Grilled Fennel Elk Burgers

DSCN5670I will put my money on the fact that burgers will be on the menu for more than half of Americans this Independence Day. It is the quintessential American food, and for good reason. It is meaty, cheesy, juicy, and goes hand in hand with a good pile of freedom fries and a beer.

Like many Americans that take to the field each fall, I have piles of burger in my freezer. If there is one thing my family and I devour, it is cheeseburgers. No discrimination either, with different burgers ranging from elk, deer, antelope, and even bear. Any will work for this recipe, and if you do not have wild game on hand, beef would work just fine.

My development for this recipe came from my love of fennel, a delicious member of the carrot family. Fennel is also called “anise”, but it is not really anise. It gets this name from the flavor it gives, similar to star anise. This has become the favorite burger of my wife. Grilled fennel, a nice white cheddar, and some coarse brown mustard are sure to break up the monotony of a normal cheeseburger, if you are willing to try it.

This recipe is scaled per lb. of meat.


  • 1 Lb. of 90/10 ground elk, deer, or beef
  • 1/2 t of kosher salt
  • 1/2 t of black pepper
  • 1/2 t dried thyme
  • 1 t of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • Extra Sharp white cheddar, sliced
  • Coarse brown mustard, or Dijon
  • Brioche buns


Step 1

Get a grill rippin’ hot!

Step 2

Mix burger, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and garlic in a bowl. Being careful not to over work the mixture. Overmixing will yield a denser patty, a gentle mix will yield an nice tender patty. Just mix until fully incorporated.DSCN5648

Step 3

Divide mixture and form the patties. I like my patties about 1/3 lb., which will be three patties per lb. Uniformity will help to insure even cooking. I like to account for any shrinkage and make them a little larger than my buns. DSCN5650

Step 4

Fennel has three parts, the bulb (white base), the stalks ( green stems), and fronds (the feathery light pieces). Separate these keeping the fronds and the bulb, slice the bulb. The fronds will be kept fresh and put on the burger. (In place of lettuce)


Step 5

Drizzle the fennel with a little olive oil and get ready for the grill. Place on the grill and keep an eye on them, aiming for what looks like grilled onions. Then pull of grill and set in aside till the assembly.DSCN5653DSCN5655

Step 6

Gather the sliced sharp cheddar and patties. My preference is a medium patty, so I place on direct heat (high) and only about  1 1/2 to 2 min per side. Immediately place cheese slices on the patty after the flip. (The only flip)


Step 7

Get ready for assembly! Place the patty on the bun, followed by the grilled fennel, and the fronds for garnish. The flavor given by a nice coarse mustard is perfect, so that’s what I use. Dijon will also be fine. Pair with a side of fries and you have a new and unique take on an American Classic!DSCN5665DSCN5666

Step 8

Crack a cold one, and enjoy!






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