Step up your burger game with this comprehensive Smoked Burgers guide. It includes tips for forming the patties, seasoning secrets, and easy-to-follow instructions for cooking irresistibly juicy burgers low and slow on a standard smoker.
There isn’t anything as classic as throwing a few burgers on the grill on a summer day and enjoying them with sides like potato salad, pasta salad, and corn on the cob. But when you’re looking to officially become a pitmaster and impress your friends with smoked meat, this Smoked Burgers recipe is where it’s at!
Once you sink your teeth into a perfectly smoked burger, there’s no going back to ordinary grilling. Apart from seasoning and forming the burger meat into patties, smoking is a hands-off method that involves cooking the burgers slowly over low heat with the controlled smoke application. As a result, the beef gains a deep layer of rich, smoky flavor you can’t get from other cooking methods.
The best part? Whether you’re a beginner or already a pitmaster, smoking burgers is surprisingly simple and produces restaurant-quality results every time!
For this smoked burger recipe, I seasoned the ground beef the same way I seasoned my air fryer burgers. Here’s everything you need:
- Ground beef – You want to use ground beef with a high-fat content, like ground chuck or ground brisket (70/30 or 80/20). The added fat helps keep the patties moist and juicy during the low and slow smoking process.
- Low-sodium soy sauce – This imparts a rich umami flavor while forming a caramelized crust on the surface. If you’re gluten free, use tamari instead.
- Seasonings – I find that the best burgers are lightly seasoned. Garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper are all you need to let the natural beefy flavors shine.
How to smoke burgers
Start by preheating your smoker. Meanwhile, mix the ground beef, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined.
Divide the burger mixture into 4 portions and form each one into half-inch thick patties. To help fight the “burger bulge,” press your thumb into the center of each patty to create a dent.
Add the burgers to the preheated smoker and cook for 1 hour or until they’re 10 degrees away from being done.
Place a slice of cheese on each burger. Continue smoking until they reach your desired internal temperature (see below for smoked burger temperatures).
To finish, transfer the burgers onto toasted buns and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, mayo, or any toppings you like. Enjoy!
Use a meat thermometer to cook your burgers to the perfect level of doneness:
- Rare: 125ºF
- Medium Rare: 135ºF
- Medium: 145ºF
- Medium-Well: 155ºF
- Well: 160ºF
Tips and tricks
- For even cooking and the best flavor, you must preheat the smoker before placing the burgers inside.
- The best wood chips for smoking burgers are hickory, mesquite, cherry, pecan, maple, or applewood. Let the wood chips soak for about 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker to enhance the rustic, smoky flavor.
- If you prefer burgers with grill marks, flip them once toward the end of the smoking process.
Burger topping ideas
Keep it classic by layering the burgers with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, or mix it up with these tasty topping options:
- Pickled onions
- Pickled cabbage
- Sauteed onions and mushrooms
- Avocado slices
- Fried egg
- Jalapeno slices
- Caramelized onions
- Gruyere cheese
- Crispy air fryer onions
- Potato chips
Remember: a burger is only as good as the sauce it’s served with! Make sure to include a few of these flavorful sauces before serving the burgers to a crowd:
- In-N-Out Sauce
- Boom Boom Sauce
- Ketchup and mustard
- Ranch Dressing
- BBQ Sauce
- Copycat Chick Fil A Sauce
- MORE → 35+ Sauces for Burgers
There are endless ways to season and serve homemade hamburgers but these flavorful ideas should help get you started:
- Teriyaki – Season the beef mixture with teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic, and a dash of sesame oil. Serve on Hawaiian rolls with sharp cheddar, pickled onions, pickled cabbage, a slice of pineapple, and extra teriyaki sauce.
- Tex Mex – Season the meat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and serve them on buns with Monterey Jack cheese, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, jalapeno slices, and sliced avocado or guacamole.
- Smoky BBQ – Season the burgers with dry BBQ rub, and top them with cheddar, bacon, BBQ sauce, and a pile of crispy fried onions.
- Buffalo – About 10 minutes before the burgers are done, brush them with buffalo sauce and top with blue cheese crumbles.
1-inch thick burger patties will need to smoke for about 1 to 1½ hours, depending on your desired level of doneness.
No. Flipping the burgers too often during smoking will cause the juices to leak and the burgers to stick to the grates and fall apart.
Yes. About 10 minutes before the burgers are done, lightly spread the buns with butter or oil and place them directly on the smoker grates. Alternatively, wrap the buns loosely in foil and place them in the smoker for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden.
Wine pairings for smoked hamburgers
- When pairing wine with smoked burgers, a bold, fruit-forward red wine, such as Zinfandel, Shiraz, Malbec, or Cabernet Sauvignon, complements the robust, smoky flavor profile perfectly.
More smoked meat recipes
- Smoked Pork Belly
- Smoked Tri-Tip
- Smoked Beef Short Ribs
- Smoked Corn Beef Brisket
- Smoked Chicken Wing Rub
- Smoked Chicken Breasts
Did you smoke burgers?
If you made smoked burgers with a Traeger, Pellet, Big Green Egg, or another type of smoker, I would love to hear about your experience! So, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
- Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees.
- Season the ground beef with soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl and combine.
- Divide into 4 portions and form ½ inch thick patties. Use your thumb to create a dimple in the center of each burger. This helps avoid “burger bulge”.
- Add the burgers to the preheated smoker and cook for about 60 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 10 degrees under the desired final temperature as shown in the notes below.*
- Add a slice of cheese and continue smoking until the burgers reach your desired final temperature. You can also add the buns cut side down to the smoker at this point too, to toast them.
- Serve the burgers on buns, with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and onion, as desired.
- Final Temperatures
- Rare: 125 degrees
- Medium Rare: 135 degrees
- Medium: 145 degrees
- Medium-Well: 155 Degrees
- Well: 160 degrees