Reposted from the Chiles and Smoke blog found HERE. Brad Prose is a Phoenix-born family man, professional recipe developer, food writer, and culinary photographer – the force behind Chiles and Smoke™. His combined passion for fine dining and BBQ shines through his presentations and cooking style. Brad uses social media, the website, and his brand to share his passion and story to inspire new ideas.
If you smoke it, they will come. Smoked Burgers should be the official smell of the summer. There’s something magical about the way the smoke lightly permeates the rich beef. It’s that added ingredient you never knew you were missing.
Burgers cooked on the grill already induce that Pavlovian response. Burgers enveloped in a mysterious hug of smoke will make you the new king of the hill and backyard hero. This will break down the process of burgers on a pellet grill, gas grill, and charcoal grill.
Any kind of burger will do well in my house. Don’t miss some of the other burger recipes such as Black Garlic Mushroom Burger, Beef and Chorizo Burger, or even the bun-less Breakfast Burger with Hashbrowns.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE SMOKED BURGERS
Whether it’s happened to you, or you’ve witnessed the pyrotechnics of someone else grilling burgers, we’ve all seen them get torched. These easy-to-follow steps will give you juicy burgers packed with flavor every single time. Here are some of the reasons you’re going to convert to smoked burgers:
- Smoking burgers keep them juicy while adding another layer of flavor.
- This method works on any type of grill or smoker.
- Precise timing allows you to plan accordingly.
- Customize the flavor profiles with both your choice of wood and toppings.
- Less likely to burn as they are cooked indirectly.
- This method works for a few burgers or if you decide to smoke burgers for a crowd.
HOW TO MAKE SMOKED BURGERS
Whether you’re looking for how long to smoke burgers or learning how to cook hamburgers in a smoker, let’s bite into the meat of it all. The process to make smoked burgers starts the same regardless of what you are going to smoke your burgers on. This step can be done the night before.
PREPPING THE BEEF FOR SMOKING
- Form your ground chuck into four equal-sized patties, careful not to over-press the meat. Use your thumb to lightly press down in the center of each burger patty to create a divot. This will prevent the smoked burgers from swelling in the center during the cooking process.
- Chill the beef first. Place each individual patty onto a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Allow them to refrigerate for at least an hour up to overnight. Letting them set up will help them keep their shape while also giving them a red smoke ring on the outside that will impress your family and friends.
- Form the patties about 1/2-inch wider than the bun. They will shrink on the grill, so make sure you use a bun to measure the size if you need.
Is there anything better than a juicy cheeseburger dripping down your arm as you go in for that cheesy bite? It doesn’t take many ingredients for these smoked hamburgers to have you rolling up your sleeves and going in for the burger hunch. You could go with a typical salt & pepper blend and have success, but if you’re looking for a deeper flavor profile, here’s a suggestion:
Espresso Steak Rub
This rub provides a balance of earthy, bitter, warm, and savory flavors that compliments the ground beef without overpowering it. In addition, it also works well with the flavors of barbecue sauce.
- 2 tablespoons espresso coffee grounds
- 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
HOW TO SMOKE HAMBURGERS
Cooking with Different Grills or Smokers
One of the best things about this recipe is that you don’t have to sweat over having the right equipment. Any grill or smoker will work for making smoked burgers, as long as you have the wood chips for it. They are SO affordable and allow you to mix and match.
Using the Pellet Smoker
- Make sure your hopper is filled with pellets.
- Preheat your grill or smoker to 250-275°F. Make sure your grates are clean.
- Place your burgers onto the grates and close the lid.
Using a Charcoal Grill
- Prepare your charcoal grill for 2-zone cooking, aiming for about 250-275°F. This means you are going to bank your charcoal to one side of the grill creating a hot zone and cool zone.
- Add a handful of wood chips over the top of your charcoal, making sure to evenly distribute them. This will prevent any flare-ups.
- Place your burgers on the cooler side, making sure to monitor the ones closest to the coals.
