By The Spoonful


I work for a supermarket that offers wine, beer and cheese clubs. I often help at all the clubs with food and beverage pairings or new recipe ideas. Many of my ideas come from what is asked of me at work.

For a beer club event featuring several Founders Brewing Company beers, I was asked to do a food and beverage pairing. After a little research on the flavor profile of the Pale Ale, this burger idea came to me. I decided this beer would team up well with the charred flavor of something grilled and the bold taste of something spicy yet sweet. Also, this Pale Ale pairs well with blue cheeses so I wanted that flavor to be prominent. Can someone say, “Spicy chicken wings”?

Hot Wing Chicken Burger Ingredients  Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix.

Hot Wing Chicken Burger mixture.

Spicy wings did meet all the criteria, but I don’t like simple answers to my food/beverage pairings. I didn’t want some average Buffalo Wild Wings pairing. The beer called for something more stylish but just as handy as food pairing. I decided mini sliders would be the best combination of the above. Adding that to my criteria, a chicken burger sounded the most appetizing. You should be able to find ground chicken in most large supermarkets; if you can’t ground turkey can be substituted. I added other flavors such as mustard, Worcestershire, red onion, and of course, blue cheese. I use Maytag blue cheese; it’s made in Iowa, and its recipe/formula was invented at Iowa State University, so it’s the best blue cheese out there. Looking back at the ale, Founders Pale has a citrus flavor that I wanted to compliment. I added some orange zest was added to the ground chicken mix.

Zesting an orange.  Finely chopped red onion.

To achieve the “hot wing” concept, I brushed each chicken patty with bottled hot sauce and did a light marinade before grilling. I used Cookies’ Wings-N-Things Hot Sauce, yet another great product made in Iowa. After grilling the burgers, I topped each with a mild blue cheese called Monterey Blue (That’s right, double the blue cheese!), placed it in a toasted bun layered with lettuce and tomato and a simple garlic aioli sauce to enhance the flavors.

Garlic aioli ingredients.  Garlic Aioli

I made mini sliders the first time I made this burger. Mini sliders are perfect if you want to turn a burger recipe into an appetizer for a party, have finger foods, or just because they are pretty cute looking. You can turn any burger into mini sliders by simple forming small ‘fit in your palm’ sized patties.

Chicken burgers on the grill  Add blue cheese.

Hot wing chicken burgers!

Needless to say, this burger pairs well with Founder’s Pale Ale. I’m not a beer fan, so I would even pair this spicy burger with a nice chilled glass of Chardonnay or Riesling. The sweet wine balances out the spicy burger so you crave more of both!

Buffalo Chicken Burger with Blue Cheese and Garlic Aioli

by By The Spoonful


Makes 4 Servings

Chicken Mixture:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey or chicken
  • ½ cup Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ cup hot chicken wing sauce

Garlic Aioli:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt/pepper, to taste


  • 1 lemon, wedged
  • Dilussuo Monterey
  • Blue Cheese Slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato, sliced
  • 4 bakery fresh hamburger buns

In a mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, blue cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, orange zest, mustard, bread crumbs and pepper. Mix well; add more bread crumbs if necessary to help form a burger patty. Form into four uniform patties. Place patties on a plate and generously brush each with hot wing sauce, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare grill as normal. Generously brush chicken patties with more wing sauce, place hamburgers on the hot grill, and cook for about 6 minutes per side, or until the burger’s internal temperature reaches 165°F with a meat thermometer. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over each burger before taking off the grill.

To assemble, spread aioli over both sides of the bun. Layer bottom bun with lettuce and tomato, top with chicken burger, Dilusso blue cheese slice and top with remaining bun.

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Founders Brewing Company is located in Grand Rapids, Mich. They have several year-round, seasonal and specialty beers. Check out their lineup here.


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