It has long been an assumed fact that if you want juicy, tasty burgers, there are only two ways to cook them. You could either fry them on a flat surface or grill them on grates over an open flame. Well, not so fast. Smoked burgers are an excellent way to indirectly cook burgers while infusing delicious natural hardwood flavor. The indirect cooking allows the burger to lean out a little bit (thus losing some of the grease) without sacrificing taste.
It’s important to note the basics when it comes to smoking burgers. First, you’ll want to set your smoker to 225°F. For wood, we recommend using either Hickory or Mesquite. Hickory will give you a nice, bacon-like taste and aroma, while mesquite will give your burgers a steak-like quality. Pit Boss Classic Blend Hardwood Pellets give you the best of both, combining hickory, mesquite, and pecan hardwood with no additives or fillers. Your choice lies in your personal preference.
Other basics include to not pre-season your patties while you are forming them. The salt can draw out moisture and dry out your burgers. Wait until the last minute before you put them on the grill. Also, if you are forming your own patties, remember to leave a thumb sized imprint on the top of the patties before you throw them on the smoker. This will prevent them from puffing up into a meatball.
At 225°F a quarter pound patty should take about an hour to get to rare – medium rare. If you want to sear the outside for a nice crust, then allow another 2 minutes of searing time for each side.
As long you are smoking your burgers on the grate and not in a pan, you don’t need to flip them until it is time to sear both sides over direct heat.
Here’s 5 tricks to ensure the burger you know and love stays that way after a smoke:
The smoking process can dry out meat which is why it is important to use meat with a decent amount of fat. Opt for ground meat with no less than 15% fat. Not a fan of beef? Try a 50/50 mix of Turkey and Ground Pork or Lamb.
Smoking meat can turn your patty pink, which may fool you into thinking that it hasn’t finished cooking. The best way to ensure your burger has reached desired doneness is to use a temperature probe to read internal temperature. Aim for 135°F for rare/medium rare.
Here’s a neat little hack that will keep your burgers moist and infuse some Umami flavor. Create a mix of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and red wine vinegar and freeze into cubes (the smaller the better) overnight in an ice tray. Remember when we talked about making that indent with your thumb on your homemade patties? After you place them on the grill, place the ice cubes into that indent. As the ice melts it will dissolve into your burger, leaving it moist and tasty.
While your burger smokes away, it’s not a bad idea to smoke your toppings as well, especially your cheese (add slices to the burger about 15 minutes before they are done), bacon, mushrooms, peppers, onions, garlic, etc. Whether or not you plan of sautéing these toppings, let them smoke beside your burgers first.
When your desired temperature is about 5 degrees shy of being done, turn up your Pit Boss to 400°F, open your Flame Broiler Plate and sear both sides for about 2 minutes each. Wait until this step to apply cheese if you choose to sear.
Smoked burgers are a great way to show off your Pit Boss Pellet Grill at your next tailgating event, especially if you own one of our 3 Tailgating Grills, including our newest Tailgater with a bright red lid! With a short cook time, smoked burgers are a wonderful way to bring smoked wood fired flavor to the next big race, game, or campout!