Tennessee Burger with Bourbon and BBQ Sauce

I was so excited when I picked up the latest Cooking Light Magazine out on shelves.   Summer time grilled food recipes are here with page after page of delicious looking burgers from Sirloin, Lamb, Salmon  to Veggie and Turkey.  I didn’t know which one to dive into first.  The ingredients of their Tennessee Burger with Bourbon and BBQ sauce left me drooling.  This was a fantastic yet super messy burger to eat never mind that I dropped a bit more bourbon than indicted into the pan and loved the results :).  I’m going to enjoy making this one again during the summer months.   A nice wheat Belgian beer like Hoegaarden goes perfectly to offset the sweet and spicy sauce!  All that’s missing is for it to be late enough to have the fire pit going in my back yard and my friends from orange county to enjoy this burger with.    :).    I used my favorite healthy bread for this recipe- the Mulitgrain extra thin bread just to cut some calories and keep it healthier.   At 400 calories you are best making your burgers at home!

Tennessee Burger


  • 3 bacon slices
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups vertically sliced red onion
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground sirloin
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 (1 1/2-ounce) French bread hamburger buns
  • 6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato


  1. 1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add oil and onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until onion is browned and very tender, stirring occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons bourbon, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring constantly. Remove mixture from pan. Cool 5 minutes.
  2. 2. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon, ketchup, and next 7 ingre­dients (through onion powder) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
  3. 3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  4. 4. Coarsely chop 3/4 cup onion mixture; stir into beef. Divide beef mixture into 6 equal portions, gently shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in center of each patty. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
  5. 5. Spread each top and bottom bun half with 1 tablespoon sauce. Place patties on bottom halves; top each patty with 1 tomato slice. Divide remaining onion mixture evenly among servings. Top each serving with 1/2 bacon slice and top half of bun.

Sidney Fry, MS, RD, Cooking Light
JULY 2013

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 358
  • Fat: 11.4g
  • Saturated fat: 3.8g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 4.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.5g
  • Protein: 22.1g
  • Carbohydrate: 36.7g
  • Fiber: 4.6g
  • Cholesterol: 55mg
  • Iron: 3.2mg
  • Sodium: 544mg
  • Calcium: 76mg

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