Pimento Cheese Burgers
I've made pimento cheese burgers before, but I felt like it really didn't need to be a recipe for this site—do you need me to tell you creamy pimento cheese on a hot and juicy beef patty is going to taste great? After making far too much pimento cheese for a cookout that was attended by only seven people, I was looking for a way to use up the leftovers and pimento cheese burgers rose to the top of a short list, so I set out to make these once again, but this time I remembered a simple and addictive appetizer my friend made of potato chips topped with pimento cheese and a pickled jalapeño and thought that pairing might also work well on my burgers. Well, it did, and since it's a topping combo that may not come to mind to all, this became a pimento cheese burger that I felt was worthy of finally writing about.
I won't go deep down a pimento cheese hole here because: one, that's covered territory, and two, while the cheese spread is a central component in this recipe, it's more the combination of toppings that's the crux. I will just say that the pimento cheese recipe I first tried has remained my favorite to this day, and over the years I've only changed it up to make my own roasted peppers instead of using jarred pimentos because they lend a brighter, fruitier flavor that does make a noticeable difference in the end result.
The heart of what mades these burgers so good was the pairing of the cheese with potato chips and jalapeños. My wife and I are big Texas nachos fans—that's a single chip topped with Longhorn cheddar and a pickled jalapeño slice—and when my friend made her chips, pimento cheese, and jalapeño appetizer, it instantly reminded us of those nachos with a Southern-style twist. Beyond being delicious, they also packed a ton of flavor, which made this trio also feel like it would do well when stacked up against the strong beefiness of a burger.
And to get that ideal big beefy taste, I always start with ground meat that has at least 20% fat content. Beyond the flavor that fat provides, it's also an insurance policy against the meat drying out, even if it gets a tad overcooked by accident. When grinding my own meat for burgers, I might use a blend of beef cuts, but when I'm not cooking for a crowd, I always just pick up pre-ground chuck from the grocery, which has delivered consistently good results throughout the years.
Burger grilling technique is key to an optimal output. I've gone from my early days of following a flip-once method to now flipping pretty constantly. After placing the burger over the fire, it does need to sit long enough to sear in order to release from the grates easily. Then the same thing goes for the second side, but once its lightly seared and no longer sticks to the grates, I'm flipping the patties every 30 to 60 seconds.
This frequency is partly because I'm just impatient and need to be doing something constantly, but the regular flipping does result in more even cooking with a crustier sear. Just look at the patty above—nice charring with visible fat pooling that will then cause little flare ups when flipped, which goes on to further develops that crusty exterior and grilled taste.
Right before the burgers hit the medium-rare mark that I like best, I tossed couple of potato buns over the fire to quickly toast them. If you read my site a lot, this probably sounds like a broken record by now, but I contend that toasty buns are happy buns, which has me grilling my bread for burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches more often than not.
To assemble, I placed the patty on the bun and then dolloped a couple spoonfuls of pimento cheese on top. Next went on about four medium-sized slices of pickled jalapeños and about half a handful of potato chips. I used Ruffles here, which are not only my brand of choice, but their extra crunch makes them a good choice to remain crispy from start to finish.
I had quickly taken some glamour shots and then was about to dig in when I realized how much better the cheese looked after sitting for a couple minutes—it had melted and gained an attractive glossy appearance. So I took some more photos because I wanted to capture that magic, then basked in the glory of eating the burger itself. Burgers are often an exercise in indulgence, and the indulgence factor was turned up higher than usual in these. You got that patty that was a mixture of a crusty outside and juicy inside, but add on top of that the rich and creamy pimento cheese, and it was definitely "extra" in a lot of good ways. The jalapeños didn't merely provide a bit of heat, but their tartness helped temper the richness a bit, and surprisingly, there was so much fat already going on that the potato chips actually felt kind of refreshing in this combo with their saltiness and crunch adding necessary flavor and textural components. There may be some out there that have already partaken in this excellent pairing, but I'm guessing many have not, and even fewer still as a burger topping, so I hope sharing this pimento cheese burger gets more folks to experience the love I've found here.
Pimento Cheese Burgers
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 10 Minutes
- Cook 10 Minutes
- Total 35 Minutes
- For the Pimento Cheese
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 8oz cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- For the Burgers
- 2lbs ground beef chuck, 80% lean
- 6 hamburger buns, preferably potato buns
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 24-30 pickled jalapeño slices
- 2 handfuls of plain potato chips, preferable Ruffles
- To make the pimento cheese: Roast pepper over gas stove, grill, or broiler until skin is completely charred. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the charred outer skin, cut in half and remove the seeds and core. Finely chop pepper.
- In a medium bowl mix together cheese, mayonnaise, pepper, hot sauce, and cayenne. If not using immediately, store pimento cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- To make the burgers: Break off 1/3 pound of ground beef and gently shape into a patty, working the meat until it just holds together. Using your thumb, create a dimple in the middle of the burger. Repeat with remaining ground beef. Season patties liberally all over with salt and pepper.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals evenly across charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean grilling grate. Place buns, cut side down, on grill and cook until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer buns to a serving platter or individual plates.
- Place patties on grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until well charred and burgers register 125°F for medium-rare or 135°F for medium on an instant read thermometer inserted into center of patty. Transfer burger patties to buns and top with pimento cheese, jalapeño slices, and potato chips. Serve immediately.