Lamb Sliders with Harissa & Yogurt Sauce

The menu at Dune, the beachfront burger lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, serves a delicious lamb burger with roasted red peppers and Manchego cheese on a grilled onion roll bun. The chef claims the secret to tender lamb burgers is to loosely pack the meat and to salt only the exterior of the lamb patties. This recipe swaps the cheese for a yogurt-based sauce that enhances the naturally sweet ovine meat. Supermarket ground lamb has the perfect fat ratio and is no longer a special order item. The yogurt sauce is a traditional condiment served with lamb. Use it like ketchup and spread on the bun for a tangy, This tasty, lean, mean burger may be the new bbq favorite.


Foraging on land that has little other agricultural use, and today still nearly completely grass fed,  lamb is a healthy, sustainable option for meat lovers.



For the Sliders

1 teaspoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon fennel seed

2 1/4 pounds ground lamb

1/2 cup onion, minced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Light olive oil

12 slider rolls

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Harissa sauce

1 cup baby arugula, or arugula microgreens

Slices of roasted red pepper, optional

For the Yogurt Sauce

1 cup of thick Greek yogurt, drain the liquid if necessary

1/2 large lemon, zested and juiced

1 garlic clove, minced or grated

20 medium sized mint leaves, finely julienned

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



1. Over medium heat, toast the coriander and fennel seeds until fragrant. Transfer the toasted seeds to a spice grinder and finely grind.

2. In a large bowl, gently mix the lamb, onion, butter, garlic, cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne pepper with the coriander and fennel seed mixture. Try not to smash the meat or pack it too tightly. The slider texture will be better if it is carefully mixed without compressing and compacting the meat excessively.

3. Divide the meat into 3 ounce portions (this will make about 12 sliders) and gently form into patties. The meat will shrink, so make each patty slightly bigger than the bun. Generously sprinkle the exterior of the lamb patties with salt & pepper.

4. Heat a LARGE CAST IRON SKILLET over high heat for 10 minutes and then coat the bottom of it with olive oil. Add burgers immediately, as you do not want the olive oil to smoke.

5. Cook burgers, flipping every minute, until a nice brown crust appears, the internal temperature is 125 degrees F. for medium rare(about 5 to 6 minutes total). 

6. Meanwhile, brush the inside of each slider roll with butter and toast in another LARGE SKILLET over medium-high heat. Be careful not to burn these as they will cook in 30 seconds. If you cook on medium-high heat a nice golden crust will appear on the bun.

7. When bread is nicely toasted, remove from heat and spread the top half of the slider with the harissa. Go very sparingly with the harissa as it is spicy. You can always add more.

8. To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. 

9. Spread the yogurt sauce on the bottom half of the roll and add the slider patty. Top the burger with a few leaves of arugula, the roasted red pepper slices if desired, and the other half of the roll. 

10. Serve immediately and pass remaining yogurt sauce.


Kitchen Notes

The yogurt sauce may be made up to one day in advance. When making burger patties of any kind, indent the center just a bit to prevent the burger from shrinking up during cooking. Refrain from smashing the meat together when shaping the burgers to preserve their texture.