince
- 1 lb beef mince
- 1 medium baguette ideally stale
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns – Recipe see Link in Post
Peach BBQ sauce with Malt - See link in post
- Crunchy Lettuce
- Crispy fried bacon or Serrano Ham
- Fresh sliced tomato
- Sliced dill pickles
- Sliced onions fresh or caramelised
Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns:
- Follow the instructions in the provided link to make the Sourdough Brioche Pretzel Buns. Begin by feeding the sourdough 2 days before you plan to make the buns. Follow the detailed recipe at forthepleasureofeating.com.
Peach BBQ Sauce (If using):
- Follow the recipe at forthepleasureofeating.com to make the Peach BBQ Sauce with Malt.
Black Garlic Aioli:
- In a slim jar or container, layer egg, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke (if using), and lemon juice.
- Top with all the oil.
- Using a stick blender equipped with the whisking disc, blend on full speed without moving for a few seconds until mayonnaise forms at the bottom.
- Gradually tilt and move the blender upwards until all the oil is incorporated.
- Mash or chop black garlic and regular garlic, chop herbs, and add them to the mayonnaise with salt and pepper.
- Blend again with the pureeing attachment until smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep refrigerated in a lidded container for up to 3 days.
Black Garlic Butter with Lemon:
- In a food processor, combine unsalted butter, mashed black garlic, minced fresh garlic, chopped parsley, chopped dill, kosher salt, lemon zest, and freshly ground pepper.
- Mix until smooth.
- Transfer to a serving dish or roll into a log shape using plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the butter.
- Prepare toppings by slicing pickles, tomatoes, and onions, and washing lettuce.
- Fry Serrano ham or bacon until crispy, if using, and keep warm in the oven.
- Optionally caramelize chopped onions in a pan with olive oil until golden.
- In a medium bowl, soak large baguette pieces in water or milk.
- In a large bowl, combine pork and beef mince, eggs, Dijon mustard, dried parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Squeeze moisture from the soaked baguette and add it to the meat mixture.
- Mix by hand until a uniform dough forms.
- Heat a pan with oil and form thin, irregularly shaped patties with your hands.
- Fry patties until cooked through and crispy at the edges.
- Reheat burger buns by sprinkling with water and baking at 350°F/175°C for 5-10 minutes in the air fryer or oven.
- Slice buns horizontally and spread Black Garlic Butter with Lemon on each side.
- Briefly fry in a hot pan until golden or place under the oven grill.
- Top both sides with Black Garlic Aioli.
- On the bottom side, stack lettuce, a hot burger patty, and desired toppings.
- Drizzle with Peach BBQ Sauce.
- Add the top half of the bun and enjoy your Pretzel Burger with Black Garlic Aioli!
Total Protein per Portion: Approximately 27 grams
Total Carbohydrates per Portion: Approximately 15 grams
Total Fat per Portion: Approximately 24 grams
Total Sodium per Portion: Approximately 376 milligrams For the complete Burger as I made it, it added up to this:
Calories: Approximately 778 calories
Protein: Approximately 14.2 grams
Carbohydrates: Approximately 29.7 grams
Fat: Approximately 32.3 grams
Sodium: Approximately 393 milligrams