Learn step by step how to make hamburgers on a Pit Boss pellet grill! Grilling hamburgers with high heat on a pellet grill can be a challenge, but we show you how to get a great sear on your burgers with a perfectly cooked inside. Pair your burgers with buns toasted on the same cooking surface and you have a restaurant quality burger in the comfort of your own backyard!
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. We love burgers with a great sear on the outside, so we will show you exactly how to get that amazing brown exterior with a perfectly cooked inside.
Calculating the Amount of Ground Beef Required
First you need to figure out how much hamburger meat you will need.
If you want smaller, thinner, or "smash" type burgers, plan on 2-3 ounces of meat per burger.
For thicker, meatier burgers, go for ⅓ lb (5-6 ounces).
And if you want large, juicy, restaurant sized hamburgers on your Pit Boss, then allocate a ½ lb (8 ounces) for each hamburger.
Make sure to get large buns as well if you are going for big ½ lb sized hamburgers.
Rather WATCH than READ?
Check out this video on How to Perfectly Grill Hamburgers on Pit Boss
Types of Ground Beef
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 size.
Form the Hamburger Patties
You should wait to salt or season your hamburger meat until immediately before you begin to cook. According to Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, mixing in seasoning ahead of time can overwork the meat and cause it to have a meatball or sausage-like consistency.
In addition, according to America's Test Kitchen, salt causes the protein myosin in the meat to become more soluble and form a sticky gel that binds the hamburger. This is not what we want in a good burger!
Best practice for burgers is to form the meat into patties, chill, and then season the exterior right before placing them on the grill.
We recommend using a good digital kitchen scale to weigh out the portions of ground beef to ensure our patties are the same size for consistent cooking.
You can roll the portion into a ball, then gently flatten and shape it into a patty, making sure not to overwork the meat.
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.
You will want to make an indent in the center of each patty because they will puff up during cooking so this will help keep the burger an even thickness throughout the cooking process.
Place them on a waxed paper lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Then place the tray in the refrigerator until it's time to cook them on the Pit Boss.
Prepare Your Grilling Supplies
Before you start cooking, you'll want to assemble all of your supplies because the burgers will cook quickly.
Choose a high smoke point cooking oil to grease the cooking surface, such as Canola oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil.
Make sure you have a pair of good, heatproof gloves, as the grill will get very hot. You'll also want an instant read digital thermometer, a large, heavy-duty spatula, and a foiled lined baking sheet with a wire rack set on top.
If you want cheese on your burgers, consider using a melting dome.
If you're making smash burgers, make sure to have your cast iron burger press and a small piece of parchment paper ready to go.
Grilling the Hamburgers
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 or watch our video on How to Start and Season a Pit Boss.
Add pellets to the Pit Boss, turn it on, and allow it to go through it's start up cycle. Then turn it up to "HIGH" and allow it to reach maximum temperature.
Season the Hamburger Patties
Right before placing the patties on the grilling surface, season the exterior. We prefer just kosher salt, but you can use any type of seasoning.
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.
Searing Hamburgers on a Flat Surface
We prefer to sear our burgers on a flat surface rather than directly on the grates of the Pit Boss. A flat surface makes more contact with the meat, creating a nice brown exterior.
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.
For hamburgers, we recommend having the flat side up to give yourself a griddle-like surface on which to sear them.
To heat the Grill Grates, start up the Pit Boss and preheat it to 450°F or as high a temperature as your model will go. Our Pit Boss Pro Series 1150 has a "HIGH" setting.
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 at least 100°F higher than the ambient temperature of your Pit Boss, if not even higher than that.
You may have to play with positioning of the Grill Grates a little on your specific Pit Boss.
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 outlined above but do it with a couple of Grill Grates positioned over the roaring hot fire pot.
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.
Once the Grill Grates are ready, add a high smoke point oil or beef tallow to the surface of the Grill Grates. Then add the burgers.
Cook the burgers for 2-3 minutes. Avoid flipping them until the bottom is finished cooking. Flip the burgers using a heavy duty spatula, then cook on the second side for 2-3 minutes.
What is a Safe Internal Temperature for Hamburgers?
The USDA recommends cooking hamburgers to a final internal temperature of 160°F.
When using ⅓ to ½ lb patties of 80/20 ground chuck, we find that if they reach 155°F on the Pit Boss, they will rise another 5°F during resting.
If you are adding cheese, you can do so when the internal temperature reaches about 135°F.
We are big fans of this affordable one from ThermoPro and use it on just about everything we cook.
