Big Barbecue Burgers

Today’s sandwich is the “Big Barbecue Burger.” It combines a 1/3 pound hamburger patty, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, French fried onions, and avocado on a griddled roll.

Notes: I’m not normally one for barbecue sauce, in either its real or imitation forms. Oh, sure; I’ll dump quarts of ketchup on my macaroni and cheese, or be the first in line to dip my fries in mayonnaise. I’m by no means condiment-averse. But it’s rare that I’ll add barbecue sauce to something, and BBQ-flavored potato chips are almost never my first choice (unless, and this should almost go without saying, I am either at the beach or attending some sort of co-ed bikini pool party, both of which happen almost never). Unless I am eating actual barbecue, adding a bottle of sticky, sugary sauce to food simply isn’t something that occurs to me.

That is, until it does. Twice a year or so, I get struck with a craving for barbecue sauce that borders on the pathological. I want it slathered on absolutely everything, want it to run down my chin and pool into a greasy puddle on the plate. That is, if there even is a plate, and I’m not pounding liquid BBQ straight out of the bottle. When the urge for barbecue sauce strikes, it’s usually without logic or a whole lot of lead time, making something like spending 10 hours smoking a pork shoulder (particularly in the winter) rather impractical.

These burgers satisfy my barbecue sauce craving every time. You can cook them in a hot cast iron skillet on the stovetop, or if your climate allows, outside on the grill. Cooking them on the grill allows you to baste your burgers with barbecue sauce as you cook them, until you get several layers of sticky glaze baked into the nooks and crannies of the burger. Don’t do this on the stovetop; the sugar in the sauce will burn and smoke like crazy. If you’re cooking indoors, it’s fine to instead add as much barbecue sauce as you’d like to the finished burger.

Big Barbecue Burgers
Makes 2 cheeseburgers


  • 2/3 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • Juice from half a lemon or lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 sturdy hamburger buns, split
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup French fried onions


1. Divide meat in half, and shape into burger patties about 1/2-inch wider than burger buns. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, mash avocado with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Add salt and peppers, plus juice from lemon or lime, and stir well to combine. Set aside.

3. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy, turning often. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

4. In a large cast iron skillet over high heat, cook burgers, flipping once, until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees, about five minutes total. Top with cheese and cover just long enough for cheese to melt.

5. To assemble burgers: Spread bottom half of each bun with barbecue sauce, then add the cooked cheeseburger. Top with bacon, Frecnh fried onions, mashed avocado, and top bun. Serve.

Big Barbecue Burgers


Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.

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