These Cowboy Burgers are officially the most delicious burgers you’ll ever make. Plus they’re so simple to make!
Cowboy burgers are like regular burgers, just taken up a few notches with some tasty additions. BBQ sauce, crispy onions, bacon & cheese are all classic fillings in a cowboy burger, but here today I’ll show you my ‘kicked up’ version where things get a little more intense. Follow me…
BBQ Burger Sauce
Sure, BBQ sauce in a burger works beautifully, but this simple BBQ burger sauce takes things up a few notches. It’s a really easy way to keep those classic smoky, tangy BBQ tones whilst injecting in even more flavour. Plus it’s great for when you can’t decide between BBQ Sauce and Burger Sauce!
The base is just simply mayo, BBQ sauce and Dijon, then spiked with smoked paprika & onion powder, and seasoned with sugar, salt and cayenne pepper.
Process shots: add mayo to small pot (photo 1), add in other ingredients (photo 2), stir to combine then adjust seasoning if needed (photo 3).
Crispy Fried Onions
Most cowboy burger recipes use onion rings or store-bought crispy onions. Here I like to whip up my own crispy fried onions, mainly because they’re delicious but also because they’re so easy to make! They’re like a cross between onion rings and fried onions strings.
A key step here is soaking the onion slices in buttermilk. If you want ultra crispy onions you want to build up a crust. To do this you’ll want to use buttermilk to glue the flour to the onion. Don’t just coat onion in flour and fry – you’ll be disappointed! I’ve added a note on buttermilk in the recipe card below if you can’t find it.
No way around this unfortunately, truly crispy onions have gotta be deep fried. If you’re not confident with deep frying though these are perfect because you’re not faffing around with raw meat!
Process shots: thinly slice onion (photo 1), soak in buttermilk (photo 2), season flour (photo 3), dredge onion slices (photo 4), add to hot oil (photo 5), fry until golden and crispy (photo 6).
For the burgers themselves all you need is beef, salt, pepper and cheese. That’s it! No extra seasoning, no breadcrumbs, no eggs. You absolutely don’t need any of that. And you’ll still get restaurant style juicy burgers – promise. Just a few things to note:
- Fat – It’s imperative that you use high fat beef (20%+). The fat will keep the burgers ultra juicy AND fat = flavour!
- Temp – I recommend bringing the beef out the fridge 15mins before needed. I find frying cold meat straight from the fridge causes it to seize up and go chewy.
- Shaping – Don’t overwork the meat, only mould it enough to form patty shapes. Overworked ground meat will come out dry.
- Dent – To help prevent shrinkage I recommend pressing a small dent in the middle of the patty before you fry it.
What Cheese to use?
I like Monterey Jack for cowboy burgers, but cheddar works just as well! In reality though you can use any kind of melty cheese you fancy.
Process shots: divide meat (photo 1), shape into patties (photo 2), add to hot pan (photo 3), fry then flip (photo 4), add cheese (photo 5), fry again then remove (photo 6).
The Best Cowboy Burgers
Almost there! Just need to construct. For the buns I recommend sesame or brioche buns. In all cases though make sure they’re toasted! You can do this in a dry scorching hot pan or under the grill.
Beside that I keep it fairly simple with some tomato, lettuce and of course crispy bacon (a must have!)
What can I add to a cowboy burger?
If you want to take things up a notch I can personally recommend jalapeños, pickles or avocado (not particularly traditional but still delicious!)
Process shots: toast bun (photo 1), spread with sauce (photo 2), add lettuce (photo 3), add tomato (photo 4), add bacon (photo 5), add patty (photo 6), add crispy onions (photo 7), add bun with more sauce (photo 8).
Serving Cowboy Burgers
Here I’ve served with Potato Wedges, but Fries (or Sweet Potato Fries) would work just as well. If you’re frying the onions you could use the oil to whip up some Breaded Mushrooms, Popcorn Chicken or Fried Cheese Balls!
For more similar recipes check out these beauties:
Delicious Burger Recipes
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these cowboy burgers shall we?!
How to make Cowboy Burgers (Full Recipe & Video)
Kicked Up Cowboy Burgers
- Pot & Slotted Spoon (suitable for deep frying)
- Kitchen Thermometer
- Large Mixing Bowl & Tongs (for soaking onions)
- Large Shallow Dish (for dredging onions)
- Paper Towels (for draining onions)
- Heavy Based Pan or BBQ & Spatula/Turner (for burgers)
- Small Pot (for burger sauce)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
Ingredients (check list):
BBQ Burger Sauce (can make ahead)
- 4 tbsp Mayonnaise
- 3 tbsp BBQ Sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 tsp EACH: Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- pinch of Cayenne Pepper, to spice preference
Crispy Fried Onions (can make ahead)
- 1 large White Onion, peeled & finely sliced
- 2 cups / 500ml Buttermilk (see notes)
- 1 1/2 cups / 225g Plain/All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp White Pepper
- 4 cups / 1 litre Vegetable Oil, for deep frying
- 1lb / 500g Ground Beef, close to room temp (20%+ fat!)
- 6 Sesame or Brioche Buns, halved & toasted
- 6 slices of Bacon, cooked to preference
- 6 slices of Beef Tomatoes
- 3 square slices of Monterey Jack (or cheese of choice)
- 3 Lettuce Leaves
- Salt & Black Pepper, as needed
- Oil, as needed for frying
- Burger Sauce: In a small pot combine mayo, bbq sauce, dijon mustard, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, sugar and cayenne pepper. Taste test for seasoning/spice and adjust accordingly.
- Prep Fried Onions: Soak onions in a bowl of buttermilk (enough to cover the onions) for 30-60mins. If you're short on time just leave to soak as you prep the other steps. In a large shallow dish combine flour, paprika, baking powder, salt and white pepper. Use tongs to grab a small batch of the onions, give them a good shake to remove excess buttermilk, then add into the flour. Use a fork (or your hands) to fully coat them, shake off excess flour then place on a tray and repeat.
- Cook Fried Onions: Heat up oil in a suitably sized pot to 180C/350F. Use a slotted spoon to lower in a batch of onions and use tongs to separate them as they hit the oil. Leave to fry for 2-5mins (depending on thickness) or until deep golden and visibly crispy. Remove and place on kitchen paper, bring oil temp back up to 180C/350F and repeat with the next batch. Sprinkle with salt as they rest to pull out the last bit of moisture.
- Prep Patties: Very gently mould beef into 3 equal sized burger shapes (don't overwork the meat). Push down the centre of each burger to make a mini dome shape (will help with shrinkage). Heavily season both sides with salt and black pepper.
- Cook Patties: Heat a drizzle of oil in a heavy base pan over high heat until smoking. Add patties and fry for a couple of minutes until they begin to crust/char on the bottom. Flip (don't press down), add cheese and fry for another couple of minutes until nicely charred on the other side. Remove and place to one side until needed.
- Make Burgers: Stack in the following order - bottom bun, burger sauce, lettuce, tomato, bacon, patty, fried onions, top bun spread with more burger sauce. Serve up and enjoy!
Quick 1 min demo!
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