Cheddar and Bacon Burger

Makes 6 burgers

Choose a smoky, full-flavored bacon for this burger, which takes a traditional topping and mixes it right into the meat.

The cheese in the burger helps form a crusty exterior, adding another layer of flavor.

2 ounces smoked bacon (2 slices of thick-cut bacon), diced

1/2 cup diced onion

11/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck or sirloin

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Nonstick spray oil or vegetable oil, if needed

In a small saute pan over medium heat, cook the diced bacon until the fat renders out. Do not allow the bacon to crisp. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the onion pieces are translucent and have softened. The bacon should still be soft. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mixture to a plate to cool. Discard excess fat.

In a medium bowl, combine the cooled bacon-onion mixture, the beef, pepper to taste and the cheddar cheese. Be careful not to overwork the meat; mix the ingredients just enough to combine them. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick.

Saute, broil or grill to desired doneness, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium. If sauteing, spray the pan or griddle with a nonstick oil spray or lightly coat it with oil. The cheese in the burger will make the outside crusty, and the burger might stick even in a nonstick pan.

Per serving: 449 calories, 24 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 38 g fat, 114 mg cholesterol, 16 g saturated fat, 287 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Bloody Mary Burger

Makes 6 burgers

This recipe uses the seasonings that give a bloody mary its zing. It's a surprisingly good combination with the beef. Serve these burgers with onion rolls.

For the burgers:

11/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck or sirloin

11/2 tablespoons ketchup

A few dashes hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:

1/4 cup ketchup

A dash hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

For the burgers: In a large bowl, combine the burger ingredients. Be careful not to overwork the meat; mix just enough to combine. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick.

For the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients and set aside.

Saute or grill burgers 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the burgers over and brush cooked side with the glaze. Cook second side to desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes for medium.

Per serving: 368 calories, 19 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 30 g fat, 96 mg cholesterol, 12 g saturated fat, 284 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber

Meatloaf Burger

Makes 6 burgers

This burger satisfies the craving for a meatloaf in a fraction of the time it takes to prepare and cook a full-size meatloaf. While I usually use fresh onion, the toasted onion flakes add a flavor that makes them not only a convenient choice but also a desirable one. These are particularly good on onions rolls or Italian-style sandwich buns.

11/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck or sirloin

2 teaspoons flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons minced onion flakes, preferably toasted

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs

1 egg

Freshly ground black pepper

2 slices of bacon, each cut into thirds

In a large bowl, combine the beef, parsley, onion flakes, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, bread crumbs, egg and pepper to taste. Be careful not to overwork the meat; mix the ingredients just enough to combine them. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick. Top each patty with one piece of bacon, lightly pressing the bacon into the burger so that it will stay in the patty when the burger is turned over.

On a nonstick griddle or in a nonstick pan starting with the bacon side down, saute the burgers to desired doneness, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium.

Per serving: 391 calories, 21 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 32 g fat, 134 mg cholesterol, 13 g saturated fat, 152 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Scallion and Ginger

'Pot Sticker' Burger

Makes 6 burgers

If you love Chinese-style dumplings, these pork burgers are for you. They can be prepared in minutes and are delicious. Resist the urge to put these on buns -- they're great just as they are.

Try to use regular ground pork, as opposed to the lean variety. The fat keeps the burgers moist and tender.

These burgers are best cooked on a griddle or in a saute pan. Grilling them adds a flavor that overwhelms the pork.

11/2 pounds ground pork

2 teaspoons minced ginger root

2 tablespoon finely chopped scallions, both white and green parts

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Sugar

1 egg white

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking

In a large bowl, combine the pork, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, a pinch of sugar and the egg white. Be careful not to overwork the meat; mix just enough to combine. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick.

Lightly coat a large griddle or saute pan with oil. Over medium heat, cook the burgers 5 to 6 minutes. Turn over and brush the cooked side with the hoisin sauce. Cook the second side until cooked completely through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Per serving: 210 calories, 26 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 63 mg cholesterol, 2 g saturated fat, 214 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Curried Apple Chicken Burger

Makes 6 burgers

Here, the same elements that work so well in a salad are combined to make a burger. Because ground poultry makes a more compact and, therefore, drier burger, these burgers are best served with a chutney topping.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced peeled apple, preferably Granny Smith

1 teaspoon curry powder, preferably sweet, or more to taste

11/2 pounds ground chicken, preferably white meat

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dried bread crumbs

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking

Chutney

In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the apple and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes until the apple pieces are soft and just beginning to color. Add the curry powder and stir to combine. Transfer the onion-apple mixture to a plate to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled onion-apple mixture with the chicken, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Be careful not to overwork the meat; mix just enough to combine. Spread the remaining bread crumbs on a plate or in a small, shallow bowl. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick. As each patty is formed, place it on the bread crumbs, turning gently to coat. Discard excess bread crumbs.

Generously coat a large griddle or saute pan with oil and heat over medium heat. Add the burgers and saute until cooked completely through, turning once, about 12 minutes.

Serve with chutney of your choice.

Per serving: 350 calories, 20 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 26 g fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 216 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Jalapeno and Smoked Cheddar Burger

Makes 6 burgers

For a more indulgent burger, place a slice of smoked cheddar cheese over the cooked side of each burger after it is flipped.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, both white and green parts

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

11/2 pounds ground turkey, preferably white meat

2 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated

Nonstick spray oil or vegetable oil, if needed

Salsa, optional

In a small saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the jalapeno peppers and scallions and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine; transfer the mixture to a plate to cool.

In a bowl, combine the cooled jalapeno-scallion mixture, the turkey and the smoked cheddar cheese. Be careful not to overwork the meat; mix just enough to combine. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and form each into a patty about 3/4-inch thick.

Generously coat a griddle or saute pan with oil and heat over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook the burgers until cooked completely through, turning once, about 12 minutes.

Serve with salsa, if desired.

Per serving: 231 calories, 22 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 99 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 213 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipes tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com.

Tasters John Guattery, seated, with Tom Meyer, left, and J. Scott Webster found some favorites among the prepared burgers -- and some to avoid. "Nothing has more flavor per square inch than bacon," Meyer said.