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Beef/ Hearty Dinners/ Summer Lovin'

Kicked Up Cowboy Burgers

May 5, 2021 (Last Updated: May 10, 2023) by Chris Collins

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…

cowboy burger on shees of paper on wooden board surrounded by potato wedges

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.

Make Ahead – Tightly cover in the fridge for 3-4days to get ahead of the game when making the burgers!

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).

3 step by step photos showing how to make bbq burger sauce

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.

Deep Frying

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!

Make Ahead – To save time you can make these ahead of time and store in a tightly sealed container until needed!

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).

6 step by step photos showing how to make crispy fried onions

Cheeseburger Patties

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).

6 step by step photos showing how to make a cheeseburger patty

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 tomatolettuce 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).

8 step by step photos showing how to make cowboy burgers

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?!

2 burgers stacked on top of each other on wooden board with fried onions and wedges blurred in background

How to make Cowboy Burgers (Full Recipe & Video)

cowboy burger on shees of paper on wooden board surrounded by potato wedges

Kicked Up Cowboy Burgers

These Cowboy Burgers are officially the most delicious burgers you'll ever make. Plus they're so simple to make!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 3 burgers
Course: BBQ / Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Calories per serving: 919kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4


  • 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!


a) BBQ Burger Sauce - You can make the sauce ahead of time and tightly cover in the fridge for 3-4days. Use straight from the fridge. If you're looking for a more simple sub just use a good quality BBQ sauce.
b) Fried Onions - You could alternatively make Onion Rings! If you want to you can sub store bought crispy onions, but of course I recommend these homemade ones. For the best chance of making them ahead of time I recommend storing them in an air-tight container or zip lock bag for up to a week. Check after a few days to see if they start to soften.
c) Buttermilk - You'll find this in most supermarkets. If you can't find it you can make your own by combining 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp acidity (lemon juice, white vinegar). Leave it 10mins to slightly curdle then use as per recipe.
d) Patties - Very simple recipe but high fat good quality beef and lots of salt & pepper is all you need! Just don't overwork the meat or they'll come out dry/chewy.
e) Calories - Per burger without the onions. 

Your Private Notes:


Nutrition Facts
Kicked Up Cowboy Burgers
Amount Per Serving
Calories 919 Calories from Fat 558
% Daily Value*
Fat 61.97g95%
Saturated Fat 21.721g109%
Trans Fat 1.835g
Polyunsaturated Fat 11.16g
Monounsaturated Fat 22.501g
Cholesterol 157mg52%
Sodium 1446mg60%
Potassium 942mg27%
Carbohydrates 42.98g14%
Fiber 3.4g14%
Sugar 13.41g15%
Protein 45.48g91%
Vitamin A 1346IU27%
Vitamin C 17.1mg21%
Calcium 347mg35%
Iron 6.1mg34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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Looking for more?You'll find plenty more delicious comfort food like this in my Debut Cookbook 'Comfy'

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Recipe Rating


  • Reply
    Diane Marriner
    May 28, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    5 stars
    These looking amazing Chris, I live in Australia so it’s abit cold over here,just the thing to make for today. Love that sauce. So thanks again for a great recipe.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      May 29, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Diane! I must say the sauce gets me every time Chris.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2021 at 2:47 am

    5 stars
    I saw this on your Instagram and knew I had to make it! The shining star of the recipe (for me) is the fried onions! Holy amazeballs were those good! I’m going to make those again and put them on everything! Another great recipe from you, everything I have book marked or pinned of yours has been fantastic!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      May 21, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      That’s awesome to hear! Thanks for the review and thanks so much for following along on IG too 🙂