Reverse Seared Smoked Hamburgers

Fresh ground beef, formed into patties, seasoned up and smoked to perfection. 
smoked hamburgers

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If you’ve only ever grilled your burgers, you need to give this method a try.

I’m going to show you how to smoke burgers using the reverse sear method.

Cooking your burgers low and slow and finishing them off with a good sear imparts tons of flavor while keeping your burgers juicy! 

Smoked hamburgers

While this recipe is for smoked hamburgers, it would be more accurate to call them reverse seared. 

Reverse searing works great with thicker burger patties, allowing you to get some good smoke flavor, avoid overcooking them, and still finish with a nice sear for the ultimate crust.

If you prefer thin patties I recommend the smash burger method.

a man holding an uncooked beef burger patty
Thicker burger patties work better for the reverse searing method

Smoking the burgers over low heat really helps them retain moisture. Anytime you increase the temperature of your heat source the fat from the protein tends to escape faster. Especially on burgers, when grilling them on high heat and flipping them back and forth, you can dry them out quickly. 

They can easily overcook this way and handling the meat excessively allows more of the juice to escape. 

I start by smoking the burgers at about 225°F until the internal temperature reaches 130°F and then sear over high heat to finish.

This gives the burgers a nice crust while locking in all the juices. 

What type of ground beef is best

Most people will just buy their meat already ground at the store which is what I usually do. Of course, if you have a meat grinder at home, making your own burger blends can produce amazing results.

a close-up view of the meat grinder with ground beef
Store-bought ground beef is convenient, but nothing can beat the freshness of grinding your own

What’s important here is choosing the right fat-to-meat ratio. For me, I like an 80/20 blend.

That means 80% of the ground mixture is beef and 20% is fat. This ratio tends to provide enough fat for flavor while keeping enough moisture throughout the cooking process to keep your burger juicy. 

If you go higher than a 90/10 blend, you may have a dried out burger, and likewise, if you choose something with a higher fat content like a 70/30 blend, you may find your burger way too greasy. 

Not to mention the grease fire possibilities! 

Obviously the more fat the ground beef has the more calories and vice versa. All things to consider if you are conscious of that. 

Forming the patties

There are a few tips and tricks for forming burger patties.

You don’t want to handle the meat too much as it will overwork the proteins in the meat and risk your patties falling apart on the grill.  

I like to season my patties with just salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Don’t worry about mixing the seasoning into the burgers, just season them once the patties are formed. 

four uncooked beef patties on a wooden board
Be gentle when forming your ground beef into patties

Aim for burger patties about 6 oz in size. If the ground meat feels loose after forming my patties, I place them back in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before placing them on the grill or smoker to cook. 

What type of wood to use for smoked burgers

Because burgers don’t take long to smoke I would recommend something like hickory or pecan. Those two types of wood go great with beef and will add great flavor to the burger.

If you want something a little more off the beaten path, try cherry. Not only does cherry smoke give beef a great color but it adds a touch of sweetness that goes surprisingly well with ground beef.

I smoked these burgers on my pellet grill, using Bear Mountain pellets.

What can I put on my burger? 

You can literally put anything on a hamburger and come up with your own flavor combinations. 

There are traditional items like lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, and bacon (which we recommend). But don’t be afraid to try and experiment with different flavor profiles. I’ve seen things from jalapeños and onion rings to french fries, noodles and even kimchi. An egg with a big fat yolk on top is a personal favorite of mine. 

As far as condiments, the classics would include mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard but I’ve seen everything from BBQ sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, jams and relishes. 

How to make smoked hamburgers 

Start off by preheating your smoker to 225°F. For this cook, I used my Pit Boss 1600 Pro with hickory pellets from Bear Mountain BBQ. In the meantime form your ground beef into 6 oz patties and season them well on all sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

uncooked seasoned burger patties on a wooden board
A simple SPG seasoning is all you need

You can feel free to add other seasonings if you’d like but for burgers, I like to keep it pretty simple.

Once the burgers are on the smoker you really don’t need to mess with them a whole lot. It should take about an hour or so for the meat to come up to temp. 

four beef burger patties on a smoker
You may need to flip your burgers once during the cook

I take my burgers to 130 degrees F before pulling them off to sear. I did end up flipping my burger about half way through the cook to make sure they were evenly cooked on both sides since my heat source is coming from underneath. 

At this point, you can continue to smoke the burgers until they come up to your desired temperature or you can take them over to a gas grill and sear them hot on both sides to try and develop a little crust and lock in all the flavors.

three smoked hamburger patties on a grill
Look at that delicious crust

While the burgers are smoking, cook your bacon until crispy and set that aside for later. Nobody wants floppy bacon on their burger.

Once the burgers were about ready, I placed them on the top rack in my gas grill and added a slice of cheddar cheese to each one, closed the lid and let the cheese melt for a minute or two. I also toasted the hamburger buns and brought everything inside to assemble. 

beef burger patties topped with cheddar cheese on the grill grates
Only a minute under a closed lid and your cheese will beautifully melt on the burger

For the assembly, I slathered on some mayo to the bottom bun, then added lettuce, a slice of tomato, the burger and topped it off with some crispy bacon.

To the top bun, I add more mayo, ketchup and mustard. 

smoked hamburger on a plate
We used classic toppings and condiments on this burger, but feel free to experiment

Side dishes that go well with burgers

What doesn’t go well with a juicy smoked burger? I think that list would be much shorter! Serve up your burgers with:

More smoked burger recipes to try

smoked hamburger on a plate

Reverse Seared Smoked Hamburgers

Fresh ground beef, formed into patties, seasoned up and smoked to perfection. 
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 836kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger

Ingredients

  • 24 oz ground beef
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4 pieces lettuce
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 8 slices bacon

Instructions

  • Form your ground beef into 6 oz patties and season.
  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F then place the burgers onto the smoker.
  • Smoke burgers until they reach an internal temp of 130 degrees F.
  • Sear on high heat to finish or continue to smoke your burgers to your preferred doneness.
  • Add a slice of cheddar cheese to each burger a few minutes before you remove them from the grill.
  • Serve burgers on toasted buns with condiments and toppings.

Nutrition

Sodium: 1351mg | Calcium: 236mg | Vitamin C: 11mg | Vitamin A: 996IU | Sugar: 6g | Fiber: 2g | Potassium: 859mg | Cholesterol: 167mg | Calories: 836kcal | Trans Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Fat: 60g | Protein: 44g | Carbohydrates: 28g | Iron: 6mg
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