I Like Big Buns and I Cannot Lie

beef burgers
Yeah – I know. Just come right out and tell me how you feel. I promise I can take it. A post about a delicious, succulent burger with the best in the midwest kick-you-in-the-ass-spicy-but-also-sweet-bbq sauce – after the 4th of July? After?!! Well, yes. Yes, yes, yes. In fact, heck yes and you bet your bottom dollar, yes.

Because unlike some of you weirdos out there, I like burgers more than just on the 4th. And for those of you out there making chicken and sausage and whatnot over the weekend, what were you thinking? I mean, c’mon. Of the 365 glorious, lovely days in the year, there is one day where eating a burger must fit some sort of requirement to being an American. [I’m not sure where vegetarians fit here…. but maybe the higher powers would let you guys slide if you promise to eat something that at least looks meaty?] So again, on the most American day of the year, you’re eating something that is not the epitome of being American? Uncool, brothas & sistas. T-totally uncool. Although I’m sure they were all tasty. In fact, check out my buddy’s beer can chicken – yummers, right?! And yeah, it’s your food and you can eat what you want to. But for me, this weekend meant one thing on our menu – burgers. Damn good ones too.

bbq sauce ingredients

Once again, I was forced to surrender my apron and toque to the “grillmaster”, aka Chris. I sense that, having spent hours the night before making the grill squeaky clean, he felt entitled to re-christen it, and re-christen it he did. On the up-side, I got to prepare the sauce (and the other ten-thousand things we ate that day as well as things we didn’t eat, like gluten-free pizza which will require another go to perfect.).

bbq sauce

The burgers themselves were semi-ordinary, but thanks to Chris’ scrutiny in shaping and my recommendation to weigh each one to ensure even cooking, they looked downright perfect and could have been delicious as is. The real kicker though, was the sauce. Straight from a Bobby Flay recipe – should I just stop here?

As with all things Flay, this bbq sauce was packed with intense flavor, and a generous punch of heat. Chipotle chiles – smoke-dried jalapenos – and a load of ancho chile powder which together produce a lovely “smoky heat”. You throw in everything else in your basic bbq sauces – vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire, honey, etc and, as if that weren’t enough, you add in one more level of flavor by finishing it off with a dollop of creamy peanut butter to round off the sauce and add that little hint of sweet.

just off the grill

My recommendation is that you make extra. I tripled the recipe below due to the number of folks at our place, but also to ensure I had plenty leftover sauce for another night of bbq. I was in love with the sauce on the burgers, no doubt, but also think it’d be absolutely mouthwatering on some grilled chicken, ribs, or pulled pork. It should keep for a couple of months in the fridge. But lock your doors – I’m not afraid to steal yours once mine is all gone🙂

burger close-up

Beef Burgers w/ Peanut-Chipotle BBQ Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine, July 2009; serves 4

printable recipe

We served our big burgers n’ buns with a spicy jicama and Napa cabbage slaw and baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with cayenne pepper. And if you can locate heirloom tomatoes, spend the extra buck or so and slap those on your patty as well.

1 T canola oil, + some for brushing
1 onion, diced
2 T fresh ginger, minced

1 c tomato puree
2 T ketchup
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
2 T honey
2 T molasses
3 T ancho chile powder
1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced*
spoonful of adobo from can
1/2 c water
2 T creamy peanut butter
salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns w/ sesame seeds*
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (preferably 80/20 beef to fat)
1/2 c shredded cheddar
1 scallion, chopped
lettuce & tomato slices (I used butter lettuce & heirloom tomatoes)


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 T oil. Add onion & ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, ~5 min. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add tomato puree, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, honey, molasses, ancho chile powder, chipotle, and water. Bring to simmer and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Transfer to blender or blend with immersion blender in saucepan until smooth. Season with s&p to taste. Note: Can be made well in advance and stored for ~2 months. So make extra!
  2. Form meat into 4 inch thick patties (about 6 oz each) and brush w/ oil Season w/ s&p.
  3. Light grill. Brush buns w/ oil and grill until toasted, about 30 seconds. Spread some bbq sauce on buns.
  4. Grill patties over high heat, turning once, until nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Brush burgers with some of the sauce and grill until lightly glazed, about 2 minutes. Top with cheddar & onion and close grill to melt cheese, about 1 minute.

*If you need GF version, be sure to buy San Marcos or La Costena chipotles in adobo sauce. Some others have wheat flour in the ingredients list. Obviously, buns aren’t g-free but those can be purchased if needed.

8 thoughts on “I Like Big Buns and I Cannot Lie

  1. Scrumpy says:

    If they had all of these ingredients downstairs at CVS, I'd be having this for breakfast today.Love your enthusiasm!

  2. LindsayWR says:

    1)These burgers look amazing, and we will have to try them!2) Thanks for the shout out about the beer can chicken! We made it again this weekend, only this time we brined it overnight rather than just an hour. It made a huge difference. The first time was really good, but this second go made it even better!

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