Zesty Italian Burgers

Rich Zesty Italian Burgers layered with pancetta, smoked mozzarella, pesto, and grilled onions. 

Zesty Italian Burgers | ASpicyPerspective.com
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We Americans like our comfort food.

We are always trying to turn the unfamiliar into the familiar. You have to agree, this is better than the old tradition of shunning the unfamiliar altogether.

Awesome Zesty Italian Burgers | ASpicyPerspective.com

American fusion food is a great example of this new-found fascination.

Dishes such as Mexican pizza and Asian-style hot dogs are just the beginning of our efforts to bring world flavors into the main stream. You can hardly go out-to-eat without seeing menus with ingredients from all over the globe. What an exciting time in culinary history!

Making Zesty Italian Burgers | ASpicyPerspective.com

Italian food has made its way, full-force, into the heart of America.

Very few people here would ever think of it as an exotic style of cooking. Americans eat pizza, pasta, cured meats, and cheese in enormous amounts, probably only comparable to the eating habits of, let’s say…Italians!?

How to Make Zesty Italian Burgers | ASpicyPerspective.com

So I thought it would be fun to take the comforting flavors of Italy and layer them, like a warm fuzzy blanket, over the only thing that might be even more comforting. A hamburger.

Introducing Zesty Italian Burgers. A combinations of all my favorite Italian flavors in one meaty sandwich!

Zesty Italian Burger Recipe | ASpicyPerspective.com

These Zesty Italian Burgers are piled with smoked mozzarella cheese, pesto, pancetta, grilled red onions, ripe tomato slices, arugula and tomato-butter on a ciabatta bun.

Zesty Italian Burgers are glorious dripping towers of international bliss. American style!

Must-Make Zesty Italian Burgers | ASpicyPerspective.com

Zesty Italian Burgers
5 from 4 votes

Zesty Italian Burgers

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Zesty Italian Burgers - A fun take on classic hamburgers with pancetta, smoked mozzarella, grilled onions, and pesto piled on a ciabatta roll!
Servings: 4
Nutrition Facts
Zesty Italian Burgers
Amount Per Serving (1 burger)
Calories 809 Calories from Fat 504
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 56g 86%
Saturated Fat 19g 95%
Cholesterol 144mg 48%
Sodium 925mg 39%
Potassium 585mg 17%
Total Carbohydrates 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 39g 78%
Vitamin A 12.7%
Vitamin C 3.3%
Calcium 8.6%
Iron 21.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 8 slices pancetta
  • 4 ounces basil pesto (or make your own!)
  • 1 large ball smoked mozzarella
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin rounds
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • Baby arugula
  • ripe tomato slices
  • 4 ciabatta buns


  1. Heat the grill to high. Divide the ground beef into 4 portions. Salt and pepper the patties. Layer each patty with a slice of pancetta on top and bottom. Press the pancetta into each patty.
  2. Cut the onion and mozzarella into rounds. Melt the butter and mix it with the tomato paste and anchovy paste. Cut the ciabatta buns and brush the insides with tomato-butter.
  3. Carefully brush the grill with oil or use non-stick grill spray. Grill the patties and onions at the same time. Grill the patties for 3-5 minutes per side and the onions for 1-2 minutes per side.
  4. Once you flip the burgers, lay the onion rounds over the top of each patty, followed by the mozzarella slices. The cheese will melt while the burgers finish cooking.
  5. Place the buns on the open grill and toast for 1 minute. Once the buns are toasted, slather them with pesto. Layer arugula leaves, tomato slices and a patty on each bun. Top and serve!

Recipe Notes

Basic Pesto Ingredients (if making pesto from scratch): 

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and pecorino in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

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54 comments on “Zesty Italian Burgers

  1. Theresa Zimmermannposted March 11, 2019 at 9:32 am Reply

    I usually don’t bother rating recipes but this one is special! I am low carb so I used one piece of low carb bread to grill with the tomato butter and top with the pesto. The flavor combination in this recipe makes an epic burger! Thanks for the recipe.

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  3. Mary @ LOVE the secret ingredientposted August 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm Reply

    This reminds me of a burger I had recently with some prosciutto and italian sausage ground and blended in the patty. So good! Love your recipe, flavors are so strong!

