Barbecue Pork Burgers

Barbecue pork burgers are easy to make with ground pork, your favorite bbq sauce—whether spicy or sweet—and your favorite toppings such as coleslaw. It’s what you make when you crave authentic pulled pork sandwiches but need something quick and easy. On the table in minutes.

These barbecue pork burgers brilliantly riff on sigh-inducingly slow-roasted pulled pork shoulder in an easy, weeknight-friendly, slap-it-on-the-grill, done-in-minutes way. Not only that, it juxtaposes the sweet and succulent tenderness of pork with the slightly spicy tang of doctored-up bbq sauce and the crunch of a quick and classic mayo-based coleslaw. Once you indulge, you’ll understand our incredulousness at how conversation-stoppingly spectacular these are. And with so little effort.–Renee Schettler

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN PORK BURGERS ARE DONE?

Pork is done when it registers 160°F (71°C) on an instant read thermometer. Here we direct you to measure the burgers until they register just a few degrees shy of that and then baste with more barbecue sauce and cook a little longer before letting them rest. The temperature of the pork will continue to increase both on and off the heat. It’s best to test the temperature again a few minutes after you take the burgers off the heat.

Barbecue Pork Burgers

Two barbecue pork burgers with slaw and barbecue sauce stacked on top of each other.
Spicing up store-bought barbecue sauce with cayenne and vinegar is an easy trick that makes a big difference. Here, the sauce is mixed into the meat, slathered onto the cooked burgers for the last minute of grilling, and brushed on the bun.
The Editors of Gourmet

Prep 20 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 30 mins
Entrees
Southern
4 servings
743 kcal
4.72 / 7 votes
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Ingredients 

For the coleslaw

  • 1/4 cup store bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thinly shredded carrot
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives or scallions
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the barbecue pork burgers

  • 1/2 cup your fave store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork* (see WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil for the grill rack
  • 4 buns or kaiser rolls or soft squishy breadstuff of some sort split and toasted or grilled

Directions
 

Make the coleslaw

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, and vinegar until smooth.
  • Toss in the cabbage, carrot, chives, and salt and pepper to taste and gently toss to combine.
  • Let the slaw stand at room temperature while you cook the burgers or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Make the barbecue pork burgers

  • Prepare your grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal or medium heat for gas.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the barbecue sauce, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and vinegar.
  • In a large bowl, gently combine the pork, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce mixture until combined. Do not overmix.
  • Using your hands, gently form the mixture into 4 patties, each about 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick, being careful not to pack the pork too tightly.
  • Carefully slick the grill rack with oil, plop the burgers on top, and grill, flipping the burgers every few minutes, until no trace of pink remain and the burgers register 155°F (68°C), 6 to 12 minutes total, depending on the thickness.

    TESTER TIP: If you're measuring the temperature of the burgers, for the most accurate reading, hold the prong of the thermometer horizontal to the grill rack and insert it in sideways until it reaches the center. In other words, don't try to insert the prong from the top down toward the grill. You'll get a more accurate read this way.

  • Brush the top of each burger with 1 tablespoon remaining barbecue sauce mixture, flip, and grill for 30 seconds. Brush each burger with about 1 tablespoon remaining sauce, remove from the heat, and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.
  • While the burgers rest, brush the cut sides of each of the buns with the remaining barbecue sauce mixture.
  • Assemble the barbecue pork burgers, toping each bun with a burger and a heaping spoonful of coleslaw. Serve immediately with A LOT of napkins.
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Notes

*What you need to know about how to buy the best ground pork

The editors at Gourmet have the following to say about how to buy the best ground pork:
“Although most of the ground pork that you buy in the supermarket doesn’t indicate what part of the pig it hails from, we know that good pork burgers, like good beef burgers, is made from shoulder meat. If you have access to a butcher, ask for pork ground from the shoulder (ask for what’s known as ‘pork butt,’ a confusingly named cut that’s actually from the shoulder). It’s got a desirable ratio of meat to fat that you need for a juicy, flavorful burger. Lean is not the way to go; fat is where the real flavor is. For the best texture, ask the butcher to run it through the grinder only once, on a coarse setting.”

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1burger, with bunCalories: 743kcal (37%)Carbohydrates: 40g (13%)Protein: 34g (68%)Fat: 49g (75%)Saturated Fat: 15g (94%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 129mg (43%)Sodium: 1217mg (53%)Potassium: 755mg (22%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 17g (19%)Vitamin A: 2884IU (58%)Vitamin C: 16mg (19%)Calcium: 137mg (14%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

These barbecue pork burgers were a deliciously satisfying departure from the usual beef burger (which I do love). They were easy to put together and had a wonderful tang and a bit of heat from the vinegar and BBQ sauce.

I used a sauce called Old South, which is described on the label as “Texas/Tennessee style” and isn't too sweet or too thick. I cooked the burgers on a gas grill over medium heat. Since it was ground pork, I used an instant-read thermometer to check doneness. It took about 10 minutes to reach 160°F (71°C) on my grill. The burgers were moist and my only complaint was that I wouldn't add salt to the burgers.

The slaw was also quick to put together and reminded me of the slaw my mother used to make with the mayo/milk/vinegar dressing. The carrots added a bit of sweetness and color.

These would be a tasty and unexpected treat to add to your next barbecue.

We loved these pork burgers. The slaw was so simple that I had my doubts whether it’d be good, but I sure was wrong. It went perfectly with the pork burgers.

I thought maybe slathering the sauce on the bun was a bit over the top, since you also add some to the raw meat as well as the cooked burgers on the grill, but that idea was proved wrong. Delicious! We used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce for an extra little kick and served our burgers on onion kaiser buns.

This is a wonderful change to a plain old hamburger and we’ll be adding these to our grill again this summer.


Originally published July 2, 2012

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These were fantastic. Used ground pork from a local farm. The sauce definitely made the burger. Will definitely make again.

  2. Oh boy, I have a picnic shoulder in the freezer that I can grind. This will be next Saturday’s dinner! Sounds delicious and I love slaw on a sandwich. I am thinking of all kinds of variations already!

  3. 5 stars
    This pork burger was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. I will definitely make more of the sauce next time.

  4. What a nifty idea! For a few years now we’ve been grinding our own pork shoulder, making into patties and freezing. For burgers or anything else. I’ll be trying this. Thanks.

    1. Super, Catherine! Freshly ground pork would be great for these burgers. Please report back and let us know what you think.

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