Smoked Cheeseburger Sliders with Caramelized Onions

4.75 from 4 votes
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Cheeseburger Sliders are an easy way to make delicious food for a crowd. And they are so much better with melted cheddar cheese and the amazing flavor of caramelized onions. And we have a great hack that allows us to avoid making 12 individual slider patties. Read on to Vindulge in some incredible slider flavors.

A sheet tray of cheeseburger sliders.
We love making these sliders for a crowd.
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Cheeseburger Sliders Recipe Highlights

  • Shaping the ground beef into a large rectangle “patty” makes prepping the sliders so easy
  • Add melted butter and everything bagel seasoning to the tops of the sliders for more flavor
  • Smoke the beef and then finish on the grill or oven to get the perfect bite versus soggy sliders

Cheeseburger Slider Recipe: Ingredients

A good cheeseburger slider starts with good quality 80/20 ground beef. If you can only find 85/15 that’s fine too. The ratio refers to the lean-to-fat level, which adds flavor and juiciness to the burger.

  • Hawaiian Sweet Rolls – The sweet rolls come 12 to a pack and the perfect dimension for sliders. And because we are prepping the beef in one sheet tray, these make it easier to just place the beef directly on the rolls.
  • Beef Seasoning – Add just a touch to the ground beef for flavor.
  • Red Onion – We love caramelizing red onions for the sweeter profile.
  • Dill Pickles – Slices of the pickles add a nice crunch and bite.
  • Cheddar Cheese Slices – It’s a rich cheese with distinct flavor.
  • Melted Butter – Apply to the rolls and then sprinkle on more seasoning.
  • Everything Bagel Seasoning – Adding this seasoning to the top of the rolls.

If you want to use leaner beef, consider adding an egg and mixing to make sure it stays combined. See recipe card for quantities.

Preparation

Start by preparing your smoker and setting it to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using fruit wood or oak. In a large bowl combine the ground beef and the beef seasoning. Mix lightly. Then on a sheet pan with parchment paper start forming the burger patty into a large even shaped rectangle. You want the rectangle to be slightly larger than the dimensions of the Hawaiian sweet rolls pack because the beef will shrink slightly as it smokes. About 1 inch wider by length and width. To be specific, we rolled out the beef rectangle to 10″ by 7″ wide.

This is a great hack I saw trending online awhile ago, and works great to get one large “patty” that you can cook then easily slice for individual sliders.

A rectangle of ground beef in preparation for sliders on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
Start with the ground beef formed into a rectangle.

How To Make Cheeseburger Sliders

After the patty has been formed, place onto the smoker and cook until the internal temperature of the ground beef is between 158 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit using a good instant read thermometer, like the Thermapen One. Remove when it reaches that temperature and prepare sliders and then get the heat in the grill up to 350 – 400 degrees F.

Alternatively you can finish them in the oven.

Ground beef patty for sliders on a Big Green Egg Smoker.
Smoke at 250 degrees F over indirect heat.

While the patty is smoking, caramelize the onions. In a large cast iron pan add oil and butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and slowly stir every few minutes. Continue for 20 minutes or until they are a golden brown color. Adjust the heat down to avoid burning.

Now that the patty is smoked and the onions are caramelized, it’s time to finish the cheeseburger sliders on the grill. Cut the rolls in half. Start by layering on the ground mustard. Next add the smoked hamburger patty. Cover with the cheese slices and then the caramelized onions. Add one pickle per slider and then the tops of the rolls. Finally apply the melted butter and then sprinkle the everything seasoning.

Grilling cheeseburger sliders on a Big Green Egg.

Place the cheeseburger sliders back into the grill (as one whole piece) and finish for 5-10 minutes. The rolls will turn a golden color and the cheese will melt. Remove and place onto a cutting board. Slice into individual sliders using a knife and then the sliders are ready to serve.

Holding one of six cheeseburger sliders on a cutting board.

Variations

You can easily replicate this recipe with ground turkey (or chicken) if you prefer that over ground beef. If you make this with ground turkey be sure to add an egg as a binder because of how lean it is. If you don’t it will not hold together as easily as beef.

You can also add or swap out your favorite cheeseburger ingredients like ketchup, mayo, pickled peppers, or even a different cheese.

Grilling – When testing this recipe we also grilled the patty over indirect heat. Smoking adds more flavor, but you can speed up the entire process by grilling. Target 400 degrees F and the patty should be done in 20 minutes. Then follow the recipe to make the sliders and finish in the grill.

Oven – You can also pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F while the patty is smoking. Then when the patty is done, you can make the sliders and finish in the oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

What goes good with cheeseburger sliders?

Well, fries for sure. But if you want something more elevated we love our duck fat roasted potatoes or perfect oven roasted potatoes. It’s like French fries taken to the next level. Another amazing side is our smashed potatoes with tarragon cream sauce.

How do you make the perfect slider patty?

The answer is preparing the patty as one large evenly shaped rectangle so you have even amounts of meat in each bite. Be sure the ground beef patty is slightly larger than the width and length of your buns.

How do you keep sliders from getting soggy?

