Burgers are an easy, tasty meal option to cook on your outdoor grill or smoker. While they’re available virtually any time of the year, their incognizant sense of summer nostalgia is what makes them so enjoyable during BBQ season. Fresh bun and refreshing condiments followed by, what can only be described as grilled, juicy perfection will have you craving burgers all week long. Follow along as we venture beyond the bun in The Book of Burger.
The majority of the general population thinks of beef patties when referencing burgers. Burger patties are made from ground chuck which comes from the shoulder of the cow. Typically, when buying ground beef you want to look for an 80/20 ratio—80% meat, 20% fat. That being said, you’ll want to avoid 95/5 ground meat options. Leaner options tend to be difficult when forming patty’s and often lack that traditional burger flavor that we all crave. Don’t forget about other beef cuts. Grinding Brisket and Sirloin beef cuts also make great options for burgers.
Burgers aren’t just for carnivores. Vegetarians can enjoy burgers just the same. Substitute the beef patties for a black bean burger or portobello mushroom burger. We haven’t tested out any good veggie burger recipes yet—so if you’ve got one handy, leave us your recipe in the comments! Beef and veggie burgers not quite your pace? No problem! Over the last few years, these burger options have been gaining in popularity.
- Black bean burger
- Portobello mushroom burger
- Turkey burger
- Chicken burger
- Salmon burger
- Bison burger
Grill it – BBQ Grill Boxes/Sear Box
Probably the most common and well-known way to cook your burger is grilling. Many users love the convenience and ready-start ease that propane grills have to offer. With propane grills, grill boxes, and sear box accessories, grill masters are able to create distinct grill marks. If you follow our recipe blog you’ll notice we don’t like to list specific “cook times.” That being said, the amount of time your burgers will cook will depend on many factors including burger thickness, grill temp, etc. Don’t forget that practice makes perfect, you’ll begin to learn your grill and time out your preferred burger cook times.
Smoke it – Pellet Grill
Rising through the grilling ranks is smoking. Smoking burgers is a delicious way to add flavor. Achieve an enchantingly smoky flavor by cooking over a wood fire. Instead of a propane tank your pellet grill/pellet smoker is fueled by the burning of premium hardwood pellets. This method typically takes longer than other methods but yields a uniquely different taste. Simply, set your temperature to high smoke or around 225 degrees.
You can also Reverse Sear your burger. While it’s popular with other beef cuts like steak—it works just as well on burgers. Bring your pellet grill to temperature, put your patties in, and smoke your burgers until they are 10-15 degrees from your desired cook temperature (This would be 160°F for ground beef). Turn your Sear Box or Sidekick on to High Heat (preheat for 10 minutes) then place your patties on for the finishing touch. 45 seconds on each side should do the trick!
Flame Broil – Slide & Grill Enabled Pellet Grills
One of our favorite methods over the last few years of its patented Camp Chef birth is cooking burgers directly over a wood-fire flame. On our product line, this can only be found in our Slide and Grill (“SG”) enabled pellet grills. (To find out if your Camp Chef pellet grill is SG friendly, check the side of your grill chamber for a black knob with the words “Grill Knob” denoted in orange. By pulling this knob, the heat deflector plate slides away revealing direct flames.) Using the flame broil method on your Camp Chef pellet grill grants your burgers access to a deliciously, crispy taste of charbroiled flare. Keep in mind that flame broiled burgers aren’t only found on pellet grills. The same fire kissed cooking style can be achieved on propane and charcoal grills—even over a campfire. All you need is a controlled fire source, a grill grate, and your burgers.
Griddle – Sidekick/Flat Top Grill
Last year you might have seen our Smash Burger video on Buzzfeed’s Tasty channel. The recipe video included a Pro90X cook system featuring a griddle. Many burger fanatics claim that cooking a burger on a griddle-top surface is hands-down the best way. The even cook surface is able to give your burger that well-sought-out delicious outer crust—all the while still capturing that juicy inside. Griddle cooking your burgers is a popular method because, like a regular grill, it cooks hot and fast due to the propane-fueled method. Obtaining the perfect Smash Burger is easy on our variety of griddle-top products including griddle accessories, the Sidekick, VersaTop Grill line, and Flat Top Grill line. Just set your temperature knob between medium and high heat.
As you might have read previously, different wood pellets burn differently. Burgers are great in the fact that almost any pellet flavor will work well. But, we suggest shying away from the fruiter flavors like Apple.
Prepping for burgers seems trivial for some, especially if you’re accustomed to buying frozen pre-made patties (something we highly advise against.) When possible, freshly grind your burger meat. While we know that frozen can be convenient, it’s worth forming your own patties using fresh ground meat. Outside of it being sanitary, when forming your own patties it’s best practice to wet your hands. This will help avoid hand to meat stickiness. When making a patty, don’t over-handle the meat. Delicately form each ground beef chunk to a dense, tough burger patty. After your patties are shaped and ready, keep them cool until it’s time to cook, this will keep those juicy, fatty flavors in. While you may be prone to salting and seasoning right away – DON’T! Doing so could jeopardize your end result. Instead, wait until you’re ready to throw them on the grill. This will keep the burger juicy and tender.
