Texas Tailgate Burger

January 28, 2010
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

In Texas we take football and tailgating PRETTY seriously. I developed this burger at the start of college football season a couple years ago as a way to combine some tailgate favorites: burgers, barbecue, and chips. You will need either a cold beer or a Texas tea to wash this bad boy down! —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Aargersi is a 4-time contest winner who knows a thing or two about barbecue.
WHAT: All of your favorite backyard barbecue essentials—stuffed between two buns.
HOW: Form beef patties with pickled jalapeños and chili powder, then throw them on the grill. When they're almost done, top them with a barbecue sauce-cheese mixture. The assembly is the most important part: Stack barbecue kettle chips, the patty, dill pickles, and iceberg lettuce on a bun. Toss the knife and fork, grab a paper napkin, and and open your mouth as wide as you can.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Sometimes all we want on a hot summer day is a simple salad. This is not for one of those days: Yes, you will spend the rest of the afternoon wiping barbecue sauce off of your cheeks and yes, you will get chips everywhere, but consider that the price of the perfect burger. —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 6 burgers
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (either use your favorite, or use my recipe at the end of instructions)
  • 2 cups shredded smoked sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion (I use Texas 1015, naturally)
  • 6 onion hamburger buns
  • 1 handful barbecue-flavored potato chips (kettle style is best)
  • 1 piece sliced dill pickles
  • 1 handful Chopped iceberg lettuce (we are going for crunch, not vitamins, here!)
In This Recipe
  1. Heat your grill to medium-high. Brush the grill with oil to prevent sticking.
  2. To make the patties, combine the chuck, jalapeños, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl, handling it as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties to fit the bun size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  3. Note: Here's how I form my patties. Grab a softball-sized handful of meat and gently form it into a ball. Then, I sort of do a back and forth hand-to-hand motion for a few tosses (kind of like how you'd make a tortilla by hand), then I pat-pat-pat the meat into a flat disc while corralling the edges with my thumb to keep them smooth and uniform. Finally, make a small thumb-sized indentation in the middle of the patty. That way you get a nice patty without over-handling the meat. That is, if you don't drop it.
  4. Prepare the barbecue cheese: Mix the barbecue sauce, cheese, and onions and set it aside. Do not refrigerate (you will be using it shortly and you don’t want it to be really cold).
  5. Place the patties on the grill rack and cook, turning once, until they're cooked to your preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. In the last 3 minutes of grilling, carefully place equal amounts of the barbecue cheese on each patty. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place the buns cut side-down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
  6. To assemble the burgers, place an equal layer of barbecue kettle chips on each bottom bun. Add a cheese-covered patty on top, followed by a layer of pickles and an equal amount of lettuce. Add the bun tops and serve with an ice-cold beer or a big ol' pitcher of tea.
  7. If you are so inclined, here's my BBQ sauce recipe. Simply mix all of the ingredients together: 1/2 cup ketchup; 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (Louisiana style or Tabasco); 4 to 5 drops liquid smoke; 1 tablespoon; chili powder; 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce; 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses.

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I work in databases by day, but creativity is my outlet. Food - imagining it, making it, sharing it. And art, I come from a family of artists and have been collaging in my garage studio. You can see my work on Etsy in my shop AbbiesGarage