Artisan Hamburgers

Artisan Hamburgers

Protein Options Can Lower Calories Without Sacrificing Flavor.

Truffle parmesan fries, organic free-range egg, all natural bison are just a few of the mouth watering "ingredients” gracing the artisan burger world today. And what’s not to love about these juicy works of art wrapped in wax paper? So much love that a $100 billion annual market has been born. And aren’t we glad it’s here.

In a recent Technomic report based on more than 2,250 online surveys of U.S. and Canadian consumers, found that 91 percent said they eat a burger at least once a month and 44 percent said they consume burgers at least once a week.

Artisan hamburger establishments have been popping up in foodie-centric communities almost as fast as the cupcake and frozen yogurt craze two years ago. But instead of customizing your frosting, or picking from the many mini-candy toppings, you’re choosing between which meat patty you want (Kobe beef to 100 percent grass fed sirloin, free-range turkey or chicken, antelope to alligator, ahi to salmon, bison to elk, pretty much anything that has legs the artisan hamburger world will put it between two pieces of lightly toasted brioche buns). But no artisan burger gets its royal knighthood with just the protein, the marriage of sauce and bun are just as important. Step aside tomato there’s a new condiment in town and it’s called: herb mayo, jalapeño relish, sweet chili sauce, and garlic aioli, – just a few spreads gracing the buns today.

And last, but never least, no decent burger gets good without the delectable starch, and in the artisan hamburger world you will not find any old potato strip, instead you’ll have the option of choosing between sweet potato fries, truffle parmesan fries, herb infused fries and even eggplant fries. These side orders give us a glimpse into the possibilities of turning a regular ground vegetable into an hour-long discussion of cooking processes and spice rubs.

So how is a restaurant operator going to take a bite (every pun intended) out of this fast growing market? Though the artisan burger market may seem like an untamed wild west of culinary innovation and food art, restaurant operators can do a few things to lasso the dieting diner wanting to watch their calorie intake, while still satisfying their taste buds:

GO SMALL – Sliders and mini bites offer the same tasty outcome as their adult counterpart, but with half the calories.

PROTEINS – The true growth of the artisan hamburger market is not just the daring ingredients used, but the choices offered. Instrumental to this growth are the choices of lower calorie proteins available to the food industry today:

Turkey - 176 Calories
Bison - 375 Calories
Ahi - 185 Calories
Sirloin - 309 Calories

INCREASE IN SALES – With any piece of art, comes a price. And the artisan burger is no different. Perhaps not a priceless Monet, but a modern blank canvas ready for food inspiration nonetheless. Instead of oil, we have aioli, instead of a gold gilt frame; we have gold flakes ($175 worth of gold to be exact from New York’s Wall Street Burger Shoppe). The artisan hamburger lends itself to the Michelin star pricing; a $30 burger seems affordable! And why not upcharge, after all, it’s art?

The artisan burger craze shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Just alone in San Francisco we’ve seen ten new concepts open within the past six months. Eat it, love it, embrace it, as the melted brie cheeseburger with caramelized onions is here to stay. | LUCY LOGAN, FOODCALC.COM

Founded in 2003, FoodCalc® is the gold standard for web-based nutrition analysis for the food industry. FoodCalc is the leading web-based provider of real-time nutritional analysis and label-compliance solutions for food manufacturers, restaurants, dietitians and chefs. Endorsed by the National Restaurant Association and the state restaurant associations of California, Florida, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts, FoodCalc has designed MenuCalc, the industry’s only one-stop resource for analyzing restaurant menus and LabelCalc, for creating accurate, FDA-compliant nutrition fact panels. For more information, visit