How long does it take to smoke burgers? With this stovetop smoker recipe, your smoked burgers need 15-20 minutes of smoking! These smoked hamburgers have an incredible mesquite flavor and are packed with mushrooms for a kick of umami. After smoking, we're going to top these juicy burgers with pepper jack cheese and caramelized onions. Get ready for this one; it's no ordinary cheeseburger recipe!
Since getting my Nordic Ware Indoor Smoker, I've been trying to smoke all the foods. Perfecting a smoked burger recipe was at the top of my list. Happily, I think I've done it!
As always, this recipe does not come to you without a little kitchen trial-and-error. For my first attempt, I tried making stuffed smoked burgers. I packed my hamburgers with gouda cheese, then topped them with smoked mushrooms and caramelized onions...
Looks great, amirite? Believe it or not, these smoky burgers weren't quite where I wanted them to be, even with the melty cheese.
Both the mushrooms and the cheese seemed kind of disconnected from the smoky flavor of the burger. More burger experiments were warranted! I needed to figure out how to mingle the cheese, smoke, and mushrooms into an integrated explosion of flavor.
Not that these smoked burgers stuffed with cheese were terrible. Served with a side of pesto-infused potatoes and cauliflower, this was definitely one of my better recipe fails.
However, I had more work to do in perfecting this stovetop smoker recipe. I was definitely up for the challenge!
P.S. Try these Air Fryer Burgers for a cheese-stuffed burger done right. It's not a stovetop smoker recipe, but it's darn good!
Smoking Burgers: Take Two!
Now that I had some familiarity with what did not quite work, I was ready to create a winner. Smoking the burgers and mushrooms separately seemed like unnecessary work in hindsight. Instead, I decided to shape the sauteed mushrooms and beef into patties and smoke them together.
After smoking, the burger is hot enough to thoroughly melt a cheese slice placed on top. Making the burgers this way ensures that you get some cheese and mushroom in every bite. I think it's the best way to smoke a burger!
Benefits of Smoked Burgers
Why would you want to smoke a burger? Let me count the ways!
- DELICIOUS! Let's get real here. The main reason to smoke burgers is that they taste absolutely amazing. IMVHO, that is a darn good reason to go to the trouble of making this stovetop smoker recipe.
- Nutrient-packed: These burgers contain high-quality protein from the beef and an assortment of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. The mushrooms in these burgers provide an assortment of B-complex vitamins. Meanwhile, the cheese helps to cover dairy group nutrients, particularly calcium.
- Low carb and keto diet friendly: Are you using a low carb diet strategy for weight loss or controlling blood sugars in diabetes? This recipe may be a good fit.
- Easy recipe: Smoking foods is a slow food process, but that doesn't mean smoking burgers is complicated! Stovetop smoker recipes are fun cooking projects for when you know you'll be hanging around the house. Learn something new and enjoy the tasty results of smoking your own foods!
- Family-friendly recipe: You can easily adjust your burger meal to fit the needs of different family members. Add whole grain burger buns for the kids, serve the burgers in a lettuce wrap to the low carbers, etc. You could even set up a burger bar and let each family member pick their own toppings!
Smoked Burgers Ingredients
To make the basic smoked burgers, have these ingredients on hand:
- Lean ground beef
- Your favorite steak seasoning
- Baby portobello mushrooms
Here's what I used to top the burgers:
- One large sweet onion
- Olive oil (to caramelize the onion)
- Pepper jack cheese slices
I'm going to talk more about what to serve with smoked burgers below. Here's what I used for my garden side salads:
- Torn green leaf lettuce
- Tomatoes (I used a mix of yellow heirloom tomatoes and Roma tomatoes)
- Chopped cucumber
- Low-calorie salad dressing
Last but not least, you will need some special equipment to make this recipe. If you are interested in smoking foods, but not in the expense of an outdoor smoker, try indoor smoking recipes! Indoor smokers are also great if you simply don't have the space for outdoor smoking projects.
It's true; indoor stovetop smokers are generally far less pricey than outdoor smokers. Plus, my kettle smoker only uses about 2 tablespoons of wood chips per smoking session. It saves me money on wood compared to what I would spend with an outdoor smoker.
