Garbage Plate Burgers

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!

This Garbage Plate Burgers post is sponsored by the New York Beef Council, but the recipe and opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!

This post may contain paid links. For more information, please see our disclosure policy.

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!“Team Beef!”  I frequently mention curling here on the blog, but I’m not sure I’ve ever talked about Team Beef.  It’s time!  Some number of years ago, Jean O’Toole from the New York Beef Council helped organize the first Team Beef.  Team Beef has now spread across the United States, and many states have their own Team Beef.  Hold up.  What exactly is Team Beef?  Team Beef is a group of athletes who understand the value of lean protein and the role it plays in both training as well as providing fuel for the finish.

Team Beef CurlingTraditionally, Team Beef consists of runners.  In fact, if you are a runner yourself, you may have noticed folks wearing red Team Beef shirts in races.  Well, here in upstate New York, we have long winters.  By long, I mean looooong.  While some folks power through and run in the snow and ice, most of us seek other sports during those cold months.  For me, that’s curling.  Two February’s ago, I was having coffee with Jean at a local coffee shop, and we came up with a wacky idea.  What if we expanded Team Beef into the world of curling?  So we did just that!

Team Beef CurlingI got in touch with the guys I often curl with, and everyone was on board.  We all love beef.  We all love to curl.  It was the beginning of a fun partnership!  So Team Beef Curling became a thing, and we curled together quite a bit last year.  In fact, we curled in the regional playdowns (the top team would advance to nationals), and we finished in the middle of the pack of 13 teams.  We were quite pleased with this finish!  During those games, a 5-minute break is given half-way through the 2.5-hour game.  Teams typically grab a quick snack and head back to the ice.  In true Team Beef fashion, we snacked on beef jerky during our break.  Beef jerky is a great source of lean protein, and it can easily be packed in gym bags.

According to sports dietitians Michelle Rockwell and Susan Kundrat, beef jerky can be a good source of portable protein when you’re at the gym. Forty grams of beef jerky has 14 grams of protein, making it a perfect post-workout snack. Rockwell and Kundrat note that a post-workout snack should have around 10 to 20 grams of protein.”

Hudson Valley Sausage Company

Hudson Valley Sausage CompanyCurling season is almost back, and Team Beef is heading into Year 2.  To build on the fun, the team had an awesome opportunity earlier this summer to visit a farm in the Hudson Valley as well as learn how to grind our own beef.  We started the day at the Hudson Valley Sausage Company where Mark (the owner) taught us about creating our own burger grind.  Prior to grinding the beef, Mark taught us some of the basic principles of butchery and how to cut steaks.  (Of course, the steaks didn’t matter much this time as everything went into the grinder.)  We went with a combination of chuck roast, brisket and short rib, and I’m here to tell ya – that combination makes for some amazing burgers!

Hudson Valley Sausage Company

Walbridge FarmOnce we packed our 200+ pounds of ground beef up in the car (yes, 200+ pounds!), we headed over to Walbridge Farm in Millbrook, NY.  We spent the afternoon with Doug learning about life on the farm.  The other guys on Team Beef are mostly nuclear engineers, so this was a really cool opportunity for me to see their reactions as we chatted with Doug.  Of course, we wrapped up the evening in Doug’s backyard with a round of burgers on the grill.  Speaking of beef jerky, Walbridge Farm makes one heck of a tasty beef jerky, and we’re going to see about getting some of Doug’s beef jerky for our curling games this season!

Walbridge Farm

Walbridge Farm

Walbridge FarmGarbage Plate Burgers

Switching over to today’s recipe, I decided to turn one of upstate New York’s most famous recipes into a burger.  The Garbage Plate.  If you ever make your way to Rochester, NY, you have to try a garbage plate.  Nick Tahou’s is generally regarded as the originator of this local specialty, but restaurants all over town serve it.  A garbage plate might not sound very appetizing, but it’s amazing!  In short, the garbage plate is comfort food at it’s finest.

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!

A true garbage plate starts with a base of macaroni salad and home fries, although you can sub in tater tots or french fries if desired.  From there, you add two hamburgers (with or without cheese) on top.  Then comes a generous spoonful of “meat hot sauce.”  Now this isn’t hot sauce like you find in a small jar in the spice cabinet.  It’s a meaty sauce that’s somewhat similar to a very spicy chili.  (You can alter the level of heat to your own liking, of course.)

And we’re not done yet!  Next comes an optional sprinkling of chopped onions as well as a squirt of mustard and ketchup.  Oh, and don’t forget the buttered bread…you know, in case you’re still hungry.  I know this might sound like a strange combination of foods, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!I used the iconic garbage plate as inspiration for these Garbage Plate Burgers.  I used to make my burgers with eggs, breadcrumbs and a whole handful of seasonings.  However, over the past few months, I’ve simplified things back to just salt, pepper and dried rosemary.  So I start with those burgers as a base, and then I added a generous spoonful of both mac salad and meat hot sauce.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to get the tater tots in there, so I just served those next to the burgers.  On a side note, if you figure out how to add tater tots onto these Garbage Plate Burgers, then snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see it!

