Pepper Crusted Bacon Cheeseburgers

In my world there’s nothing better than a burger cooked on a super hot flat top griddle. Boy do I love that nice little char you get on the patties. These pepper crusted bacon cheeseburgers amp up that great flat top (though you can certainly grill them!) flavor even more.

The patties are loaded with sweet onion and lots of black pepper. Lots of black pepper. Crispy bacon, lettuce, smoky cheese and a fantastically garlicky aioli top it all off Every bite is loaded with flavor.
Pepper Crusted Bacon CheeseburgersDo not be shy with the black pepper when you roll the burger patties in it. You really want a good strong pepper flavor. I used smoked pepper but any good freshly cracked pepper will do. For extra smoky flavor used smoked garlic instead of regular raw garlic.

Pepper Crusted Bacon Cheeseburgers

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the garlic aioli

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon parsley minced

For the burgers

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream you can omit this if you don't have cream on hand
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 hamburger buns
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • 8 slices smokehouse cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices bacon cooked

Instructions

For the garlic aioli

  • Place garlic in a small bowl. Add the salt and mash with a fork until it becomes a paste.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the burgers

  • Place beef into a large bowl.
  • Great 2 tablespoons of the onion into the beef. Slice the remaining onion thin.
  • Add cream, salt and pepper and mix well. Form into 8 1/4 pound patties.
  • Spread cracked black pepper out onto a plate. Lightly press each side of each patty into the pepper.
  • Cook patties as desired. I prefer them grilled on a flat-top griddle, but you can also cook them in a skillet.
  • Lightly toast the buns.
  • Assemble burgers by slathering buns with the garlic aioli. Add the lettuce, cooked patties, cheese and bacon and serve.

Cedar Planked Buffalo Chicken Bites

Wow. We were both totally blown away by just how incredibly fantastic these cedar planked Buffalo chicken bites were. Yeah, they’re supposed to be appetizers. Well, that’s not how they ended up here. Eat one? Two? Yeah, right. I’m a Buffalo wing addict to begin with so I’m all over anything that involves wing sauce. Bacon? Cheese? Chicken thighs? It’s like everything yummy all in a single bite, all with a wonderful hint of cedar flavor. Crazy good. One of the best things we’ve ever made. Easily.

Cedar Planked Buffalo Chicken Bites

Don’t worry if you get a little cheese ‘blowout’ when you make these cedar planked Buffalo chicken bites. And don’t leave that cheese on the planks, either. Nope, scrape it up along with the chicken and just go to town on it. These are delicious, one of the best things you can imagine.

I like to serve these with more warmed Buffalo wing sauce on the side. There’s no such thing as too much Buffalo sauce in my book.

Also try my planked meatballs!

Cedar Planked Buffalo Chicken Bites

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 14

Equipment

  • 2 large cedar planks

Ingredients

  • 7 chicken thighs boneless, skinless
  • 7 ounces Mozzarella cheese cubed into 14 pieces
  • 7 slices thick cut bacon cut in half width-wise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons BBQ Seasoning I used our Fire Eater rub
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Frank's RedHot sauce

Instructions

  • Place the cedar planks in water for 30 minutes.
  • Fire up your grill for indirect cooking 350-400 F. You do not want flame directly below the place where you plan on placing the planks
  • Cut the thighs in half lengthwise. Place a cube of mozzarella in the center and roll the chicken around it.
  • Wrap a half piece of bacon around the chicken.
  • Sprinkle the chicken with the rub. Don't be shy with it.
  • Transfer to the planks, leaving at least 1/2" space between each chicken roll.
  • Transfer planks to grill and cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. As the bacon and chicken begin to render fat you may experience flare-ups. I keep a spray bottle full of fresh water nearby when this happens, being careful to spray down into the grill at the fire and not at the chicken which would rinse off the seasoning.
  • Meanwhile, place the butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring the help melt the butter.
  • Once the chicken hits 155 F internal temperature (make sure you measure in the meat, not the cheese!) using an instant-read thermometer, brush heavily with the Buffalo sauce.
  • Cook another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is done (at least 165 F).
  • Brush with any remaining sauce and serve!

Notes

I like to have tons of Buffalo sauce, so I double the ingredients and serve half alongside the chicken for dipping.