Equipment for smoking burgers:
- Stovetop smoker: I highly recommend the Nordic Ware Indoor Smoker
- Wood smoking chips: Camerons Wood Smoking Chips work perfectly with the Nordic Ware Smoker
- Cast iron skillet: Used to saute the mushrooms before smoking and to caramelize the onion
You can use any variety of wood smoking chips that you prefer (just ensure that they are intended for smoking food). Some indoor smokers, including the Nordic Ware smoker, come with a starter supply of smoking chips.
If you need to purchase chips, two of my favorites for smoking beef are hickory and mesquite. I used mesquite wood chips for this recipe.
Now that you have your ingredients, let's get down to the business of making burgers!
How to Make Smoked Burgers
Smoking hamburgers is a slow food process. You'll need to start this recipe either in the morning or the night before.
First things first, you'll need to finely chop your baby bella mushrooms. Put the mushrooms in a cast-iron skillet and dry saute them for approximately 10 minutes. You want the liquid from the mushrooms to be released, and the mushrooms to be reasonably dry.
Next, put your raw ground beef and steak seasoning in a large bowl. Add the cooked (and cooled) mushrooms.
Mix these ingredients together until the seasoning and mushrooms are evenly spread throughout the beef. Shape the mixture by hand into three thin, flat burger patties.
Clean your hands well both before and after mixing and shaping the patties. This is a messy job!
Put the burgers on a plate in a single layer. Let them dry out in the fridge for at least four hours, up to overnight. The drying will help the smoke adhere to the burgers.
An hour or so before you are ready to eat, carefully place the burgers on your smoker's tray. Set up your stovetop smoker.
For the Nordic Ware smoker, add 2 tablespoons of shredded wood chips to the bottom of the smoker, then top with the drip tray. Next, put the smoking tray in the smoker.
Finally, put the lid on the stovetop smoker. Make sure that the thermometer is attached correctly and that your stove vent is on. Turn the heat on your stovetop to medium-low.
Smoking Burgers in a Stovetop Smoker
Now you've got your burgers ready to smoke. Allow the stovetop smoker's thermometer to come to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the temperature on the smoker rises, make your caramelized onions! Put the olive oil and thinly sliced sweet onions in a cast iron skillet. Allow the onions to slowly turn golden brown on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
You will need to stir the onions often. Getting your onions well caramelized will take around 40 minutes.
Now back to the stovetop smoker recipe! Once the smoker temperature reaches 190F, turn the stovetop to low. Set a timer to smoke the burgers for 15-20 minutes.
Make sure that the stovetop smoker stays in the 190-210 degrees Fahrenheit range for the entire smoking period. You may need to open the vent on the lid or adjust the stovetop's heat. Keep a watchful eye on things!
If the heat on the smoker is rising too rapidly, quickly lift the lid of the smoker and peek at your burgers. This is an easy way to lower the temperature quickly.
While the burgers are smoking, you can assemble the side salads. Divide the lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers between three plates. Top with salad dressing.
After the timed smoking period, turn off the stovetop and open the lid of the smoker. Put a slice of pepper jack cheese on each hot hamburger. Leave the cover of the smoker off and watch the cheese melt within a few minutes.
After the cheese has melted into gooey deliciousness, remove your cheeseburgers from the smoker. Extinguish the spent shredded wood chips by soaking them in water.
Put the cheeseburgers (and buns or bread, if using) on the plates. Top each burger with one-third of the caramelized onions.
Smoking is the key to making great tasting hamburgers, IMVHO! Enjoy!
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The nutrition information for this meal includes the burger with toppings and a side salad. It does not include the salad dressing or any sort of biscuit or hamburger bun that you add. If you choose a low-calorie dressing with under 35 calories for your portion, your entire meal will be under 500 calories.
The misconception that eating hamburgers is bad for weight loss saddens me! Beef is one of my favorite sources of high-quality, super satiating protein. Plus, the highly bioavailable heme iron it contains has helped me to prevent iron-deficiency anemia (without the use of supplements!) for many years. Lean ground beef is the way to go for a lower calorie beef option that provides these nutritional benefits.
For a low-calorie meal, I tend to think a bunless burger is the way to go. If you need a higher calorie meal instead, add a whole grain bun to your burger. A single store-bought burger bun will add anywhere from 100-300 calories to your meal or more.
