Fact Checked

How Do I Choose the Best Burger Relish?

Eugene P.
Eugene P.

Selecting the best burger relish can be a very subjective matter. There are several types of burger relish with various flavors, but they generally fall into two broad categories, sweet or savory. A sweet relish usually draws its main flavor from pickled ingredients, such as gherkins, and sugar that are mixed with vinegar and complementary herbs such as dill, fennel or caraway, or flavorings such as red onions. A savory burger relish generally can rely on a more traditional tomato and onion flavor, sometimes accented with Worcestershire sauce, garlic and peppers. Some relishes are wholly original inventions, such as Mexican chili relishes, hot pepper relish spreads and relishes that use large amounts of horseradish and mustard.

Many commercial producers of burger relish tend to adhere to a traditional combination of ingredients. This usually is some type of basic sweet relish made with pickles, vinegar, onions and other ingredients. This relish is then combined with tomatoes or tomato products such as ketchup to make a thick red spread. These tend to be fairly mild relishes with a pleasant sweet and sour taste that goes well with the cooked meat in hamburger and can make a good choice as a tangy condiment for a large gathering.

A cheeseburger.
A cheeseburger.

A homemade burger relish might be a good choice when the commercially available varieties are not satisfactory. A very simple relish can be made by mixing diced gherkins, onions and garlic with some ketchup and mustard seeds. For a similar relish that has a more rustic appeal, the ketchup can be replaced with finely diced tomatoes and tomatillos, along with vinegar and sugar.

Gherkins or other pickled cucumbers are typically the base for burger relish.
Gherkins or other pickled cucumbers are typically the base for burger relish.

When choosing the best burger relish, another element to consider is whether the relish has any special ingredients that might enhance or detract from the taste. Ingredients such as fennel, dill or caraway can produce a sweet flavor that is not enjoyed by everyone. Similarly, some relishes contain a large amount of hot peppers or hot sauces that can be unpleasant to people who do not enjoy spicy foods. One other aspect of the relish to be aware of is how many artificial chemicals or ingredients are added to attain a specific color or texture, because these can affect the overall taste.

No matter what burger relish is preferred, a few properties are important. The first is that the relish should be easily spreadable, with the pieces of vegetables in the relish being small enough so they can be eaten without problems. A good relish also should be specifically made for hamburgers, because certain types of general-purpose relishes might be far too sweet or sour to complement the meat. The relish also should have at least a bit of acidity in the mixture so it can cut through the sometimes heavy, meaty taste of the burger.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


When putting relish on my burger, I never took into consideration all the types that are available. Though I usually prefer sweet relish, I find that it doesn't work with some foods I've tried to use it on. For example, though sweet relish goes rather well on turkey burgers, I don't like to use it on beef burgers. Maybe this is because turkey burgers aren't as rich, so the condiments are more effective. On the other hand, because beef burgers have a lot more fat, you don't taste the sweet relish as much, and it just creates a mess.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A cheeseburger.
      By: Gena
      A cheeseburger.
    • Gherkins or other pickled cucumbers are typically the base for burger relish.
      By: ChantalS
      Gherkins or other pickled cucumbers are typically the base for burger relish.