Our perfect summer evening? A warm breeze in the air, lightning bugs dancing in the grass, and a barbecue burger cooking on the grill. These burgers are one of our top 10 burger recipes, and for good reason. Homemade patties are filled with and basted in a from-scratch barbecue sauce. They’re cooked on the grill for an infusion of smoky flavors and a beautiful char. Yum.
If you’re looking for tried-and-true Labor Day grilling recipes, this barbecue burger needs to be on the menu.
How to Tell When a Burger Is Done
Grilling burgers is both an art and a science! Learning how to gauge when your burgers are done is just one of our tips for grilling like a pro.
According to the USDA, the minimum internal temperature of cooked ground beef should be 160°F (71.1°C). Food-safe cooking temperatures are important to follow to reduce the risk of ingesting harmful germs or bacteria, especially for certain individuals such as the elderly, infants and pregnant people.
However, for healthy adults, many people see little risk in cooking food to slightly lower temperatures. If a well-done burger (160°) is too cooked for your preference, here’s a guide for the cook times and temps of an average 1-inch-thick burger patty:
- Medium-rare: 6 minutes, or 130 to 135° (warm, red center)
- Medium: 7 to 8 minutes, or 140 to 145° (warm, pink center)
- Medium-well: 9 minutes, or 150 to 155° (hot, slightly pink center)
- Well done: 10 minutes, or 160 to 165° (brown all the way through)
Barbecue Burger Ingredients
- Ketchup: Ketchup acts as the base for the barbecue sauce.
- Liquid smoke: Liquid smoke adds a subtle wood-smoked flavor to the barbecue sauce that deepens the burger’s flavor.
- Quick-cooking oats: Quick-cooking oats prevent the meat proteins from contracting. Contracting can cause significant moisture loss, resulting in dry, tough burgers.
- Ground beef: We like to use an 80/20 beef chuck for these barbecue burgers.
- Hamburger buns: You can use whichever hamburger buns you prefer, but we can never resist ultra-fluffy potato rolls or buttery brioche rolls.
Step 1: Create the barbecue sauce
In a small saucepan, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, sugar, honey, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, liquid smoke and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the saucepan from heat. Set aside 1 cup barbecue sauce to serve with the burgers.
Step 2: Make and shape the patties
In a large bowl, combine the egg, oats, 1/4 cup of the remaining barbecue sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, pepper and salt. Crumble the beef over the mixture, and stir well, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Wet your hands, and shape the mixture into six patties.
Editor’s Tip: Try not to overpack when forming the patties. Doing so would lead to dense, tough burgers.
Step 3: Grill the burgers
Grill the burgers, covered, over medium heat until a thermometer reads 160°, five to six minutes on each side, basting the patties with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce during the final five minutes. Serve the patties on buns with your toppings of choice and the reserved barbecue sauce.
Editor’s Tip: One of the most common grilling mistakes is pressing down your burgers as they cook. Pressing down pushes out all the tasty juices and pockets of fat in the burgers, resulting in dry, hockey puck patties. Keep this in mind when you’re learning how to make hamburgers of any kind—not just barbecue burgers!
Barbecue Burger Variations
- Use a different barbecue sauce: Use one of your favorite barbecue sauce recipes for these burgers instead of the one in this recipe.
- Shape into sliders: Make a bunch of mini patties, grill them up, and place them on Hawaiian rolls. The sweet Hawaiian rolls will pair beautifully with the smoky and sticky-sweet barbecue burgers.
- Make these vegetarian: Baste this recipe’s barbecue sauce (minus the Worcestershire!) on our grilled bean burgers when they’re on the grill for a vegetarian-friendly version of these barbecue burgers.
How to Store Barbecue Burger
To store, allow the barbecue burgers to cool to room temperature. Store the burgers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, place the burgers on a baking sheet in a 350° oven until heated through, five to seven minutes.
To freeze, allow the barbecue burgers to cool to room temperature. Place the burgers in an airtight container in between pieces of parchment or waxed paper. Store in the freezer for up to three months.
To reheat from frozen, allow the burgers to thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat the burgers on a baking sheet in a 350° oven until heated through, five to seven minutes.
Barbecue Burgers Tips
What toppings go on a barbecue burger?
Barbecue burger toppings include fried string onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, pickled red onions, a melty cheese (such as cheddar, American, pepper jack or Swiss), cowboy candy, grilled onions and, of course, barbecue sauce.
What do you serve with barbecue burgers?
Serve your barbecue burgers with potato salad, coleslaw and french fries. Almost all sides for hamburgers can be served with a barbecue burger, especially Memorial Day side dishes when barbecued meats are plentiful.
How else can you cook barbecue burgers?
You can cook barbecue burgers on the stovetop instead of the grill. To make the best pan-fried burgers, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Place your burger patties on the skillet, and let the first side cook for three to four minutes. Flip the burgers, reduce the heat to medium, and glaze the burgers with barbecue sauce. Cover the skillet, and cook the burgers two to five minutes longer, until your desired level of doneness.
What is the best meat for barbecue burgers?
We think the best meat for barbecue burgers is an 80/20 beef chuck. In fact, we think this ground beef is best for all burgers if you cook your burgers to medium-well. If you prefer a medium-rare burger, opt for 70/30 beef chuck.