Learn step by step how to make hamburgers on a Pit Boss pellet grill!
We take you through preparing the hamburgers, setting up your Pit Boss to grill them correctly, and what accessories can make it even easier to grill on a pellet grill.
How to Prepare Hamburgers for the Pit Boss Pellet Grill
Before we dive into how to grill your hamburgers on the Pit Boss, let’s talk about how much and what kind of meat is best for hamburgers.
Then we’ll show you how to prepare the hamburger patties perfectly for cooking.
How Much Hamburger Meat do you Need?
First you need to figure out how much hamburger meat you will need.
If you want smaller, thinner, or “smash” type burgers, plan on a 1/4 lb per burger.
For thicker meatier burgers, go for 1/3 lb.
And if you want large, juicy, restaurant sized hamburgers on your Pit Boss, then allocate a 1/2 lb for each hamburger.
Make sure to get large buns as well if you are going for big 1/2 lb sized hamburgers.
What Kind of Hamburger Meat is Best to Grill on a Pit Boss?
When you look at the hamburger meat options you’ll see a ratio on the package such as 80/20, 85/15, or 90/10.
This is a ratio of percentage meat to fat and is based on the area of the cow the meat is taken from.
Many grilling experts agree the fattier meat from 80/20 GROUND CHUCK is the best choice for juicy hamburgers but if you want a leaner taste you can go for 85/15 or even mix them together.
The fattier the hamburger meat, the more weight you will lose during cooking as well so keep that in mind when planning your burger sizes.
Season and Form the Hamburger Patties
You will need to add some salt to mix up in the the hamburger meat before you form the patties.
This will give the interior of the burgers more seasoning and flavor.
Use about 1/2 tsp of table salt per pound of ground beef.
We will also add more salt to the outside after we form the patties.
Don’t “overwork” the ground beef as this can make the burgers tougher, just mix it around enough to get the salt incorporated.
Now divide up the ground beef into the number of burgers you are planning to make by forming balls of meat with your hand.
You can add and take away meat from each one to even them out as you go.
Then slap the balls of ground beef back and forth in your hands to spread them into patties and round out the edges to form them into better circles.
Your aim is to get them all about the same size and thickness so they take the same amount of time to cook.
Place them on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook them on the Pit Boss.
If you want to give your Pit Boss hamburgers a more distinctive BBQ flavor, you can also choose to use a steak seasoning or BBQ rub instead of just plain salt.
We are big fans of Bad Byron’s Butt Rub Seasoning on beef because it is heavy on flavor, and has no sugar.
It works great anytime you are searing, like we will be doing with our hamburgers, because you don’t want a sugary rub that will just burn at those higher cooking temperatures.
The Best Wood Pellets for Cooking Hamburgers with High Heat on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
Most of the time when we are cooking with our Pit Boss we are smoking things low and slow like brisket, ribs, or a pork butt and focused on what kind of flavor we can get from our chosen smoking wood pellets.
Since we will be grilling, not smoking, our hamburgers on the Pit Boss today with HIGH heat, we want to think more about what kind of pellet will give us a nice HIGH heat clean burn.
For a nice clean burn that will also get your Pit Boss up to those higher temperatures for grilling and searing, we are big fans of Bear Mountain Red and White Oak Pellets.
While some people recommend hickory for the hottest pellet burn, straight hickory pellet flavor can be a little overpowering.
Oak on the other hand, while not as hard a wood as hickory still burns very hot, will make a nice fire in the fire pot on the HIGH setting of your Pit Boss, and does not have a flavor that will overpower the hamburgers.
For the best results, store your unused pellets in a sealed room temperature container like this 20 lb pellet container rather than in the Pit Boss hopper outside.
Pellets do not last forever, but will definitely last a LOT longer if stored indoors in a quality airtight container.
How to Cook Hamburgers on a Pit Boss Pellet Grill
We have previously covered how to season a Pit Boss, how to start a Pit Boss, as well as how to troubleshoot the smoke level of your pellet grill.
So if you need a more in-depth review on how to use your Pit Boss for the first time, check those articles out first!
But below is a brief overview of how a Pit Boss pellet grill works and how to start it up properly to prepare to grill hamburgers.
How to Start up the Pit Boss Pellet Grill for Cooking Hamburgers
In order to cook ANYTHING well on a Pit Boss pellet grill, you need to first have a basic understanding of how a pellet grill works.
***Completely New to Using a Pellet Grill? No Worries!****
Hop over and check out this Complete Guide to Understanding How a Pellet Grill Works if you are interested in learning more in depth. We’ll be here when you get back!***
The Pit Boss pellet grill automatically feeds these small wood pellets via an auger mechanism to a fire pot where they are burned up, providing both heat and smokey flavor.
The pellet grill automatically controls the flow of pellets depending on your temperature setting so that you maintain an even temperature throughout the entire cook.
- Fill your hopper with pellets as described above.
- Make sure the fire pot is cleaned out well from the last cook and not full of ashes. You can remove it from the bottom and dump or vacuum it out and then put back and clip into place.
- Plug in and start up the pellet grill, keeping the lid open. Set the temperature dial to “Smoke” and press the “Power” button.
- If there are no pellets in the auger or firepot yet, only in the hopper, you need to now hold the “Prime” button until you hear pellets begin to drop into the firepot.
- The “Prime” feature on a Pit Boss pellet grill speeds up the auger so that pellets fill it quickly and get to your fire pot before the pellet grill “times out” from a lack of pellets coming into the fire pot.
- Once pellets are in the firepot, stop holding the “Prime” button and wait about 5-7 minutes with the lid open for a torchy burner lighting sound. This means the fire rod has come up to temperature and has ignited the pellets. At this point, the smoke will turn from thick white to more of a clear blue. This means the pellets are ignited and the pellet grill is working. Now you can close the lid.
- Close the lid and change temperature setting to 450°F.
- This will take about 15-20 minutes to preheat the grill.
- Using a good bristle free grill brush, clean off the grill grates.
Why Bristle Free Grill Brushes?
Check out our Ultimate Guide to How to Keep your Family Safe by using ONLY Bristle Free Grill Brushes, along with a selection of some of our favorites!
How to Set Up the Direct Heat Option for Cooking Pit Boss Hamburgers
After going through the startup process on the “Smoke” setting as described above, we recommend preheating the Pit Boss up to 450°F BEFORE using the HIGH setting or opening up the flame broiler for DIRECT heat.
This will get the interior of the Pit Boss and the grates nice and hot and your pellet grill will be primed for high heat cooking compared to if you start with it at a lower temperature and then try to use DIRECT heat straight from there.
Make sure to oil your grates well, especially in the center where most of the hamburger grilling will take place over the Pit Boss fire pot.
Ideally use a HIGH smoke point oil such as avocado or grapeseed oil.
Keep the lid closed and the flame broiler closed while the Pit Boss comes up to temperature.
While you are waiting you can get your hamburgers out of the refrigerator and sprinkle some kosher salt on both sides of each patty and rub a little of the high smoke point oil on the patties as well.
Get your spatula, cheese, meat thermometer, serving plate, and anything else you might need ready because the hamburgers will cook FAST once they go on.
Once the Pit Boss is close to 450°, open the lid and use the side pull lever to open the flame broiler for DIRECT heat.
Change the temperature setting to High but don’t put your hamburgers on the Pit Boss just yet.
Remember, if you come from the world of gas grilling, it will feel like everything with a pellet grill happens in slow motion.
Just be patient, keep the lid and flame broiler open and give the Pit Boss about 4-5 minutes to kick into HIGH heat gear and get a real fire ripping in the fire pot first.
Safety Tip: Remember to NEVER close the lid when on the HIGH heat setting with the flame broiler plate open for direct heat grilling.
How to Cook Hamburgers with High Heat on a Pit Boss
After about 4-5 minutes you should have a nice hot fire going in the fire pot.
Now you can put your hamburgers on, and try to center them as much as possible over the DIRECT heat of the fire pot.
Keep the lid OPEN and do not leave the burgers unattended on the Pit Boss.
If you get some big flare ups move the burgers away from the direct heat temporarily and then back once they calm down.
It’s best to let them sear for about 1 minute on each side then flip for another minute on the other side.
After that, flip about every 30-60 seconds to make sure they get evenly cooked without burning.
If you need to press down with the spatula to flatten out the shape of the burgers a little at the very beginning of the cook that is fine.
But resist the urge to press down a lot on the burgers after they have been on for a more than a couple of minutes because this squeezes out precious fat and juices from the hamburgers and will dry them out faster.
Have your instant read thermometer handy and keep track of the internal temperature of your burgers.
Watch the Internal Temperature Closely
You HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to know where the internal temperature is of your hamburgers are while they are cooking on the Pit Boss.
We are big fans of this affordable one from ThermoPro and use it on just about everything we cook.
Here are some reference temperatures from thespruceeats.com you can use to know when to take the burgers off the Pit Boss depending how you like them cooked:
- Rare: 120-125°F
- Medium-Rare: 130-135°F
- Medium-Well: 150-155°F
- Well Done: 160-165°F
Now don’t get preferred hamburger internal temperatures confused with preferred steak internal temperatures.
Ground beef should generally be cooked to a higher temperature than steak (closer to 150-160°F) for food safety reasons.
If you are using hamburger meat with a lot of fat like 80/20 ground chuck it should still be incredibly juicy and tender, where as a lean filet mignon will dry out quickly at this high of an internal temperature.
We found with 80/20 ground chuck 1/2 lb patties, bringing them up to 150°F on the Pit Boss they rose another 5°F after we removed them and were still an incredibly juicy and tender, (and SAFE), “Medium-Well.”
Another Option: Using Grill Grates to Sear your Hamburgers on a Pit Boss
If you are using an older model Pit Boss pellet grill that doesn’t have an adjustable flame broiler plate that gives you a DIRECT grilling option, and finding it hard to get the high heat needed for searing, try laying a couple of Grill Grates over the hottest section of your grill.
These work great for creating a hot searing station on a pellet grill using the ambient INDIRECT heat the pellet grill is already creating.
Simply lay your Grill Grates on top of the existing grates before you start up the Pit Boss.
For hamburgers, we recommend having the flat side up to give yourself a griddle-like surface on which to sear them.
Start up the Pit Boss and preheat it to 450°F or as high a temperature as your model will go.
Let it sit as this temperature for 5-10 minutes so that the Grill Grates can get nice and hot as well.
We like to use this affordable infrared laser temperature gauge on Grill Grates and other searing surfaces such as cast iron grill pans to know when they are ripping hot and ready to sear steaks and burgers.
The Grill Grates should go about 100°F higher than the ambient temperature of your Pit Boss, or higher.
You may have to play with positioning of the Grill Grates a little on your specific Pit Boss.
Once the Grill Grates are ready, oil up the hamburgers a little so they don’t stick and then cook them exactly as described above.
You can also couple the Grill Grate sear stations with the DIRECT heat on a newer model for the best of BOTH worlds!
Simply follow the same process as outlined above but do it with a couple of Grill Grates positioned over the roaring hot fire pot.
Grill Grates also work…great…(get it?) for searing steaks and pork chops, or anytime you need a flatter griddle like surface for making things like bacon, eggs, pancakes, smaller vegetables, turkey burgers, or delicate fish filets.
Make sure to measure your specific Pit Boss to choose the right sized Grill Grates. We found the 19.25″ deep ones to fit the Pit Boss Pro Series 1150 well for our needs.