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!Each of the Team Beef guys has a freezer full of ground beef that we ground up ourselves.  I dare say some of that ground beef will be used to make another round of Garbage Plate burgers.  These are monstrous burgers, but they’re delicious!  If you happen to be a curler, then keep an eye out for Team Beef New York.  We’re always around the Schenectady Curling Club, and we travel quite a bit throughout nearby states during the season.  Good curling, and cheers!

Did you make these Garbage Plate Burgers at home?  Leave a comment!  Or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  Happy grillin’!

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!

Garbage Plate Burgers

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!
5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 burgers
Calories: 754kcal


For the Burgers

For the Mac Salad

For the Meat Hot Sauce


For the Mac Salad

  • Cook pasta according to the package instructions; rinse in cold water until completely cool. Drain pasta and place in a large bowl.
  • Add remaining ingredients (mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, mustard powder, sugar, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper, celery, onion and carrot). Stir until well combined. Place in refrigerator until well chilled.

For the Meat Hot Sauce

  • Using a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add olive oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onions. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic, stir and continue sautéing for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add the chili powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, cinnamon, oregano, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add water and ground beef. Use a whisk to break up ground beef into pea-sized (or smallepieces. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat back to low and cover pot; cook for 75 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove lid and continue simmering until hot sauce has thickened (~10-15 minutes).

For the Burgers

  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Using a large bowl, add beef, salt, rosemary and pepper; stir until just combined. Shape into 6 patties and gently indent the center of each patty with your thumb.
  • Brush grill grates with vegetable oil or spray with nonstick grilling spray. Place burgers on the grill; grill for 4-5 minutes per side, or until burgers reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • {Optional} Place burger buns cut-side down on grill for 1-2 minutes.
  • Assemble by placing cooked burgers on bottom bun. Top each burger with cheddar cheese, a spoonful of mac salad and a spoonful of hot sauce.
  • Serve with oven-baked French fries or tater tots on the side. Also serve with ketchup and/or yellow mustard.


The recipes for both the mac salad and the meat hot sauce will yield leftovers.  Mix a spoonful of the meat hot sauce into the mac salad for a delicious leftover idea!

Turn a classic western New York dish into burger form with these Garbage Plate Burgers!  Talk about grilled comfort food at its finest!

Do you love a good hamburger?  Me, too!  Check out some of my other favorite burger recipes:

This Southern Burger features both pimento cheese and fried pickles, and it's one delicious way to celebrate summer!Southern Burger with Fried Pickles

Bring the flavors of New Mexico to the grill with these Hatch Green Chile Burgers!  And don't forget the pepperjack cheese sauce!Hatch Green Chile Burgers

Start with your favorite burger toppings, roll 'em up in pizza dough, and you end up with these tasty (and fun!) Cheeseburger Rollups!Cheeseburger Rollups

Spiced® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that receives a small commission by linking to and other sites at no cost to the readers.


  1. 5 stars
    Sounds like you guys had fun! I’ve never heard of ‘garbage plate’ burgers before but I do often have a ‘clean out the fridge’ meal, combining odds and ends to make something delicious! So much flavour packed into one burger, David! Sounds delicious! Happy Friday to ya 🙂

    1. We did indeed have a blast, Dawn! I learned so much about grinding our own burger meat, too. We have enough to last quite a while in the freezer, but I’m totally going to use that knowledge when it’s time to make another batch. And these Garbage Plate Burgers? Definitely going on the list of favorites around here! A garbage plate might not sound appetizing, but it’s truly amazing! 🙂

    1. Heck yeah! Team Beef!! Also, the concept of a garbage plate might not sound amazing, but trust me when I say that it is. So good! That spicy meat hot sauce on top really takes it to a whole new level! 🙂

    1. Haha! I hear ya, Alexandra. Anything called a “garbage plate” doesn’t exactly sound that great…but trust me when I say that it is delicious! This is seriously grilled comfort food at its best. Definitely a new favorite around our house!

  2. 5 stars
    What a great way to combine one of my favorites (Garbage Plate) with another one of my favorites (burgers!!!!) Gotta try this — maybe even this weekend. See you soon on the “new ice” at the Curling Club.

    1. Hey Gynger! Yes, this is truly a unique combination, but what’s not to love when it comes to garbage plates and burgers. I’ll have to challenge you to figure out how to get the tater tots onto these burgers…I couldn’t do it! 🙂 See you on the new ice soon!