I make fantastic homemade sourdough biscuits for my smoked burger meals that are around 400 calories each! Adding one of those is an easy way to modify a low calorie meal for someone with high calorie needs.
(Plus, homemade bread is delicious. It really doesn't need me to sell you on its virtues. Haha)
What to serve with smoked burgers
Are smoky ground beef patties what's for dinner? I prefer to serve burgers with a simple salad of greens and a light dressing. If you want to mix it up, here are some other side dishes for smoked burgers:
- The Baked Fries from my How to Make a Healthy Burger Recipe
- Air Fryer Frozen Vegetables (No More Mushy Frozen Broccoli!)
- Kale Apple Slaw with Brussels Sprouts, Tahini, and Dates
- No Cook Refrigerator Pickles (No Added Sugar!)
Sometimes I make a whole grain biscuit or bread to go with burgers. To do this, I use the discard from the How to Make Sourdough Bread Starter recipe. Since I'm already caring for a starter, using the discard in this way helps to prevent food waste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you flip burgers when smoking?
No, with Nordic Ware stovetop smokers, I do not flip the burgers when smoking. They are smoked in a small space in a relatively short amount of time.
Flipping is not only unnecessary, it may also lengthen the smoking time. When you lift the lid of the smoker, the temperature drops dramatically. You may need to cook the burgers longer to allow the smoker time to get back up to the right temperature.
Are smoked burgers supposed to be pink?
According to the USDA, ground beef should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The color of your burger is not necessarily a good indicator of whether it has been cooked properly. Ground beef can remain pink inside after it has been safely cooked.
What makes cheeseburgers so unhealthy?
I would not necessarily label cheeseburgers as unhealthy, depending on how they are made and what your goals are. I'd consider the soda, fries, and refined grain bun that accompany most fast food burgers to be more nutritionally problematic than the burger itself. Fast food pop, hamburger buns, and french fries are all ultra-processed foods and major sources of empty calories in the American diet.
Meanwhile, a cheeseburger may be made with 100% ground beef (a whole food). It is a rich source of high-quality protein, highly bioavailable iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. The cheese is also a significant source of essential nutrients, including calcium and riboflavin.
If you are specifically looking to lower saturated fat in the diet, a cheeseburger is not going to be your best choice. (Lean beef has a lower fat content but still contains a significant amount of saturated fat.) There are also studies associating the consumption of red meat to a higher risk of certain chronic diseases.
(Note: I tend to advise caution in engaging in dichotomous thinking or making extreme dietary changes in response to these sorts of associations. Unfortunately, studies making associations between specific food types and disease risk often conflict, leading to public confusion. This confusion can potentially result in unnecessary food restrictions and overall worsening of dietary patterns.)
All of that said, the average McDonald's hamburger is VERY small, containing under 2 ounces of beef. This is not an adequate protein serving for most adults; 3-4 ounces would be a reasonable minimum.
Final thoughts on “Are hamburgers healthy?”…
I question the motives of those in the nutrition sphere who target the scant protein in fast food meals as "unhealthy." The vast majority of calories in these meals come from added sugar, refined grains, and fried potatoes. If you want to make a fast-food cheeseburger meal more nutritious, order two burgers and a side salad, but skip the fries, soda, and bun.
What's the best way to heat up a cold hamburger?
Reheating cooked hamburger patties is easy. You can have good results with a toaster oven, stovetop, microwave, or oven. The difficulties arise when the cold burger has already been assembled with bun and toppings.
To reheat a prepared burger, I would first remove the bun and all toppings and condiments. You may need to scrape off the cheese.
Reheat the burger patty in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven, the stovetop on medium heat, or the microwave on low. After heating the patty, you can reassemble your hamburger with bun and toppings.
What type of onions should I put on a homemade hamburger?
The answer to this question will be a bit subjective. Personally, I have a strong preference for sweet onions on homemade hamburgers. Vidalia onions and Walla Walla onions are two popular types of sweet onions.
Sweet onions are not as sharp in flavor as yellow onions. Because of this, I find a sweet onion to be a good choice for slicing thinly and using raw as a burger topper. Sweet onions also caramelize very nicely if you'd rather have a cooked onion burger topping.
Looking for more Nordic Ware Stovetop Smoker Recipes?
