Smoked Lamb Burgers with Rosemary Aioli and Pickled Onions

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Change up your burger routine with a killer Smoked Lamb Burger with Rosemary Aioli. Serve with a delicious brioche bun.

A smoked lamb burger garnished with pickled onions, lettuce and an aioli sauce.

People tend to have a love/hate relationship with lamb. Fresh lamb is delicious with an earthy flavor. When smoked however, lamb takes on an even better flavor profile.

Lamb

Lamb is sheep up to 1 year of age. After 1 year the lamb are technically sheep or mutton (when used for food purposes). The gaminess from lamb comes from a couple of things. It can be lamb that is older, even bordering on mutton. The flavor will also be impacted by location and what the lamb eats. So buying the freshest lamb possible is ideal.

Burgers

So many lamb burger recipes out there rely on Mediterranean flavors, like topping it with feta, cucumbers, yogurt, you get the idea. Seriously, Google lamb burgers (or lamb anything for that matter) and you get a slew of Greek and other like flavors. It’s like Greece owns the market for lamb.

But what if you just aren’t into those flavor combinations? Lamb has such an incredible flavor on its own, it really doesn’t need to be drowned out with the sharpness and saltiness of feta cheese, or the rich creaminess of yogurt. Amiright?

Why not enjoy it the same way you would a great beef burger, with limited interference.

For a bun, brioche all the way. Brioche is soft and buttery. I like my burgers with just a little crunch from fresh lettuce. Romaine or Red Lead lettuce are great options for crunch. Rosemary aioli and a thin slice of melted cheese (but a mild cheese like havarti or something similar that melts well) adds flavor. We’re also big into pickling things so add some pickled onions to the top.

And of course it has to be smoked.

How to Smoke Lamb Burgers

You can easily do this, with or without a smoker.

We set this one up on our Kettle Grill to show you just how easy you can do it with a simple kettle grill. And we use the snake method for smoking.

Direct Heat vs Indirect Heat for smoking lamb burgers
Add wood chunks onto the lit coals for smoke flavor.
  1. Just set up the kettle for a smoke session using the snake method.  It’s not just two zone cooking, you want to slowly light up the coal so it burns but doesn’t get the internal cooker too hot.  So what we do is to start about six or seven coals in a chimney starter.  In the kettle, line up pieces of charcoal side by side along the grill wall and then have a line of those about seven or eight long, basically along the edge of your smoker.  Like it’s a fuse.
  2. Add wood chunks on top of the charcoal line close to each other.  The coal will add the heat, the wood will add the flavor.  When your starter coals are ready place them in the front of the line of coal and add a wood chunk.  Add more coal if it’s not hot enough.  You are looking for 250 – 275 degrees as the ambient temperature in the cooker.
  3. Then cook the lamb burger on indirect heat for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees.
  4. Then if you’re adding cheese add it now, and finish cooking the lamb burger until they reach 160 – 165 degrees. If you’re not adding cheese, then just cook until the internal temp reaches 160 – 165 by using a digital thermometer.
Using a Thermoworks Instant Read Thermometer- to check the lamb burgers temp.
Check the center of the meat for internal temperature.

These are our favorite digital thermometers. They are essential for cooking your meat to perfect temp! 

That’s it.

Wine Pairing For Lamb Burgers

I just love pairing anything lamb with a red that has a fine balance between earthy and fruity flavors, like Pinot Noir (especially local Oregon Pinot). Not all Pinots are created equal. Some are light and fruity, while others are rich and pack a punch. I like those that do have a bit of weight to them, or at least can hold their own with the smoke and earthy and savory flavors you’re going to get out of these burgers.

If you wanted something a little bigger with your lamb burger then you can easily choose a Rhône style wine with some Grenache, Syrah, or Mouvedre, or even a Spanish Rioja. But I encourage you to not to go too big. Lamb alone has fantastic purity of flavors, and you don’t want to wash them away with too many competing flavors.

Other Great Lamb Recipes

Great Burger Recipe Ideas

This recipe was originally published in April 13, 2017 and updated October of 2020 with additional recipe details and a link to the snake method of smoking.


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Smoked Lamb Burgers with Rosemary Aioli
5 from 2 votes

Smoked Lamb Burgers Recipe

A simple recipe for smoked lamb burgers with a rosemary aioli sauce and pickled onions. Includes instructions on how to smoke meat on a simple Weber Kettle Grill.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 

For the Lamb Burgers:

  • 1 ½ pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 brioche burger buns
  • 4 slices Havarti cheese, or preferred cheese, optional
  • 4 large pieces Romaine lettuce, cut to fit bun

For the Rosemary Aioli:

  • cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely diced
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper, just a couple twists (or a pinch)

For the Pickled Onions:

  • 1 small thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Instructions 

For the Lamb Burgers:

  • In a bowl, gently combine meat, salt, and pepper.
  • Cut into quarters for equal size burgers, and then shape into patties.
  • Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using fruit wood like apple or cherry.
  • Place patties on the smoker and smoke until internal temperature of the lamb reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add cheese. About 45 minutes.
  • Continue smoking with cheese and remove the burgers when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. About another 15 minutes.
  • Serve with favorite accompaniments.

For the Rosemary Aioli:

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until serving time.

For the Pickled Onions:

  • Slice onion and place into a clean mason jar.
  • In a small sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and peppercorns and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
  • Once it boils add the mixture immediately to the mason jar with onions. Let cool and put into fridge, can be made days in advance. Allow at least six hours in the pickling liquid for flavor.

Notes

Note: We are using a quick pickling method. So these are not meant to be canned and stored long term.

Nutrition

Calories: 836kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 62g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 157mg | Sodium: 3146mg | Potassium: 517mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 222IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 223mg | Iron: 3mg

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

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: dinner
Cuisine: barbecue, bbq, burgers
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 836
Keyword: how to smoke on a grill, lamb burger recipe, lamb burgers, lamb sandwich, smoked lamb burger
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

*This post contains an affiliate link for the Thermapen Mk4 digital read thermometer. We only recommend products we use and love! And you can’t smoke meat to the perfect temperature without one! You can always be certain if you have a good thermometer and this one is awesome. 

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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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13 Comments

    1. Thank you, we love fruit woods. Specifically we are using apple or cherry since the flavor of lamb is so pronounced.

  1. I do think I’ve ever had a lamb burger, but this combo with Manchego sounds winning! I don’t have lamb often in general and usually its in the form of Lamb chops aka meat popsicles