50/50/50 Burgers

February 18, 2014 in Categories: , , by

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I owe a debt of gratitude to Paleo Parents for the 50/50 Burger.  Their original recipe, featured on their blog and in their first book Eat Like a Dinosaur (read my review here), adds some warm spices to enhance the flavors of bacon and ground beef, formed into a patty and cooked using whatever method you like to cook burgers.  Absolutely genius.  Take 2 of the 50/50 Burger, featured in their second book Beyond Bacon (read my review here), turns the tables and uses beef bacon and ground pork.  Again, genius.

Both of Paleo Parents’ 50/50 burger recipes include nightshade spices.  The first time I decided to try a version of their recipe I decided to quite simply leave out the spices and cook up some ground beef and ground bacon “au naturel” (okay, the first time I made these it was actually with wild ground venison and ground bacon).  And, maybe this reflects the fact that bacon is one of my absolute favorite foods, and maybe this reflects the fact that I do tend to enjoy simpler flavors, but I just couldn’t believe how crazy delicious it was!  Variations of 50/50 burgers have become one of my family’s staples over the last six months.  But the most exciting day was the day I decided to add ground liver to the mix to sneak a little liver into both my diet and my kids’ and husband’s!

Yes, I know. 50/50/50 doesn’t make sense.  You can’t have three halves in a whole.  But, there’s something about 33.3333/33.3333/33.3333 burgers that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.  Plus, I like that calling these 50/50/50 burgers pays homage to the recipe that inspired them.

If you’ve read any of my recent offal recipes, you know that my vast preference when it comes to liver is for bison liver.  Prior to this discovery, my preference was lamb liver due to its mild flavor that is easier to mask than any other liver I’ve tried.  Why does bison liver trump lamb liver?  Because it’s actually yummy.  It enhances the flavor of your dish.  Yes, you read that right.  Along with a mild “livery” taste, bison liver contributes some serious umami to a dish.  I don’t mind it straight (and I don’t like other types of liver straight), but I love, love, love it when mixed with other meats.  In fact, I’d rather eat these burgers with the ground liver in there!  Both US Wellness Meats and Grass-fed Traditions sell bison liver online.

So, if you’re looking for a great burger, or if you’re looking for a way to sneak more organ meat into you diet (yes, many of us do need to sneak it even into our own food!), then this is the recipe for you.

BONUS:  This recipe is 100% autoimmune protocol friendly (just make sure your bacon is cured with salt, sugar and smoke and nothing funny like barley malt).

DOUBLE BONUS:  This recipe is completely customizable.  Do you usually add sautéed diced onion to your burger patty mixes?  Then go ahead.  Favorite steak spice?  Go ahead and add it.  Serving suggestion?  You could go full-out Paleo hamburger bun, portabella mushroom caps for buns, bell pepper halves, lettuce wrap, drench with guacamole and sliced raw red onion like in my photo below, or serve with sautéed mushrooms and onions and grilled avocado!

Suggested variation:  I’ve also replaced the ground beef in this recipe with ground beef heart and it was so awesome!  And then you’re getting even more nutrient-dense organ meat!  Win-win!

 50-50-50 Burgers | The Paleo Mom


  • 1 lb ground beef (or any other ground meat you enjoy)
  • 1 lb bison liver (or any other liver you enjoy)
  • 1 lb bacon
  • Yes, that’s really it.
  1. There’s a bunch of different ways you can grind your liver and bacon.  Some butchers can do it for you.  You could use a meat grinder attachment for a standing mixer.  You can buy inexpensive tabletop hand crank meat grinders or deluxe electric countertop meat grinders too.  And most food processors will do a pretty acceptable job grinding meat too.  I’ve even used a Magic Bullet to grind meat before (although I think a real food processor does a better job).  Bacon grinds more easily when it’s cold, and I like to grind both the bacon and the liver together when I’m using a food processor (which seems to keep both from grinding too fine).  No matter which kitchen tool you use,  the goal is something the same texture as ground beef.  Liver has a lot of moisture in it and it does tend to liquefy a little in food processors.  The bacon will make the mixture a little thicker.
  2. Mix your ground bacon and liver with your ground beef.  I just do this with my hands.  Form patties of whatever size you want (my usual is 8oz).  The liver does make these kinda sticky, but don’t worry, they’ll be fantastic.  If they’re too sticky, try getting your hands wet with cold water (and clean) before forming the patties.
  3. Cook your burger patties in your favorite way.
    1. To grill or barbecue, preheat gas or charcoal barbecue or preheat indoor grill to medium-high heat. Place patties on heated grill.  Grill for 6-8 minutes per side, until cooked to your liking.
    2. To pan fry, heat a couple tablespoons of a good cooking fat (tallow, lard, coconut oil) over medium high heat.  Place patties in hot pan.  Cook 8-12 minutes per side, until cooked to your liking.
    3. To bake, preheat oven to 400F.  Place patties on a deep-rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, until cooked to your liking.
    4. Don’t know what to your liking is?  Making a different size patty and not sure how long it will take to cook?  The best way to make sure your burgers are perfect is to use a meat thermometer.  140-145F is medium, 150-155F is medium-well, over 160F is well done. 50-50-50 Burgers 2


i just did tonight with friends! It was really great. You always do taste the organ meats, but that’s ok-I don’t mind it and with the bacon and toppings in the lettuce wrap, it’s not super noticeable! Besides, it’s the best thing for the baby right now, since it’s like the best source of folate a paleo mom can get!