Before your cook, make sure you’ve got a quality spatula and other top-notch cooking utensils. It’s amazing how something as simple as ‘tools of the trade’ can make or break a cook.
Unlike ribs, brisket, and other high maintenance grilling foods, there isn’t a lot of spraying and tending involved in cooking burgers. If you’re cooking a Smash Burger on a griddle surface (griddle-top, Sidekick, Flat Top Grill, VersaTop Grill, etc.) you need only flip your burger once. However, when using a traditional grill, flame broil, or other cooking methods it’s okay to flip them more than once. We suggest with any meat to use a thermometer to accurately keep track of your internal temperature. According to the USDA, to safely cook a burger it must be brought up to 160 °F (unless ground personally.)
Unlike other cuts of meat, your burger doesn’t necessarily NEED time to rest. However, if we’re giving out expert tips then we recommend a short, 5-minute (tinfoil tented) rest time. Some might argue that by the time the burger gets from plate, to table, to mouth—you’ve already reached a generous rest time. Whatever works for you and your current situation.
It’s easy to put all your eggs in one basket by solely focusing on the meat of the burger. We’re here to remind you to not overlook the bun. While the summer sales may coerce you into buying an 8 pack of flimsy, sad buns for $1.50—don’t do it—be strong. The bun is an imperative addition to the overall appearance and taste of your final dish. Purchasing a quality bun cooked fresh from the bakery will compliment all the hard work you put into your patties. Here’s a list of a few bun options to try:
- Brioche bun
- Sesame seed bun
- Potato bun
- Pretzel bun
- Texas toast
- Hawaiian rolls (for sliders)
- Glazed doughnut
I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but here it is—melt the cheese. We’ll say it a little louder for the people in the back. Melt. The. Cheese. One of the biggest complaints from burger critics is that fact that outdoor cookouts and even some restaurants don’t take the time to let the cheese melt. And, likewise, with the bun, don’t settle for less than quality cheese. Try these common cheese additions:
- Monterey Jack
- Pepper Jack
- Blue cheese
- Goat cheese
Get creative with your burgers! There are so many great-tasting pairings, sauces, etc. out there. Feel free to try some of our suggested add-ons or make your own concoction. (Don’t forget to share it in the comment section below.)
- The regulars: pickles, ketchup, mustard, bacon, grilled or caramelized onions.
- Drizzle with Fry Sauce: ketchup + mayo. (Add our Mango Chipotle seasoning for an extra kick)
- Douse in burger sauce: ketchup + mayo + mustard + chopped pickle
- Gimme that crunch! Potato chips give burgers and other sandwiches a surprisingly tasty crunch.
- Got a sweet tooth? Peanut butter + jelly for a non-traditional, PB&J burger
- The perfect pair? BBQ sauce + beer battered onion rings + bacon
- Double meat, please! Add pastrami, smoked brisket, or even pulled ham.
- How about something gooey? Try cheese-stuffed patties. (American and Blue Cheese are popular choices.) Simply place cheese between two hamburger patties and pinch the edges to seal off the outside.
- Get your hula on: pineapple + ham + teriyaki.
- Red, White, & Blue Burger
- Wagyu Bacon Smash Burger with Grilled Guac
- Peanut Butter Burger
- Wagyu Bacon Blue Smash Burger
- California Sliders
- White Castle Sliders
- Brisket Burger Sandwich
- Taco Burger
- Caprese Burgers with Artichoke Pesto Sauce
- Banh Mi Burger
- Bacon & Goat Cheese Aioli Burger
- Bacon Egg & Cheese Burger
- Baja Turkey Burger
- Bacon Jalapeno Popper Burger
Camp Chef has a variety of products that help make burger grilling and smoking easier than ever. Pick up the 26-inch Bamboo Cutting Board for a large workspace, perfect for seasoning and displaying your condiment add-ons. All of our pellet grills have the capacity to smoke at least 20 + burgers, even the Pursuit! Griddle cook on our flat top grill line and griddles. Don’t forget our favorite burger utensil kit!
A Camp Chef burger means more than just using our products—it also provides a sense of community. Be sure to check out all the great pro tips in the comment section below given by real Camp Chef burger grillers/smokers. If you’re on Facebook and love smoking burgers on your Camp Chef pellet grill, join this customer-ran pellet grill group called Camp Chef Smoker Smokers.
Most of all, remember you’re the king of your grill. Try new things, find what you like and run with it! There is no right or wrong way to do it. What’s your favorite burger tip? Let us know in the comment section below!