Smoked Apple Burgers

Apple sauce is the base for a rich, smoky BBQ sauce that does double duty by being used in the burger mixture as well as an accompaniment to the burgers themselves.


7 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or turkey 

2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs 

3 1/2 cups Smoked Apple BBQ Sauce*, divided (Recipe Below)

2 cups minced scallions 

1 cup minced parsley 

2 Tbsp. smoky BBQ spice blend 

1 cup Caramelized Onions (Recipe Below)  

24 whole grain buns, split, grilled 

1 1/2 lb. Gouda, Cheddar or provolone cheese, sliced 


Smoked Apple BBQ Sauce ( 1 qt.) 

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil 

2 cups minced sweet onion 

2 Tbsp. minced garlic 

2 Tbsp. chili powder 

1/2 cup tomato paste 

1 1/2 cups Musselman's® Apple Cider Vinegar 

2 cups Musselman’s® Natural Apple Sauce 

1/4 cup molasses 

2 tsp. liquid smoke seasoning, hickory 

3+ cups water 


Caramelized Onions ( 1 cup) 

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil 

3 cups finely chopped sweet onions 



In a bowl, gently mix meat, crumbs, 2 cups Smoked Apple BBQ Sauce, scallions, parsley and BBQ spice blend; form 24 x 6-oz. burger patties. Place on a sheetpan, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook and serve. 


In another bowl, combine remaining Smoked Apple BBQ Sauce with mashed Caramelized Onions. Hold. 

Smoked Apple BBQ Sauce 

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion and sauté 4 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and chili powder and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.


Mix in vinegar, Musselman’s® Natural Apple Sauce, molasses and liquid smoke along with 3 cups water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 35–40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened. Add water if necessary to make sure it doesn’t burn or get too thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before using as directed.

Caramelized Onions 

Toss oil and chopped onion together in a bowl and spread into an even layer on a sheetpan. Roast in 350°F convection oven, stirring occasionally, until very tender and caramelized, about 30–40 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before storing in a covered container in refrigeration until ready to use as directed. 


To Serve: Grill each burger to order to desired degree of doneness. Place the hot burger on a grilled bun spread with 2 Tbsp. BBQ-Onion mixture. Top burger with a slice of cheese and serve while hot. 

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