Bacon Cheeseburgers with Kentucky Bourbon Sauce


This splurge of a burger is what Jamie calls a "full orchestra of flavors" -- gooey cheddar, crisp bacon, and a killer (but easy!) sauce that's sweet, smoky, and tangy.

Hands On Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
55 mins


  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips

  • 1 yellow onion, about 5 ounces, finely chopped (2/3 cup)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup bourbon

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • ¼ cup water

  • 3 tablespoon cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoon unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap)

  • 2 tablespoon dark steak sauce

  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

  • 8 slices bacon, cooked

  • 1 ½ pound ground chuck (80% lean)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 ounce smoked cheddar cheese, shredded or sliced

  • 4 hamburger buns, split

  • 4 leaves romaine lettuce

  • 8 slices ripe tomato (1 large)

  • 2 large handfulls hickory or mesquite wood chips (optional, see note)


  1. In a heavy medium saucepan warm the oil over medium heat. Add the bacon strips and cook until browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool, leaving the drippings in the pan.

  2. Add the onion to the saucepan, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bourbon, increase the heat to medium-high, and boil to reduce slightly, about 1 minute. Add the next eight ingredients (through the hot pepper sauce) and bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture thickens and is reduced to about 2 cups, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked bacon. Cover and keep warm.

  3. Mix the ground chuck, salt, and pepper and gently form four patties of equal size, each about 3/4-inch thick. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, make a shallow indentation about 1 inch wide in the center of the patties to prevent them from forming a dome as they cook. Chill until ready to grill.

  4. Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (about 400°F). Grill the patties over direct medium-high heat until cooked to medium doneness (160°F), 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. During the last minute of grilling time, place one-fourth of the cheese on each patty to melt, and toast the buns, cut side down, over direct heat.

  5. Build each burger on a bun with lettuce, tomato, bacon slices, and sauce.

    Bacon Cheeseburgers with Kentucky Bourbon Sauce
    Blaine Moats

To Cook Bacon

In a skillet cook the 8 bacon slices over medium heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Easy Bacon Crumbles Tip

Freeze bacon slices on a pan until firm. Use scissors to cut and then proceed with cooking as noted in step 1.

For Smoked Burgers:

Soak 2 large handfulls hickory or mesquite wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Drain and add the wood chips to the charcoal or to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer's directions, and close the lid. When smoke appears, grill the patties over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed.

Basic Burger:

Prepare as above, except omit sauce, bacon, and cheese. Serve burger in bun with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and sliced red onion.

Nutrition facts per serving: 589 cal; 38g total fat (14g sat fat); 122mg chol; 842mg sodium; 24g carb; 2g fiber; 5 g sugar; 34g pro

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

1010 Calories
61g Fat
57g Carbs
49g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 1010
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 61g 78%
Saturated Fat 23g 115%
Cholesterol 177mg 59%
Sodium 2152mg 94%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Total Sugars 31g
Protein 49g
Vitamin C 11.1mg 56%
Calcium 352mg 27%
Iron 6.3mg 35%
Potassium 1204mg 26%
Fatty acids, total trans 2g
Folate, total 84.8mcg
Vitamin B-12 4.3mcg
Vitamin B-6 1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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