Copycat Burger King Whopper

My fast food dining days are pretty much behind me. Oh I might stop and grab something every once-in-a-while, specially if I’m traveling. I still crave some of my fast food favorites, but now I’m more a make-it-at-home kinda guy. So that’s how we ended up here, with a copycat of my favorite chain burger, the Burger King Whopper (although truth be told, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and BigMac are close behind on the list!).

Copycat Burger King Whopper

I like to cook my copycat Burger King Whoppers on a flat top griddle on my grill. I get the griddle hot, screaming hot, first. That gives me that little char, that little crunch around the edges. And of course cooking on the grill gives you that char-grilled flavor just like at the restaurant!

If you don’t have a grill cook the burgers in a hot skillet!

Also try my copycat of McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Copycat Burger King Whopper

Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 sesame-seed hamburger buns
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt I prefer a little more
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper I prefer a little more
  • 4 slices American cheese optional
  • 12 dill pickle slices divided
  • 2 slices white onion separated into 8 rings, divided
  • 2 small tomatoes cut into 8 slices, divided
  • 4 teaspoon ketchup divided (just eyeball it)
  • 1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce divided
  • 8 teaspoons mayonnaise divided (just eyeball it)

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet, grill pan or flat top griddle over high heat.
  • Brush butter on buns and toast until lightly browned.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper and form into thin patties. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, not flipping until you get a nice crust.
  • To assemble the burgers, place the patties on the bun bottoms.
  • Add the pickle, onion and tomato slices.
  • Add a good squirt of ketchup.
  • Add the shredded lettuce. Spread mayonnaise on bun top and serve.

Smoked BBQ Baked Beans

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Double this recipe. And if you have a lot of leftover smoked pulled pork (or brisket) laying around, quadruple the recipe. Because these smoked BBQ baked beans are fantastic you’ll want to make as much as will fit on your smoker at one time. I got this fantastic (and easy) recipe and many others from¬†Brother Jimmy’s BBQ: More than 100 Recipes. If you’re a fan of smoking and grilling, you need Brother Jimmy’s now.

Smoked BBQ Baked Beans

Just about any smoked meat will work just fine in these smoked BBQ baked beans. I prefer brisket or pulled pork, but chicken and turkey are good too. This is an excellent way to use up leftover (or not leftover) meats.

Also try my peach BBQ beans.

Smoked BBQ Baked Beans

Note: You can make this dish in the oven. Just bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. I recommend that you use a smoky BBQ sauce if making in the oven.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 32 ounce can pork and beans, undrained
  • 1 cup leftover smoked pork butt cubed or shredded
  • 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Instructions

  • Fire up your smoker for smoking at 225 F.
  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.
  • Combine the onion and remaining ingredients in a medium disposable aluminum pan.
  • Transfer to your smoker and smoke for 45 minutes-1 hour or until hot and bubbly, stirring occasionally.

Cedar Planked Sweet Corn

Ahhhhh. Sweet corn season. One of my favorite times of the year. Nothing beats fresh corn on the cob, specially when it’s hot off the grill. But cook that corn on a cedar plank, and you get oh so much more flavor! Whether you want a little or a lot, the cedar plank adds a little aroma and a little taste you just can’t get from ‘just’ grilling corn!

Cedar Planked Sweet Corn

You can’t go wrong with plenty of salt and pepper on cedar planked sweet corn. For a nice spicier change, I prefer to use my favorite rub from AlbuKirky Seasonings. Their red chile rub adds a nice southwestern zing to each and very delicious bite. It’s good stuff for sure!

Also try my coyote sweet corn.

Cedar Planked Sweet Corn

Course Side
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • cedar plank soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • sweet corn shucked, cut in half
  • butter melted
  • seasoning salt and pepper or whatever you prefer

Instructions

  • Fire up your grill for cooking around 400 F. Depending on how much cedar flavor you want, you may want to char the cedar plank on both sides before adding the corn.
  • Combine the melted butter with your favorite seasoning.
  • Brush the corn with the butter mixture. Transfer to the plank. I like to stand the corn on end.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes or until just tender. Brush with more of the butter mixture every 5 minutes.
  • Remove and serve.

Red White and Blue Cedar Planked Brie

Happy Fourth of July! And what better way to enjoy the day than with red white and blue cedar planked Brie. Wonderful creamy soft cheese. A hint of cedar. Sweet honey. Roasted and fresh berries. The perfect appetizer, right off the grill!