How to Serve Pit Boss Grilled Hamburgers
Once the hamburgers are finished cooking on the Pit boss, carefully remove them with a good long handled spatula and place them on a plate to cool.
Brioche buns are a great option for restaurant quality hamburgers at home and make sure to gather all the sides such as ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, and mayonnaise.
Go ahead and click each one to check them out.
Have fun grilling and smoking more food on your Pit Boss!
What Other Foods Can I Smoke on my Pit Boss?
Looking for some more inspiration for things to smoke?
Check out some of our favorite recipes below that can easily be modified to be done on a Pit Boss pellet grill.
- Pit Boss Pulled Pork
- Pit Boss Smoked Baby Back Ribs
- Pit Boss Smoked Pork Loin
- Pellet Grill Smoked Pork Chops
- Pellet Grilled Bratwurst
- Gas Grilled Bratwurst
- Smoked Fresh Holiday Ham
- Spiral Sliced Smoked Hot Dogs
- Smoked Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions
- Roasted Pig in Your Backyard
- Pit Boss Beef Brisket
- Pit Boss Smoked Beef Tenderloin
- Pit Boss Smoked Prime Rib
- Pit Boss Smoked Chuck Roast
- Pit Boss Smoked Beef Ribs
- Pit Boss Smoked Tri-Tip Roast
- Perfect Smoked London Broil
- Smoked Ribeye Roast
- Smoked Corned Beef
- Smoked Ribeye Steaks
- Smoked Filet Mignon
- Hot and Fast Pellet Grill Beef Brisket
- Pellet Grilled Steak
- Perfect Grilled Hamburgers
- Smoked Eye of Round Roast Beef
- Easy Smoked Flank Steak
- Smoked Tomahawk Steaks
- Smoked Bottom Round Roast
- Smoked Sirloin Tip Roast
- Smoked Rump Roast
- Pit Boss Smoked Salmon
- Honey Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Oysters in a Garlic White Wine Sauce
- Smoked Scallops with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Smoked Lobster Tails
- Easy Smoked Tilapia
- Perfect Smoked Halibut
- Smoked Mahi Mahi Fillets
- Smoked Swordfish Steaks
- Smoked Crab Legs with Cajun Clarified Butter
- Smoked Mackerel with Maple Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Catfish with Cajun BBQ Rub
- Smoked Red Snapper with Blackening Rub
- Smoked Trout
- Smoked Tuna Steaks
- Pit Boss Smoked Whole Chicken
- Pit Boss Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Pit Boss Smoked Chicken Breasts
- Pit Boss Smoked Chicken Legs
- Pit Boss Smoked Chicken Wings
- Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
- Beer Can Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Spatchcocked Chicken on a Pellet Grill
- Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey Breast
- Pellet Grill Turkey
- Easy Smoked Turkey Legs
- Spatchcock Smoked Turkey on a Pellet Grill
- Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill or smoker but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours!
- Smoked Leg of Lamb with Guinness Marinade
- Smoked Lamb Chops with a Balsamic Butter Sauce
- Smoked Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary or Smoker
- Smoked and Pulled Lamb Shoulder with a Turkish Spice Rub
- Smoked Lamb Shanks
Sides and Desserts
- Pit Boss Corn on the Cob
- Pit Boss Smoked Mac and Cheese
- Pit Boss Smoked Baked Beans
- Smoked Potato Salad
- Smoked Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Twice Baked Potatoes
- Smoked Asparagus
- Easy Smoked Broccoli
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Sticky Smoked Sweet Potatoes
- Smoked Pineapple in a Maple Bourbon Sauce
- Smoked Carrots with a Honey Balsamic Glaze
- Smoked Hard Boiled Eggs
- Smoked Deviled Eggs
- Smoked Egg Salad
- Smoked Cream Cheese
- Smoked Cream Cheese Dip with Bacon and Cheddar
- Smoked Pig Shots
- Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
- Smoked Garlic
- Frozen Pizza on a Pellet Grill
- How to Steam Tamales
- Masterbuilt Smoked Cheese
- Smoked Gouda Cheese
Pit Boss Grilled Hamburgers
- Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Pellets for high heat grilling, preferable Oak.
