Burger Option: Go Protein-Style with Portabella Mushrooms

Jessica from LifeAsMOM showcases how you can find healthy dining ideas while eating out and even bring some of the inspiration to your own kitchen table.

Late this summer, my husband and I decided to change our diets. We were both carrying a little extra something around the middle and feeling lethargic and well… puffy. At the beginning of August, we both downloaded a free calorie-tracking app and started paying more attention to what we ate.

Boy, was that eye opening! We had no idea that some of our favorite meals were so laden with sodium, fat, and calories. Yes, our bodies need sodium and healthy fats, but what we realized is that our regular diet was overloaded with both.

After a painful first week, we started to get in a groove. We found which foods were the most satisfying and how we could eat well, feel satisfied, and not overindulge in terms of calorie intake.

One of the things that changed was our eating out. No longer did our favorite fried chicken restaurant fit the bill. And my favorite burger joint with bottomless fries? Yeah, that had to go as well.

Luckily one of our go-to places for a quick and inexpensive meal, In-N-Out Burger offered the option of preparing our burgers “protein style.” Instead of a bun, they wrap our burgers in large leaves of lettuce. Our youngest son, clearly not on a diet, actually prefers his burgers this way. Protein-style is a favorite around here.

And it’s an easy one to recreate at home. It’s even tastier when you replace the bun with a grilled portabella mushrooms. I marinated mine before grilling and the flavor was fantastic. If you prefer to go meatless, just skip the ground beef and seasoning salt. It’s a fork supper, for sure, but definitely a health-conscious way to have your burger and eat it, too.

Portabella Cheeseburger Protein Style

Portabella Cheeseburger Protein Style

Serves 2


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 portabella caps, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • Favorite seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • Sliced tomato, lettuce leaves, other condiments


  1. In a one quart Ziploc bag, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the mushrooms and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, divide the beef into two portions and form each into a patty. Season to taste with seasoning salt. Set aside and preheat the grill.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil until simmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the burger patties and mushrooms over hot grill until the meat is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 160º and mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. During the last minute or two of cooking, lay the cheese slices atop the burgers to allow them time to melt. If you’re going meatless, you can melt the cheese over the mushrooms.
  5. On each plate, layer one mushroom, burger, cheese, and sautéed onions. Serve with tomato, lettuce, and other condiments.


4 Comments to “Burger Option: Go Protein-Style with Portabella Mushrooms”

  1. Lia says:

    I love the idea of using portabello mushrooms but the cheapest I can get them is for six dollars a pound. That is way too expensive for my family. Its such a shame because there are so many meatless recipes that use them.

  2. MushroomChannel says:

    It’s terrific to hear that you love using Portabellas! Sorry to hear they’re so expensive in your area! Great to keep in mind for special family meals.

  3. Lisa s says:

    I am so going to try this. I’ll probably be messy and try using my hands though. Jessica, I am feeling the same as you described in August. Which app do you use? I’ve been trying to decide on a good one.

  4. MushroomChannel says:

    Great to hear, Lisa. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little messy with our food from time to time, especially when it results in something delicious. Hope you enjoy.