In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

A formidable homemade burger with a Caribbean twist.


trinidad burger recipeIt was about 11.30 pm and we had just flown in on a 5 hr flight from Toronto and we were hungry. Normally when we hit Piarco International Airport we would get some KFC for theย  drive to my sister’s place. We Trinbagonians have a weakness for KFC, but ONLY the KFC in Trinidad and Tobago… supposedly there’s something unique about the taste that you can’t find elsewhere. KFC was closed, plus not everyone in our party wanted fried chicken.

The next option was to drive through St James and grab some fast food at one of the many food vendors that line the street. For those of you not familiar with the area, St James is west of the capital (Port Of Spain) and it’s a place that never sleeps.ย  The two options we found were burgers and gyros. First the gyros or what is supposed to be gyro… basically they had some sort of sliced meat that they were putting onto a wrap you’d use for fajitas and topped with a sort of garlic mayo. Not my idea of a good gyro since I need genuine tzatziki sauce to even consider eating this, but you’d swear it was the real thing as the line was long.

The burger wasn’t a suitable option either, as it was dry, lacked any flavour and basically a cheap frozen patty that was cooked on a flat top in a ton of oil and it’s own grease. Yea, I gave it a try since as mentioned I wasn’t impressed with the gyro. However, they (same burger joint) had a shredded chicken sandwich they were calling a chicken burger that really stood out.

As a kid on the islands the only option for a burger was Wimpeys, then years later Mac Donalds came and left and now there’s several local joints where you can get burgers. Then there’s Burger King and many of the bigger restaurants include it in their menu. BTW the burger at Ruby Tuesday at Movie Town (opposite the national stadium) is well worth the price. We’re usually on the islands about 2-3 times a year and I’m still to find a local spot where you could get a decent burger. Maybe it’s due to the mentality of the people as burgers are not really considered “Trini” food, so it’s not widely accepted.

Here’s a “good” burger recipe I introduced to some friends during our last visit. (btw though you can’t get a good burger on the islands that’s affordable, the buns at the various local bakeries are amazing)

You’ll Need…

For the burger:

2 lbs ground beef (medium or lean works best as regular will have a lot of fat and will shrink when cooked)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon grated onion (or chopped fine)
dash black pepper
1/4 hot pepper diced very fine (habanero or scotch bonnet gives that true Caribbean twist)
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon BBQ sauce (your favourite)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

* The hot pepper is optional. If you don’t have fresh hot peppers, you can easily substitute your favourite hot sauce (pepper sauce). Use as much as you think you can handle.

For the topping.

1/2 cup diced tomato
2 table spoon rough chopped cilantro
2 table spoon fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup diced avocado
2 table spoon finely diced red onion (or any sweet onion)
dash salt
dash black pepper
1/2 cup diced ripe mango (try to get a ripe mango that’s firm)

* You’ll notice that I didn’t have any mango in my topping, as I basically used what I had in the fridge. It’s hard to get me outside (except to BBQ) during the winter months or I’d head over to the grocery and pick one up. Try to include the mango if you can.

In a large bowl, put all the ingredients for the burger and mix thoroughly. I use my hands to really ensure everything gets mixed properly. Then I move on to shaping the burgers. I place a piece of parchment or wax paper onto a baking sheet to make the burgers easier to remove when it’s time to grill. Then I form about 6 balls with the meat mixture and place them onto the baking sheet. Using my fingers I press down on the meat working from the inside out to form a burger shape. TIP – To ensure the burgers cook evenly and all the way through I usually make a dip in the middle so that part is a bit thinner (you should be able to see this in the pic below). Also note that the cooked burger will shrink, so try to work it a bit wider than the buns you’ll be using. This way when it shrinks during the cooking process it will still cover the entire bun. I try to form it about 1/2 inch thick. I then place the burgers in the fridge to marinate for about 1 hr. If you don’t have room in your fridge, you have 2 options. 1 grill immediately or 2. Allow the mixed meat to marinate before shaping the burgers.

homemade burger

homemade burger recipe

making burgers from scratch

caribbean burger

how to shape burgers

The final step is to grill the burgers. I try to get the grill up to between 300-400 degrees ( I much prefer 300 to slow cook – a much juicer burger) and I allow them to cook on each side for about 5 minutes (each flip), flipping 4 times . So in total it cooks for about 20 minutes. But do keep an eye on things as depending on the type of ground beef you get (fat content) you may have flare-ups which can char the burger. Also note that if you use a 400 degree grill it will cook faster.

Though I’ve never used one, I’m sure you’ll get great results from one of those indoor grills like the George Foreman.

While the burgers grill, prepare the topping using the ingredients mentioned above. Basically all you’re doing is dicing/chopping and mixing well.

tropical burger topping

hamburger salsa

Here’s the finished burger topped with a slice of Swiss cheese and the fresh topping we made above.

trinidad burger recipe

caribbean burger recipe

Do you have a “Caribbean” burger recipe you’d like to share? Leave me a comment in the area provided below.

Happy Cooking

Chris….

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29 Comments

  1. Sumatie
    September 15, 2016 / 10:35 am

    Hey Chris could you use chicken instead of beef in the burgers.nice job on the website

  2. Peter
    April 5, 2014 / 10:40 am

    Chris, thanks, sounds great! I must admit I never gave so much attention to the meat. For the topping I use a salsa made of 1 Mango (diced), 1/2 cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced, 2 shallots (thinly sliced), 1 habanero (red looks best, finely diced), 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon vinegar (Balsamico) and salt.