Red White and Blue Cedar Planked Brie

You can get as little or as much cedar flavor and aroma as you like. Charring the plank before adding the cheese will release some of those cedar oils. Less charring, less cedar. It’s that easy!

We both love the combination of cooked and fresh berries on this red white and blue cedar planked Brie. You get a wonderful textural difference, along with contrasting flavors. They’re really great!

Also try my cedar planked Twinkies.

Red White and Blue Cedar Planked Brie

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • Cedar grilling plank soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 wheel of Brie at room temperature
  • honey to taste
  • fresh blueberries rinsed, patted dry
  • fresh raspberries rinsed, patted dry
  • Crackers for serving

Instructions

  • Fire up your grill for high heat cooking around 400 F. I like to start my plank over direct heat then move it to indirect heat once the plank has a good char on it. If you're using a gas grill you can start over high heat then turn down the gas to finish softening the cheese.
  • Unwrap cheese and place in the center of the plank.
  • Drizzle the cheese with honey and sprinkle with berries. Use as many or as few as you want.
  • Grill for 20-25 minutes or until the Brie is nice and soft. Remove.
  • Sprinkle with more fresh berries and serve with crackers.

Grilled Queso Dip

“If all of your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too?” Well, probably not, but if all of my friends were making grilled (or smoked) queso dip, I’d make it too. And so I did. And it was oh so good. Creamy, cheese, spicy yummy good. I mean crazy good. If you’re used to making queso dip in a slow cooker, this is not that. This is so much better.

There are literally a thousand things that can go into grilled queso dip. I picked my favorites. Roasted vegetables. Spicy sausage. And the right combination of cheeses (ok, Velveeta isn’t technically cheese, but go with it for now) so everything gets nice and creamy smooth. It’s what a dip should be.

Grilled Queso Dip

You can make queso dip on your smoker just as easily as you can grill it. Instead of roasting the vegetables over high heat on a grill, just toss them in a 450 F oven until nice and just starting to soften and char. To make the dip, get your smoker up to 250 F over a light wood such as apple or peach. The cheeses might take a bit longer to melt, so be patient and enjoy the aroma!

Grilled Queso Dip

Also try my smoked onion dip.

Grilled Queso Dip

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk spicy pork sausage
  • 2 medium sweet onions peeled
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 4 Serrano peppers or jalapenos for less heat
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds Velveeta cubed
  • 1 can Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles drained
  • 8 ounces cream cheese cubed

Instructions

  • Crumble the sausage into a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. I like to chop mine to get it nice and fine, but that's entirely up to you.
  • Fire up your grill for direct high cooking over high heat.
  • Place the onions, bell peppers and Serranos into a large bowl and drizzle lightly with oil. Transfer to the grill and roast over high heat until browned and just starting to soften, turning occasionally. Remove to a plate to cool.
  • Chop the onion. Remove the charred skins, stems and seeds from the peppers and chop coarsely.
  • Spray a 9" x 11" disposable pan with non-stick spray. Add the ingredients. You can arrange them all pretty or just put them in. It's all gonna get mixed up in the end!
  • Change your grill over to indirect cooking. This just means you want a zone that isn't directly over the fire you already had going. Something around 350 F is what you want. You are just looking to melt the cheeses.
  • Place the pan over indirect heat and heat for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally once the cheese softens. Once everything is melted good and gooey, it's ready to serve!

Cedar Planked Meatballs

As simple as they are, cedar planked meatballs are just flat-out, crazy good. Whether your meatballs are destined for pasta or in a sandwich, you’ll get a fantastic light cedar woodsy flavor in each and every bite. These can be as fancy or as un-fancy as you want. I went completely easy. Thawed frozen meatballs. Jarred sauce. Dinner was ready in no time. It looked great and tasted even better!

Cedar Planked Meatballs

If you are using scratch-made meatballs make sure you check the internal temperature of several of them before adding the sauce. It’s ok to pre-cook them before planking them, but they’ll get more of that great cedar flavor if you cook them from raw.

Also try my cedar planked sausage sandwiches and one of our all-time-favorites, cedar planked Buffalo chicken bites.

