My sweet readers, I have yet another confession to make. I hope you won’t judge me too harshly for it…
Burgers are not my thing.
No, no, that’s not quite right. Burgers were not my thing.
Fast food, fresh off the grill, from a restaurant; it all made no difference to me. I would much rather eat something– almost anything– else. Fast food? Give me nuggets. From the grill? I’ll take a hot dog. At a restaurant? I’d prefer an entree, please and thank you very much.
I’d roll my eyes as Wesley ordered a Jack Daniels Burger from TGI Friday’s every single time we wound up there for dinner (which was at least once a week).
Then one day, when asking my friends for recipe suggestions, my friend Tashima asked me to make Jack Daniels Burgers like the ones from Friday’s. I considered it a courageous challenge for someone who had never eaten a Jack Daniels Burger before. Luckily, I had tasted the Jack Daniels sauce on every other thing that Friday’s had to offer, so I had some base for comparison.
However, the whole lack of ever making a burger thing was intimidating, to say the least.
So I did what I do best– I researched. I talked to people, read cook books and grill guides, and scoured the internet for information about 1) How to grill a burger, 2) How to grill the best burger, and 3) How to make a Jack Daniels Burger. I’m not exaggerating when I say I spent days trying to figure out how to perfect this burger before I finally felt confident enough to step up to the grill. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Surprisingly, there were no big disasters. The Jack Daniels Burgers were easy to make, even for this grilling novice. My boyfriend, James, tried the first bite of the burgers– he loved them. Then my brother tried one– he said it tasted almost exactly like the ones from Friday’s, but better. They insisted that I try one, so I reluctantly took a bite.
For the first time, I understood why people like burgers. I loved this burger. I have no idea what I have been doing all of these years, but I’m half-tempted to say I’ve been living the wrong way. That may be a slight exaggeration, but now that I’ve realized what I’ve been missing out on, there’s no going back. I’ll be making these at every BBQ for the rest of the summer. I’m even thinking that the Jack Daniels glaze in Mason Jars would make great Father’s Day, Birthday, and Christmas presents for the grill masters on my gift list.
Oh and don’t worry, I saved one for my Jack Daniels Burger-loving friend. Wesley had to reheat his because he came to try it hours later, but even reheated, he said it was amazing. In fact, he liked it so much that he asked to use the rest of the Jack Daniels glaze on every other leftover there was floating around the refrigerator.
With juicy ground sirloin, flavorful Jack Daniels glaze, melted Provolone, perfectly crunchy bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and a good sesame seed bun, this burger has it all. I’m going to detail everything I learned about how to make the perfect Jack Daniels burger here, even down to how to cook the bacon, so I’ll apologize in advance for it being a long recipe. Don’t worry, it’s not hard at all, I just want to make sure I cover all the bases. That way, no matter who you make these for, they’ll be blown away!
Serve the burgers with Grilled Fries and your favorite beer. I recommend trying a full-bodied brown ale– such as a Newcastle Brown Ale–, which would be bold enough to accompany the burger. While beers with roasted flavors usually are recommended pairings, don’t be afraid to experiment. I enjoyed an extremely hoppy Amber Ale (Nugget Nectar from Troegs Brewing Company) with mine, and I have to say that the fattiness of the ground sirloin was a great balance to the bitterness of the hops. While bitter beers are often hard to pair, this would even make a great opportunity to enjoy an IPA. Whatever you do, drink what you love.
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cups pineapple juice
- ⅓ cup Teriyaki sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cups brown sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup white onion, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons Jack Daniels Whiskey
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1½ lbs ground sirloin (or other ground beef, with around 20% fat)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 slices provolone cheese
- 12 slices bacon (about ½ of a one pound package)
- 6 hamburger buns
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1 red onion, sliced
- Hamburger pickle chips
- In a large saucepan over medium/high heat, combine the water, pineapple juice, Teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then immediately reduce to a simmer.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Let the mixture simmer for about an hour, or until it becomes syrupy and reduces by half. Don’t turn up the heat if you can avoid it, low heat is key to making the perfect glaze without burning the sugar. However, if you are finding that your glaze just won’t reduce, even with extra time, perhaps your simmer is just slightly too low. Turn it up so that the liquid is just below a boil and stir often until you wind up with the correct consistency.
- Divide the ground sirloin into 6 equal-sized portions. They should be about the size of a tennis ball.
- Very gently, round out each ball and then flatten each ball to create your patty. You want to make sure to do this all very gently, and you don’t want to overhandle the meat. There’s no need to add egg or any other ingredient to the meat.
- Gently press your thumb into the center of each patty to make an indent (as seen in the picture of the uncooked patties). This will prevent the burgers from bloating as they cook, so you won’t have to flatten them while grilling, which pushes out a lot of the delicious juices you want to stay in your burger.
- Lightly season with salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the bacon.
- Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and line out your bacon on top. The bacon can be very close together, but you don’t want it to overlap. You may need to use two pans.
- Place the pan or pans in the cold oven and then heat to 400 degrees F.
- After 17 minutes, check your bacon. If it’s completely crispy, take it out. If not, check every 3 minutes until it is done. Let the bacon cool before handling.
- Heat the grill to high heat and let it warm up. When it’s ready, place the burgers on the hottest part of the grill.
- After 5 minutes or so, you should notice the juices as they begin to fill the divots in the top of your burger. This means that the meat is cooking in the middle, and they should be ready to be flipped.
- Gently flip the burgers and grill for about a minute before you brushing on the Jack Daniels glaze using a basting brush. Let cook for another 2 minutes, and then top with the provolone cheese. Close the lid to melt the provolone cheese onto the burger. When the cheese is melted (it should only take a minute or so), you’re ready to serve the burger.
- If you’re not sure your burgers are done, check with an instant read thermometer. The USDA recommends at least 160 degrees for ground meat. All grills are different, so if you’re not sure, it’s better to check.
- Let the burgers sit as you toast the buns. Then, add a little extra glaze to the bottom of each bun, then the burger, then all of the fixings you like! Serve immediately.