There almost nothing I like more than cooking out on my Traeger in our backyard. I use it nearly year-round and swear that it can make anything I cook taste 10x better.
With one big exception.
The first few times I tried cooking any meat I wanted seared and cooked quickly at a high temperature–think steaks, hamburgers, etc–I was sooo disappointed. My steaks turned out dry. My burgers were more baked than smoked or grilled. It wasn’t what I wanted, and for a while was resigned to just using my Traeger to smoke meats. I cooked steak and burgers on a cast iron pan in the house.
And then one day I had a light bulb moment–why not put the cast iron on the Traeger? After some trial and error and tips from my buddies, I finally figured it out and now cooking hamburgers on the Traeger is one of my go-to meals during the summer.
So, how do you get that sear with the smokey flavor? The key isn’t outside. It’s in your kitchen.
I have a cast iron grill pan that I love and fits perfectly on my Traeger. I tried a few times heating it up in the grill itself, but it took forever (huge waste of pellets) and never got as hot as I really wanted. I finally figured out that if I stick it in my oven at 450° for about 15 minutes, that it gets nice and hot. As its heating up, I start up the Traeger and pre-heat it (cranking it all the way up to 450° as well) and then carefully transfer the grill plan from the oven in my kitchen to the grate on the Traeger.
Before I throw the burgers on the grill and while things are warming up, I like to season the meat. Salt is key, but I also like to throw a few other spices on there. Tonight it was pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Quite often I also like to sprinkle some Worcestershire sauce on top as well. Once everything is warmed up and ready to go, it’s ready to start cooking.
Ahhh! Now I hear that sizzle I want to hear when I stick a burger on the grill. Close the lid, cook them for about 5 – 7 minutes on the one side. If you want to cook bacon for your burgers, now is a good time to throw it on the grill pan as well.
Open the lid, and turn them over. Check out those nice grill marks on the burgers! This is when I like to add cheese (and maybe some roasted green chiles) and close the lid for about five minutes more. You might quickly open it up as they’re cooking to throw the buns on the pan as well (but don’t leave them in too long or they’ll dry out).
These burgers are so juicy with a great smoky flavor. It’s hard to believe they came off the same grill that used to make my dry, hockey puck meat discs. Tonight when I cooked mine, I topped them with Swiss cheese and roasted green chile peppers. I served them on a wheat bun with a thick, juicy tomato, some sliced red onion, and a thin spread of mayo on top.
How to you like your burgers on the Traeger? Any tips to pass along?