You can't beat flavorful delicious juicy Smoked Burgers. Whether is it a BBQ on a hot summer day, or a cold night in December, there are not many things better than a yummy burger. A smooth smoky flavor with all of your favorite toppings, you will enjoy every single bite.
Decisions for all burger recipes
There are two decisions that come before everything else when making smoked burgers.
What meat to use? Ground chuck steak is very common in burger making. You can use ground sirloin, it is flavorful but a little lean. You can also mix a leaner cut with a fatter cut or incorporate some ground pork as well. If you are grinding the meat yourself, you can preseason the chunks of meat, and then the seasonings will mix well as you grind.
What wood to use? Beef burgers can handle any of the strong-flavored woods that you want to bring. Hickory, oak, or pecan go very well with beef. You can also mix some of the fruit woods in as well. If you are using pellets or wood chips, you can come up with your favorite wood mix pretty easily and use that.
Ingredients for this smoked burger recipe
Ground Beef - We are going to use one pound of beef for two burgers. These are going to be big and juicy. You can make smaller burgers or even sliders with this recipe, but the bigger they are, the longer we will be able to smoke them without overcooking them. If you have a larger group and you need to use more than one lb of meat, just double or triple the other ingredients for an appropriate ratio of seasoning to the meat.
Onion - I love onions in my burgers. Lightly sauteeing them before we mix them into the meat will give them a little more of a sweeter flavor. All you need is half of a small onion. It can be a bit of a large mince because we are going to cook it.
Garlic Powder - If you want to use fresh, you can go ahead and sautee it with the onion. I like to use dry garlic to help absorb some of the juice from the meat.
Kosher Salt - Well seasoned burgers are important. I use at least one teaspoon per pound of ground beef as my starting point to season it.
Black Pepper - I love the taste of freshly ground black pepper. It adds an earthy flavor to any dish. If you don't have a pepper mill in your kitchen, I highly recommend you get yourself one.
How to make smoked hamburgers
Step One: Prep time is short. Put your ground beef into a large bowl and add seasoning. I love onions in my burgers. Sometimes I will use dried minced onion or onion powder. If I have time, I like to slice an onion and lightly sautee it to start to caramelize them a bit. If you have time, I recommend it. You can even cook the onions a day or two before and put them into a small bowl and keep it in the refrigerator until you are making the burgers.
Once all your ingredients are in the bowl, mix them together. Use your hands to ensure the seasoning is mixed thoroughly through the burgers.
Step Two: Form the beef into two 8 oz burger patties. Large patties are great for the smoker. Whenever you smoke burgers, you want to keep in mind the final cooking temperature as well as the time they will have to sit in the smoker and absorb smoke. Having a large burger allows you to finish at a nice rare/medium-rare internal temperature while still developing some smoky bark on the outside.
Step Three: Fire up the smoker. Preheat your smoker to about 300°F. I like to cook the burger at this higher temp to get a little bit more of a harder exterior to the burger. Preheating the smoker will make the grates hot before you put the hamburger patties on. This will ensure that the burgers don't stick. If you like a rare burger, cook them until 135 degrees internal temperature. If you like your burger well done, cook it until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
Helpful tip: If you are going to top your burgers with extra toppings, I recommend adding them to the burger before you remove it from the smoker, you can then blanket them with cheese. Allow the cheese to melt before removing it from the smoker. The cheese works as a blanket to keep the toppings in place.
Additional Tip: Flip the burgers over before adding the toppings. This allows any grease or juice that has seeped out and collected on top of the burger to be discarded before topping it.
Step Four: Use a meat thermometer to gauge the internal temperature and remove burgers when they have achieved your desired doneness. If you want to toast your burger buns, you can place them on the grill for a few minutes to get them toasty. Then all you have left is to decide what toppings you want, build your burger, and enjoy.
What are the best toppings for smoked burgers?
Bacon. Did I say bacon? Yes, bacon! I love bacon and cheese on my burgers. I also love to have a fresh crunch on my burger. Lettuce, raw onions, and pickles are all great ways to accomplish that crunch. Other favorites are sauteed mushroom, sauteed onions, fresh tomatoes, onion rings, and even french fries are all good options. If I am at a casual summer BBQ just give me cheese and a healthy squirt of ketchup and I am a happy man.
What is the best dressing or spread?
Barbecue Sauce: I use BBQ sauce when I am trying to get a little more of a hearty flavor. I prefer a smoky and spicy BBQ sauce if I am going with a simple bacon and cheddar burger. I also like a mesquite flavored sauce as well.
Mayonnaise: This is what I used when I created this recipe. You can go straight with a plain mayo. Sometimes I will use horseradish mayo for a nice strong bite of flavor. I also like to flavor my mayo. It is very easy to do. Just pick out one of your favorite dry seasonings or a mix add a ¼ teaspoon of the dry seasoning to about a tablespoon of mayo and mix it well. Use that as your burger spread. I used chipotle seasoning mixed with mayo. It really brought together all those smoking flavors. So yummy.
Other dressings or sauces: Occasionally I will use a nice creamy bleu cheese dressing. One of my kids puts ranch dressing on everything. If you want a more meaty flavor go with a steak sauce or Worcestershire sauce to bring an added dimension of flavor. Mustards from a spicy brown to hearty whole-grain mustard also make a great topping for your burger.
How long to smoke burgers at 275°F?
Great question. The cook time is going to vary based on how you want to smoke them and finish them. Whenever I am going to smoke hamburgers, I have to decide what I want to achieve. My goal with these burgers was to have a nice smoky flavor and to keep them as simple as possible. I do these burgers on my Trager pellet grill. This enables me to easily set a higher temp of 300°F and get a nice outer crust with a moist center. When I do these on my vertical gas smoker, I cannot hold a temperature over 275° or even 250°F. If I used that one, I would smoke it for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 120°F. Then I would fire up my gas grill to high heat. My goal would be to get the grill grate very hot to give it a nice reverse sear after smoking. I could have done the same with the pellet grill and smoked the burgers at a lower temp first and then reverse seared on the other grill.
Can I use frozen burgers?
Believe it or not yes. You can smoke frozen burgers on Traeger grills. You will season the outside of the patties with the ingredients listed above. You may also need to allow for about 5-10 additional minutes of cooking time. The important part here is to closely monitor the internal smoked burgers temp and remove when you have reached your target doneness. But yes, frozen patties can result in deliciously smoked Trager burgers as well.
Try some of our other great hamburger recipes:
Best sides to serve with smoked burgers:
- 1 lb ground beef
- .5 small onion
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- .5 teaspoon ground pepper
- .5 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat smoker to 300°F - 350°F. This is a higher temperature for a smoker, but you may have to adjust vents or throw an extra wood block in there.
- Mince half of a small onion. Lightly saute the minced onion for about 5 minutes over medium heat. I like to lightly saute the onion before I incorporate it into the ground beef. You can add it raw as well.
- Combine in a mixing bowl the beef, onions, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Use your hands to incorporate it well.
- Once the mixture is well combined shape it into two large patties. Creating a large patty helps to allow more time for the smoke to permeate the meat without overcooking the burger.
- Place the burgers on the smoker and smoke at 300°F - 350°F for about 30 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the burger for your desired doneness. I cooked my burger to 140°F internal temperature
- Once the burgers are done top them with your favorite burger toppings and enjoy.