Have you ever thought about using your pellet grill to make mouth-watering, smokey hamburgers? Well, they’re uniquely delicious and are a great switch-up from the open flame and fried options you’ve become accustomed to.
The ideal temperature to smoke hamburgers on a pellet grill is 225 °F; however, this temperature is for smoking, and there are a few other factors that need to be considered, such as:
- The type of meat you use and the thickness of your hamburgers
- Your preferred internal temperature of the hamburger (Rare, medium-rare, etc.)
- Whether you’re grilling or smoking the meat
If you’re a newbie to cooking burgers on a grill, below is a detailed guide through the ideal preparation method to help you whip up sensational, smokey burgers in no time. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what you need to know.
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What Is the Ideal Cooking Temperature for Burgers On a Pellet Grill?
As you probably already know, pellet grills are versatile and can be used to prepare foods differently, such as grilling and smoking. Regardless of your chosen method, preheating your grill is imperative and should be done in advance by setting the grill to between 400 °F – 500 °F.
If you’re planning to smoke your burger patty, you should aim for a temperature of around 225 °F. The process of smoking food is low and slow, with the goal being to infuse the burger with the smoke emitted from your pellets.
Tip: when using a pellet smoker or grill at low temperatures, sear your burgers for one minute on each side before putting them in the smoker. Sear a burger will reduce the chance of the burger sticking to the grill and flare-ups because of less oil. Also, less oil or fat in your burger makes it easier to clean your pellet smoker after you are done cooking your smoked burgers.
What Is the Ideal Cooking Time for Burgers?
As a rule of thumb, when grilling at 400 °F, it should take about 8 minutes to cook a burger completely (4 minutes per side). However, this does depend on the thickness of the patty and your personal preference between rare to well-done meat.
When smoking your patties, it can become difficult to provide an exact time; therefore, the best way to know if your burger is done is to test the internal temperature. Here’s a breakdown of what internal temperature you should be aiming for when cooking lamb or beef on a pellet smoker.
- Rare: 120 – 125℉
- Medium Rare: 130 – 135℉
- Medium: 140 – 145℉
- Medium Well: 150 – 155℉
- Well Done: 160-165℉
If you’re planning to go down the smoking method, once the patty reaches the desired internal temperature, crank the heat up to the maximum and allow the burger to slightly char on each side. Before sealing the meat, you can also take this time to add any final touches to the meat, such as extra seasoning or slapping on a slice of premium cheddar cheese. This will give the smoked burger a wonderful outer coat and prevent them from sticking to the grill.
Note: consuming raw or undercooked meat can be dangerous; see more here.
The Best Way to Check a Hamburgers Temperature
The best way to monitor the temperature of the burger while smoking is a wired probe thermometer. After five minutes of smoking your burgers on one side, flip them and insert the probe thermometer through the side of the largest burger. Make sure that the end of the probe sits directly in the middle of the burger for the most accurate reading.
If you are grilling your burgers, a wired probe thermometer can make the cooking process difficult. During grilling, you will need to tend to your burgers to get even cooking and prevent burning.
An instant-read thermometer is the most convenient way to check your smoked burger’s internal temperature. After about six minutes of cook time, you can start checking the largest burger’s internal temperature directly in the center every two minutes.
Your goal is a finished temperature of 160 f. However, you should remove your smoked burgers before they reach that temperature and let the carryover cooking during resting bring them up to 160 degrees.
What Are the Ideal Wood Pellets to Use?
Since hamburgers are generally made from red meat such as beef or lamb, we recommend a traditional wood pellet variety that will go well with beef, like hickory. While you can opt for fruit wood pellets such as apple or maple, keeping it simple with normal wood pellets is advisable.
Hamburgers are a somewhat traditional food and are arguably at their tastiest when it maintains their own unique flavor. A good second choice would be oak or alder because they are very mild and will let the ground meat be the star of your meal.
As far as brands, it’s wise to use a wood pellet brand that you’re familiar with and have used in the past. Some wood pellets are better than others. However, in our testing, most middle-of-the-road brands perform identically.
Tip: if you want your burgers to have more smokey flavor than a pellet smoker can deliver, consider a pellet tray or pellet tube. You can light a pellet tray before you start your pellet smoker, then once your smoker is going well, place the tray as far away from the smoke exit as possible.
A wood chip smoker box can work also, but you will need to put it in the hottest spot in your pellet smoker and use sawdust for easy smoking at low temperatures.
What Is the Ideal Meat for Burgers?
One cannot deny that the quality and taste of a burger patty come down to the type of meat used in its creation. For burgers, quality ground beef is by far the most highly recommended because of the amount of flavor it carries.
However, when selecting your ground beef, it is recommended that you choose an option with a sufficient fat concentration. Some fat is necessary to keep the burger from drying out and becoming hard. Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of ground beef:
Ground Chuck – This is the richest type of beef, generally possessing the highest fat content. Ground chuck generally ranges between 15% -20% of fat content which is optimal for maintaining a moist and juicy patty on the grill.
Ground Sirloin – Sirloin is a mid-section cut that provides a beautiful piece of meat containing between 10% and 15% fat. This type of meat is typically used in preparing over-baked meals such as meatballs, where it’s exposed to moderate rather than high temperatures like on a grill.
Ground Rounds – This cut of meat is characterized by its leanness. Usually possessing less than 10% fat content, ground rounds are not recommended for burger patties as they are likely to dry out quickly and become tough and tasteless. However, ground mixing ground round with pork can result in the perfect balance of fat with the added benefit of the delicious subtle taste of pork.
What Are the Ideal Ingredients Required?
In terms of ingredients, most of the dry spices and quantities used will depend on your palette’s preference; however, the list below covers the absolute essentials that you will need:
- Ground beef (preferably chuck with a sufficient amount of fat content)
- Salt and pepper
- Onions (grated finely)
- Dried spices (examples include garlic powder, beef spice, and mixed herbs)
- Oil (this is used on the grill grate to reduce the chances of your meat sticking to it)
If there are any other preferences for spices or bbq sauces, you can add these too.
We recommend using an all-purpose spice mixture as a base for your cooking, then you can add to it for the customized taste to match your meat. We call our all-purpose mixture 3211 because of the ratio of spices. Check out our beef dry rub article for this recipe and more!
What Is the Ideal Size of Hamburger for Pellet Grilling?
The size of the burger patty will depend on the type of burger you decide to make. There are three main types, which are classic, stuffed, and smashed burgers, and each varies in size.
Classic Burgers – Should be flattened into roughly an inch thick and 4-inches wide. This is the most common method of cooking burgers on a pellet grill. Some people will put a small impression in the middle so the burger will cook evenly in the middle.
Stuffed Burgers – Depend entirely on the amount of filling used within. A stuffed burger can get messy if the stuffing comes out of the burger. It is advisable to keep a piece of foil under your grill grates to catch any mess for easy disposal.
Smashed Burgers – These generally require less work to prepare as a large handful of meat is tossed on a hot grill plate or frying pan and then smashed flat with a spatula or hot grill press. After the edges are browned, the burger can be transferred to a grill grate to reduce grease and add the smokey grilled flavor. This method is not the first choice for a pellet grill.
Pioneer Smoke Houses YouTube Video
I have this great video with smoked bacon burgers. Check it out here or directly on YouTube.
A pellet grill is a great way to make great, unique-tasting food, especially burgers. Using a pellet grill for tender burger meat may seem a little daunting and can be a little tricky to do without the proper know-how.
However, by following the ideal preparation method above and adhering to the temperature requirements, specified quantities, and choosing the right ingredients, you’re already well on your way to making the perfect grilled hamburger.