From Press to Plate: Your Guide to Smoked Hamburgers

August 26, 2022

My family relied on smokers just as much as grills so I learned to enjoy smoked hamburgers at an early age. Of course, I have played around with the recipe and the smoking process since then, perfecting it.

In this post, I will not only share one of my favorite recipes, but I will also show you to the top tips and tricks for getting these hamburgers just right!

Smoked Hamburgers

Smoked Burger Recipe

Here is an easy recipe for smoked hamburgers:

Ingredients

For the Burger Patties

  • 2lbs of ground beef, turkey, or lamb
  • 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbs. of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs. of milk
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of black pepper

For the Smoked Burgers

  • barbecue sauce, optional
  • 6 burger buns
  • cheddar cheese or pepper jack
  • lettuce
  • pickles
  • tomato
  • onions
juicy meaty greasily satisfying burger

Method

Step 1

Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.

Step 2

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground meat and other ingredients. Mix well. Make sure that the seasonings are evenly spread throughout the ground chuck.

Step 3

Divide the ground beef mix into six even portions and shape each into a burger patty. Make sure the hamburger patties are of even shape and thickness. You can use a burger press to do this or use your hands.

This smoked hamburger recipe makes six patties, with each patty being about half an inch thick. If you want very thick burger patties, however, you will have to use more ground beef per portion, resulting in a fewer number of servings.

Step 4

Place the burger patties on the racks of the preheated smoker. Press your thumb into the middle of each burger to create a dent. This will prevent them from puffing up as you are smoking burgers.

Step 5

Close the lid and smoke burgers until the internal temperature registers at 135 degrees F. This should take about 40 minutes to an hour.

Increase the temperature to 400 degrees F.

Sear for two minutes and flip the burger patties and add cheese on top. Close the lid and sear for 2 minutes or until the internal temperature has registered at 165 degrees F.

Take the smoked burgers off the smoker. Place the buns on the rack and toast on high heat.

Step 6

Let the burgers rest for 10 minutes.

Place each smoked burger on toasted buns and add desired toppings and sauces. Enjoy!

All About the Patties

Here are some tips for assembling the best ever smoked burger patties:

Can You Use Frozen Burgers?

I understand that not everyone wants to make smoked burgers from scratch. If you are short on time or don’t want the hassle, you may be considering packaged hamburger patties. Or, you may have premade the burgers and then frozen them for later use. Are these burgers any good?

While there is no harm in choosing premade burgers, I would choose ones that are very thick. Too-thin patties may end up becoming overcooked and while not taste as great. Personally, though, nothing is ever as good as homemade burgers!

If you are dealing with frozen burgers, always make sure to defrost them completely, first. Otherwise, they will cook unevenly, resulting in undercooked and overcooked areas.

It is best to defrost them in the refrigerator over a longer period of time. I would also advise you to take the beefburgers out of the fridge about half an hour before they need to be smoked. This allows them to come closer to room temperature and to cook more evenly.

Don’t keep the burgers out on the counter for longer than an hour, though.

Related Reading

Use Fatty Meat

This is not the best time to worry about nutrition, calories, or saturated fat. I would always recommend buying ground beef with a good amount of fat in it.

The issue with smoking burgers is that there is a high risk of them drying out. The higher fat content, however, helps to keep burgers moist. This results in delicious, juicy burgers.

Keep Seasoning Minimal

Contrary to popular belief, the key to great smoked burgers isn’t the seasonings. Rather, you need to let the meat and the smoky flavor take center stage here.

This is why I like to keep my seasonings minimal here. If you want, you can go one step further – skip the seasonings while making up the patties. Then once you are done, simply press salt and pepper into each side before smoking.

Create Thicker Burger Patties

For the best smoked burger, create a patty that is at least 1/2 an inch thick. In this case, though, the thicker the better. The more meat there is, the less likely it is for the burger to dry out.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you cant get away with a thinner patty – I would just keep a closer watch on the heat, though.

Always make certain that each patty is the same thickness and size as the other. This way, you can guarantee that they smoke at the same rate and are done at the same time.

Always Cook a Well Done Burger

I know that everyone has their own desired doneness for burgers. However, it is important to make sure that you cook the smoked burgers until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

The USDA is clear about this – you have to ensure that your smoked hamburgers reach this temperature. It is the only way to avoid food poisoning. Thus, no medium or medium rare burger when you smoke hamburgers.

Use a Meat Thermometer

On a similar note, I would also advise you to only ever follow the internal temperature to determine whether or not your smoked burgers are done.

Time and the color of the patty – internal or external – aren’t accurate indicators. As such, you may very well end up with undercooked or overcooked smoked hamburgers.

An added bonus of using a thermometer is that you avoid having to cut into the burgers. Thus, they remain whole and juicy until your first bite.

Check the temp of each and every burger before you take them out of the smoker.

big burger on a wooden table with pepper and sesame

Setting Up the Smoker

Here are the main guidelines to follow for your smoker:

Choosing Your Wood Chips

You get so much flavor due to the wood chips used in your pellet grill smoker. Thus, it is important to make the right choice here.

When it comes to wood pellets, I would say that you can’t go wrong with something neutral such as oak or something sweet like cherry or apple.

If you want a stronger flavor, then I can suggest hickory or even mesquite. I would advise you to use very little of these wood chips as too much can lead to a bitter taste. Add more wood chips flavored with either oak, apple, or cherry to the mix.

Water Pan – Yay or Nay?

You may find some people recommending you to fill an aluminum pan with water and place it in the smoker. This is done to maintain the heat inside the smoker, add moisture, and to create a smokier flavor.

When making smoked burgers, though, I would say that this step isn’t necessary. The water pan is better suited for a longer smoking time. Hamburger patties, on the other hand, cook rather quickly.

Choosing Your Temperature

Between observing competitions and being invited to cookouts, I have noticed that each person has their own preferred smoking temperature. This can range from very low – 180 degrees or so to 500 degrees.

My personal preference for smoking burgers is 225 degrees F. While you are free to experiment, I would suggest sticking with this standard. At this point, it is quite difficult to burn your burgers and it helps to keep the patties nice and moist too.

You will have noticed in the recipe that I crank the heat up towards the end. This is so that you sear each side of the smoked burgers, ensuring the exterior is nice and crispy.

If you want, you can skip this step and simply smoke the burgers for longer.

Tips for Smoking Burgers

Here is how to ensure your burgers are perfectly smoked:

Preheat the Smoker

When you smoke burgers, preheat the smoker. This can result in more evenly cooked burgers. You should give the smoker a few minutes to heat up before placing the burgers.

I would suggest setting up the smoker and then getting to work on the burgers.

Space the Burgers

The last thing that you want is for the burgers to stick to each other. What’s more, you want to ensure that each burger is heated evenly. Due to this, make sure that there is at least an inch between them.

If you are cooking for a crowd, make sure to smoke in batches. It can take more time, but it will be better than crowding them together.

Keep the Lid Closed

This is advice that I give to anybody who wants to smoke any kind of meat. I completely understand the urge to keep checking on your hamburgers, but lifting the lid too often is only going to set you back.

See, every time that you open the lid, hot air runs out and cold air goes in. This throws off the temp in the cooking chamber. Not only can this mean that your hamburgers will take longer to cook but also there is a higher chance of them drying out.

Monitor the Temperature

While you should stay away from the lid, it is important to check on the temp of the cooking chamber, however. Now, some smokers are equipped with lid gauges that do the monitoring for you.

If this isn’t the case for your smoker, I would suggest investing in one. They aren’t very expensive and they can come in incredibly handy! Make sure that the heat stays at 225 degrees. If it goes up or down, adjust accordingly.

Now, it is important to monitor the internal temp as I mentioned. At the same time, you do need to know at what time you should do this, particularly as you aren’t supposed to be lifting the lid.

So,

How long do hamburgers take to smoke?

Well, you should remember that a lot of variables can impact the time. However, it is a good idea to start checking at around the 40 minute mark. After this, check every few minutes.

Let the Hamburgers Rest

Last, but not least, once the burgers are taken off the smoker, make sure to let them rest for up to 10 minutes. This will give you juicier and tastier hamburgers as the meat is able to reabsorb any juices that have been lost.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions:

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Burgers at 225?

It can take around 40 minutes to an hour although various factors can cause a variation.

Do You Flip Burgers When Smoking?

You should wait until the end – until the hamburgers need to be seared before you need to flip them.

Final Thoughts

This is how you can make the best smoked hamburgers ever! Follow this recipe as well as the tips and tricks for the most delicious hamburgers. It is sure to become a popular option!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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