Cedar Planked Meatballs

Course Main
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Equipment

  • cedar plank (use as many as you need, depending on how many meatballs you are preparing)

Ingredients

  • meatballs if using frozen meatballs thaw first
  • marinara sauce warmed
  • Parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  • Soak your cedar plank(s) in water for at least 30 minutes while you get your grill going.
  • Fire up your grill for direct and indirect cooking. Place the planks over the direct heat and let them get good and charred on both sides. I like to char what will be the serving side first, then flip them to char the bottom. Keep a spray bottle full of water on hand to put out any fires.
  • Transfer the meatballs to the planks and let heat over direct heat for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 155 F. Fresh meatballs may take longer.
  • Move the planks to indirect heat (or turn down the heat if using a gas grill). Spoon the marinara sauce over the tops and heat another 10 minutes. The meatballs should be at least 160 F for frozen or fresh beef or pork meatballs, and 165 F for poultry-based meatballs.
  • Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve. You can actually use the planks as plates, no need to transfer the meatballs to a platter.

Barbecue Bean Chili Dogs

I’ve had my share of chili dogs. They’ve been a favorite of mine since I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper. And most of the time that meant canned chili. These barbecue bean chili dogs aren’t those chili dogs. These are amazingly good. Think chili on a dog. Think baked beans on the side… but then, not on the side. The perfect topping for a hot dog.

Barbecue Bean Chili Dogs

I was tempted to add cheese to my barbecue bean chili dogs, but I resisted. A sharp cheddar might be a nice addition, but they’re perfect just topped with some nice crunchy onion. French fried onions… now, those would be awesome too!

Also try my home run hot dog chili on your next dog!

Barbecue Bean Chili Dogs

Course Main
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the chili

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 15 ounce can kidney beans drained, rinsed
  • 15 ounce can black beans drained, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chili seasoning mix about a packet
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

For the dogs

  • vegetable oil for brushing
  • 8 hot dogs
  • 8 hot dog buns
  • 1/2 medium white onion chopped

Instructions

For the chili

  • In a large skillet combine the barbecue sauce, kidney beans, black beans, chili seasoning, brown sugar and prepared mustard.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer.
  • Stirring often, simmer for 10-12 minutes.

For the dogs

  • Fire up a grill or a grill pan. Lightly brush the grill plates with oil.
  • Add dogs and cook for 10 minutes, turning once.
  • Toast the buns on the grill.
  • To serve, place dogs in buns and add plenty of the barbecue bean chili and sprinkle with onion.

Copycat Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern Burger

What’s better than onions on a burger? Why, onion straws of course! And what’s better than ketchup on a burger? Why, Campfire sauce of course! Put the two on a hot-off-the-grill patty with good ole American cheese and you don’t have to call me twice for dinner. This copycat of Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern burger is mighty good stuff. Now, when you order it at the restaurant you usually get a double. I made mine a single. In hindsight I’m not sure why because one patty was great, but two would’ve been better!

Copycat Red Robin's Haystack Tavern Burger

You might have a bit of the Campfire left after you make your copycat Red Robin Haystack Tavern burgers. That’s a good thing. Slather it on sandwiches. Dip some fries in it. Put it on hot dogs.

I recommend making a few extra onion straws. Half of them won’t last long enough to make it to the burgers. Oh, and they’re great dipped in the Campfire sauce too!

Also try my copycat of Red Robin’s Royal Red Robin burger.

Copycat Red Robin’s Haystack Tavern Burger

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the burgers

  • 8 hamburger patties or 4 if making singles
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 slices American cheese or 4 if making singles
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • Campfire sauce from below, to taste
  • onion straws from below

For the Campfire sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Hickory BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

For the onion straws

  • 1 large sweet onion skinned, halved, sliced thin
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons blackened seasoning or substitute Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

For the burgers

  • Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook as desired. Top with cheese.
  • Toast the buns if desired.
  • Slather the insides of the buns with the Campfire sauce.
  • Add onion straws to bun bottoms. Add patties and top buns and serve.

For the Campfire sauce

  • Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the onion straws

  • Place onion rings in a bowl. Add buttermilk to cover.
  • Heat oil to 350 F.
  • In a resealable container or bag add the flour, seasoning and salt. Shake to combine.
  • Working in very small batches so as to not have the onion straws stick together, take a few onions out of the buttermilk and shake off the excess.
  • Add to the flour mixture, seal and shake to coat.
  • Transfer to the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack to drain.