The Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

published Apr 14, 2022
4th of july
Bacon Cheeseburger recipe

Bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, special sauce, and grilled mustard buns.

Serves4

Makes4 burgers

Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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hero shot of very tall bacon cheeseburger
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton

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Growing up on the West Coast, I had two favorite burger chains. One was Carl’s Jr., the home of the Western Bacon Cheeseburger, a burger patty layered with cheese, bacon, bbq sauce, and onion rings. And of course there’s In-N-Out Burger, a chain known for its secret menu and for for using fresh ingredients.

When I was creating this bacon cheeseburger I looked to both of those iconic burger joints for inspiration. For most of my life, I leaned toward the deep, savory flavors of the Carl’s Jr. style bacon cheeseburger. Lately, though, I’ve been all about a classic bacon cheeseburger with fresh bites and few flavor surprises, which is more aligned with what In-N-Out does.

After lots of experiments I ended up with the best of both worlds: a super savory, flavorful burger with plenty of crispy bacon that also has a few fresh tricks and ingredients that will surprise and delight you. Here’s how to make it at home.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton

What are the components of the best bacon cheeseburger?

  • The bacon. For this burger, I prefer regular-cut because it cooks up nice and crispy. I find that thick-cut bacon has a chewier texture. No one wants to wrangle with chewy bacon while eating a burger. Place the bacon on a rack set inside a baking sheet and cook in the oven. While the bacon cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Special sauce. Make a quick Thousand Island-style sauce with ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickle relish.
  • Fresh bites. This burger needs some fresh ingredients to balance out the rich, savory stuff. Grab some iceberg lettuce leaves and slice a beefsteak tomato.
  • The buns. On the East Coast (where I live now) we have Martin’s Potato buns. Those are my favorite, but your own favorite burger buns will work perfectly.
  • The mustard. I stole this tip from In-n-Out burger. When you order a burger “animal-style,” it comes with the mustard grilled into the bun. Grilling the mustard into the top bun gives the burger a toasty-tangy essence that keeps you coming back for more. 
  • The beef. If using beef, I prefer an 80/20 ground chuck. Fat equals flavor, so for the best tasting burgers around, start with a ground beef with a higher fat content. Form into patties and season with salt and pepper.
  • The cheese. I prefer sliced Cheddar or American cheese on my burger, but feel free to use your favorite melty cheese.

What about vegetarians?

Feeding vegetarians? No problem. Build this burger using a plant-based ground meat and eggplant bacon. Just make sure to cook the veggie patties before any meaty things hit the skillet.

What should I serve with bacon cheeseburgers?  

You can serve your burger with fries (try these awesome Air Fryer Fries), but I always love a delicious salad on the side.

Bacon Cheeseburger recipe

Bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, special sauce, and grilled mustard buns.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes 4 burgers

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8

    slices regular bacon (7 to 8 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon

    ketchup

  • 2 teaspoons

    sweet pickle relish

  • 1/2

    small head iceberg lettuce

  • 1

    large beefsteak or vine tomato (about 6 ounces)

  • 4

    hamburger buns

  • 2 tablespoons

    prepared yellow mustard

  • 1 pound

    ground chuck (80% lean)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoons

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable or canola oil, divided

  • 4

    slices cheddar or American cheese

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange 8 bacon slices in a single layer on the foil. Bake until browned and crisp, 19 to 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings and cook the burger patties. Place 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon ketchup, and 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  3. Remove the leaves from 1/2 medium head iceberg lettuce until you have 8 burger-sized leaves. Using a serrated knife, slice 1 beefsteak tomato crosswise into 4 slices. Split 4 hamburger buns and spread 2 tablespoons yellow mustard on the cut sides of the top buns, evenly spreading it to the edges.

  4. Divide 1 pound ground chuck into 4 portions, then form each portion into a ball. Press each ball into a patty about 1/2-inch wider than the hamburger buns. Sprinkle the patties all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet (at least 12 inches wide) or griddle over medium-high heat until shimmering. (If using a smaller skillet, cook the buns and burgers in 2 batches.) Tilt the pan so the oil coats the bottom. Place the mustard buns in the pan mustard-side down, gently press down on them, and cook until toasty and browned in spots, 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  6. Place the bottom buns cut-side down in the pan and cook until golden brown and toasted, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to the plate with the mustard buns. Reserve the pan.

  7. When the bacon is ready, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and cut or tear in half crosswise.

  8. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom with oil. Add the burger patties (cook in 2 batches if needed) and press on each patty with the back of a flat spatula. Cook until the bottoms are deeply browned and the patty is halfway cooked, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip the burgers and place 1 slice of cheese on each patty. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, depending on desired burger doneness.

  9. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of the bottom buns, spreading to the edges.

  10. Assemble the burgers: Place a patty on each bottom bun. Top each patty with 4 bacon pieces, 1 tomato slice, 2 lettuce leaves, and the top bun.