Ready to use your wood pellet grill to make delicious smoked burgers? When we typically think about cooking burgers, we think about grilling them over an open flame or frying them on a flat surface, but you’ve thought outside the box and you’re ready to try smoked burgers. It’s totally possible and you won’t be disappointed – provided you follow the tips below! We’ve also thrown in a delicious recipe for your first smoked burgers.
9 Tips You Need to Know for Smoking Burgers
- Keep Your Temperature at 225F
- If You Make Your Own Patties, Don’t Preseason
- Press a Thumb Print into the Top of Your Patties
- Work with Your Favorite Pellets
- Hone Your Cooking Time
- Smoking Rules Apply
- Your Patties May Stay Pink
- Sear at the End
- Add Cheese Last
Keep Your Temperature at 225F
The first thing you need to know—that you may have already guessed—is that you should keep your smoker a little cooler than you would larger cuts of meat. As you likely know by now, smoking is all about cooking low and slow, and that’s no different for burgers, we just want to emphasize the low.
If You Make Your Own Patties, Don’t Preseason
If you typically form your own patties, resist the habit of seasoning before you form them. When you add salt to the entirety of the patty meat, you’ll end up with salt inside the burger which will draw out moisture and dry out the meat. Instead, season the outside of the patties before you put them on the grill.
Press a Thumb Print into the Top of Your Patties
This sounds a little strange, but stick with me. When you press a thumbprint into the top of your patties, they won’t increase in size when they cook. If you have thick patties, they tend to become more like a meatball than a patty as they smoke.
Work with Your Favorite Pellets
Just because you’re smoking burgers doesn’t mean you can’t try some different flavors of pellets. If you have a favorite, try that first if it works for beef. Otherwise, work with normal wood pellets or Hickory for a bacony flavor.
Hone Your Cooking Time
Obviously, your burgers don’t need 8 hours to cook, like some of your bigger cuts of meat. However, just like smoking other cuts, you should go by internal temperature. Burgers will generally take about 1 – 1.5 hours to smoke, but remember to check the temperature, which we’ll get into shortly. Once you’ve cooked burgers a few times, you can hone your cooking time to the perfect length for your desired doneness and grill.
Smoking Rules Apply
Smoking burgers only change your temperature and your cooking time, it doesn’t change the method. You don’t open the lid to flip other cuts, so don’t open the lid to flip the burgers. It’s not necessary for smoking, so you only need to do so if you sear your burgers after they’ve finished cooking.
The second rule that you need to remember is that, just like with other cuts of meat, a good fat to meat ratio will help. Look for ground beef with 15% fat or more, and if you prefer to use lean meat for your burgers, such as turkey, try to mix a little pork or lamb in with your turkey mince.
Your Patties May Stay Pink
When we cook burgers on the grill, we usually know when the meat has cooked properly because the outside has gone brown, and the inside is anywhere on the scale between pink and brown, depending on how well done you like your burgers. When you’re smoking burgers make sure you have your temperature probe handy, as when you smoke patties you don’t always get the same visual cues that you would if you were cooking your patties on a grill, especially if you like your burgers rare. You’ll know when your burger is cooked through when the internal temperature is:
- 120F for rare
- 130F for medium-rare
- 140F for medium
- 150F for medium-well-done
- 160F for well-done
Sear at the End
When your burger patties have reached the right internal temperature, sear the outside. You can do this easily on most wood pellet grills, so all you need to do is remove your burger patties when they’re ready, and then turn up the heat of your grill to 400F – 425F, and put your sear plates or a cast-iron skillet in the smoker and once it’s reached the right temperature, sear the burgers for about 2 minutes on each side.
Add Cheese Last
If you’re partial to a good cheeseburger, then add your cheese when you flip your burger after searing one side. That will melt the cheese perfectly so they’re ready to serve when you put them in the bun with your other chosen sauces and toppings.
Delicious Smoked Burgers Recipe
Serves: 2 (double recipe for more)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 minutes (though this may change for you based on your internal temperature)
- 1.5lb ground beef
- 1 tbsp sea salt or coarse salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion cut into thick slices (1/2 inch or bigger)
- 2 cups of iceberg or romaine lettuce
- 1-2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese per patty
- Set up your grill and set the temperature to 225F.
- Prepare your patties by forming the meat into 2-4 equal patties (depending on if you want 1 or 2 burgers each) and season the outside with the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
- Prepare your lettuce (keep as leaves or shred) and skewer your onion slices.
- Let the burgers cook until the burgers reach the desired doneness (check tip #7 for internal temperatures)
- Remove them from the grill, ramp up the temperature to 400-425F and add your sear plates or a cast-iron skillet.
- Once it’s up to temperature, add the patties and the onion slices. After 2 minutes, flip the burgers and onion slices and add 1-2 slices of cheese to the top of the seared side of the burgers.
- Once two minutes are up, add to your buns, layer lettuce, and onion on top, and serve!
Making smoked burgers is a delicious way to try something new with your wood pellet grill, and it doesn’t take all that much longer than if you were to grill burgers normally. If you need a sear plate, check out our Cast Iron BBQ Plate or Grill Mats, and grab our Stainless Steel Burger Press for easily formed, perfect burgers every time. For more recipes for your pellet grill, check out our extensive library here.