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.
Adapted from Gourmet | Gourmet Weekday | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
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
For the coleslaw
- 1/4 cup 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
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.
*What you need to know about how to buy the best ground porkThe 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.”
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
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.
We really enjoyed these barbecue pork burgers. Feeling brazen, I used our favorite hot and spicy barbecue sauce, which was a great match with the cool coleslaw.
I totally recommend a good, sturdy kaiser bun (I like mine with sesame seeds) as the coleslaw needs a toothsome roll with a good crust for balance. Although totally not necessary, I swiped a little butter on the roll before grilling. This is a super easy recipe and a new favorite for me.
Being a Texas girl, I’ve never had slaw on a sandwich before, but I have always wanted to try it. After making this recipe, I may never go back to beef burgers again. When you take that first bite, you have all these flavors bouncing around on your tongue—the mild spicy heat from the pork along with the zippy tang of the slaw dressing. It’s like heaven in your mouth. My mayonnaise-slaw-hating hubby even said he would eat these again. Coming from him, that’s a very high compliment.
The recipe is very easy to put together and quick to cook. The only thing I did differently in the recipe was to make them into sliders instead of big burgers. I use the Sara Lee Wheat Honey Dinner Rolls for buns because a big burger is just too much to eat.
The only thing I would change would be to assemble the slaw when I start cooking the pork. I like very fresh crisp cabbage in my slaw, so I don’t want it sitting in the mayonnaise-based dressing very long. I would never make it 8 hours ahead of time because I just don’t like limp, soggy slaw. The sauce I used was Terry Chandler’s Outlaw Chef Brand Badlands BBQ Sauce.
These barbecue pork burgers are life-changing. The pork burgers remained incredibly moist during cooking and the tang from the sauce was just right.
My 12-year-old nephew, who’s quite selective about what he eats, would happily tuck into barbecue ribs and hamburgers and nothing else if he had his druthers. So while I suspected these barbecue pork burgers would be an easy sell seeing as they’re a melding of the two things he loves most, there are no guarantees with him. I used his favorite homemade sauce, which we always keep in the fridge, omitted the cayenne because he likes a milder heat, and I left the coleslaw on the side. Also, since we live in a Manhattan apartment, I sizzled them in a cast-iron skillet slicked with olive oil until browned on each side, brushed both sides with the remaining barbecue sauce, and slid the skillet in a 350°F oven just until the burgers were cooked through.
I swear only a minute or so elapsed from when I put the burger down in front of him and when it was practically demolished. He’s been begging me for them each day ever since–sometimes twice a day and often for breakfast. We’ll definitely be adding these burgers to our list of regulars. What can I say? Kid knows a good thing when he tastes it.
These barbecue pork burgers are a great way to get a pulled pork sandwich without all the work. It’s simply what happens when you marry ground pork with great bbq sauce.
I used homemade bbq sauce and added the extra ingredients. This made for an incredible burger with a great kick. (I’m sure the same additions to our favorite store-bought sauce, KC Masterpiece, would have a similar result.)
The coleslaw is tangy and refreshing, adding a perfect crunch to the burger, and balancing out the flavor of the barbecue sauce. The pork burger itself is juicy and flavorful.
These make quite an easy meal to put together, especially with a store-bought sauce. I used a sauce that’s bottled locally, though I prefer my own version of BBQ sauce.
I would like to baste them with a little more sauce than what is called for in the recipe. Otherwise, it was quite a flavorful meal. The slaw was very delicious and I would it eat it as a side with roast chicken or turkey as well.
These were very good barbecue pork burgers and a nice change from hamburgers.
My family doesn’t really like coleslaw, and although we’ve heard of people putting coleslaw on pulled pork barbecue, we had never tried it. We were all a little surprised that we liked it. It lends a little crunch to the sandwich, like adding lettuce to a burger, and it provided a nice contrast to the spicy bbq sauce mixture.
We used Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce and cooked the burgers on the grill.
What could be better than some Berkshire pork made into one of the best burgers around? These barbecue pork burgers are spicy but not too hot with just a hint of the pulled pork taste. The barbecue sauce you use will definitely make a difference. And so will the pork.
I liked this so much that I have made it 3 different times with 3 different sauces and 2 different kinds of ground pork. All were spot on! The slaw is equally as delicious as the burger and just as easy.
This is definitely a go-to recipe.
My family and I devoured these barbecue pork burgers. The pork burgers were juicy and just spicy enough to add a healthy kick. The coleslaw was crisp and tangy and delicious. As a bonus, both were very simple to make. The flavor cornerstone of the burgers is the tarted-up bbq sauce, which does triple duty: stirred into the pork mixture, brushed on while the burgers are grilling, and then slathered on the bun.
Quick note: I highly recommend a brioche bun. The buttery sweetness was a great counterpoint.
These barbecue pork burgers are easy to make and quick for a weeknight meal.
I used some leftover barbecue sauce I made last week and jazzed it up with the additional cayenne and vinegar to thin it a little. I think this would be great with almost any barbecue sauce you chose to make it with.
The slaw is creamy and the perfect foil for the spiciness of the burger and sauce. While messy to eat, everyone wanted seconds. It was a shame that it only serves 4. I will certainly be making this again, but in a larger batch so seconds will be available.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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.