Once you get an indoor smoker, there's no turning back! Dinner will be smoking when you try my other kettle smoker recipes:
- How to Smoke Salmon (Nordic Ware Smoker Recipe)
- Smoked Tofu | Indoor Smoker Recipe
- Smoked Mushrooms | Stovetop Smoker Recipe
Ooooh… I would put those smoky mushrooms right on these mushroom-packed cheeseburgers. There's an idea for the most hardcore mushroom fans only!
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And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Smoked Burgers | Stovetop Smoker Recipe
For the smoked burgers:
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning (or your favorite steak seasoning)
- 8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3 slices pepper jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
For the smoked burger sides:
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- 3 tomatoes, chopped ( I used a mix of yellow heirloom tomatoes and Roma tomatoes)
- low-oil salad dressing of choice (1½-2 tablespoons per serving)
- hamburger buns, biscuits, or another bread to have with the meal (optional)
- Note: If you want smoked burgers for dinner, this slow food recipe should be started in the morning at the very latest.
To make smoked burgers:
- Put the finely chopped mushrooms in your cast iron skillet. Dry saute them for approximately 10 minutes. You want the liquid from the mushrooms to be released, and the mushrooms to be reasonably dry.
- Put the raw ground beef, steak seasoning, and sauteed mushrooms in a large bowl. Mix these ingredients together thoroughly with clean hands.
- Shape the beef mixture into three thin and flat burger patties. Put the patties in a single layer on a plate. Wash your hands - I bet they are pretty messy!
- Let the plate of raw burgers sit in the fridge for a minimum of four hours or a maximum of overnight. The drying will help the smoke adhere to the burgers.
- Set up your stovetop smoker. For my Nordic Ware kettle smoker, I added 2 tablespoons of mesquite shredded wood chips to the bottom of the smoker. The drip tray goes in the smoker next, and then the smoker tray.
- About one hour before you are ready to eat, gently place your burgers in a single layer on the smoker tray. Then put the lid on the smoker. Make sure that the thermometer is attached to the smoker correctly and that your stove vent is on. Turn the heat on your stovetop to medium-low.
- Allow the smoker to come to 190°F.
- While the temperature on the smoker rises, make your caramelized onions. Put the olive oil and thinly sliced sweet onions in a cast-iron skillet. Allow the onions to slowly turn golden brown on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Stir the onions often. Getting your onions caramelized will take around 40 minutes.
- Once the smoker temperature reaches 190°F, turn the stovetop to low. Set a timer to smoke the burgers for 15-20 minutes. The smoker needs to stay in the 190-210°F range for the entire smoking period.
- If the heat on your smoker is rising too rapidly, quickly lift the lid and peek at your burgers. This is an easy way to adjust the temperature quickly.
To make smoked burger sides:
- While the burgers are smoking, assemble the side salads. Divide the lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers between three plates.
- Top with salad dressing.
To finish the meal:
- After the timed smoking period, turn off the stovetop and open the lid of the smoker. The burgers should have reached a minimum internal safe temperature of 160°F. Put a slice of cheese on each hot hamburger. Leave the cover off the smoker. The cheese will melt in a few minutes. Remove the burgers from the smoker once the cheese melts.
- Put the burgers (plus any buns or bread, if using) on the plates with the salad. Top each cheeseburger with one-third of the caramelized onions.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The nutrition information for this meal includes the burger with toppings and a side salad. It does not include the salad dressing or any sort of biscuit or hamburger bun that you add. If you choose a low-calorie dressing with under 35 calories for your portion, your entire meal will be under 500 calories. The misconception that eating hamburgers is bad for weight loss saddens me! Beef is one of my favorite sources of high-quality, super satiating protein. Plus, the highly bioavailable heme iron it contains has helped me to prevent iron-deficiency anemia (without the use of supplements!) for many years. Lean ground beef is the way to go for a lower calorie beef option that provides these nutritional benefits. For a low-calorie meal, I tend to think a bunless burger is the way to go here. If you need a higher calorie meal instead, add a whole grain bun to your burger. A single store-bought burger bun will add anywhere from 100-300 calories to your meal or more. I make fantastic homemade sourdough biscuits for my smoked burger meals that are around 400 calories each! Adding one of those is an easy way to modify a low calorie meal for someone with high calorie needs. (Plus, homemade bread is delicious. It really doesn't need me to sell you on its virtues. Haha) Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe.