Western Filbert Burgers (adapted from A Treasury of Prize Winning Filbert Recipes, 1973)

Western Filbert Burgers are a novel take on the humble hamburger patty, dressed up with a handful of Pacific Northwest hazelnuts.  When we first moved to this part of the world we fell in love with the annual Filbert Festival in a neighboring town.  Free admission but plenty to do;  a perfect day out for a young family on a grad school budget.  It was also something of an introduction to our new home.  I had grown up in the sunshine among the citrus groves and strawberry fields.  The woodsy bitterness of the filbert seemed to fit perfectly with the musty forests of the Pacific Northwest. 

For the uninitiated, “filbert” is the European name for the common hazelnut.  Most Americans encounter hazelnuts via Nutella, weird Starbucks coffees, and perhaps as the mixed nut that’s usually left in the bowl.  In the Pacific Northwest the hazelnut shows up all over the place on restaurant menus:  crusted onto baked salmon, sprinkled across cheesecakes, and even as a finishing feed for heritage breed pork.   In my own family, hazelnuts are even the foundation of our favorite Thanksgiving stuffing.

But it never would have occurred to me to include them in burgers, were it not for A Treasury of Prize Winning Filbert Recipes.  I picked up this cookbook at a bookshop in Lincoln City, Oregon many years after my last Filbert Festival.  The book was published by the Oregon Filbert Commission, now the Oregon Hazelnut Commission, in collaboration with a local Portland news channel.   The cookbook opens with a surprisingly sophisticated history of the filbert.  It opens by quoting ancient Chinese texts and the Greek physician Dioscorides, and working through to the present day.  In addition, There’s a brief summary of the current industry, as of 1973, and an overview of various (culinary) uses for the hazelnut.  

The cookbook portion includes some two hundred recipes – primarily snacks and desserts – submitted by Pacific Northwest Homemakers.  They are quite literally Prize Winning Recipes, as judged by the Auxiliary of the Nut Growers Society of Oregon and Washington.

Western Filbert Burgers is one of the few main dishes in A Treasury of Prize Winning Filbert Recipes.  It wasn’t the first recipe to catch my eye.  But it was the first to make its way onto our meal calendar.  The month of October is a chaotic blend of sports and school activities, with kids coming and going at odd hours.  As such I do my best to make meals that can accommodate different family members eating at different times.  Burgers fit the bill, and Filbert Burgers sounded like fun.

The whole secret to the Western Filbert Burger’s in the name:  hand-formed burger patties with a healthy dose of chopped, toasted hazelnuts folded in, the same way you might make a bleu cheese or caramelized onion patty.   The hazelnuts soften a little bit during the cook, soaking up some of the beef fat.  This process adds little bit of texture to the patty.  Not a crunchy texture, but more like the extra chew from a coarser ground beef.   The filberts also change the burger’s flavor, lending some nutty richness that’s almost like having an extra condiment.   The filbert flavor won’t play nice with some of your typical condiments:  pass on the mustard and stick with mayonnaise or a creamy Russian-style dressing.  Bacon and cheese round out the “Western” experience.

I’m personally a big fan of Western Filbert Burgers.  In some ways it’s a close cousin to my favorite local burger:  the Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon Burger.  Now if this burger idea horrifies you don’t worry:  the Western Filbert Burger isn’t quite as nut-forward as the PBPB.  The Western Filbert Burger takes some of that nutty goodness and packages more like an In’N’Out burger.  Except with a much larger patty.   Consider it a gateway to the PBPB.  Nuts and beef are amazing together.

As mentioned above, this isn’t an all-purpose burger.  The beef-and-hazelnut patty has a distinctive flavor profile and not all of your usual accoutrements will work properly.  The first time you make it I highly recommend following the recipe to a T:  bacon, pepperjack, and a simple Russian-style dressing.   The second time around feel free to follow your tastebuds.  Steer clear of mustard or hot sauce.  Instead, stick with something sweet like a Kansas City style barbecue sauce.  Or maybe sour cream with citrus and dill.  And stick with a ‘real’ cheese like pepperjack or cheddar.  American cheese melts well, but won’t taste right with the hazelnuts.  And once you’ve got the toppings figured out,  add some french fries or potato chips.  Enjoy!

Western Filbert Burgers

Western Filbert Burgers (adapted from A Treasury of Prize Winning Filbert Recipes, 1973)

  • Preparation: 30 min
  • Cooking: 10 min
  • Ready in: 40 min
  • For: 6 big burgers
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For the burger patty:

For the accoutrements:

For the Russian-style dressing:


  1. Add chopped filberts, salt, and pepper to ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until filbert bits are evenly distributed. Hand form into six large patties, about 7 oz each.
  2. Whisk together the ingredients for the Russian dressing. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
  3. Cook patties under the broiler for 8-10 minutes, or as needed to reach desired doneness. Top each slice with cheese and broil for about one minute more.
  4. Assemble burgers.

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