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Plastic Wrap
- Long Handled Spatula
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Grill Grates optional
- 2 lbs Ground Chuck (80/20)
- 1 tsp Table Salt
- Cooking Oil High smoke point oil like avocado or grapeseed oil
- Kosher Salt to taste, to season patties
- Buns and Toppings
Season the Ground Beef
- Place the ground chuck in a bowl and add the tsp of table salt. Mix in well with your hands to incorporate the salt into the ground beef.2 lbs Ground Chuck (80/20), 1 tsp Table Salt
- Divide the ground beef into 4 evenly balls of beef. Then slap the balls of ground beef back and forth in your hands to spread them into patties and round out the edges to form them into better circles.
- Place the hamburger patties on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until it’s time to cook them on the Pit Boss.
Start and Preheat the Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Remove the fire pot from the bottom of the Pit Boss and clean out any ashes left over from the last cook. Replace it and make sure it is secured in place with the clips on either side.
- Add your pellets to the hopper, start the Pit Boss pellet grill and put it on the "Smoke" setting.
- Spray some cooking oil on the Pit Boss grates with the flame broiler CLOSED so you don't spray into the fire pot.
- If there are no pellets in the auger, hold the "Prime" button until you hear pellets begin falling in the fire pot. This will speed up the auger to prime it full of pellets before you start preheating.
- Once the Pit boss begins to produce thick white smoke, let it run for about 5-7 minutes until the smoke dissipates or turns more of a clearish blue color. This means the fire rod has fully heated up to burn the pellets more cleanly.
- Next, set the temperature to preheat the Pit Boss pellet grill to 450°F. This will take about 15-20 minutes to reach this temperature.
- Place a disposable bucket liner in the grease bucket if you want to limit cleanup later.
Set Up the Pit Boss for Direct Heat
- Once the Pit Boss has come up to 450°F, take your hamburger patties out of the refrigerator and apply some kosher salt to both sides of each patty along with some cooking oil. Set aside again.Kosher Salt, Cooking Oil
- Open the lid to the Pit Boss and turn the temperature setting to "HIGH". Pull the rod on the Pit Boss to open the flame broiler plate up for direct heat. Keep the lid open.
- After about 4-5 minutes there should be a strong fire burning in the fire pot.
Cook the Hamburgers on the Pit Boss
- Now you can put your hamburgers on, and try to center them as much as possible over the DIRECT heat of the fire pot.
- Keep the lid OPEN and do not leave the burgers unattended on the Pit Boss. If you get some big flare ups move the burgers away from the direct heat temporarily and then back once they calm down.
- It’s best to let them sear for about 1 minute on each side then flip for another minute on the other side. After that, flip about every 30-60 seconds to make sure they get evenly cooked without burning.
- If you want to top them with cheese, do so when they are about 20°F shy of their target temperature. Remove them a couple inches away from the direct heat, and close the flame broiler and the lid to the Pit Boss. Keep the temperature on HIGH.
- Use an instant read thermometer to tell when the hamburgers are finished on the Pit Boss. Follow the Doneness Chart in the Notes section below. (i.e. 150°F for Medium-Well). Keep in mind the hamburgers may rise another 5°F after you pull them off the grill.
Remove the Hamburgers from the Pit Boss and Serve
- Once the hamburgeres have reached your desired level of doneness, remove them from the Pit Boss with a long handled spatula and set aside on a plate to cool slightly. Turn off the Pit Boss Pellet grill, makes sure the flame broiler is closed and close the lid.
- Serve the burgers on large brioche buns with lots of toppings available for you and your guests.Buns and Toppings
- Rare: 120-125°F
- Medium-Rare: 130-135°F
- Medium-Well: 150-155°F
- Well Done: 160-165°F