Coffee-Rubbed Barbecue Cheeseburgers

Is there anything more satisfying than a massively messy burger that drips down your fingers and makes its way to your elbows?

Vertical image of a cheeseburger with grilled onions, lettuce, and a bottom bun, with barbecue sauce being poured on top, with orange and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

Ugh. I love a good burger bath. Heart emoji.

Although there are dozens of ways to lighten up this savory handheld (swap in lettuce for the bun, choose a leaner cut of beef, and so on), I think that defeats the purpose and, in all honesty, takes some of the fun out of it.

If you don’t agree that burgers are fun, you’re in the wrong place, my friend.

Oh wait – and we’re also not friends.

A spoon dollops barbecue sauce onto a burger topped with melted gouda and grilled onions, on top of lettuce and a sesame bun.

Look, this isn’t meant to be something you have on a daily basis. It’s like a form of specialty entertainment that should be enjoyed in moderation. Like a rap concert. Or sitting in a pile of puppies.

I believe that if you’ve made the choice to consume this hearty sandwich, just freakin’ go for it!

Go for the succulent, fatty ground meat, a pillowy bun, gooey layers of cheese, and most important of all: a sauce that gets all over your face.

Doesn’t that sound like more fun than using lettuce instead of bread?

Vertical closeup image of a cheeseburger with lettuce, grilled onions, and barbecue sauce, on a sesame seed bun, on top of a white plate, on a light beige wood surface.

I typically make everything from scratch, but I have no shame in admitting that I’m a sucker for ketchup. Not the natural kind. Not the low-sugar stuff.

I’m talking about the sweet, sticky, old-school condiment you have to whack on the butt to get out of the bottle.

Although I adore this old-fashioned red spread when it’s paired with classic cheeseburgers, occasionally I like to roll up my sleeves and give everything a tasty tweak.

Good-quality ground beef only needs salt and pepper to live its best life. But if you’re looking to fine-tune your patties with some flair, this coffee rub is a simple way to make them shine.

Using a dark, smoky coffee like a French roast is a straight-up genius move. Its complex roasted charcoal notes make a brilliant match with lightly charred beef. The richness of the brown sugar balances the coffee, and plays off the sticky, sweet Texas-style sauce.

Wait, the North Carolina girl made a Texas barbecue sauce?

Oh yes, I did, y’all.

Horizontal image of a hand holding half of a burger to show the interior to the camera, with lettuce, melted cheese, and barbecue sauce, on a sesame seed bun, against a beige wood background.

When it comes to pulled pork, I’m unquestionably loyal to my eastern Carolina vinegar-pepper sauce. If I’m going to slather barbecue sauce all over a cheeseburger, though, that’s a different story.

And this story starts with gusto. And garlic.

My spicy homemade Texas barbecue sauce is built from the garlic up, and it pairs beautifully with these coffee-rubbed patties, buttery smoked Gouda, and sweet charred onions. A hint of chipotle gives everything a kick in the butt.

Kind of like how I get the ketchup out of the bottle.

See how I came full condiment circle?

A cheeseburger with lettuce, barbecue sauce, and grilled onions, on a sesame seed bun, on a white plate next to a few pickle chips, with a hand holding the plate up to the camera, and a green lawn in soft focus in the background.

Summertime or not, my grill begs for bold, sizzling burgers whose future is a disruptive amount of toppings.

Who am I to refuse?

Print
Horizontal closeup image of a burger on a sesame seed bun with lettuce, melted gouda cheese, grilled onions, and barbecue sauce.

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 burgers 1x

Description

Bust out the picnic tables. These coffee- and brown-sugar-rubbed cheeseburgers coated in tangy barbecue sauce are a summer day’s best friend.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fresh coffee grounds
  • 2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices smoked gouda cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Texas Barbecue Sauce, or your favorite kind
  • 4 large lettuce leaves

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the coffee grounds, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and oregano.
  2. Preheat a grill or grill pan to high.
  3. Place the ground beef in a large bowl and season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine. Shape into 4 equally-sized patties about 1/3-inch thick. Set aside on a plate.
  4. Sprinkle each patty with about 1 teaspoon of the rub, pressing it in with your fingers. Repeat with the other side. Using your thumb, make an indent the center of each patty to keep the burgers from puffing up while they cook.
  5. On both sides, evenly drizzle the onion slices with the olive oil and season them with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the onion slices on the grill and cook, flipping halfway through, until charred, about 20 minutes.
  6. Place the burgers on the grill and cook to your desired doneness, about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side for medium-rare. Place a slice of gouda onto each of the burgers and allow the cheese to melt, about 30 seconds.

