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Smoked Hamburgers

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The classic hamburger is an iconic American meal done on the grill. When you think about having a cookout, my guess is that a juicy burger is one of the first things that comes to mind. There’s no shortage of burger recipes online either, from the trendy smash burger to the more unique butter burger, and what I’m going to talk about today, the smoked steakhouse burger.

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I call this one a steakhouse style burger because this is the type of burger you’d find in a high-end steak house, only better. How is it better? With the help of some hickory smoke of course. When smoking burgers (or any meat), it’s important that you’re using clean smoke.

Not all smoke is good smoke and not all wood produces clean smoke, so be careful with your selection. You’ll want to use a quality wood like these ultra premium hickory chunks from Cutting Edge Firewood.

What Is a Smoked Steakhouse Burger?

The steakhouse burger is about an inch thick, it’s made from ground beef that’s about 80/20 ratio of lean meat to fat content. Unlike the thin diner burger that’s fried quickly to a medium-plus temperature on a griddle, the smoked hamburger is cooked for a longer period of time at a lower temperature using indirect heat on a grill.

The toppings for this burger are totally up to whoever’s lucky enough to be eating it. I love using thick grilled onion slices and blue cheese, but use what you love. Today’s recipe is about creating the perfect smoked burger patty; beyond that, what’s perfect is really a matter of personal preference.

What Is a Good Way To Season Homemade Burgers?

My best advice here is that less is more. Don’t get carried away when seasoning your burgers; eventually you get to the point where you’re just making meatloaf. If meatloaf is your jam, I have a great recipe for meatloaf burgers here. For these smoked burgers, though, it’s simple: Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. That’s it.

Does Liquid Smoke Taste Good on Burgers?

This is a controversial subject to be sure, and there’s no right or wrong answer, only opinions. I find that opinions don’t often matter when it comes to personal preference. I can tell you that by following my recipe here, there’s no need for artificial smoke flavoring.

How To Know if a Hamburger Is Done All the Way Through

I cringe when I see people cutting into a burger or a steak on the grill to check for doneness. Please don’t do that, it’s bad on so many levels. Instead, use a reliable instant read thermometer which takes all the guesswork out of knowing if your burger or any protein is done all the way through. And speaking of done…

Are Rare Burgers Safe?

This depends on your definition of “safe.” There’s risk in everything but at the core of this issue is the USDA recommendation of cooking ground beef to 160° F. This is because there is more exposure to possible bacteria in typical ground beef. I use freshly ground short rib meat which limits exposure, and I’m personally comfortable with the risk of a medium rare burger. Of course, I always recommend following USDA guidelines.

Tips for Making Perfect Smoked Hamburgers

It starts with the smoke: I prefer hickory for these burgers, but oak wood chunks are also excellent. The point is that the smoke flavor is only as good as the wood the smoke comes from. Do yourself and these burgers justice and use high quality wood chunks for a better than steakhouse experience.

Proper meat blend: If you can grind your own meat, I highly recommend grinding up short rib meat. Doing so produces an amazing 80/20 (roughly) blend that’s perfect for these burgers. If you can’t grind your own, pick up some 80/20 ground chuck at your local grocery store. Be sure to ask the butcher for ground chuck and not ground beef; they aren’t the same in most cases.

Temperature is key: I always encourage people to follow the USDA recommendations for safe cooking temperatures. That said, I don’t always follow them myself. OK, I rarely follow them. Either way, you’ll want to know the temperature of your burger so be sure you have a reliable quick read thermometer on hand to monitor your burgers’ temps.

Embrace the sear: While we impart the smoke flavor by smoking these burgers, we’re not done there. At about 10° shy of the desired serving temperature, remove the burgers from the smoke and stoke those coals for a quick sear over high heat. You can certainly safely eat the burgers after only smoking them, but you’re missing an opportunity to add some additional flavor though the Maillard reaction.

Make it your own: I’ll include the ingredients I like on my smoked steakhouse burger, but there are so many other ways to top this burger. Try adding bacon and BBQ sauce to this patty for a traditional BBQ burger. Try adding some pineapple and teriyaki sauce for a great Hawaiian burger. Add kimchi and gochujang mayo for an Asian spin on this. You get the point, the sky’s the limit and the burger itself is just the foundation of some beautiful things.

Smoked Hamburgers Recipe

Serves: 2 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients
1.5 lb ground short ribs (or ground chuck)
2 rolls
1 large Vidalia onion, cut into 4 equally thick slices
2 cup lettuce, shredded
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp olive oil

How To Smoke Hamburgers

Step 1: Light grill and set up for two zone heating. Using a reliable thermometer to monitor, maintain temperature in the grill at 225° F.

Step 2: While the grill is preheating, form cold ground meat into two equal sized patties that are about one inch thick. Season both sides evenly with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Seasoned hamburger patties ready for the grill

Step 3: Once the grill is preheated, add one large hickory wood chunk to coals. Place burgers on the opposite side of the grill, close the lid, and let smoke until internal temperature of burgers is ten degrees less than desired doneness.

charcoal and premium hickory wood chunk


TIP: ​I like to use a foil lined baking sheet with a cooling rack. It makes the clean up much easier.

Step 4: Once burgers have reached desired internal temperature, remove them from the grill and stoke the fire for high direct heat. While coals are coming up to temperature, skewer the thick onion slices. This will keep them from falling apart on the grill. Coat onions with olive oil.

smoked burger patties resting on a wire rack

Step 5: Place onions on the grill over direct heat, turn after two minutes. After onions are turned, add patties to grill over direct heat and flip them every 30 seconds for a total of 2 minutes to sear both sides. Remove patties and onions from the grill.

skewered onions on a high flame grill

Step 6: Top bottom bun with lettuce, then the onion, then the burger, topping the burger with the blue cheese. 

TIP: By placing the lettuce and onion on the bottom bun before the burger you prevent the juices from the burger making the bottom bun all soggy.

Smoked Hamburgers

If you tried this recipe and enjoyed it, please click the stars below to leave a rating | Print Recipe

Smoked Hamburgers

5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb 1.5 lb ground short ribs (or ground chuck)
  • 1 large Vidalia onion cut into 4 equally thick slices
  • 2 cup lettuce shredded
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbled
  • 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Light grill and set up for two zone heating. Using a reliable thermometer to monitor, maintain temperature in the grill at 225° F.
  • While the grill is preheating, form cold ground meat into two equal sized patties that are about one inch thick. Season both sides evenly with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Once the grill is preheated, add one large hickory wood chunk to coals. Place burgers on the opposite side of the grill, close the lid, and let smoke until internal temperature of burgers is ten degrees less than desired doneness.
  • Once burgers have reached desired internal temperature, remove them from the grill and stoke the fire for high direct heat. While coals are coming up to temperature, skewer the thick onion slices. This will keep them from falling apart on the grill. Coat onions with olive oil.
  • Place onions on the grill over direct heat, turn after two minutes. After onions are turned, add patties to grill over direct heat and flip them every 30 seconds for a total of 2 minutes to sear both sides. Remove patties and onions from the grill.
  • Top bottom bun with lettuce, then the onion, then the burger, topping the burger with the blue cheese.

Notes

I call this one a steakhouse style burger because this is the type of burger you’d find in a high-end steak house, only better. How is it better? With the help of some hickory smoke of course. When smoking burgers (or any meat), it’s important that you’re using clean smoke.
Not all smoke is good smoke and not all wood produces clean smoke, so be careful with your selection. You’ll want to use a quality wood like these ultra premium hickory chunks from Cutting Edge Firewood.

Tried this recipe? Let us know how it was!

5 from 4 votes
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