Smoking the ground beef low and slow helps to move some of the grease out of the beef. Then finishing the slider in the grill (or oven) allows it all to crisp up. This prevents the buns from getting soggy which is predominantly from too much fat or too many liquids from the condiments and toppings.

What type of beef is best for cheeseburger sliders?

We encourage the use of 80/20 or 85/15, which is the lean/fat ratio. If you use lean beef then add a binding agent, like an egg, to the mix to prevent it from falling apart.

Making in Advance or Reheating Leftovers

You can make these up to 3 days in advance. If you want to make these in advance, follow all of the directions. When they are done, place on a sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator covered. When ready to serve remove from the sheet tray and warm in the oven at 300 degrees for 12 minutes or you can microwave them for 45 seconds.

6 Cheeseburger sliders on a cutting board

More Slider Recipes

Looking to mix it up? We have a variety of slider recipes, like our Buffalo chicken sliders, which have that perfect tangy bite. Or if you are looking for leftover ideas we have our pulled pork sliders with grilled pineapple coleslaw as well as pulled lamb sliders.

For a weeknight inspiration, how about some meatball sliders with marinara sauce or even some pulled chicken sliders. And one of our favorite is a slowly smoked chuck roast that is finished in a spicy beef au jus for the ultimate pulled Beef Italian Sliders.

Or try our smoked hamburger recipe if you want individual burgers.


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Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

A sheet tray of cheeseburger sliders.
4.75 from 4 votes

Smoked Cheeseburger Sliders Recipe with Caramelized Onions

An easy way to make sliders by prepping a large single patty and then slowly smoking, and cutting into 12 individual sliders. Topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and stone ground mustard.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Servings: 12 sliders
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Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef, (We don't recommend lean beef)
  • 2 tablespoons SPG Rub
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • 1 large red onion, diced, For caramelized onions.
  • 1 12-pack Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
  • ¼ cup stone ground mustard
  • 6 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 12 dill pickle slices
  • 2 tablespoons everything bagel seasoning

Instructions 

  • Prep: Set you smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using fruit wood or oak. In a large bowl combine the ground beef and the beef seasoning. Mix lightly. Then on a sheet pan with parchment paper start forming the burger patty into a large rectangle. You want the rectangle to be slightly larger than the dimensions of the Hawaiian sweet rolls pack because the beef will shrink slightly as it smokes (about 1 inch wider by length and width). To be specific, we rolled out the beef rectangle to 10″ by 7″ wide.
  • Smoke: After the patty has been formed, place onto the smoker and cook until the internal temperature of the ground beef is between 158 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit using a good instant read thermometer. Remove the beef, then get the heat in the grill up to 350 – 400 degrees F.
  • Caramelize the Onions: Do this while the patty is smoking. In a large cast iron pan add oil and butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and slowly stir every few minutes. Continue for 20 minutes or until they are a golden brown color.
  • Assemble Sliders: Now that the patty is smoked and the onions are caramelized, it’s time to finish the cheeseburger sliders on the grill. Cut the rolls in half down the center. Start by layering on the ground mustard. Next add the smoked hamburger patty. Cover with the cheese slices and then the caramelized onions. Add one pickle per slider and then the tops of the rolls. Finally apply the melted butter to the top of the rolls and sprinkle the everything seasoning.
  • Grill: Place the cheeseburger sliders back into the grill (as one whole piece) and finish for 5-10 minutes. The rolls will turn a golden color and the cheese will melt. Remove and place onto a cutting board. Slice into individual sliders using a knife and then they are ready to serve.

Notes

Finishing the Sliders in the Oven: You can also finish the sliders in your oven if it isn’t easy to increase the temperature of your smoker.
Variations: You can easily replicate this recipe with ground turkey (or chicken) if you prefer that over ground beef. If you make this with ground turkey be sure to add an egg as a binder because of how lean it is. If you don’t it will not hold together as easily as beef.
You can also add or swap out your favorite cheeseburger ingredients like ketchup, mayo, pickled peppers, or even a different cheese.
Grilling – When testing this recipe we also grilled the patty over indirect heat. Smoking adds more flavor, but you can speed up the entire process by grilling. Target 400 degrees F and the patty should be done in 20 minutes. Then follow the recipe to make the sliders and finish in the grill.

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 388mg | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 233IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine: American, burgers, Sliders
Servings: 12 sliders
Calories: 286
Keyword: cheeseburger slider recipe, cheeseburger sliders, easy sliders recipe
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!


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About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Smoked on an Ironwoood 650 Traeger @ 225F, super smoke setting, until 160F, took a bit longer. Directly on rack, Let meat rest a bit, drain some pooled grease off top. Optional: didn’t apply mustard but offered Boar’s Head Delicatessen (which is a mix of stone ground mustard & horseradish) – left bottle out/on the side. Turned out great, thanks for sharing!

  2. Can’t wait to try this! Are you estimating that it will take about 50 minutes to smoke the patty at 250 to 160 degrees internally?

    1. Yes, definitely monitor around 45 minutes, it will depend how thick the patty is but once it hits 160 and gets put back on the grill or oven it will cook through over 165.