Wake up your taste buds the next time you grill with these smokey chile and queso stuffed burgers. The ooey gooey cheesy center is sure to make your mouth water! Sponsored by Harris Ranch Beef Company.
Whether you are lounging at home for a family barbecue or grilling by the lake on your mini getaway, there is something amazing about the the classic burger. My kids love burgers, and they love them even more when we make them at home.
My family is getting used to trying new things as I frequently feed them my food experiments. It was harder to get them to eat new foods when they were little, but as young adults they have evolved into food snobs!
Last year they loved my twist making the Persian kabab burger, so I decided to fuse another culture to make another great tasting burger. When I was developing this recipe for my chile queso burger, my loving family provided me with more input than I needed: too much cheese, not enough cheese, too spicy, just enough spice…
Well, the beauty of this burger, is that you can customize it to fit your taste buds. This south of the border burger is far from boring, with just enough heat to wake up your senses!
The flavors in a queso burger
Since I live in San Diego, we really are lucky to have some of the best Mexican food available to us. I have fallen in love with the bold flavors you get from the variety of peppers and chiles I find at the store. You can roast them at home or get them already roasted.
Chiles come in different sizes, flavors and heat intensity. So if you don’t like spicy food, but you do like chile peppers feel free to substitute with milder chiles.
The queso cheese stuffed into this burger uses Hatch chiles and chipotle in adobo sauce. Both of these ingredients can be found canned at most grocery stores. Yes, chipotle chiles are spicy, but that adobo sauce offers a great smokiness to your burger.
The ground meat is seasoned, too, with chile powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Even if you don’t stuff the burgers with queso, the seasoning alone will elevate your burger and offer tremendous southwestern flavor.
Selecting the best ground meat for burgers
Raise your hand if your standard grilled burger are those frozen meat patties you don’t think twice about? Don’t worry. I’m raising my hand, too. For many years I did not pay attention to the quality of ground beef I was using in my burgers.
Steaks? Well, yes. You spend money on a good cut of meat and you taste the difference. But ground beef? Well, I was wrong. You know you have high quality beef when a simple hamburger has incredible flavor and texture. And that’s without the spices and toppings.
When you choose ground beef for any burger, you do not want to go super lean. You need the 80/20 variety because that fat keeps your burger juicy. Don’t worry, the fat burns off and only some of it melts back into the burger, keeping it moist, juicy and full of flavor.
And some of the best tasting ground beef I have tried is from Harris Ranch Beef. My friends at Harris Ranch Beef have been running their ranch here in California since 1937. Whether I’m using their ground beef or their portherhouse steaks, all of their products are of exceptional quality.
Because they control multiple aspects of the beef production process, they can control the quality of their meat. Their beef is minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients. Their cattle spend most of their lives grazing on grass, with only the last 120 days eating a grain-based diet at their feed lot.
In blind taste testing, Harris Ranch Beef keeps winning the hearts and taste buds of their clients. You won’t be disappointed. And luckily for you, Harris Ranch Beef now offers nationwide shipping, so you can enjoy their amazing beef from anywhere in this great nation.
Plus, for a limited time, they are also offering free shipping to anywhere in California. Every shipment is packed with ice in insulated shopping bags. All of their shipments are sent Monday thru Wednesday to ensure better delivery.
How to make a stuffed burger
Taking the cheese from the top of the burger and stuffing it inside isn’t new to the culinary scene. An American classic, the Juicy Lucy, was a genius idea sprouted in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My queso stuffed burger takes this idea to a whole new level.
The key to this hamburger is the cheesy center. You want enough gooey goodness to taste and moisten the burger, but you don’t want so much of it that it drips all over you. The core of my cheesy center is a combination of Monterey Jack cheese and cream cheese.
Mix the cheeses together with chiles and shallots until smooth. Then take about 1 ½ tablespoons of filling and place it on one side of a thin meat patty. Place a second meat patty on top of the cheese and crimp the two together.
It’s not rocket science, but you do need to take the time to seal your burger or else all that cheesy goodness will come spilling out while you cook it, making an awful mess. Some burgers will bust open a seam, and that’s okay. As you can see in my picture on top, the burger still holds its shape even when this happens.
How do you know if a burger is done?
For me, the only way to enjoy a delicious steak is for it to be cooked to medium rare. I do not have to worry about harmful bacteria because with steaks, bacteria sits on the surface of the cut meat. They are killed off by searing and cooking the meat, even when the center is left rare.
But because ground beef is minced and mixed together, the harmful bacteria is all over the mixture, including the center. So the only way to completely kill off any harmful bacteria is to cook it completely. This is the case whether you are using any ground meat, whether it is ground beef or ground lamb.
This is why burgers should never ever be pink in the center. This doesn’t mean that you have to overcook your burger. No one wants to eat a hockey puck. Because we are using ground beef with 20% fat, the fat melts into the burger. This means we have a juicy and delicious meal even if it is cooked completely.
Plus, when you have a stuffed burger, you are really just cooking two thin patties of meat. The burgers won’t take as long to cook and the center of the burger will be left ooey, gooey and cheesy. This is true whether you grill your stuffed burgers or cook them indoors.
How to serve your queso burger
For me, a burger isn’t a burger without fries to go with it. Even though this burger is inspired with flavors you find in Mexican and Southwestern cuisines, I gotta have my fries! I used some of the same seasonings for the burger, to season my fries.
Since there was a lot of heat going on with the queso stuffing, I topped the burgers with some cool and creamy avocado slices, fresh sprigs of cilantro and juicy tomatoes. I just love the hot and cold flavors and sensations.
You could also spread some mayonnaise if you want some kind of sauce, even salsa or ketchup, if you must. Honestly anything goes when you are fusing cultures together into a meal!
- 2 lbs 80/20 ground beef
- 1 ½ tsp paprika
- 1 ½ tsp chile powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 6 TBS shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 TBS cream cheese
- 2 TBS diced roasted Hatch chiles, mild or spicy
- 2 TBS diced shallots
- 1 TBS chipotle in adobo
- 6 burger buns
- 1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- Mix beef with spices and let it sit for 30 minutes for flavors to meld together.
- In a small bowl combine cheeses, chiles and shallots until creamy and smooth.
- Divide meat mixture into 6 even portions. A food scale is perfect for this!
- For each burger portion, divide in half and press into thin patties of meat on parchment paper squares.
- On one thin patty add about 2 ½ TBS of cheese stuffing onto center of the patty.
- Lay second thin patty over the stuffing, pressing the edges together to seal.
- Flatten the centers so that the burgers are even.
- Do this with the 5 other portions of beef so you have a total of 6 burgers.
- If grilling, lightly oil grate and grill the burgers over a hot fire, turning once, about 7 minutes.
- Brush burger buns with olive oil and toast on the grill.
- You can prepare the burgers indoors using a cast iron over high heat, turning once, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.
- Serve on toasted buns and top with cilantro, avocado, tomato and red onions slices.
You can also use shredded cheddar, Mexican cheese blends or Mexican queso quesadilla. If you don't have shallots, use red or regular onions instead.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 610mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 7gSugar: 6gProtein: 14g