This Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger recipe is perfect for summer BBQs, potlucks, or just a flavor-packed dinner with the family. This is the ultimate bacon cheeseburger topped with caramelized onions, homemade maple barbecue sauce, and oven-baked candied bacon. Totally irresistible!
Juicy Grilled Burgers With Candied Bacon, Maple, and Cheddar
My candied bacon maple cheddar burger (say that 5 times really fast!) is so, SO easy to make yet totally gourmet. This burger recipe has it all: Caramelized onions, drippy maple barbecue sauce, crispy candied bacon, and melty cheddar cheese loaded onto a big ol’ juicy patty on a lightly toasted bun.
It’s the best kind of messy. You’ll be wearing this burger by the time you’re done with it, and you’re gonna LOVE it.
If there’s one grilled burger recipe to make for your summer BBQs this season, it’s these bacon cheeseburgers. The flavors are next-level, and the ingredients don’t require a whole lot of prep. Just some simmering and sauteing on my part, and then I let hubby and his grill take over burger duty. Win-win!
What You’ll Need
These BBQ bacon burgers offer all the gourmet burger vibes you’d find at your local gastropub, minus the gourmet price tag! I make these homemade hamburgers from affordable ingredients that you’ll find at your favorite supermarket. Check out the overview below, and be sure to refer to the recipe card for the full details:
For the Candied Bacon
- Bacon: I use thick-cut slices of Applewood smoked bacon.
- Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar or regular brown sugar will both work for candying the bacon strips in the oven. I combine my sugar with a bit of black pepper for extra zing.
For the Caramelized Onions
- Butter and Sugar: Softening the onions in a mixture of butter and sugar helps them caramelize, while a pinch of salt balances the sweetness.
- Maple Syrup: Just a splash, but oh-so-worth-it. Maple syrup and bacon are a match made in flavor heaven. Get your hands on some real maple syrup. You won’t be sorry.
- Onion: You’ll need one large yellow onion or a similar mild variety like brown or Vidalia. Slice the onion up nice and thin so that everything gets evenly coated and caramelized.
For the Maple BBQ sauce
- Ketchup: The perfect sweet-savory base for easy homemade barbecue sauce.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: You can use another type of vinegar, like red wine or white wine vinegar instead.
- Maple Syrup: Again, I recommend using the real deal. If you don’t have maple syrup, your next best option is honey as a natural sweetener in the sauce.
- Worcestershire Sauce: For the ultimate umami flavor.
- Hot Sauce: Use your favorite brand of hot sauce or chili sauce, like Tabasco or Sriracha.
- Garlic Powder: You can also use onion powder if you prefer.
For the Burger Patties
- Ground Beef: I like to use lean ground beef (80/20) when making grilled burgers. There’s just enough fat to keep the patties flavorful and juicy, without being overly greasy. I keep the ground beef simple in this burger recipe with a light seasoning of salt and pepper so that the maple barbecue sauce can do the talking!
- Cheddar Cheese: Putting the “cheddar” in this maple cheddar cheeseburger is some sharp cheddar cheese. You can use any variety of cheese, really, but a good quality cheddar is my favorite.
- Burger Buns: Use your choice of burger buns or rolls. You can slice the buns in half and toast them beforehand if you’d like.
How to Make the Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger
These candied bacon maple cheddar burgers are a real knockout of a hamburger recipe. One more winning trait? All the burger toppings can be prepped ahead of time. This way you can have everything ready to assemble as soon as the burgers are grilled.
Preparing the Candied Bacon
Let’s begin by preparing the candied bacon, as this can bake in the oven while you start on the caramelized onions and BBQ sauce:
- Combine the Ingredients: While the oven preheats, crack some fresh black pepper into a bowl with brown sugar and give it a whisk to combine.
- Prepare the Bacon: Line up your thick-cut bacon strips on a baking rack placed over a large, foil-lined baking sheet. A cooling rack works great here if you don’t have an actual baking rack on hand. Next, sprinkle the sugar mixture generously over the bacon.
- Bake: Pop that sugary bacon into a 375ºF oven for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through. Once the bacon is crisped and caramelized, leave it to cool on the rack. Meanwhile, get going with your onions.
How to Caramelize Onions
Caramelizing the onions for this recipe couldn’t be easier. Simply sauté thinly sliced onions in a skillet with butter, then add sugar, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Continue to cook the onions low and slow until they’re caramelized and golden.
Making the Maple BBQ sauce
To make the homemade BBQ sauce for your burgers, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan on the stovetop, and then simmer the mixture for 20-30 minutes to thicken. It’s seriously as simple as that. Don’t forget to stir!
Making the Burgers
Finally, the burger patties come together in minutes, and whenever you’re ready, go ahead and cook your burgers to your desired liking (ie. medium-rare). Afterward, it’s just a matter of assembling the burgers on a toasted bun. Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s how you do it:
- Make the Patties: In a bowl, use your hands or a wooden spoon to fold salt and pepper into the ground beef. After, divide and shape the meat mixture into 8 even-sized patties.