  4. Emily @ Life on Foodposted August 9, 2016 at 7:41 am Reply

    The pesto alone makes these burgers tasty but then you go and add so many other flavors. Delish!

  5. Chef Dennisposted September 5, 2010 at 11:35 am Reply

    Now that is one great burger! The pancetta must have added some wonderful flavors, and your tomato anchovy on that beautiful bread sounds so good, you could have probably just eaten the bread by itself!
    thanks for coming up with this masterpiece!

  6. Reeniposted September 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm Reply

    How insanely delicious! This would be a huge hit in my house. Everything we love – on a burger!

  7. Loriposted September 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm Reply

    What a fabuolous idea. You are so right. Italian food is so big.

  8. Shirleyposted September 3, 2010 at 4:28 am Reply

    Amazing the bun will contain so much. I'm lovin the idea of tomato butter.

  9. Nirmalaposted September 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm Reply

    Wow! This looks so great. I want to take a bite.

  10. denise @ quickies on the dinner tableposted September 2, 2010 at 10:01 am Reply

    Best burger I've seen so far – honestly! Smoked mozzarella, pancetta, anchovy paste, arugula, red onion, pesto and SQUARE BUNS!!!


  11. Rickposted September 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm Reply

    It is so true about the familiar and unfamiliar!

  12. Hyosun Roposted September 2, 2010 at 3:42 am Reply

    Very creative and original! I really want to make this. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. Claudiaposted September 1, 2010 at 11:24 pm Reply

    This is one scrumptious Italiano burger! You went all out – just as the Italians do. I think there's at least three courses packed in that burger.

  14. momgatewayposted September 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm Reply

    glad I found your picture perfect blog!

  15. Kateposted September 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Love it!!! I've been craving a good burger and this one takes the cake. Something's going off the menu for next week and this is going on. If Connie wasn't playing bridge tonight and if I didn't have a meeting that starts in a few minutes and will last for about two hours I'd be heading to the grocery to get the ingredients right now :-) Kate @kateiscooking

  16. Lawyer Loves Lunchposted September 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm Reply

    I'm so glad hamburgers are your comfort food! And yay for ciabatta! It's way better than using hamburger buns which are kinda boring and don't hold up to a hearty burger :)

  17. Foodessaposted September 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm Reply

    Sommer…you certainly know how to dress up a great looking and tasty burger ;o)

    Your photo captures are splendid!

    Ciao for now,

  18. Chocolate Frecklesposted September 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm Reply

    Mmmmmmmmmmmm BURGER!

  19. Barbaraposted September 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Now THAT looks heavenly! I love those Italian ingredients.

  20. Pacheco Pattyposted September 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm Reply

    Perfect Italian style burgers, very creative, I think you nailed all the flavors and they look grilled to perfection:)

  21. Sophieposted September 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm Reply

    Waw!! I love everything in & round & on top of that burger!! It all looks so tasty & mighty pretty too!

    MMMMMMMMMM,..fantastic real flavours in here & I also love the fact that you made your own pesto!


  22. Baking Barristerposted September 1, 2010 at 3:41 am Reply

    You know I like pesto on burgers, but I definitely think adding pork into the mix is a brilliant idea. This is one of the better versions of fusion food–some of it is SO weird!

  23. The Mom Chefposted September 1, 2010 at 1:44 am Reply

    Glorious. Delicious and glorious. Of course, if you could please make mine with a bit more pink in the middle? Medium rare is perfect. Wow, that looks so good.

  24. Emilyposted September 1, 2010 at 1:14 am Reply

    This burger looks delicious. Great pictures, too. And you're right, we Americans really can't resist good comfort foods!

  25. Julianaposted September 1, 2010 at 12:49 am Reply

    Wow, this burger is absolutely mouthwatering…

  26. Stellaposted August 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm Reply

    Good idea, Sommer! I love fusion food-there is no shame in it, girl (smile). Plus, this looks really wonderful. Oh, how I do miss burgers…Oh;)

  27. Joudie's Mood Foodposted August 31, 2010 at 9:09 pm Reply

    You had me at smoked mozzarella. YUMMY YUMMY IN MY TUMMY! This looks so good to me. I am going to make it. My husband has been challenging me to make him the ultimate burger and i think i found it!