Toast the burger buns on the grill until very lightly golden, about 30 seconds.

To assemble the burgers, spread each toasted bottom bun with some Texas Barbeque Sauce and then top with a lettuce leaf, burger patty, grilled onions, one more spoonful of sauce, and the top bun. Serve immediately.


  • Category: Burgers
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Barbecue and Grilling

Keywords: summer, barbecue sauce, cheeseburger, coffee-rubbed

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Make the Coffee Rub

Overhead image of a white bowl with piles of various spices, ground coffee, brown sugar, salt, and pepper, in the bottom, on a speckled beige surface.

Using a dark, smoky coffee (I like to use a French roast), grind the fresh coffee beans into coarse grounds.

Overhead horizontal image of a coffee and spice mixture in a white bowl, on a speckled beige countertop.

In a small bowl, stir together the coffee grounds, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and the dried oregano.

Step 2 – Season the Ground Beef and Form into Patties

Preheat a grill or grill pan to high.

For the juiciest, most flavorful patties, choose freshly ground chuck with a 70% lean and 30% fat ratio.

Place the ground beef into a large bowl and season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine, then form the beef into 4 equally-sized that are about 1/3-inch thick. Set these aside on a plate or platter.

Step 3 – Rub the Coffee Mixture into the Patties

Sprinkle each patty with about 1 teaspoon of the rub, and press it in with your fingers. Repeat with the other side.

Step 4 – Indent the Patties

A person presses there thumb into the center of a ground beef burger patty coated in various spices and ground coffee, on a white plate.

Using your thumb, indent a well into the center of each patty to keep them from puffing up in the middle while they are cooking.

Horizontal image of two ground beef burger patties coated in a spice rub, with indentations made in the centers, on a white plate.

Push about halfway through the patties.

Step 5 – Slice and Season the Onions

Trim the ends off both sides of the onion. Without peeling it, slice the onion into thick rings. Keeping the outside skin on will help to keep the slices intact.

Thick onion slices on a white ceramic plate, sprinkled with salt and pepper, on a speckled beige countertop.

On both sides, evenly drizzle the onion rounds with the olive oil and season them with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. If the onion slices don’t seem to be holding together well, you can slide a skewer through them lengthwise to keep them from falling between the grates of the grill.

Step 6 – Grill the Onions

Sliced onion rounds on a charcoal grill, with grill lines visible on top.

Place the onion slices onto the grill and cook, flipping halfway through, until they are charred, about 20 minutes.

Step 7 – Grill the Burgers and Melt the Cheese

Vertical image of a metal spatula about to flip a burger on the grill, on wide metal grates.

Place the burgers onto the grill and cook to your desired doneness.

A burger patty on the grill, with buns in soft focus in the background.

This will take about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side for medium-rare.

Slices of smoked gouda are melting on top of beef burgers on a charcoal grill.

Place a slice of gouda onto each of the burgers and allow the cheese to melt, about 30 seconds.

Step 8 – Toast the Buns and Assemble

Toast the tops and bottoms of the burger buns on the grill until very lightly golden, about 30 seconds.

Barbecue sauce is being poured on top of a cheeseburger with grilled onions and lettuce, on a beige wood surface.

To assemble the burgers, spread each toasted bottom bun with some Texas barbecue sauce and then top it with a large lettuce leaf, such as romaine or Bibb lettuce. Add a burger patty, grilled onions, and one more spoonful of sauce, and the top bun. Serve immediately.

And for the lover of that perfect lip-puckering taste of pickled veggies, add some homemade garlic dill pickles!

These Coffee-Rubbed Burgers Won’t Let Your Buns Down

If the smell of charred burgers doesn’t make you want to cannonball into a pool, I don’t know what will.

These coffee-rubbed patties, draped in smoked Gouda and covered in spicy sauce, are a summertime dream that tastes heavenly at any time of year.

Horizontal closeup image of a burger on a sesame seed bun with lettuce, melted gouda cheese, grilled onions, and barbecue sauce.

For more burgers that will knock off your socks and slip on your flip-flops, browse through these inspired handhelds:

How do you take onions on your burgers? Grilled? Fried? Pickled? Not at all? Share your top onion tricks in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 28, 2011. Last updated: September 22, 2019 at 0:38 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

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