Easy smoked burgers (Using a pellet smoker)

Smoking is not just for ribs and brisket anymore—burgers can also benefit from that delicious smoky flavor. This easy smoker recipe is a simple upgrade from your typical burger routine that will absolutely take you and your guests by surprise on your next backyard bbq.

So what does it mean to smoke a burger? Smoking involves cooking food at a lower temperature, usually between 180 to 250°F, for a longer time using indirect heat. This slow cooking process allows the meat to absorb the rich and complex flavors from the smoke. What you end up with are tender, juicy burgers with all that smokey goodness. 

Photos for this recipe are from Erin Hungsberg (IG: erin_hungsberg)

Why smoke your burgers?

Burgers can sometimes get dry and bland, especially when they are cooked on high heat or you are using lean ground beef. The low and slow cooking method of smoking locks in moisture and adds layers of complex flavors to your burgers. It also prevents the burgers from shrinking too much as they cook, resulting in thicker and juicier patties.

Smoked burger

You can experiment with different types of smoke flavors to impart unique flavors to your burgers. For example, hickory wood pellets will give a strong, bold smoky flavor, while applewood will add a mild smoky flavor with subtle sweetness.

Ingredients you will need

Ingredients for hamburgers

Ground beef

Bbq seasoning

Brioche buns

Cheddar cheese slices

Toppings (lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, etc.)

How to make easy smoked burgers (using a pellet smoker).

Everything starts with good quality ground beef. You can choose your preferred meat-to-fat ratio, but we recommend 80/20 for the right balance of flavor and juiciness.

You can pick anything with a relatively higher fat content like ground chuck, ground sirloin, or even a blend like ground Wagyu beef for a more luxurious burger experience.

Preheat your pellet smoker to 225°F and assemble your burgers in the mean time. It should be ready after 30 minutes or so. While waiting, form 6 to 8-oz. ground beef patties into ½ to ¾-inch thickness, making them slightly larger than your serving buns as they will shrink during cooking.

Making hamburgers

You can use a food scale like the one pictured to get everything exact but feel free to just eyeball them if you don’t feel like going through the extra hassle.

Season them generously with your favorite bbq seasoning (or just a simple salt and black pepper combo) and let them rest while the smoker is heating up. You can also prep them in advance and chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour to help them hold their shapes better.

Seasoned burger patties

Once your smoker is ready, place the hamburger patties on the grill grate and let them cook for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 150°F (around medium well).

If they need more time, you can leave them in the smoker for another 10 to 15 minutes. Just be careful not to overcook them (or go over 160°F) as they will become dry quickly.

Avoid pressing down the burgers while cooking if you want to keep all those delicious juices in. Keep those burgers undisturbed except if you want to flip them halfway (although that’s not really necessary when smoking).

Burgers on the smoker

Pro tip: To save time and add flavor, you can add in toppings like sliced onions, mushrooms, or crispy bacon on a separate rack to smoke along with your burgers for amazing flavor.

Use a digital meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the burgers for level of doneness. You can do anywhere from medium-rare (130 to 135°F) to well-done (160°F), depending on your personal preference.

Cheese burgers

Once your burgers are cooked, add a slice of cheddar cheese on each patty to melt, and then serve on brioche buns with your favorite condiments and toppings like lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, candied jalapeños, ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire sauce, and homemade Big Mac sauce.

Burger with toppings

Tips for smoking burgers

  • The best way to make delicious smoked hamburgers is to form thick patties, but not too thick that they will take too long to cook. Aim for around ¾ inch thickness to cook the burgers evenly while retaining their juices.
  • Season with a simple yet flavorful rub. I love using my favorite bbq seasoning, but a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika works wonders for burgers.
  • Don’t overwork the meat when forming the patties as they can cause the proteins in the meat to break down, resulting in a tough and dry burger.
  • Create a slight indentation in the center of each patty using your thumb to prevent them from puffing up in the middle as they cook.
  • Smoke burgers at slightly higher temperatures (anywhere from 250 to 275°F) and you can shorten the cooking time to around 60-90 minutes.

What to serve with smoked burgers.

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Easy smoked burgers (Using a pellet smoker)

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  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons bbq seasoning
  • 4 Brioche buns
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • Toppings (Lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayonaise ketchup, mustard)

Instructions

  1. Form 6 oz burger patties from ground beef and season with bbq seasoning.
  2. Smoke burgers at 225°F for up to 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the burgers reach 150°F. (If you like the burgers more medium remove off the smoker when they reach 140°F)
  3. Add a slice of cheddar cheese on each burger to melt just a minute or two before you remove them off the smoker.
  4. Toast brioche buns and assemble burger together with your favorite toppings. I like lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayo,  ketchup and mustard,
  • Author: Jordan Hanger
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Smoked
  • Cuisine: American

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