Often considered a summertime staple, I find myself grilling cheeseburgers year-round. When I do, my favorite topping isn't ketchup, mustard, or a crisp dill pickle. It's bacon.
With bacon both in the burger and on it, my bacon cheeseburgers are more memorable than anything ordered out, and best part is the entire meal is prepared on the grill.
How to Make the Perfect Bacon Cheeseburger
For the juiciest burger possible, the use of ground chuck with an 80/20 lean meat to fat ratio is a must. I like to add chopped bacon to the mix, which renders during the cooking process, ensuring each bite is tender and juicy.
Diced onion and Worcestershire sauce are easy ways to add sweetness, texture, and complex umami flavor in every bite. You can add salt and pepper to the ground beef while you are mixing in the bacon pieces, but I prefer to generously coat the finished, uncooked patties, as it helps form a more flavorful crust when the burgers hit the grill grates.
The Components of the Best Bacon Cheeseburger
A bacon cheeseburger is only as good as the sum of its parts. Let’s break down the burger trinity, cheese, bacon, and the bun.
- Sharp cheddar cheese is my go-to cheese topping.
- Use square slices that are slightly larger than the patties.
- I always use two slices of cheese and orient them offsetting 45 degrees. When stacked, they form an 8 point star. This allows the cheese to equally cascade around all sides of the burger when it melts.
- Since you already using the grill for your patties, you should use it for your bacon too!
- Grill the bacon over direct medium heat, 350°F to 450°F, no more than 2 minutes a side. Double the grilling time for crisper bacon.
- With its fast cook time, it's a good idea to stay by the grill when the bacon is on. The rendering fat can easily create a flare-up necessitating attention.
- Store the bacon on a wire rack over a paper towel and tent with aluminum foil.
- If you're really into bacon you can even subscribe to a bacon of month club, which is not a bad idea in my book.
- Brioche is a must. This soft bun enriched with butter is the perfect accompaniment to these patties.
- Needing just under a minute on the grill, a toasted bun adds more texture with every bite. It's an easy "burger enhancement" and something I do every time I make burgers.
Classic Bacon Cheeseburger Swaps, Substitutions, and Add Ons
Adding bacon to a cheeseburger is the starting point for even more topping ideas. Here are a few way to jazz up your grilled patties:
- Fry up an egg! The runny yolk breaks open under the pressure of the bun—that’s the only “condiment” you’ll need.
- Want to skip the cheese? A grilled pineapple ring adds a sweet bite, perfectly complimenting the salty strips of bacon.
- Even though cheddar is my cheese of choice, a bacon cheeseburger can shine with blue cheese crumbles or a thick slice of fresh mozzarella.
- For condiments, skip the traditional ketchup and mustard and go straight to BBQ sauce. Sweet and tangy, BBQ sauce is all I need to complete my grilled feast.
The Best Grilling Techniques
It’s always a good idea to set up a two-zone fire when grilling. It’s where one side of the grill is hotter than the other.
On a gas grill, this means an area where a burner is off. On a charcoal grill, it is an area with no briquettes under the cooking grate. You will grill burgers over direct medium-high heat, 400°F to 500°F, but the areas of indirect heat are ideal for placing a burger in case of excessive flare-ups. If you need some extra tips and tricks for grilling check out our guide on How to Grill the Best Burger.
More often than not, hamburgers cook to an internal temperature of 155°F. (You can use a thermometer to check the internal temp of your patties, if needed).
For a 1/3 pound beef patty, this can take a while, which is why it is essential to grill with the lid down. Doing so allows radiant heat to aid in the cooking process and is especially important for melting the cheese. Work with the grill and not against it.
- 12 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 15 slices bacon, divided
- 2 pounds ground chuck (80/20 lean to fat ratio)
- 1/4 sweet onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 6 Brioche hamburger buns
Preheat the grill:
Prepare a grill for 2-zone grilling, where one side of the grill is hotter than the other. Both the bacon and burgers cook over direct heat, but in case of a flareup, the indirect or cooler zone gives the meat a safe place to land.
On a gas grill, leave one burner off. On a charcoal grill, leave one side free of lit coals.
You want to bring it 350°F to 450°F to cook the bacon. You will increase the heat further when it comes time to cook the burgers. Allow the grill to preheat for 10 to 15 minutes.
Prepare the cheese, chop the bacon, make burger mixture:
Prepare the cheese by stacking two slices together with each slice offset by 45 degrees. This helps the cheese evenly cascade down the burger when it melts. Set aside.
Chop 3 slices of uncooked bacon.
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, chopped bacon, onion, and Worcestershire sauce. Using your fingertips, gently combine the ingredients with the meat. For the juiciest burger possible, it’s important not to overwork the meat. Using only your fingertips is the best method here.
Form the patties:
Evenly divide the meat mixture into 6 balls weighing approximately 5.3 ounces each. If you don’t have a scale to weigh the meat, eyeballing 6 equal patties is fine.
Place each ball between your outstretched fingers and flatten. Place each patty on a baking sheet and use your fingers to help flatten the patties more. When done, each patty should be approximately 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Season both sides of the patty with salt and pepper.
Using two fingers or the back of a spoon, place a wide dimple in the center of each burger. Creating an indentation helps keep the burger from swelling when grilled. Transfer the patties to the fridge while you grill the remaining bacon.
Grill the bacon and set aside:
Place the remining 12 slices of bacon on the grill over direct heat. Grill for approximately 4 to 6 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking. Grill longer or shorter depending on the desired level of doneness.
I prefer the 4-minute mark, which leaves just a little bit of pull in the bite, but if you prefer crispier bacon, grill longer. Place the bacon on a wire rack over a paper towel and loosely tent with aluminum foil.
Prepare grill for burgers:
Keep the same two zone grilling method you’ve already set up but increase the direct heat side to 400°F to 500°F. You want to cook the burgers at a higher temperature than the bacon.
Grill the burgers and add the cheese:
Grill the patties over direct heat, flipping once halfway through cooking, until the internal temperature reaches 155°F with an instant-read thermometer, approximately 9 to 11 minutes total. The final burger is cooked medium-well, with a well-formed crust and visible grill marks.
Add cheese slices to each patty during the last minute of grilling.
Remove burgers from the grill and set aside on a sheet tray tented with foil while you grill the burger buns.
Grill the buns:
Grill the buns cut side down over direct heat until marked, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Assemble the burgers and serve:
Place a burger on each bottom bun. Place two folded slices of bacon on top of each burger. Top with bun and serve with your choice of condiments.