Take bison burgers to another level with these stuffed and smoked burgers. They’re made by stuffing ground bison with a blend of bacon, onion and chipotle peppers, and cheddar cheese before the burger patties are smoked on a Traeger or pellet smoker low and slow. This makes thick and juicy burgers that go perfectly with all your favorite Tex-Mex fixin’s.
What to Serve with Smoked Bison Burgers
I recommend topping your burgers with guacamole and pickled onions or jalapeño peppers, but you’re welcome to go with the standard lettuce and tomato toppings. If you splurge for guac and love spice, adding a drizzle of Mexican chili crunch (salsa macha) is a great addition.
As for side dishes, you could throw our smoked charro beans on the grill alongside the burgers since they both cook at 225ºF. And our Mexican-Korean fusion grilled corn salad can be made on the stovetop right before your bison burgers come off the grill.
Fries, chips with salsa or queso, potato wedges, or jicama fries would all be great options as well. I think you could make this smoked salsa on the grill at the same time.
We’re big fans of smashed potatoes in our house, and we have recipes for making them in an air fryer or even on the Traeger. Though for pairing with these burgers, you’ll want to take the air fryer route.
That covers your mains and sides, and you should be ready to rock. There is a full recipe card below with some additional notes about ingredient swaps, making rare vs well-done burgers with food safety in mind, and more. If you give this recipe and go and really dig your smoked bison burgers, I always appreciate recipe reviews!
- 2 pounds Ground Bison (90/10)
- 4 slices Bacon
- 1 large Sweet Onion, finely diced
- 4-5 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, minced
- 1/2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 4 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 7 slices Sharp Cheddar
- 7 Brioche Burger Buns (I used St. Pierre)
- Guacamole and Pickled Onions
- Add the bacon to a cold skillet over medium heat. Fully cook the bacon before transferring to a paper towel and adding the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until the onions are soft and begin to pick up some color. Stir in the chipotle peppers and cook until fragrant, about 60-90 seconds. Transfer to a separate dish and place in the freezer while you preheat the grill.
- Preheat your smoker to 225ºF with the lid closed.
- Once the onion mixture has cooled to at least room temperature, chop or crumble the bacon into small pieces and add to the onions along with the shredded cheddar. Pat the ground bison dry with paper towels before adding to the mixture. Use your hands to break the bison apart and mix everything together evenly.
- Divide the mixture into seven 6-ounce patties with rounded edges, doing your best to avoid over handling. Make the patties slightly larger than your buns. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt and pepper or your choice of seasoning over the patties. (For evenly sized burgers, I recommend weighing the entire burger mixture and dividing by the number of burgers you want. Smaller/larger sized burgers will have slightly different cook times.)
- Smoke the burgers at 225ºF for 1 hour or until the centers reach an internal temperature of 140ºF. Once the burgers hit 140ºF in the center, continue cooking an additional 12 minutes* before adding a slice of cheese to each and cooking an additional 5 minutes with the lid closed to melt.
- Serve the burgers on toasted buns with guacamole and pickled onions or your choice of burger toppings.
I used a Traeger Pro 575 grill with Traeger Pro Blend pellets for recipe testing.
*Food Safety Note
The USDA recommends cooking ground meats to an internal temperature of 160ºF, but you can pasteurize ground meats by holding at a temperature of 140ºF for at least 12 minutes. I don't recommend going any more rare than that, as you'd need to hold the burgers at 130ºF for at least 2 hours to safely pasteurize them. If you're looking for a very rare burger, you'll want to grind your own meat fresh to minimize the risks of foodborne pathogens. Source: ThermoWorks (via the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management) and Serious Eats
You can also extend the cook time of your burgers for more well done burgers. I find the moisture from the onion and cheese keeps these smoked burgers juicy even at higher internal temperatures.
Reverse Searing and Smash Burgers
If you prefer a crispy exterior on your burgers, you can give these bison burgers the reverse seared burger treatment. Once the burgers have reached the 140ºF internal temperature and held for 12 minutes, transfer to a hot skillet or griddle over a burner to sear both sides of the exterior. You can also cover the burgers with foil off the grill while heating the grill to its highest setting and searing on the grill.
You can also make easy ground bison smash burgers and use this chipotle bacon and onion mixture as a topping.
If you're not a fan of stuffed burgers, you might like our standard slow smoked burgers recipe with its simple seasoning.
Ground beef works perfectly fine as a substitute for ground bison.
If you'd like to omit the bacon, use a tablespoon of olive oil to cook the onion and chipotle peppers.
For an extra kick, you can substitute the cheddar (inside, outside, or both) for something like pepper jack or a habanero Colby jack.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 7 Serving Size: 1 burger
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 555Total Fat: 29gCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 43g