The perfect bonfire burger is easy to make and is a great addition to any campfire. Once cooked, add your favorite hamburger toppings, and don’t forget to make s’mores for dessert!
It’s bonfire season and that means it’s time to make a bonfire burger. Have you ever had a bonfire burger? It’s exactly what it sounds like, making a hamburger over an open campfire.
Once you try it, you’ll quickly say, “move over hotdogs. hello bonfire burgers!”
Grilling burgers over an open bonfire does require some special equipment, but it’s worth it.
Equipment for cooking bonfire burgers
In order to cook over an open bonfire, you’re going to need some type of grate and/or basket to support the meat. On our farm’s campfire site, we use both a grate and a basket because it gives us lots of flexibility. However, many people make bonfire burgers with just a grill basket. (Please note these items can be purchased on Amazon fairly inexpensively. Although we really like the basket and grate we use, we aren’t brand specific, so these links are just to get you started.)
- Portable grill basket: The grill basket gives you a large grilling surface to hold the burger on. Be sure to get one with a long handle and a lock so that you can flip the basket and cook both sides of the beef. We have this one.
- Campfire grill grate: This is optional, but we really like ours because it allows us to set the grill basket on something while the beef is cooking. We prefer a swivel grill grate like this.
- Grilling gloves: Cooking over a bonfire can get hot quickly, especially when you’re flipping a grill basket. You don’t want to grill your hands too! We highly recommend gloves like this.
- Meat Thermometer: The only way to know if beef is fully cooked on the inside is to check it with a meat thermometer. We’ve tried dozens of thermometers, and the absolute best is the Thermapen by Thermoworks.
Video: Making bonfire burgers
Best type of fire for bonfire hamburgers
Typically, when people think of burgers they think of grilling them, but cooking over open flames is different.
When cooking over a campfire, be sure to use hardwoods, such as oak, hard maple or ash. Soft woods aren’t ideal because they carry resin in the smoke, which will taint the taste of the beef. Be sure there is only wood in the fire, no plastics or trash.
When it’s time to actually cook the burgers, you’ll need to experiement a little to find your personal preference on cooking the beef. Some people like to wait until the fire is burned down to coals before they start to cook. We like to cook burgers when there are still some visible flames.
Best beef for campfire burger
After the fire is going, you can shape your hamburger patties. Don’t overwork the beef — if you do, you’ll have tough burgers. When ready, gently fold the hamburger seasoning into the beef and make the patties. It should only take 30-45 seconds.
Although it may tempting to use pre-made patties for a bonfire, we highly recommend you don’t. If you want a rich, juicy buger, you should choose ground beef with a slightly higher fat content, such as 80% lean, and form your own patties.
To make a hamburger patty that won’t puff up when cooked, use your thumb to create a wide shallow indention in the center of the hamburger patties. Make patties about 1 inch thick at the edges and about 1 inch larger in circumference than the bun you plan to use.
Best bonfire burger seasoning
When we’re cooking at a bonfire, we like to keep the seasoning as simple as possible. We only use salt and pepper. However, if you want to be fancy, you can use any seasoning you want.
When we’re using more than salt and pepper, we think this is one of the best hamburger seasonings.
Best Hamburger Seasoning
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp dark brown sugar
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well until combined. When ready to use, mix in 2-3 teaspoons per 1 pound of meat.
- Create hamburger patties and grill hamburgers as usual.
Cooking the bonfire buger
When your fire and burgers are ready, place the hamburger patties in the beef basket and place it over a fire.
Depending on the fire, they will need to cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to determine when the burgers are done, and remove the burgers from the fire when you reach your desired temperature.
Medium Rare: 130°-135°
Medium Well: 150°-155°
Well Done: 160°-165°
One more thing
Do you want to learn more about beef? Join our weekly e-newsletter where we share farm happenings, recipes and beef availability. Sign-up and get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer. Or, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a cattle farmers perspective.
- What everybody ought to know about beef cuts
- Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It?
- Is It Done Yet? The Best Meat Thermometer
- How We Raise Our Grass Fed Beef
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