Using a Gas Grill
- Create a foil pack. Tear off a piece of foil large enough to accommodate about 1 cup of wood chips that are spread out. Fold all the sides over to create an envelope. Use a fork or knife to carefully pierce 2-3 holes in the top of the foil pack so the smoke can escape. Be careful not to pierce all the way through both sides of the foil, and also don’t create too many holes.
- Preheat your grill to 250-275°F. Place the foil pack on top of a burner turned to high heat. Allow the wood chips to smolder as it comes to temperature.
- Place the prepared burger patties on the cool side of the grill and close the lid.
ADDING FLAVORS WITH WOOD CHIPS
If you’re using a charcoal grill or a gas grill, wood chips come in handy for an affordable way to add smoke.
Use a stronger wood flavor, such as mesquite, pecan, hickory, or oak. These smoked hamburgers don’t take too long, and beef can really soak it in. My personal favorite is a combination of hickory and mesquite, giving it that nice smokey bacon profile. This is the time to infuse it with flavor!
Check out the video tutorial below for a highlight of the benefits and uses:
Important Tips for Maximum Flavor
- Use beef with at least 15% fat. The low and slow process of having your burgers in a smoker can cause the beef to dry out if it’s too lean. I typically recommend either 80/20 or 85/15, whichever you prefer.
- Don’t season your burgers ahead of time. Salt can draw out the moisture in a way that will cause the textures and flavors to be off with burgers. Season the hamburger patties right before you place them into the smoker or grill instead.
- Monitor the temperature of your smoked hamburgers. An instant-read thermometer is a great way to ensure you reach your desired temperature. If you are looking for a slightly pink color, you’ll want to smoke the burgers until about 135°F before searing (if you choose to), or just cook them until about 160°F temperature and allow the burgers to rest.
- Searing your burgers is not necessary. Not only is it an extra step (and potentially much more work depending on your grill) but you run the risk of overcooking. However, if you would like more of a crust on your burgers, begin searing them when you are about 20 degrees from your desired temperature.
- Rest is best, even with burgers. Allow the smoked hamburgers to rest for 5-10 minutes, loosely tented with foil. This is a great time to toast your hamburger buns.
IDEAL TOPPINGS FOR YOUR BURGERS
When it comes to building the ultimate smoked hamburger, you always want to think about how flavors and textures play together, as well as temperatures. Because these burgers have a hint of sweetness from barbecue sauce, something acidic is a nice counterpoint.
There should never be too much of any one thing because you want to taste each burger topping while also having them all work together. These are just some suggestions for this smoked burger, but let the burger be your canvas and make it your own.
- Gouda cheese: mildly and creamy, it has an ideal melt factor while not overpowering the smoke flavor. Muenster, Havarti, and the classic American cheese are other options.
- White onions: The sharp freshness of the onions cuts through the richness of the beef and cheese. They also offer an irresistible crunch.
- Pickled jalapenos: The heat and acid balance the sweetness of the barbecue sauce while adding a kick to every bite. The white onion and pickled jalapenos are a traditional pairing with Texas BBQ which compliments the barbecue sauce.
- Smoked Dijon mustard: This spicy condiment is worth the effort, which isn’t much work.
- Good quality mayonnaise: Spread it, slather it, smear it. Nobody likes dry buns. Mayo is the ideal condiment for this burger. It doesn’t overpower anything while offering up just enough tang to liven everything up.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why should I smoke burgers?
Smoking burgers allows you to infuse your burgers with the additional flavor of smoke while keeping them juicy. Cooking them at a lower temperature keeps them juicy and helps prevent flare-ups.
Do I need to sear my smoked burgers?
No. This process uses a lower temperature to cook the burgers more gently. However, you can sear them if you want the additional texture; you just risk overcooking them.
Do I need to soak my wood chips for smoked burgers?
No! There is no need to soak your wood chips for either use on a charcoal grill or gas grill. Not only does it drop the temperature for charcoal grilling, but it also affects the flavor.
What type of wood should I use for smoked burgers?
Have fun playing around and discover what you like. Any type of oak, mesquite, or hickory is all great options.