  3. i’ve always loved the idea of curling – the name, the way it’s played. it’s just so whacky! garbage plate burgers – such a funny name! keep curling 🙂 cheers sherry

    1. Curling truly is a wacky sport, Sherry! Laura and I first tried it 6 years ago now, and we were immediately hooked. It’s a great social sport, too! We definitely plan on keeping the curling fun going…the new season is about to start up! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Wow David the name of the dish got me so curious, it sounds so interesting. I am going to try this soon. I am not a runner, but curling sounds like a fun game. Go Team Beef 🙂

    1. Yes! Go Team Beef! I’m with ya that ‘garbage plate’ might not sound that appetizing, but just trust me on this one. These burgers (and a traditional garbage plate) are absolutely delicious! 🙂

    1. Yes! These garbage plate burgers are truly grilled comfort food at its best. But now I have to challenge you to figure out how to get the tater tots onto these burgers…I couldn’t do it!

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of New York’s most famous recipe, The Garbage Plate? Well I suppose that could be because I’ve never been to New York. What a great way to use up lots of different leftovers. Your Curling group sounds like fun. Have to say the one I belonged to here was a bit too serious for my liking. Hope you’re having a fun weekend!

    1. Well, to be fair, I’m not sure the garbage plate is New York’s most famous recipe. I would venture to say that it is one of the most iconic western New York recipes, though! (Buffalo wings probably take the top spot there, though.) These burgers are delicious, Neil! And if you ever have a bit of curling back in your blood, then get on over here…we’ll make you an honorary member of the team! 🙂

  6. Wow, this dish certainly sounds like a mouthful! But what I really want to know is, what happened to those 200 lbs of beef? Don’t tell me it all went making hamburgers…!

    1. Haha! So we did indeed turn those 200 pounds of beef into burger grind. To be fair, it did get divvied up…among the 4 of us who were there. That’s only, oh, 50 pounds per person or so! I think we’ll end up taking turns hosting burger and chili parties for everyone we know. 🙂

    1. The garbage plate is a super unique western New York recipe. It might not sound delicious, but once you get past the name, then it is actually quite tasty! I definitely say give this one a try sometime. Thanks so much, Kathy!

    1. Thanks so much, Dawn! I hope Team Beef Curling has a great year. The season starts up soon. In the meantime, though, I think another round of these burgers needs to happen…you know, for team bonding. 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of Garbage Plate Burgers, David! But one look at them, I can tell you, my family would absolutely love them! That hot meat sauce along with Mac salad on top? I’m afraid to mention this, because I’m imagining them running to the butcher for couple lbs of ground beef and some Mac salad! I’m pretty sure this recipe is going to make an appearance here! Go Team Meat!

    1. Team Beef for the win! I must admit that you have to ignore the name when you make a garbage plate. But the flavors are SO good…and on a burger? Well, I think I might’ve found a new favorite burger idea. 🙂 Definitely put these on the menu, Laura. They’re delicious!

  8. 5 stars
    Wow, so much good stuff going on here! I’ve never heard of The Garbage Plate, but I love that you turned it into a burger. Somehow it reminds me of Kitchen Sink Cookies. 😉 You’re involved in so many cool teams! I love it, and awesome to have your recreational world collide with your culinary world! 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. You know, the kitchen sink cookies and the garbage plate burger do indeed have a lot in common. Basically just throw it all in there and see what happens! And in both cases, it works. These burgers are amazing, and it truly is a lot of fun for my recreational world to intersect with my culinary world, too. Thanks, Valentina!

  9. Ben’s reaction on this post:
    1. Team Beef – what a lovely name!
    2. Garbage plate burgers – what a funny name!
    3. 200 pounds + of beef – whaaaaat? 🙂

    I’m not a huge fan of modern twists on burgers where a donut is substituted for a bun or mac&cheese is incorporated. But I must admit these bad guys look rather delicious, and I even don’t mind the pasta salad. After all, they say, you should eat a salad as often as possible 🙂 Pass me one burger, please!

    1. Hah! I certainly appreciate Ben’s reactions to this post. 🙂 I hear ya on some of those modern twists to burgers. To be fair, I do love all burgers…but donuts on a burger just seem strange to me. Although I did see one where they used grilled cheese sandwiches as the “bun”…and that sounds awesome! I would be more than happy to share one of these burgers with you, my friend! Thanks!

  10. 5 stars
    Sounds like such a great group, David! Love it when you find friends with similar interests.

    And these garbage plate burgers, just wow! Big time comfort food!

    1. Exactly! It’s so fun that I am able to combine my personal life with my work life for Team Beef! Plus, these garbage plate burgers are straight up amazing. 🙂 Thanks, Marissa!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating