Why You Should Try Smoking Burgers

If you have a hard time keeping your burgers moist on the grill, or you're just looking for a new way to mix things up and impart a little extra flavor to your patties at your next cookout, then it may be time to try smoking your hamburgers instead of just throwing them over direct heat.

As explained by Cutting Edge Firewood, smoking hamburgers ensures juicier meat because the indirect heat used to cook in the smoking process doesn't cause the liquids in the burger to evaporate as quickly. Additionally, the soft ground meat needs to be left in the smoker for about an hour to cook properly, and it will absorb the flavors of the smoking chips or wood, which will lead to a more complex tasting finished product and a wide range of potential flavors depending on how the smoking is done. The Houston Chronicle notes that these once rare, flavorful, smoked burgers have become more popular in recent years, particularly in the Texas barbecue scene. However, that does not mean that you have to go to a trendy barbecue joint to try this newer twist on a classic for yourself, as they are fairly simple to make at home.

Burger smoking 101

There are a few things to note before you smoke a hamburger. First, you will need to make sure you have fattier meat. According to Masterclass, ground beef which is about 20% fat is ideal for smoked burgers because it will not dry out as quickly in the smoking process, but will still retain the flavor of lean meat.

Secondly, you need to think about the flavors you want to impart to your burgers. You do not actually need a special smoker to smoke your burgers, as a charcoal grill will do, but you will need to select smoking chips or wood to get the desired effect. Hickory or mesquite can result in a strong barbecue flavor, while Cutting Edge Firewood notes that cherry adds a sweet flavor while oak is a mild, more neutral option.

Once you've selected your materials, you will need to set up your smoker as usual and season your meat. When the smoker has reached a temperature of about 225 degrees F, place your raw burgers inside and leave them to smoke for about an hour, only opening it to flip the meat. When the hour is up, you can then give your burgers a quick sear on each side in a pan or on the grill to give the meat a nice crust on the outside, and add cheese if desired. Be careful not to overcook the burgers in this phase as it is only meant to crisp up the exterior.