Lamb and Cumin Burgers – The Sun is Shining Somewhere

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (11 of 11)As I write this, it’s a cold January day in Dublin. Not the time to be thinking of the barbecue (or of salads). We need to hunker down for a few more months of stews, curries and roasts. However, I have a broader vision than most. I know that while we are suffering in the gloom of short, dark days here in Ireland, my friends in Australia and New Zealand are enjoying a warm (too warm, I hear), long summer. So, while we may be suffering a gloomfest, the guys and gals on the bottom half of the world need this simple, tasty recipe for Lamb Burgers with Cumin. 

Lamb and Cumin go together spectacularly well. During last summer in Ireland (we get two weeks of summer in May, followed by fourteen weeks of grey cloud cover and broken dreams), I cooked a number of different burger recipes. The season passed (very quickly) and I decided to hang on to this recipe for this year. Chatting with Sandra, Eha, Wes and Kate (some of my Australian friends) made me think of putting the recipe out when they can use some of their Australian lamb when the barbie is hot and the skies clear.

Lamb and Cumin Burgers

Five simple ingredients for lovely flavour.


  • 1 kilo of lamb pieces (neck is best)
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked (or unsmoked) salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoons of honey

Side note on good lamb burgers: When I am making burgers, I like to grind my own meat (That sounds vaguely rude but you know exactly what I mean). Lamb fat can be a bit off-putting for some people. In this recipe, the honey takes the place of the fat. There is little logic, but it works. I also serve the burgers with a mint yoghurt that brings some complementary flavour and balance.

Dry fry the cumin seeds until they are a nice deep brown but not burned. Grind them to a powder in a mortar.

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (3 of 11)

Grinding your own spices makes a huge difference to flavour. Do it!

Grind the meat and mix it with the other ingredients, reserving enough cumin for dusting (see below).

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (2 of 11)

My mincer is over 50 years old. Like myself, it’s starting to look it.

Form it into patties (I hate that word). Dust the patties with some of the cumin powder. Let them rest for a while in a cool place.

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (6 of 11)

The cumin dust adds a lovely flavour crust to the burger.

If you are in Australia: Barbecue the burgers while staying in the shade and enjoying a tinnie or a box of Shiraz.

If you are in Ireland: Cook on a hot griddle pan, staying close to the stove for warmth.

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (9 of 11)

There’s a lot of flavour in these lovely burgers.

Serve with buns or ciabatta bread, some salad and that mint yoghurt I mentioned earlier. Make it by chopping up some mint leaves and mixing them into some natural yoghurt.

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (7 of 11)

Don’t skimp on the yoghurt. It adds a lovely flavour.

Enjoy it outdoors, (Oz and all points south) or indoors, by a roaring fire, (Ireland and all points north).

Lamb and Cumin Burgers

This is the Australian version, served outdoors and enjoyed with a nice red wine.

The dusting of cumin really does add a lovely flavour hit that is delicious with the burgers. Please don’t over-cook them. If you start with good quality meat, wash your hands regularly, grind your own meat and treat it right, everything should be safe. I enjoy my lamb on the rare side. I enjoy my lamb burgers rare too.

Written by
Latest comments
  • They look delicious. There’s nothing wrong with a barbecue in winter as long as it’s dry and you dress up. I’ve been to a few Christmas morning barbecues (in England) in the not too distant past. I seem to remember cooking a lot of sausages and potatoes over an open fire in the boy scouts on cold winter evenings too!

      • Ha ha – I’ve done that a couple of times myself.

  • We’ll be using the Irish cooking method as winter has arrived in Southern Sweden. Looks to snow for days to come. But, what sounds better on a snowy evening than a great lamb burger and a box of fine red. Would prefer the Haut-Médoc you served, but not to be.
    As for your grinder, it doesn’t look old, just well polished like you.

  • What a nice meal! Wish the husband liked lamb…

      • It certainly is. After 36 years I think it’s too late!

  • Conor, this is very well timed. Australia Day approaches on 25th January, a day when it’s considered unpatriotic not to eat lamb. Personally I’d rather not fire up the oven in the current temperatures we’re getting, but getting out the griddle and giving these babies a scorching is entirely feasible. Incidentally, I believe that mincers and award-winner food blog writers don’t ‘get old’, they ‘develop vintage’, like wine or classic motor cars.

  • As a fellow member of the (well) Over 50 Club, I prefer the term “vintage.” 😉 Even though it’s winter in SoCal, we’ve had enough weird weather to be outside in shorts sweating over the grill. These burgers would make all that worth it. I like the idea of a dusting of cumin; I would have been worried about it burning.

  • I’m all with the cumin, but the honey puzzles me a bit. Besides neck, the breast is also a great part of lamb to use for this. (It is called lamb breast as far as I know, but you can also think of it as lamb belly because it is quite similar to pork belly, just a lot smaller.) Of course I completely agree on serving the lamb burgers on the rare side, much more flavor and much more juicy that way. Of course you could pasteurize them in the sous vide before grilling.

    • Give yourself a treat Stefan and use some honey with garlic cumin or rosemary to marinate some lamb. You’ll be converted, it’s deliciously complementary

  • Hmmm: The sky is clear, Conor, and the forecast in my neck of the woods for the next three days is 42+C every day . . . .will you cook me these Australia Day burgers if I turn up on your cloudy doorstep and ask nicely 🙂 ? But, just returned from Illinois, US where the inside of a barn was literally covered with snow: with a houseful of animals freezing . . . . OK, trying not to complain, : shall use the lovely cumin and the honey and make these on a stove grill at home!! Before A Day!!!! Simple, juicy, tasty . . .

  • Ron: when you in Sweden say ‘box’ we use the word ‘cask’ . . . . OK, ‘poor’me’ subscribes to de Bortoli ‘Cab Merlot’ [full 5 stars ] . . . . would naturally prefer the Haut-Medoc with you also 🙂 !!!

  • We were under three feet of snow this same time last year, and this year we’ve had but a skiff of it. In fact, we grilled burgers on the barbie two days ago in record-breaking 60 degree F weather! But I do hear we might get some real snow this weekend. Great idea to save this summer grilling recipe for our friends down under. You are so correct, the sun is shining somewhere!

  • Perfect burgers Conor, I’ll definitely add the honey, it works a treat with lamb. Not too many Aussies drink wine from casks anymore, too many decent reds in bottles available at a reasonable price.

  • Oh, thank God Conor: I actually belong: amongst the stereotypes: we quaff cask by the litre [pint?] and grill prawns and wear hats . . . oops, mine don’t have corks . . . oh well . . .

  • I prefer my burgers with salad and no bun. Less heavy. The cumin is a great touch.

      • It’s sad to see American portion sizes have made their way across the pond. I have no desire to dislocate my jaw to take a bite. I am not a snake! I often just do starters or if we get more it just means several meals.

  • This looks brilliant – I actually have some smoked salt so will try that – I like the idea of using honey too. James will be happy as he likes anything burger-shaped!

  • These sound fantastic, I even have the smoked salt 👍🏻 Making these this weekend ☺

Join the conversation, you know you want to....

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: