The Best Juicy Burger Recipe

Today, I am telling you everything you need to know to make my award-winning, very best, often requested, semi-famous, juicy burger recipe!! That's right; this recipe won me a cool $25,000 grand prize in a live national cook-off. It was held before the Rose Bowl in front of thousands of self-proclaimed tailgating experts and burger connoisseurs (no pressure at all, right?)

The best juicy burger recipe with almond avocado pesto and sweet and spicy bacon.

Why this really is the best juicy burger recipe

Don't just take the judges' words for it. Although, one of them did finish his entire burger right in front of me in about 2 minutes and then reached for another. I knew at that point my chances of winning were decent. Here are the reasons why this juicy burger recipe is the best:

  • The perfect lean meat to fat ratio: For the patties in my recipe, I used a 75/25 blend, which means 75 percent lean beef and 25 percent fat. If you are unable to find this, use nothing leaner than an 80/20 blend. This will help to prevent the patties from drying out and keep them juicy.
  • Generous seasoning: So many burgers lack adequate seasoning, especially salt, which enhances the other ingredients. Well, not these! In addition to salt, I created a flavorful blend of smoked paprika, toasty cumin, balsamic vinegar, cilantro, scallion and a dash of hot sauce. As the kids today say, it slaps.
  • Let's talk toppings: Almond avocado pesto, made from smoked seasoned almonds, basil, avocado, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice is pureed in a blender until smooth. Honey-orange glazed bacon is sweet and smoky with a kick of heat. Pepper jack cheese melts beautifully over the grilled patties, and (here's the kicker) Chili Cheese Fritos bring crunch and tanginess to every bite.
The best juicy burger cut in half on a wooden board.

I'll say it now, and I'll probably say it below three more times. DO NOT sleep on the Chili Cheese Fritos. I know it's weird, but so is dipping your fries in a Wendy's Frosty. It just works.

Ingredients and ingredient notes

Ingredients for burger recipe.
  • Fresh basil: You will need 2 cups, loosely packed. If you can't find basil, or it is too pricey, substitute peppery arugula.
  • Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds: When I originally created this recipe, I used the jalapeño variety of these nuts. I can no longer find this flavor, but the basic "Smokehouse" variety works equally as well.
  • Avocado: Look for avocados that are soft but not mushy and yield to a firm, gently pressure. See my FAQ section for tips on ripening avocados.
  • Smoked bacon: I almost never stray from using Nueske's bacon for my recipes, as I'm convinced that it's the best there is. My favorite kind is the smoky Nueske's Cherrywood Smoked Bacon. A good applewood smoked bacon will work just as well!
  • Cayenne pepper: Adds a kick of heat to the bacon. Omit if you like to stay away from spice.
  • Ground beef: I ordered a custom 75/25 burger blend (75% lean beef, 25% fat) from Flannery Beef when I created these burgers, making them extra juicy. 80/20 blends are typically easier to find at the grocery store, and work just as well.
  • Smoked paprika: Be sure to look for the SMOKED variety, not sweet. They have different flavors.
  • Ground cumin
  • Scallions: Four chopped scallions, green and white parts only
  • Cilantro: I know there are some people who don't enjoy cilantro and think it tastes "soapy." Omit it if you fall into that category!
  • Vinegar: Balsamic for the burgers and red wine vinegar to dress the mixed greens. If you don't have both, use one or the other for both purposes.
  • Hot sauce: I use either Cholula or Tapatio, but any brand is fine. Omit if you don't like hot sauce.
  • Pepper-jack cheese: Regular Monterey Jack may be substituted. Make sure the slices are uniform and not too thick for even melting.
  • Hamburger buns: Store bought or homemade brioche buns.
  • Chili Cheese Fritos: DO NOT SKIP THESE!!! These are important to the overall flavor profile of the burger. In fact, buy two bags...one for snacking while cooking. And don't substitute regular Fritos--since the seasoning isn't there.
  • Mixed Greens: Can substitute baby spinach or any salad blend.

Step-by-step photos and instructions

Almond Avocado Pesto
  1. Place the basil and almonds in a blender and pulse until very finely chopped. Add the garlic, olive oil, avocado and lemon juice, then puree the mixture until almost smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as necessary. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, cover and set aside.
Honey Orange Glazed Bacon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Combine the orange juice, honey, salt, pepper and cayenne in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to about ½ cup and has a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes.
  2. Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray, then place the strips of bacon on the rack and set the rack over a baking sheet lined with foil. Place the bacon in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and brush it with half of the orange glaze. 
  3. Return the bacon to the oven for 8 minutes. Carefully flip the bacon slices using tongs or a fork. Brush the remaining orange glaze over the slices of bacon and then return the baking sheet to the oven for 8 minutes or until the bacon is caramelized and crisp. Wrap the bacon in foil sprayed with nonstick spray to keep warm.
Burger Patties
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, scallions, cilantro, paprika, cumin, salt, hot sauce, and vinegar. Mix with your hands until the ingredients are well incorporated. Form the mixture into 6 equally sized patties.
  2. Heat a grill, grill pan, griddle or skillet to medium high heat and spray the surface with nonstick spray. Cook the patties for 3 minutes on once side then carefully flip the patties and top each with one slice of cheese. Continue to cook the patties until the cheese has melted ad they have reached your desired degree of doneness, 3-5 minutes more.
  3. Remove the patties and place the buns on the grill or griddle, cut sides down, to toast lightly. This should only take a minute or two!!
Assembly
  1. In a small bowl, toss the mixed greens with the olive oil and vinegar. Then, divide the dressed greens among the bottom halves of the buns. Top the greens with a patty and a slice of the bacon (broken in half to fit the size of the patty.) Place the Fritos on top of the bacon. Spread the top halves of the buns with a generous portion of the Almond Avocado Pesto and place on top of the Fritos, pressing to adhere. Serve immediately!!
Stack of four homemade brioche buns.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best meat blend for burgers?