I am thinking the next time I butcher rabbits of using the rabbit livers and disguising it within the burgers! (none in my family will eat liver except me and the rabbit livers were amazing)

I’m planning on making a bacon-uncured liverwurst-venison version of these this weekend. I bought the uncured liverwurst from US Wellness Meats. I like it well enough, but I think this will make it even easier to eat. I’m trying your chicken pot pie too. Thank you for sharing such wonderful recipes! 🙂

I very rarely leave comments for recipes I’ve tried, but I can think of few that deserve it as much as this one! This was a HUGE hit with my entire family (we JUST started doing organs, namely liver) and there was a lot of concern about the flavor since none of us likes any liver dishes. My super picky six year old and two year old raved about it and my husband said he cant wait to make them on the grill- I’m SO happy to have found it. It’s a keeper for life! Thank you so much!

Could use a hint on freezing or cooking then freezing. I hesitate to freeze the patties or bulk raw as the liver was already frozen when bought. But cooked and reheated patties are so much less palatable. I am cooking for one and the amount is too much for just a meal or two. Help!

Thanks! I’ll give that a try. Honestly, I am amazed that I am actually enjoying these. I have always hated liver.

I’ve made these many times but I can’t get the burgers to hold together. I grind the bacon and liver in a food processor, together. I pat the liver dry to there isn’t a as much moisture. They still fall apart. What am I doing wrong?

I’m not sure. Finely-ground bacon, liver, and meat should hold together well. Maybe the meat’s been handled too much or the patties are made too thin? – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

I had a very wet mixture and I put the patty on parchment paper and then flipped onto the pan and gently removed the parchment paper. I also placed burgers on parchment paper and placed in the freezer for a little they solidify a bit better and then cook them. I had no issues with them staying together and I used a Ninja blender for the liver and bacon.

Try adding a pinch of salt to the ground meat and letting it rest for five minutes before you form your patties. The salt acts as a natural binding agent as per Heston Blumenthal’s cooking shows on you tube.

Sarah, you mention the bacon grinds better cold – I’m guessing you mean just outta the fridge?

Any recommendations on what cuts of beef and bacon work best?

Made these in a muffin cup pan! I left mine in for another 5 minutes because I prefer my ground meat well done. They turned out wonderfully and they are a great serving size for the little munchkins :).

Great recipe, thank you!

I wonder if it would work to use leftover chicken livers chopped up fine or even pureed I. The processor and add to the burger.

I’ve tried a couple of recipes now where you ‘hide’ liver in things — I’ve never eaten organ meat before. And though I have to admit the taste isn’t bad, I still find myself just rushing through eating it, trying not to think about it, feeling a bit squeamish the whole time.

So it’s definitely a mental thing for me… I just can’t get past *knowing* it’s in there, whether I can taste it or not. 🙁

I don’t want to be so wimpy! But if I can’t overcome this, do you think taking freeze-dried liver or other organs in capsule form can have the same benefits as eating fresh?

When I was getting things out for this I forgot about the bacon, so ours were just a mixture of liver and ground beef. I’m excited to try them with the bacon! Nonetheless, I was very happy with my dinner, as was the fiance. The ground beef combined with the toppings (we had mushroom blue cheese burgers) didn’t completely hide the liver flavor, but the flavor was mild enough that I didn’t mind at all. Thanks for the tip!

I am AIP and I thought sugar was off the table in everything. Can you have sugar in your bacon if you are AIP. I am in Australia and can not find bacon without sugar so thought I had to miss out. Are nitrites ok, as most in Australia have nitrites too. Thank you.

My husband and I both get gout from eating chicken liver. Does anyone know if this will happen with all organ meat? I know I can make the burgers without it but would really like to try this recipe as we both love our chicken livers.

For the past year, I’ve been making what we call “Borkver Balls” (beef, pork, liver) and freezing them. Same principle, but I use 3# ground beef, 1# ground pork, 1# beef liver. I puree the liver in the food processor and add it to a large bowl with the beef and pork. For spices it varies. Sometimes I’ll use 3T sage, 1-2 T thyme, 1T sea salt. Other times I might just use basil and sea salt. Then I use a stoneware baking sheet (with sides) and roll 1# or so diameter meatballs, line up 24 on the pan, bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes. When cooled I store them in the freezer. These make for a quick meal with some bone broth and leafy greens. They are a staple in my freezer! Bork Balls would be without the liver. 🙂

Made these tonight, and they are delicious!!! I had a a little less than a pound of bacon, so I added a bit of ground pork to make up the difference. Had loads for leftovers (which I wrapped individually in parchment paper and froze), and cooked up two. One for dinner with spinach salad and kraut, and the other for tomorrow lunch with salad, kraut and guacamole.

Really tasty!!

She states “Bacon grinds more easily when it’s cold, and I like to grind both the bacon and the liver together when I’m using a food processor (which seems to keep both from grinding too fine).”

Bacon can be cooked and then refrigerated. Thanks for repeating exactly what was said. Not helpful. I’m not a cook and learning. Had the same question. Try being nice.

Typically in recipe writing you would say x amount of bacon, cooked or x amount of cooked bacon if you were calling for it to be already cooked. I’m not familiar with this writer’s recipes but it would be my assumption the bacon is raw.
FWIW Even as a regular cook I found Lynne’s comment pretty snarky

OH my do these look ever so yummy! Gotta try making these with lamb liver. I wish I could afford bison liver my goodness, but I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for such a thing anyway! No car to go hunting around the countryside for some farmer who sells such a thing! Farmer’s Market, the most “unusual” liver they have is lamb. My local Zehr’s has bison steaks and those are like $10 for a tiny little tray with like 2 tiny steaks in it! Why is all the unusual stuff so expensive!

I can just imagine the smell of these on a bbq!

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