These Queso Burgers are drizzled in the best cheese dip made with cheddar and pepper jack cheese. The burgers are loaded with flavor and prepared using a homemade burger seasoning rub.
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FOR THE FULL LIST OF INGREDIENTS AND COMPREHENSIVE INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE SEE THE RECIPE CARD AT THE END OF THIS POST. BEFORE YOU SCROLL, THERE’S IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN THIS BLOG POST.
If you have ever had the Queso Burger from Sonic, you will love these! Trust me they are better and made with much higher quality ingredients.
I like to make my queso from scratch and with quality ingredients. I don’t use any Velveeta. I buy cheddar and pepper jack cheese in block form and grate it myself. Trust me, it makes a difference. Velveeta is a processed cheese product, it’s legally required to be labeled as such because it is not real cheese.
What Type of Beef to Use
Ground beef is important, but the type you use is even more important. The percentage of fat in the beef matters. Fat provides moisture and will produce juicy burgers. The fat will also keep the burger from drying out on the grill, while cooking at a high temperature.
Ground chuck beef is the best cut to use and at 80% lean. 75% lean will work as well. You can use leaner cuts of meat, but expect a drier burger.
How to Season the Meat
I love to use my Homemade Burger Rub Seasoning for these. It’s a combination of the following:
How to Form Burger Patties/How to Keep Them From Shrinking
If you aren’t using pre-made patties, you can grab a pound to a pound and a half of ground meat and form them yourself. Take a look at your buns and shape the patties so that they are larger than the actual bun you will be using.
Burgers shrink. So take that into account. You also don’t want to over-mix and over-work the meat. If you’ve ever made BBQ Meatballs, you are familiar with this rule of thumb.
Over-working the meat will cause it to be tough, dry, and it’s more likely to fall apart when you get it on the grill and get to flipping it. It’s best to use minimal shaping. Once shaped, press down into the center of the burger using your thumb. This will allow the patty to cook evenly and maintain a circular shape as it grills.
You can read more about The Best Method for Shaping Burgers here.
Cold Meat When Grilling
Another reason why you don’t want to overwork the meat is that your hands are at room temperature. Your room temperature hands will alter the temperature of the meat, which should be cold when it goes on the grill.
Cold meat will stick together when you place it on the grill. Warm or room temperature meat will crumble and fall apart.
Take this into account if using pre-made patties. When you defrost the burgers they are more likely to fall apart when they come to room temperature. Once defrosted, I separate the burgers onto parchment paper and keep them in the fridge until I’m ready to season and grill.
How to Grill the Burgers
Detailed instructions and measurements can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Season the ground beef with liquid smoke, Worcestershire, and the burger seasoning.
- Form 4 burger patties.
- Drizzle olive oil onto the grill grates to prevent sticking.
- Place the burgers onto the grill and close the lid.
- Grill the burgers on 450 degrees for 7-9 minutes.
Why You Use Oil for Grilled Burgers
You should oil the grill grates using a cooking brush or towel prior to grilling. This will help prevent sticking. I like to do this prior to preheating, to prevent flare ups from the oil.
I also like to add a little oil to the burgers. This just provides another precaution, to prevent sticking. The oil also helps with getting those perfect grill marks on the patty.
How to Air Fry the Burgers
- Season the ground beef with liquid smoke, Worcestershire, and the burger seasoning.
- Form 4 burger patties.
- Air fry.
What the Queso Dip is Made Of/What Gives it Flavor
I swear it’s the best cheese dip ever! I had to come up with my own recipe because it can be really hard to find a good one in restaurants. Many use that fake cheese that has a terrible aftertaste. There’s nothing like the real thing using real cheese.
You will also need milk and half and half to get it creamy. You can use any milk you wish, but keep in mind the texture and taste of the milk will impact the recipe. The taste of your milk will carry into the dip, along with the texture. Milks that are thin, will thin out the dip and you will need to thicken it up using more cornstarch. (Steps documented in the notes of the recipe in the recipe card.)
A lot of recipes use condensed milk, which is a combination of milk and sugar. I opted for milk and half and half, but feel free to use the same amount of condensed milk as the total amount of milk and half and half used in the recipe.
What Kind of Cheese to Use
I use a combination of cheddar cheese (mild or sharp) and pepper jack cheese. You can use whatever you wish. I recommend you purchase the cheese in block form and grate it yourself.
Pre-shredded cheese has potato starch and chemical preservatives. It doesn’t melt as well and won’t get the dip super creamy.
Is the Queso Spicy?
The pepper jack cheese will give it a kick. Substitute cheddar or whatever you like, if you don’t want spicy. If you use a chili powder that has spicy elements, you may think the dip is spicy, in which case omit it. It’s only really spicy if you add cayenne pepper and/or jalapenos.
How to Melt the Cheese
It takes 5-7 minutes of constant stirring on medium heat to fully incorporate the ingredients and get the cheese to melt down. If you use quality cheese (that isn’t pre-shredded) it will met up easily and nicely.
How to Thicken the Cheese
I add cornstarch to the cheese which will help thicken up the dip as the ingredients are incorporated and melt on the stove. It takes about 10 minutes to get the sauce to thicken and it will thicken even more as the cheese dip cools.
If you like it even thicker, create a slurry using 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Combine the two until it creates a white paste and add it to the dip and stir. After several minutes it will thicken more.
