Sunday, August 30, 2020

Half-Pound Cowboy Burgers on the Grill

 [FTC Standard Disclosure] I received no compensation for this post.

We get so busy "doing" on the weekends that we'll often eat lunch so late that we just combine it with an early dinner. Do you do that? That's what we did last weekend when we made these classic, big honkin' Cowboy Burgers for our lunch-dinner. 

This elbow-dripping burger starts with an 8-ounce patty of fresh ground beef and is loaded with smoky cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, bourbon-laden BBQ sauce, fried onions, and homemade spicy pickles.

As always, I have my cooking notes, tips, and more mouth-watering pictures below the recipe. Enjoy!

Cowboy Burgers

Published 08/30/2020


  • 2 pounds fresh ground chuck
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons NMT Beef Rub v.2 recipe or another beef rub
  • 1/2 teaspoon Morton's Season-All or another seasoned salt
  • 8 slices Sargento's Smokehouse Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup NMT Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce or a smoky, sweet BBQ sauce
  • 10-12 spicy pickle chips
  • 1/2 cup fried onions
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • 8 slices cooked bacon


  1. Divide the ground chuck into four equal 8-ounce portions and press into burger patties. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before grilling them.
  2. Preheat a charcoal grill to 450°f (medium-high heat). This will be direct heat, so the fire should be directly below the grates where you will be cooking. 
  3. Make the "burger shake" seasoning by finely grinding the beef rub and mixing it with the seasoned salt. I put this in a spice shaker jar with fine holes for even distribution.
  4. Grill the burgers. Lightly oil your grates or spritz your burgers with a bit of high temperature cooking oil and place them on the grates. Let them go 4 minutes on the first side. SEASON the burgers with the "burger shake" and then flip the patties. Immediately season the second side and top each patty with 2 slices of cheese.
  5. Let the burgers finish cooking. Typically for me at this temp, that's about 4 more minutes (8 min total), but it varies. If I ground the beef myself, I'll cook the burgers medium-rare (internal temperature of 130f) or medium (135f). But for commercially prepared ground beef, I'm cooking my burgers to medium-well (above 145f).
  6. Toast your buns on the grill until they are golden brown.
  7. Build the burgers. Top the bottom bun with a burger patty, two strips of bacon, and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce. Top that with 2-3 picks and some of the fried onions. Cap that off with the bun top and enjoy.

Yield: 4 large burgers

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Total time: 40 mins.

Tags: burger, grill

Whenever possible, I do actually go to the trouble of weighing out my burger portions. I'm a pretty good judge by feel, but I like to be precise. It makes portion control and cooking times more accurate. I LOVE using the deli sheets when making burgers - it makes handling and storing them so much easier. I buy ours at Gordon Food Services here in Knoxville, but any restaurant supply store should have them.

My not-so-secret weapon for making uniformly-sized and perfectly compressed burger patties is Craycort's Ballistic BBQ Smasher. I used to only make them by hand, but I like my results better with a good burger press. I like this one because it has no moving parts and is sturdy.

It comes in varying thicknesses depending on your burger size. I have the 5mm (for 3-ounce smash style burgers) and the 15mm (for 6 to 8-ounce burgers).

When I make burger patties, I have a process. First, I wear cotton gloves under my food gloves to keep the heat of my hands from melting the fat in the burger grind. Next, store-bought ground beef gets compressed in some spots, so I break it up into loose strands. Then I cup it in my hands to form it into a ball as shown on the right and place it on a deli sheet lightly sprayed with a bit of Pam. To press the burger, I put another Pam-sprayed deli sheet face down on top of the beef ball and press firmly down with the burger press. Then just peel the deli sheet off the top and voila! 

Ready to rock and roll!

Spicy pickles add zip to a burger or BBQ sandwich. We made a batch of Olde Virden's Award-Winning Red Hot and Sweet Refrigerator Pickles, which are FANTASTIC. Olde Virden's is a Knoxville company that makes a killer line of fiery flavor seasonings. The Red Hot Sprinkle is a rocking blend of dried habanero, jalapeno, and serrano chiles. We love the stuff. If you want to buy spicy pickles, Famous Dave's are quite good.

Preheating is essential - once the grill's thermometer says 450°f, that means the air in the grill just got that hot. Give the metal 10 minutes to catch up so that you are cooking with radiant and conductive heat, not just hot air.

My grill of choice for this cook was my CharBroil 500x. It is no longer in production, but the Oklahoma Joe's Rambler is very similar, with a few changes to the vents, lid, and it doesn't have the front access door. This tabletop grill has a small footprint, but it has plenty of grilling room, and I love the cast-iron grates.

I wait to season the burgers on the grill. That way, there is no issue of the salt drawing out moisture from raw ground meat, which would dry it out and make it dense.

The vents and rotisserie access holes on the lid look like "shocked Pikachu face," don't they?

I like to take my cheese slices out of the fridge, so they have time to temper. I don't like throwing cold slices on burgers. Also, I'm a big fan of Sargento Smokehouse Cheddar slices. "Smoked" commercial products often taste like someone spilled Liquid Smoke on them. But these cheese slices have just the right balance of smoke flavor.

Mmmmmmm - cheeseburgers.

I usually toast my buns but forgot and had to toast them after the burgers come off. Not a big deal, just remember to scrap your grates clean first.

Just like my steaks, I rest burgers on a resting rack instead of a plate. Leaving hot burgers on a flat surface will trap the heat and steam the bottom of the meat, causing it to lose more juices.

I think it is vital to drizzle or spread the condiments, like this bbq sauce, on a burger. I hate when you're eating a burger and hit a reservoir of mustard or ketchup, overwhelming your palate with that one-note flavor. Even distribution, people.

TBH, I was going to make onion rings but forgot until it was too late, so I just put some store-bought fried onions on there.

There's a lot to like about this burger.

To quote Jules from Pulp Fiction, "mmmmm This IS a tasty burger!"

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