The best beef to buy for burger is an 80/20 ratio, meaning 80% lean beef and 20% fat. This ratio will help to prevent a dry burger after grilling and maximize juiciness. Ground chuck is most commonly used with this ratio since it is most readily available, and produces a flavorful burger. If you want to create your own blend, most butchers will grind one for you. Choose a mixture of chuck, brisket, filet, short rib, sirloin or fat cap.

How long do you cook burgers on the grill?

Grill the patties for 3 to 4 minutes on one side, until they have a nice sear on the bottoms. Then use a metal spatula to flip the patties and then continue to grill them for 3 to 5 minutes longer, until you reach your desired degree of doneness. If you are putting cheese on the patties place slices on top during the last few minutes of grilling and close the lid.

What is the best way to cook bacon?

For perfectly crisp bacon, cook the strips on a wire rack that has been set over a foil-lined baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 400F degrees. Spray the rack with nonstick spray and space the bacon strips on the rack. Bake for 10 minutes and then carefully flip the bacon pieces using a fork or tongs. Continue to bake the pieces until your desired level of crispness is reached, about 10-15 minutes more.

How do you soften an avocado quickly?

If your avocados aren't ripe enough, you can expedite the process by using a piece of fruit and a paper bag. Put the avocado in the bag with a banana or an apple, then seal the bag for several hours or overnight. The ethylene gas that these fruits produce is a hormone that aids the ripening process. For an even faster fix, you can also ripen avocados in the microwave. Halve and then pit the avocado. Wrap each half in microwave-safe plastic wrap and then microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Watch this short video to see my juicy burger recipe come together!

Ready to fire up the grill? Try some more of my crowd-pleasing favorites:

Tried this recipe and loved it? Take a photo and tag me on Instagram or give it a review!

The best juicy burger recipe with almond avocado pesto.

The Best Juicy Burger Recipe

Julie Hession
Why is this flavorful, juicy burger recipe THE BEST? Well, for starters, it won me the $25,000 Grand Prize in a national cook-off. The southwestern seasoned patties are topped with a honey-orange glazed bacon, almond avocado pesto, pepper jack cheese, and the unique addition of Chili Cheese Fritos....appealing to every single one of your taste buds!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 burgers
Calories 666 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 blender
  • 1 Wire rack
  • Grill or grill pan
  • 1 pastry brush

Ingredients
 
 

Almond Avocado Pesto

  • 2 cups basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 3 oz Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large avocados (halved and pitted)
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice

Sweet and Spicy Bacon

  • cups orange juice
  • cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 strips applewood smoked bacon (see Notes)

Burger Patties

  • 2 lb 75% or 80% lean ground chuck or beef blend (see Notes)
  • 4 scallions (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon hot sauce (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Assembly

  • 6 brioche buns (split)
  • 6 slices pepper-Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 2 cups Fritos Chili Cheese flavored corn chips

Instructions
 

Almond Avocado Pesto

  • Place the basil and almonds in a blender and pulse until very finely chopped. Add the garlic, olive oil, avocado and lemon juice. Puree the mixture until almost smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as necessary. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, cover and set aside.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Combine the orange juice, honey, salt, pepper and cayenne in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to about ½ cup and has a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes.
  • Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray. Place the strips of bacon on the rack and set the rack over a baking sheet lined with foil. Place the bacon in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and brush it with half of the orange glaze.
  • Return the bacon to the oven for 8 minutes. Carefully flip the bacon slices using tongs or a fork. Brush the remaining orange glaze over the slices of bacon and then return the baking sheet to the oven for 8 minutes or until the bacon is caramelized and crisp. Wrap the bacon in foil sprayed with nonstick spray to keep warm.

Burger Patties

  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, scallions, cilantro, paprika, cumin, salt, hot sauce, and vinegar. Mix with your hands until the ingredients are well incorporated. Form the mixture into 6 equally sized patties.
  • Heat a grill, grill pan, griddle or skillet to medium high heat and spray the surface with nonstick spray. Cook the patties for 3 minutes on once side. Carefully flip the patties and top each with one slice of cheese. Continue to cook the patties until the cheese has melted ad they have reached your desired degree of doneness, 3-5 minutes more.
  • Remove the patties and place the buns on the grill or griddle, cut sides down, to toast lightly. This should only take a minute or two!!

Assemble the Burgers

  • In a small bowl, toss the mixed greens with the olive oil and vinegar. Divide the dressed greens among the bottom halves of the buns. Top the greens with a patty and a slice of the bacon (broken in half to fit the size of the patty.) Place the Fritos on top of the bacon. Spread the top halves of the buns with a generous portion of the Almond Avocado Pesto and place on top of the Fritos, pressing to adhere. Serve immediately!!

Video

Notes

  • I love to use Nueske's bacon in recipes whenever I can, as it is the best that I've found.  That said, in most cases you have to order it, and sometimes I run out.  Just look for a high quality applewood or cherrywood smoked bacon for this recipe.  
  • I used a 75/25 beef blend when I created this recipe, but if your butcher counter doesn't carry that, 80/20 is more readily available and works great!  
  • For hot sauce, I tend to use Cholula or Tapatio, as that is what I have on hand.   Use any other variety or omit it altogether if you're not a fan. 
  • Make-ahead:  The patties can be mixed and shaped one day in advance and covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.  The almond avocado pesto will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, covered, and actually makes a great dip for tortilla chips!

Nutrition

Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 1697mg | Potassium: 688mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 1420IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 269mg | Iron: 4mg
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