This honey BBQ bacon cheeseburger is perfectly pan-fried in cast iron and topped with bacon and creamy bbq sauce. It’s hard to beat!
Summer won’t start officially for another few weeks now, but everyone knows that Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer. School’s out and, here in the South at least, it definitely feels like summer. Summer is cookout season, and I can’t even imagine how many burgers will be grilled over the next three months or so. Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows that burgers are kind of my “thing”. I’ve made lots of burgers over the years, and while they were edible, the perfect burger has eluded me. I’ve been eating a lot of burgers lately in preparation for updating my top burgers list, and with a more strategic approach to choosing my favorites I’ve learned a few things about just what makes the “perfect” burger.
I always thought that grilled burgers were the pinnacle of burger perfection, until I discovered that this was not the case. That’s right…this bacon cheeseburger here does not bode well for your summer cookouts. The best burgers? Pan fried over high heat. Preferably in a cast iron skillet. My 12-inch Lodge skillet is just perfect for that. I made them thin (double patties = greater surface area = more crispy bits = yaaaaaasssss) and cooked them hot till they were crusty on the outside and juicy on the inside.
The meat has to be just right. I like to grind my own, and I’ve found that a blend of skirt steak and boneless short ribs provide just the right fat content and texture for my liking (by the way, you can grind your meat in a food processor if you don’t have a grinder-I use a KitchenAid attachment). If grinding your own meat isn’t your thing, buy 80/20 meat at the store…this is not the time to worry about fat content…especially considering what I’m about to tell you. I add butter to my burgers. Yep, butter. The extra fat amps up the flavor. I also season the meat before forming the burgers so you can taste the seasoning throughout.
Another thing-the perfect burger (in my house, anyway) always has cheese-melted cheese. You have to find a good melting cheese, and in this case, a good quality American cheese (i.e. not the kind that is individually wrapped in plastic) is perfect for melting and doesn’t distract from the flavor of the burger. Sometimes, a strong cheese is a good thing, and I do love a good Cheddar, Gruyere, blue, or Gouda. But it must.be.melted.
I have also discovered that minimal toppings make the best burger. I’ve done something I never thought I’d do and started requesting my burgers without lettuce and tomato. I love lettuce and tomato (and kind of feel like a picky toddler when I ask for them to be left off) but often I think they cause a breakdown in “structural integrity”-i.e. how well the burger holds together. In this case, a creamy honey BBQ sauce (which is really just my Chick-Fil-A sauce copycat recipe), caramelized onions, and bacon (crumbled and tucked under the melted cheese) work together for a pretty heavenly bbq bacon cheeseburger.
A soft bun is paramount…I like Martin’s potato rolls (which I buy at Publix) most of the time, but for this sweet and savory burgerI used a King’s Hawaiian bun. The bun should be sturdy enough to hold up to the toppings (you don’t want your burger to fall apart halfway through like one I ate in a restaurant a couple of months back) but soft enough to not cause you to choke when you try to swallow.
And now…I never have to leave my house for the perfect bbq bacon cheeseburger (but I will anyway).
Yield: 4 servings
35 minPrep Time:
10 minCook Time:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- dash paprika (smoked if you have it!)
- dash cayenne pepper
- 1 pound skirt steak
- 8 ounces boneless short ribs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
- 4 Hawaiian rolls
- 4 slices good quality American cheese or 4 ounces grated cheddar
- 4 sliced cooked bacon, crumbled
- caramelized onions or Oven Fried Onion Rings , for topping (optional but highly recommended)
- To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cut the skirt steak and short ribs into large chunks. Freeze for 15 minutes. Grind using a meat grinder or in batches in a food processor.
- Melt one tablespoon of the butter. Spread the ground meat onto a sheet pan and sprinkle evenly with the melted butter, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Divide the meat into 4 piles then divide each pile into 2 smaller piles. Carefully pack each pile of meat into a ball then press into a thin patty. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERWORK THE MEAT! I would rather have a slightly "loose" patty than overwork it and have a tough patty!
- Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Split two buns and brown the insides. Remove to a plate and repeat with the other two buns.
- Heat 1/2 teaspoon of the oil in the 12-inch skillet (cast iron is my favorite) over high heat. Place four patties in the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Make two stacks and top each with a crumbled slice of bacon and a slice of cheese or an ounce of grated cheese. Cover the pan and cook until the cheese has melted. Remove from the pan and repeat the process with the four remaining patties.
- Open each bun and spread the top and bottom bun with a thin layer of the barbecue sauce. Top each burger with caramelized onions or a couple of onion rings, if using. Place the top bun and serve immediately.
If you prefer not to grind your own meat, use 1 1/2 pounds 80/20 ground beef.