Interesting burger toppings to try at summer barbecues

The hamburger is a summer standard. Firing up the grill and preparing beef patties for a backyard full of hungry friends and family is a summer tradition, but that doesn't mean creative culinary academy students have to be completely traditional. Here are some unique ideas for what you can use to add a little excitement to your backyard burger cuisine.

While mayonnaise is an available burger topping at many restaurants, it usually doesn't rank as high as other condiments like ketchup and mustard. NBC's Today found chefs who were both in favor of and against mayo as a burger topping. The chef, Jonathan Waxman, who supported mayonnaise, said it can give burgers a luxurious taste.

Mayo stands out from the other options on this list because it is much more versatile. You can diversify your flavor options by providing different kinds of mayonnaise. Condiment options can include chipotle mayo, garlic mayo – or do as The Stir suggested and serve your guest spicy curry mayo with mango slices on top of their burgers.

Peanut Butter
Peanut butter has proven surprisingly popular as a burger topping. The Hot Dish blog has found five excellent establishments that serve peanut butter burgers in the Twin Cities alone.

Peanut butter works because of the flavor pairing of savory and sweet. It's also an excellent source of protein. Bacon is usually recommended as a complement to peanut butter burgers, but feel free to be creative. Serious Eats featured an Atlanta restaurant that sells a PB&J burger.

Tater Tots
Most people have already experimented with french fries on a burger. Why not try the fry's healthier cousin? When comparing popular french fry and tater tot brands on TwoFoods, the tots had consistently fewer calories.

Place the tater tots under the bun and press down until you get a flat sandwich. They mush better than most fries and make the burger easier to eat. If people are really watching their weight or sticking to a vegetarian diet, Domestic Fits has a hamburger recipe that replaces the beef with tater tots topped with cheese and sriracha sour cream.

One could probably assume that people try apples on burgers for health reasons, but it's also probably because of the sensory enjoyment. It is very satisfying to bite into a burger and hear a loud, crisp crunch.

The Bad Apple in Chicago serves a burger topped with apples and raisin chutney. Normally, apples go great with cheeses like cheddar, but The Stir recommends using Brie cheese and honey mustard. Apples do tend to work well on a burger if you layer on something else sweet like sweet potatoes or even peanut butter.

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