What Type of Buns to Use
Brioche buns are my favorite. They toast up well and I like to oil the top just a touch with butter or olive oil. Any bun you like will work just fine.
Can You Use Turkey Burgers?
Turkey burgers are grilled on 400-450 degrees for 12 minutes total until the burgers reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
If air frying or cooking on the stove, ensure the turkey burger reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Ideas For Additional Toppings
- Grilled Mushrooms
- Grilled Onions
- Pico De Gallo
- Onion Rings
More Burger Recipes
What to Pair with These Burgers
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Southern Baked Beans
Southern Potato Salad
Southern Soul Food Baked Mac and Cheese
Easy Spaghetti Salad
Southern Macaroni Salad
Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
Check out my Air Fryer French Fries.
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese Omit and use additional cheddar if you don't desire spicy.
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion I use white or red onion.
- 2-3 garlic cloves Minced
- 15.5 oz fire roasted tomatoes
- 4 oz green chilies
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
Homemade Burger Rub (feel free to use store-bought if you wish)
- 4 brioche buns
- Add the shredded cheese to a bowl with the cornstarch and stir. Set aside.
- Place a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the butter, stir until melted.
- Add in the onions and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir continuously until the cheese has melted.
- Taste repeatedly and add additional salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
- It will take about 10 minutes for the dip to thicken. Remove the dip from heat. It will thicken up more as it cools.
- If you like it even thicker, create a slurry using 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 tablespoon of water. Combine the two until it creates a white paste and add it to the dip and stir. After several minutes it will thicken more.
Air Fryer Burgers
- Season the ground beef with the liquid smoke, Worcestershire, burger seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Form 4 burger patties. Be sure not to over-work the meat. (If air frying, the olive oil is not needed. It's only necessary for grilled burgers).
- Place the burgers in the air fryer.
- Cook the burgers for 8 minutes on 360 degrees.
- Open the air fryer and flip the burgers. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Use a meat thermometer to test doneness. 125 degrees rare, 135 degrees medium rare, 145 degrees for medium, 155 degrees for medium-well, and 160 degrees for well done.
- Serve on buns and drizzle in queso.
- Drizzle olive oil onto the grill grates to prevent sticking. I like to use a cooking brush or towels.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat/450 degrees.
- Season the ground beef with liquid smoke, Worcestershire, olive oil, and the burger seasoning. Form 4 burger patties. Be careful not to overwork the mixture. This will result in burgers that crumble.
- Ensure your meat is cold prior to grilling. If necessary, place the seasoned and formed burgers into the fridge to cool until you are ready to grill. If you grill the burgers at room temperature, this will result in dry burgers that will likely fall apart.
- Place the burgers onto the grill, but don’t press down. This squeezes the fat from the burger and dries them out. Feel free to flip the burgers repeatedly to ensure even cooking.
- Total cook time will vary based on how done you like your burgers. You can also use a meat thermometer to gauge:4 minutes, 125 degrees rare5 minutes, 135 degrees medium rare6 minutes, 145 degrees for medium7 minutes, 155 degrees for medium-well9 minutes, 160 degrees for well done.
- A minute prior to removing the burgers from the grill, top each burger with a slice of cheese (if preferred). Cook for an additional minute. You can add buns here for toasted buns.
- Allow the burgers to rest and cool for 10 minutes. Serve on buns and drizzle in queso.
- Heat a skillet or grill pan on medium-high heat. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into the pan.
- Season the beef and form beef patties. Add the beef patties to the skillet.
- Cook each side for 5-7 minutes until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Remove the burgers, set aside to rest. You can toast your buns in the pan if you wish.
- I use the pre-made burgers from Butcher Box, the meat is 100% grass-finished and grass-fed.
- Make sure your grill grates are clean prior to grilling. Leftover residue will lead to sticking.
- If you don’t want to make a Homemade Burger Rub, feel free to use 2 tablespoons of your favorite rub.
- Liquid smoke is added for additional grilled flavor. Omit if you wish. There is no substitute.
- I also like to add a little oil to the (grilled) burgers. This just provides another precaution, to prevent sticking. The oil also helps with getting those perfect grill marks on the patty.
- Prior to shaping the patties (if not using pre-made), Take a look at your buns and shape the patties so that they are larger than the actual bun you will be using.
- According to the USDA, hamburgers should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present. Use a food thermometer to be sure they have reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F. If you’re cooking turkey burgers, they should be cooked to 165 °F.
- You will likely have leftover dip using the serving sizes in the recipe. I love to have this as an additional side dish. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you wish.
- The pepper jack cheese will give it a spicy kick. Substitute cheddar or whatever you like, if you don’t want spicy. If you use a chili powder that has spicy elements, you may think the dip is spicy, in which case omit it. It’s only really spicy if you add cayenne pepper and/or jalapenos.
- You can use an immersion blender to smooth out the tomatoes if you wish.
- You can use any milk you wish, but keep in mind the texture and taste of the milk will impact the recipe. The taste of your milk will carry into the dip, along with the texture.
- You can substitute flour for the same amount of cornstarch used in the recipe.
- Pre-shredded cheese has potato starch and chemical preservatives. It doesn’t melt as well and won’t get the dip super creamy. I recommend block cheese that you grate yourself.
- Be sure to stir the dip as the cheese melts to prevent the cheese at the bottom of the pan from burning.
- Macros assume 1/3 cup queso per serving.