Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

Cheese Whisperer: Cheese Burgers 4 Ways

Cheese is be a wonderful topping for burgers. Go beyond familiars like processed American cheese and cheddar to discover the ways different cheese can bring new life your burger!

It’s a Brie-eeze

Often served on crusty bread or with crackers, brie cheese is ultra-creamy. Eating the rind is optional, but can add extra flavor (and helps keep the brie from running away). Try adding the silky texture and luscious, earthy taste of blue cheese to burgers.

Camembert and Brie are both soft ripened cheeses that can contribute a special ooey-gooey goodness to burgers. Camembert often has a more intense flavor with peppery notes. Try local Skagit Maid Creamery’s Camembert of imported Le Pommelier French Camembert.

With its rich, creamy texture and almost mushroom-y taste, soft ripened cheese plays off the grilled, smokey flavor of burgers and toppings. Try adding spicy garlic and hot chilies or go sweet-and savory with peach jam and caramelized onions.

Apple, Bacon & Brie Burger

Recipe & photo adapted from


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs. ground Oregon Country beef, molded into 8 1/4 lb. patties
  • 10 ounces brie, rind optional, cut into 8 slices
  • 4 burger buns, split and toasted
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 12 slices of CURED bacon, crisp-cooked
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, sliced


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and butter. Once the butter is melted and foamy, add the onion and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until the onions are soft and deep brown, about 20 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
  2. Cook the burger patties in the stove top, for at least 5 minutes each side, as desired. When you flip the burgers, top with cheese, cover and continue cooking until the burgers and heated through and seared and the cheese has melted.
  3. Spread Dijon mustard on the inside cuts of the Kaiser rolls. To assemble the burgers, layer one burger patty without cheese, one patty with cheese, caramelized onions, bacon and apple slices. Cover with the top parts and serve immediately.

Be Boldly Blue

Few cheeses are named for their appearance, but blue cheese is undeniably, well, blue, and sometimes green. Made by mixing cheese curds with special mold cultures, blue cheese is pierced with needles to allow air flow. This creates their distinctive blue-ish streaks. While not all blue cheese tastes the same, most have a sharp, spicy flavor. Strong blue cheeses, such as Roquefort or Blue Stilton contain Penicillium roqueforti, while milder options like Gorgonzola and Bleu d’Auvergne contain Penicillium glaucum. Visit the Co-op’s Specialty Cheese Island’s “Blue Vein” shelf for a selection of quality blue cheeses from around the globe.

Blue cheese has a salty, pungent flavor that makes for bold burgers. It pairs nicely with the sweetness of onions and peppers, or even a fruit jam. Blue cheese especially compliments beef and lamb burgers. Try this recipe for

Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese & Basil Sauce

Photo and recipe from


  • 2 oz. Point Reyes, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 4 3/8-inch-thick slices red onion
  • 4 hamburger rolls, lightly toasted


Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cheese, basil, mayonnaise, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, gently combine the lamb with the garlic and onion powders, paprika, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Form into 4 thin patties about 5-1/2 inches wide. Grill the burgers and onion slices, flipping once, until the burgers are cooked to your liking (145°F for medium) and the onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes for the burgers, 8 to 9 minutes for the onions. Spread the bun tops with the blue cheese mixture, and serve the burgers on the buns topped with the onions.

Gouda A-Go-Go

Some say that Gouda cheese makes the tastiest mac-n-cheese. It’s also a perfect match for burgers. Loaded with flavor and creamy texture, Gouda melts like a dream. The Co-op offers several options, from local farmstead gouda from Samish Bay Cheese or Appel Farms or imported Dutch classics of varying ages. Gouda is also compliments spicy Barbecue sauce or horseradish-spiked dressings. Smoked Gouda is especially decadent for a smooth and smoky burger finish.

BBQ Turkey Burgers with Smoked Gouda

Recipe & photo adapted from


  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 4 ounces smoked Gouda, cut in small cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoning: 1/4 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sliced tomato
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Ketchup and Mustard


Place ground turkey in a large bowl. Using hands, gently fold seasoning, Worcestershire, cheese, onion, and parsley into meat and form into 6 patties.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill burgers for 5 minutes per side or until lightly charred and a meat thermometer registers 165°F. Lightly toast buns on grill and serve turkey burgers with your favorite toppings.


Don’t Swiss Out


Swiss cheese is made for melting. As the centerpiece of fondue, many Swiss cheeses have a fine, nutty flavor and smooth texture. There are dozens of types of “Swiss” cheese. For more information on different varieties, read The History of Swiss Cheese, Gruyere & Emmentaller.

Most commonly available are those either made in the Emmentaller style, with large eye holes and a nutty, bittersweet flavor; and Gruyere style, a firmer, more aged creamy cheese. The Co-op’s Specialty Cheese Island features a number of quality, Swisss cheese. Each are tasty for topping burgers.

Mushroom Swiss Burgers

Elevate your cheeseburger with an infusion of minced mushrooms and a hint of Worcestershire sauce.


  • 8 ounces button mushrooms
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns


  1. Place half of the mushrooms in a food processor and pulse several times to mince. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, then scrape the mushrooms into the hot pan. Add the remaining mushrooms to the food processor and mince, then add to the pan. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mushrooms are sizzling and give up their liquids. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium. Stir until the pan is dry, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
  2. Add the ground beef to the mushroom mixture and stir with your hands to combine. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and gently shape into patties. Refrigerate until time to cook.
  3. Grill or pan-fry the patties for about 3 minutes per side. When the burgers are done, top each with a slice of Swiss cheese and let sit in the hot pan for a few seconds to melt the cheese, then serve on toasted buns.

Provide the Perfect Pattie

Quick note on burger patty sizes, we all have our preferences. Factor in the size of the bun and toppings. Most recipes call for one of three options:

  • Burger size chart from

    Sliders / 2 oz. – these small, mini-burgers, sliders can make great appetizers or light meals. Get creative and add a variety of cheeses and toppings.

  • Quarter pound / 4 oz. – this is a thinner, standard-sized burger patty, but be sure not to overwhelm with toppings and condiments. Some recipes call for layering topping between two 1/4 patties for a more filling meal.
  • Third pound / 5.3 oz. – thick and juicy, this size is pretty standard and can be served on it’s own, or in concert with cheese and/or bacon.
  • Half pound / 8 oz. – a hefty, big ‘ol burger for big appetites. Some call it a “meatloaf” burger because the patty is so thick it’s inside can resemble tender meatloaf. Be sure to balance the toppings and condiments.
By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.