Add Cheese to the Burgers
If you prefer cheese on your burgers, now is the time to do it. The cheese will take under a minute to melt, so you can wait until the hamburgers are just about done before adding it.
We like to use American cheese on hamburgers, but any cheese will work. If you're using a harder cheese like cheddar, we suggest using freshly shredded cheese rather than slices or pre-shredded cheese.
We place the cheese on top of the burgers, then place a melting dome on top to trap the heat to facilitate the melting of the cheese.
Resting the Burgers
Just like with chicken wings and steak, we like to rest the burgers on a wire rack set over a foil lined baking sheet. This helps keep the bottoms of the burgers firm and prevents them from making the bottom buns soggy when the burgers are eventually assembled.
If you're making thinner smash burgers, we like using this cast iron burger press to press the meat down onto the flat surface.
To begin, we measured out 3 ounces of ground beef, rolled it into a ball, then seasoned the exterior of the ball well with salt.
We placed the ball directly on the Grill Grates and then immediately press it down with the burger press with a piece of parchment paper between the meat and the cast iron to prevent sticking.
Once the first side is done, use a heavy duty spatula to flip, and then use the underside of the spatula to press down the burger to get the second side nice and hot.
After the burger reaches a safe internal temperature, add the cheese and place a melting dome on top.
How to Set Up the Direct Heat Option
If you want to cook your burgers directly on the grates of the Pit Boss, you'll need to make sure they are well heated first.
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.
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 hamburger patties 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.
Once the Pit Boss is close to 450°F, 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.
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.
You may add cheese toward the end of the cooking process once you are sure you won't be flipping the burgers anymore.
Brioche buns are a great option for restaurant quality hamburgers at home. Toasting them takes them to another level!
We place them directly on the hot Grill Grates after cooking the burgers. The grease left on the grates helps create a nice crispy surface.
Make sure to gather all the sides such as ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, and mayonnaise.
Lastly, when you're looking for fun side dish options, did you know you can also make smoked macaroni & cheese, smoked potato salad, smoked corn on the cob, and smoked baked beans right on your Pit Boss pellet grill as well?
Go ahead and click each one to check them out.
Have fun grilling and smoking more food on your Pit Boss!
Pit Boss Grilled Hamburgers
- Pit Boss Pellet Grill
- Pellets for high heat grilling, preferable Oak.
- Baking Sheet
- Plastic Wrap
- Heavy Duty Spatula
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Grill Grates optional
- Wire Rack Baking Sheet Combo
- 2 lbs Ground Chuck (80/20)
- Cooking Oil High smoke point oil like avocado or grapeseed oil or beef tallow
- Kosher Salt to taste, to season patties
- Cheese optional
- Buns and Toppings
Form the Ground Beef into Patties
- Divide the ground beef into 5-6 ounce portions for ⅓ pound burgers.2 lbs Ground Chuck (80/20)
- Gently form the meat into balls, then into patty shapes about ½ inch thick on the edges.
- Place the hamburger patties on a wax paper lined baking sheet and press an indent in the center of each patty. Cover the patties 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 and let it run through the Startup Cycle.
- Next, set the temperature on the Pit Boss pellet grill to HIGH and open the flame broiler.
To Sear the Burgers on a Flat Surface
- Preheat the Grill Grates or a cast iron griddle centered over the fire pot with the flame broiler OPEN for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add cooking oil or tallow to the flat surface and distribute evenly to coat the surface.Cooking Oil
- Season the patties well with kosher salt, then add to the flat surface.Kosher Salt
- Sear the hamburgers for about 2-3 minutes, then flip and sear for about another 2-3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 155°F. If adding cheese, you can add it when the burgers are 135°F.
- Place the cheese on top of each burger and cover with a melting dome.Cheese
To Cook the Burgers over Direct Heat
- Once the fire is going strong in the fire pot, take your hamburger patties out of the refrigerator and apply some kosher salt to both sides of each patty along with some cooking oil.Kosher Salt, Cooking Oil
- 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 2-3 minutes on each side.
- If you want to top them with cheese, do so when they are at about 135°F 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.Cheese
Remove the Hamburgers from the Pit Boss and Serve
- Use an instant read thermometer and remove the burgers to a wire rack when they reach 155°F.
- To toast the buns, place them directly on the grilling surface for a minute or so then remove them to the wire rack to cool slightly.
- Serve the burgers on large brioche buns with lots of toppings available for you and your guests.Buns and Toppings