- Grill: Drop those beef patties onto the hot grill for 4-5 minutes per side. Place slices of cheddar onto the freshly grilled burgers so that the cheese melts with the heat, then take them off the grill.
- Assemble: Place the patties onto the buns, then top each burger with a dollop of BBQ sauce, a scoop of caramelized onions, and finally a couple of slices of candied bacon. Then it’s time to get messy! See below for easy serving suggestions.
Tips for Success
Here are some bonus tips for perfect burgers:
- Be gentle with the ground beef. Overworking the ground beef when you’re mixing in the salt and pepper can result in tougher burgers. Make sure to gently fold in the seasonings until they’re just combined.
- Wet your hands when forming the burger patties. Or, rub them with a bit of olive oil. This can help with sticking.
- Keep the patties cold until you’re ready to grill them. You can make these beef patties anywhere from a few hours before to a day ahead of time. Either way, make sure to refrigerate the burger patties once they’re shaped. They need to hit the grill while still cold for a juicy burger that holds its shape.
- Don’t press your burgers while they’re cooking. I know, I know. There’s the inexplicable, overwhelming urge to whip out a spatula and press on things like grilled cheeses and burgers while they cook. Resist! Pressing on the burgers only serves to squeeze out all those precious juices.
Burger Toppings and Variation Ideas
There’s no wrong way to dress a homemade hamburger! If you’re a traditionalist, go ahead and top your candied bacon cheeseburgers with ketchup, mustard, relish, or mayonnaise (or any combination thereof). If you crave the flame, beef up the hot sauce or add on jalapeno slices, chilies, or crushed red pepper. The sky is truly the limit.
Here are more easy burger toppings to try:
- Leafy greens
- Sliced avocado (or guacamole)
- Tomato slices or tomato relish
- Sautéed bell peppers
- More cheese (Monterey Jack, brie, gouda, etc.)
- A fried egg (turn this recipe into the best breakfast burger ever!)
This candied bacon maple cheddar burger is a delicious and satisfying meal no matter the occasion!
- If you make these for a backyard cookout, serve juicy burgers with BBQ sides like Potato Salad, Spicy Frito Corn Salad, and Corn on the Cob.
- Serving these grilled cheeseburgers for the family? Enjoy them with a classic side of French fries or spicy curly fries. Or, try my fully-loaded Carne Asada Fries!
- For game day or your next potluck, serve these burgers as a main with easy party appetizers like Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Mini Corn Dogs, and Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
These candied bacon maple cheddar burgers are best stored before they’re fully assembled, whenever possible. The candied bacon, caramelized onions, and maple BBQ sauce can all be stored airtight in the fridge for a few days after they’re made, as can the cooked burger patties.
To reheat, warm the cooked hamburger patties in the microwave, then assemble the burgers as usual.
Can I Freeze These Burgers?
While I recommend preparing the bacon and caramelized onions fresh for serving, the homemade BBQ sauce as well as the burger patties (cooked or uncooked) can be made ahead and frozen.
To freeze the barbecue sauce, store it airtight once it’s cooled, and then freeze it for up to 3 months.
When freezing the burgers, wrap the patties tightly in plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container. Use parchment paper to separate any layers as needed. Thaw the patties in the fridge, and either reheat them as above or grill them as directed in the recipe.Print
This Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger is perfect for summer BBQs! The ultimate bacon cheeseburger, topped with caramelized onions, homemade maple barbecue sauce, and candied bacon.
- 1 pound thick cut applewood smoked bacon
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
Maple BBQ sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce ( I used Chipotle Tabasco)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 pounds ground beef ( I like to use 80/20 in burgers)
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 buns, toasted if desired
- Candied Bacon: Prepare the candied bacon first.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large baking sheet (with sides) with foil. Place a baking rack on top of the foil (I actually used a cooling rack).
- Whisk together light brown sugar and pepper in a small bowl
- Line bacon on the rack. Spread the sugar mixture evenly over the bacon.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan once throughout the baking time.
- When done, remove the pan from the oven and allow the bacon to cool on the rack.
- Caramelized Onions: Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, salt, and sugar and cook for 20-25 minutes until the onions are golden brown and soft.
- Maple BBQ Sauce: Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and allow the sauce to cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. Allow to cool.
- Burgers: Mix meat and salt and pepper in a bowl. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and form into patties.
- Grill burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Immediately top with a slice of cheese and allow to melt. Remove the burgers from the grill and assemble, topping with BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and candied bacon.
Great to prep ahead!
- Serving Size: 1 Burger
- Calories: 530
- Sugar: 32.6 g
- Sodium: 1528.6 mg
- Fat: 21.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 50 g
- Protein: 33.4 g
- Cholesterol: 95.5 mg
Keywords: bacon cheeseburger, grilled hamburger recipes, gourmet burgers