  28. Sandy a la Modeposted August 31, 2010 at 5:47 pm Reply

    my do these look delicious!! must try it out sometime!!

  29. Kristenposted August 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm Reply

    I'd like to be nearby when you make these just to smell the aroma of those amazing burgers grilling. Yum!!

    I have a question about the examiner gig you have going. How often do you have to post?

  30. Marisaposted August 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm Reply

    Italian Burger…I'm sold! Love the pancetta, tomato butter, and pesto. Put it all on ciabatta and that's pretty much heaven. I think this would also be good with some other meats mixed in the burger like pork and veal.

  31. Angie's Recipesposted August 31, 2010 at 11:17 am Reply

    They look excellent! A perfect combination of flavours. Who said "burgers" are the junk food?

  32. 5 Star Foodieposted August 31, 2010 at 5:39 am Reply

    An excellent burger, I love the combo of pancetta and mozarella and pesto here!

  33. citronetvanilleposted August 31, 2010 at 5:00 am Reply

    Oh how beautiful this burger is. Even though I don't eat burgers, this one is really tempting and mouthwatering!

  34. Magic of Spiceposted August 31, 2010 at 1:36 am Reply

    I don't even eat meat, but love this…These flavors are fantastic :)

  35. Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet }posted August 31, 2010 at 1:30 am Reply

    That burger is to die for!!! All of my favorite Italian ingredients. Yummy!!!

  36. Julie M.posted August 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm Reply

    Sommer, this burger looks absolutely delicious! I love the addition of pancetta. Save one for me please!

  37. tasteofbeirutposted August 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm Reply

    Love your foray into Italian cuisine via American and burger food! Very clever and very tasty too.

  38. sweetlifeposted August 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm Reply

    Oh sommer what a perfect burger, first your perfect peach salad and now your fab burger, really great labor day ideas!! yum, love the pic of the bitten butger!!


  39. Priscilla - She's Cookin'posted August 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm Reply

    We love our comfort food and there's nothing like a juicy burger! And with pancetta – what's not to like ;)

  40. Vanessaposted August 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm Reply

    Wow that burger looks so delicious!!!

  41. Susiposted August 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm Reply

    What a unique and delicious looking burger! It's making my mouth water big time! Thanks for sharing!

  42. Eileenposted August 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm Reply

    Speaking of delivery… 12 noon is okay with me – lol… Burgers look great – I love home grilled burgers the best.

  43. Frankposted August 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm Reply

    Neat idea! I'm not much of a hamburger maven but this one looks like a must try!

  44. Carol Egbertposted August 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm Reply

    Great post!Tomato butter sounds wonderful. Thanks.

  45. May Ling Wuposted August 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm Reply

    yum panchatta and a burger what can beat that!

  46. Belinda @zomppaposted August 30, 2010 at 11:48 am Reply

    This is a perfect burger, complete with ciabatta. This is triple comfort.

  47. Gitteposted August 30, 2010 at 10:41 am Reply

    Very interesting burger and I love the italian spin. Sounds delicious.

  48. The Cilantropistposted August 30, 2010 at 7:12 am Reply

    This sounds TOTALLY awesome. My mouth is watering, literally. And I dont think it would be wise for me to whip up one of these burgers this late at night. I suppose I will have to wait until next weekend for labor day. *sigh* It will be hard to wait that long… ;)

  49. Tanviposted August 30, 2010 at 6:09 am Reply

    What a burger!Absolutely delightful!
    Will try with minced chicken!…and that tomato butter rocks!

  50. Katerinaposted August 30, 2010 at 5:32 am Reply

    These burgers look absolutely fantastic. I love burgers and surely yours would be my recipe to go. Thanks for sharing!

  51. Maryposted August 30, 2010 at 4:56 am Reply

    I surrender. You are the hands down winner in the burger department. These sound other worldly. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  52. Annaposted August 30, 2010 at 4:26 am Reply

    Oh boy! This burger looks so amazing, loooooooved the tomato butter idea.

  53. Victoria K.posted August 30, 2010 at 3:48 am Reply

    OMG you are a burger goddess. I wouldn't change a thing!!

  54. Mother Rimmyposted August 30, 2010 at 3:13 am Reply

    I hope you've entered this recipe into a burger contest. It's unique and looks fantastic. I bet you could win!