Bacon Bison Burgers

It’s the first day of September, an in-between season, with one foot in summer and the other inching towards fall. We created these Bison Bacon Burgers for this time of year, a last hurrah to warm summer grilling, with a nod towards cooler evenings. These are woodsy bison and beef burgers with hints of rosemary, smoky bacon and heaps of sweet caramelized onions. Honestly, these are fantastic burgers, bison lover or not, this burger will captivate your taste buds. And for the labor day weekend, celebrate with a last round of homemade burgers; Smokey Ancho Cheddar BurgersPortobello Burgers with Green Olive Tapenade, or, my favorite, Turkey Feta Burgers with Yogurt Curry Sauce.  

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Yield: 10 patties

   Bison Burgers:

  • 2 pounds ground bison
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops liquid smoke
  • 10 hamburger buns, lightly grilled or toasted
  • 10 pieces cooked bacon

   Caramelized onions:

  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 7 medium sweet onions, cut into uniform rings
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

   Rosemary Garlic Spread:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper


  1. For the caramelized onions:  First of all, note that these caramelized onions are faster (then the usual hour long process) but do still take some time, probably somewhere between 15-20 minutes using a quick cooking technique from Serious Eats
  2. Melt the butter in a large heavy bottom pot/pan on high heat. Add the onions and stir with a wooden spoon frequently until the onions are just about to burn, then scape them off the bottom of the pan and stir in 2 tablespoons water. Repeat this process for 15-20 minutes until your onions are soft and deep brown. To sum up this technique, you are bringing onions to almost the burning point, and then adding water to release the semi-burnt goodies from the pan. When your onions are done, remove from the pan and add salt and 2 tablespoons of water to the cooked onions to loosen them up. If you would like to speed up the onion cooking even more, add 1 tablespoon brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon baking soda at the beginning of cooking. This amount of onions makes one  generous cup of caramelized onions.
  3. For the rosemary garlic spread: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper until combined.
  4. For the burgers: In a large bowl, combine the burger ingredients (bison, beef, oregano, pepper, ancho, garlic, onion, salt, Worcestershire, and liquid smoke). Using your hands, gently mix together the burger meat. Over mixing will result in a tougher, denser burger. You are looking to mix as gently as quickly as possible to evenly distribute all the flavorings. Divide your meat into 10 equal balls, and form each into a patty on a sheet tray. They should be about 3/4 inch thick and 4-5 inches in diameter. Set aside in fridge to chill until you are ready to cook your burgers.
  5. To cook the burgers, preheat your grill on high for 10 minutes and clean thoroughly.  Do not skip this step! It is very important that you have a roaring hot and very clean grill to prevent overcooking or sticking.
  6. Cook the burgers on high, uncovered, for about 5 minutes per side. You will want to shoot for medium to medium rare for doneness as bison meat is a leaner meat that tends to dry out more than beef. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness if you are not sure about cooking temperatures, 130-135F is your goal for medium rare, 140F for medium.
  7. To serve the burgers: smear the toasted buns with rosemary garlic spread on both sides, add the burger, bacon and top with caramelized onions. Eat your heart out!


  • Caramelized onions can be time consuming, we know. So if you’re just not in the mood, slice up some sweet onions and grill them up along with your burgers.
  • Feel free to make the caramelized onions and rosemary garlic spread a few days ahead, they will both keep well covered in the fridge for a few days.