  3. marion
    March 12, 2014 / 12:30 pm

    Hi chris i don’t eat meat Do you have a receipt for
    Veggie burgers that very easy for me
    To make thank you

  4. CM
    February 19, 2014 / 12:35 am

    This is my first time viewing your website and boy am I ever glad I found it!!!! I LOVE the fact that your step by step is so easy to follow and you have the GREAT step by step pictures to compare. What a great idea.. I’m so excited to get my “eat on” with some of your delicious meals. I’m sure my family will love them.
    Keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. January 29, 2014 / 11:41 pm

    Hi Chris
    I have been enjoying your recipes. I would like for you send me a good ox tail
    recipe because I love. I enjoy most of your recipe you are pretty good so my
    Comments are all good, Thank you Chris.

  6. November 16, 2013 / 9:37 am

    Chris, I am a Jamaican and love your videos. This oxtail is delicious. One thing I would suggest is to tie the pimento berries in a piece of cheese cloth so you don’t have to bite down on them when you are enjoying your meal. They are easily removed then. I give this a 5 stars.
    Do you have a Jamaican Pattie recipe? I would love to see you do that on a video.

  7. teresa johnson
    September 20, 2012 / 7:18 pm

    chris thanks for using ingredients that are easily accessible in the supermarket . I look forward to your recipes because i know its something good thats not too expensve to fix. Thanks keep up the good work. teresa johnson

  8. Yasmin
    June 13, 2012 / 7:35 pm

    I was visiting Toronto, had the best food, it surely gives New York a run for its food…….

  9. carol
    April 5, 2012 / 6:53 am

    Thanks Chris for this burger recipe. I will try it.

  10. myrna
    December 12, 2011 / 4:49 pm

    looks good

  11. Donna Buckmire
    November 1, 2011 / 5:39 pm

    mmmmmmmmmm. Y U M. . . . I'm no meat eater but this recipe sure looks enticing enough to convert me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Karisha
    August 25, 2011 / 9:08 pm

    Take a large beet, boil, cool in ice water, peel and slice. Add a slice or two with lettuce to your burger and bun. delicious.

  13. Thora (Toronto)
    July 8, 2011 / 12:49 pm

    Chris you are fantastic and you do a very good job with your recepies.
    Keep up the good work.!!

  14. October 18, 2010 / 5:00 am

    This burger was delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. jamie
    September 26, 2010 / 3:17 pm

    Nice twist on a backyard favorite… Thats for all the work you do.

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:26 pm

      thanks.. appreciated.

  16. Liza
    September 22, 2010 / 7:26 am

    I tried making chicken burgers but it was a messy job it just would not form into balls and was sticking on my fingers.

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:26 pm

      That's one thing I've never tried.

  17. Michke
    September 8, 2010 / 9:37 am

    Chris,
    I've never been much of a burger fan as what you get in T&T usually are those cardboard tasting industrial frozen patties but at Angler's Bar and Grill in Crown Point,Tobago I had the most amazing hamburger. On a visit home last year I had it for the firs time and wow, I can't wait for my next trip to have it again! You have got to give it a try .

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:25 pm

      I'll definitely check them out on my next trip (hopefully soon).

  18. Small Island Coconut
    August 17, 2010 / 10:54 pm

    oh so what makes this caribbean the mango… why not add coconut and pinapple then! or is that Hawiian? there's a condescending tone here of your epicuren/gastronome superiority. The local food that you remember only good . Weh only kno dasheen and salt meat and bokofo (cowheel soup), we tastes narrow. we no nuttin bout Merica

    Chris, I started off reading this blog hopefully to add a real trini input, but ah aint like dat one man !
    ah doh blas uh when uh trini renditions not up to par cus uh was tryin to fly the trini flag like Simplytrini and dem and big up we food culture- as much as uh does try… but no scene ah understand what uh was really tryin to communicate

    So bless

    Small Island Coconut

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:25 pm

      thx for leaving your comments. I try my best and it's up to you the reader try the recipes or not.

  19. trevor
    August 17, 2010 / 10:28 pm

    next time stop in el socorro or grand bazaar for burgers – grillman makes theirs fresh and the close around 2am and its before st james on the way west from piarco man – or next time look for the yellow burger cart with the muslims – there the best on that side

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:24 pm

      thx for the tip

  20. May 12, 2010 / 12:20 am

    With an adjective like formidable, it has to be good.

  21. Nadia
    January 29, 2010 / 3:21 pm

    Trini KFC is the best!!! i was born it in the states but whenever i go Trini i have to get KFC…there is no other like it loll…my husband born there and whenever someone coming up from Trini they have to bring a box for him..lolll…great now i want some KFC from trinidad!!!

    and will def try this salsa recipe!

    • admin
      January 29, 2010 / 10:20 pm

      Yea, I see the lines at the airport when we’re leaving. I heard a rumor that the KFC in POS (downtown) sells the most KFC in ANY location GLOBALLY! Imagine that.

      • Nadia
        November 9, 2010 / 12:49 pm

        only now seeing this comment as i was thinking of making burgers tonight and figured u had a recipe for that…wow, we get KFC where we live in Queens NY but it does not compare to trini KFC at all loll…so yea i can imagine downtown POS sellin the most KFC globally!!

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