Eats

Apple Cheddar Hamburgers

Words and photos by Megan McDuffie and Michael van Vliet from Fresh Off The Grid

Having recently arrived in New England, we’ve been getting the full autumn experience: cool sweater weather, brilliantly colored foliage, and lots of end-of-the-season produce. While we used to get changes in the temperature back in California, it was nothing compared to the full spectrum seasonal shift we’re experiencing now.

Something we’ve really enjoyed about fall in New England has been the diverse range of apples. By our observation, California was dominated by Fujis, Galas, Pink Ladies, and Honeycrisps. Even at our local farmers markets in Los Angeles, it was hard to find anything outside of these major four. But here on the East Coast, we’ve uncovered an entirely new selection of Courtlands, Empires, McIntoshes, Macouns, and Baldwins. Tasting our way through these apple varieties has turned into a new fall pastime.

Apples are not only an iconic symbol of fall, but they’re also a wonderfully versatile fruit for cooking. Apple cider and apple pie are the most common ways to prepare them, but we wanted to try something a little different. Apples and cheese go well together, and now we thankfully have easy access to quality Vermont Cheddar. Apples also pair nicely with caramelized onions. So how to bring all these elements together? A hamburger, of course.

“Apples also pair nicely with caramelized onions. So how to bring all these elements together? A hamburger, of course.”

We tested a couple of different approaches when making these burgers. We tried sauteing the apples with the onions, we tried thinly slicing the apples and serving them on top, but ultimately we landed on grating the apples and mixing them with the meat. Not only does this keep the burgers moist, but it also means you get delicious apple flavor in every single bite.

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With the arrival of cooler weather, this might be your last chance to get some late-season grilling in. We recently made this batch of burgers at Misery Mountain campground in the Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut. While the official camping season is over and the self-registration no longer requires any payment, there were still dozens of groups out enjoying some end-of-the-season camping.

So capture a little taste of fall in your next burger, and try making these New England Apple Cheddar Hamburgers.

Apple Cheddar Hamburgers (
Makes 6)

2lb ground beef (80% lean is ideal)

1 large apple

1 teaspoon salt

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

6oz cheddar cheese

6 hamburger buns

Condiments of choice

Add the onions, olive oil, and salt to a small skillet and place over the fire at medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to caramelize, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel & grate the apple on the large holes of a cheese grater. Mix with the ground beef and salt, then form into six patties.

Cook the patties over medium-high heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Toast the buns, then build the burgers, topping each with the cheddar and caramelized onions. Enjoy!

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