Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburgers
These juicy cheeseburgers are topped with homemade bacon jam with a boozy kick from smooth, smoky bourbon. Perfect on just about all grilled meats! The bacon jam is made in one skillet, and takes less than 30 minutes.
This Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger recipe is one of those that I love to bring to potlucks and bbq’s. We also love easy summer recipes like my Classic Pasta Salad and Easy Baked Beans. This is one of my Summer recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
BOURBON BACON CHEESEBURGERS
Are you ready to have your taste buds blown? This bourbon bacon jam takes less than 30 minutes to make in a skillet and is PERFECT for spreading on top of a juicy cheeseburger, grilled chicken breast, seared pork chop… pretty much anything!
Since we’re getting into some warm weather, most of you are probably grilling out or at least thinking about a great big juicy burger! Okay, maybe it’s just me… but I’ve definitely been thinking about burgers lately.
More specifically, THIS burger… with all it’s coffee-rubbed awesomeness.
One thing I’m also pretty much always in the mood for is bacon. And bourbon lol… so I thought why not combine those two and slather it all over a juicy burger? I give you, my favorite burger, EVER!!
For the burgers, I kept it simple with no egg, no breadcrumbs, minimal flavors. I really wanted the flavor of the meat to shine through, plus leaving room on those tastebuds for the velvety white American cheese and of course, the bacon jam!
Let’s get the best part here… the bacon jam. This stuff… OMG. Hands down, the best topping I’ve ever had on a burger!! There’s a lot of bacon jam recipes out there, but mine takes less than 30 minutes, is made in one skillet, and of course, has bourbon in it.
You could leave the bourbon out of it if you’d like, and just substitute water… but if you don’t have any restrictions when it comes to alcohol, you simply have to try it with the bourbon. It gives the bacon jam a deep, smoky, velvety flavor!
And it’s not just for burgers.. try it on some grilled chicken, or slather a bit on top of one of these biscuits!
HOW TO MAKE BOURBON BACON CHEESEBURGERS
FOR THE JAM:
- Saute bacon pieces in skillet. I cook them over MED heat and stir occasionally. This takes me about 8-12 minutes. If there’s a lot of grease, drain at least half of it off.
- Add vinegar, sugar, bourbon, water, spices. Stir and bring this mixture to a boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will be thick and syrupy.
- Use or refrigerate in airtight container.
FOR THE CHEESEBURGERS:
- Toast buns in skillet. This is optional but HIGHLY recommended. Heat skillet over MED HIGH heat with a small drizzle of oil. Add buns cut side down and cook until golden brown. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Add burger ingredients to large bowl. For the onion, peel and grate with a box grater (or hand grater). I like to use the fine side of the grater so you end up with verrrrry small pieces of onion, almost like an onion mush plus onion juice. This adds so much moisture and flavor.
- Mix and assemble burgers. I use my hands to really make sure all ingredients are combined. Form into patties (for 1/2 lb burgers – make 4 / for 1/3 lb burgers – make 6 / for 1/4 lb burgers – make 8).
- Cook burgers as desired. If the weather is nice, we grill them, but if it’s raining, I cook them in a skillet over MED heat for about 5-6 minutes per side, only flipping burgers once.
- Add cheese and steam. The last minute of cooking, add the cheese slices and cover the pan.
VARIATIONS OF THIS RECIPE
- SPICY – I kept this bacon jam relatively mild with just a pinch of cayenne, but if you like things hot, hot, hot.. feel free to add as much cayenne as you like.
- GARLIC – feel free to add some minced garlic to the cheeseburgers if you like things extra garlicky.
- COFFEE – if you’re a coffee lover, try substituting 3 Tbsp of the water in the bacon jam for brewed coffee. This would be fabulous on top of my coffee-rubbed burger!
- OTHER MEATS – if you’d like to make a cheeseburger using other ground meat, you absolutely can, but I haven’t tested to see if the amount of “moist-makers” (gotta love the Friends quote!), aka the onion and the cream, are enough for other meats that have varying fat percentages.
- NON-ALCOHOLIC – nearly all the alcohol is cooked out of this bacon jam, but if you’d prefer to omit the alcohol entirely, substitute an equal amount of water, or brewed coffee!
- ONE OR THE OTHER – just because I paired this cheeseburger with this bacon jam, that doesn’t mean you can’t have this bacon jam on something else, a different burger, etc. And same goes for the cheeseburger – it’s a great base recipe that really allows the flavor of the meat to shine.
MAKING BOURBON BACON CHEESEBURGERS AHEAD OF TIME
I think a burger tastes best when freshly made and cooked, but you can absolutely assemble these burger patties a day or so ahead of time.
Just add them to a resealable plastic bag (with wax paper between them if you want to stack 2 patties on top of each other – this will prevent sticking), and refrigerate.
The bacon jam is totally fine to make up to 4 weeks ahead of time, so no worries there!
Leftover bacon jam should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 2-4 weeks.
Leftover cheeseburgers should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 3-4 days.
Bacon jam can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
Cooked burgers can be frozen (without the cheese) for up to 4 months. Raw burgers can be assembled and frozen (in a single layer is best) for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR THIS RECIPE
- Glass Jars – you can store this bacon jam in any airtight container, but I get a lot of questions about what jars I used here. These Weck jars are one of my favorites!
- Box Grater – I like this one because of the container that catches the things you’re grating (plus a lid!), and a removable zester!
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Recipe originally published in 2017, and has been updated in 2020 with additional information.
Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburgers
BOURBON BACON JAM:
- 12 oz bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 sweet onion, finely diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 5-6 Tbsp brown sugar
- 5 Tbsp Bourbon
- 5 Tbsp water
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 lbs ground beef (I like to use 85/15)
- 1 small sweet onion
- 1 Tbsp heavy cream - optional but recommended
- salt and pepper, to taste
- green leaf lettuce
- 4 slices white American cheese - (or your favorite cheese)
- small amount of mayo - (optional)
- 4 brioche hamburger buns - (or your favorite buns)
BOURBON BACON JAM:
- To a large skillet, saute bacon pieces over MED heat until crispy, about 8-12 minutes. I used center cut bacon, so there wasn't too much bacon grease, but if yours is particularly greasy, drain about half the grease. Add onion and garlic, cooking until soft and tender, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add cider vinegar, brown sugar, bourbon, water, cayenne, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is mostly cooked off, about 10-15 minutes. Mixture will be thick and syrupy.
- Use immediately, or place into airtight container and refrigerate for 2-4 weeks.
- Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over MED-HIGH heat. Add hamburger buns, cut side down, and toast until golden brown. Turn off heat and remove to a plate to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Peel the onion and grate (using a hand grater or even a box grater) about 2 Tbsp of onion into the meat. Use the fine side of the grater, so you're getting very small pieces of onion. You'll get onion juice too, and that's good.
- Use your hands to mix gently until just combined. Form into 4 patties (for 1/3 lb burgers, make 6 patties, and for a 1/4 lb burger, make 8 patties). Make an indentation in the center of each burger with your thumbs to ensure even cooking.
- Heat a drizzle of oil in the same skillet over MED heat and cook burgers about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked to desired doneness.
- The last minute of cooking, place cheese slices on patties and cover pan with aluminum foil. Serve hamburgers on toasted buns with lettuce and bourbon bacon jam.