Without a doubt one of the greatest things about spring and summer is grilling.  The casual atmosphere of friends and family outdoors, enjoying the weather and each other’s company with drinks and no-fuss food – it just doesn’t get much better.  There is definitely nothing wrong with the usual fare of classic hamburgers, hot dogs, and barbecued chicken, but sometimes it’s fun to switch things up a bit.  This barbecue chicken burger comes from my friend Josie and is a hybrid of two traditional cookout foods.  Brilliant, I tell you!  These don’t take any longer to make than a classic burger since the method is still the same, but outcome is wonderful.

The first time I made these, I hadn’t read through the recipe all that carefully beforehand and failed to notice that it called for leftover pulled pork until it was already dinner time.  I went ahead and made them minus the pork, and they were great.  I still haven’t gotten to try them with the pork because I haven’t had any, but I’m sure it would add a nice depth of flavor if you happened to have some.  If you are concerned about the burgers drying out you could add a tablespoon of oil to the mixture, but I haven’t found it to be necessary.  I don’t tend to keep bottled barbecue sauce on hand so I just use a quick version that can be made with pantry ingredients.  I have included that below, but you can use whatever you like.  It makes more than you need for these burgers and keeps well in the fridge so you will have some left for later use…like when you want to make these burgers again the following week :)


For the sauce:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp. grated (or very finely chopped) onion
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Hot sauce, to taste

For the burgers:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • ¼ cup cornmeal (or ½ cup crumbled cornbread)
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped pulled pork (optional)
  • 5 tbsp. barbecue sauce, divided

For serving:

  • Burger buns, toasted on the grill
  • Grilled onion slices
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Additional barbecue sauce


  • 01

    Heat a grill to medium-high heat.  To make the barbecue sauce, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and is reduced to about 1 cup, about 7 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Chill until ready to use.

  • 02

    To make the burgers, combine the ground chicken, cornmeal, scallion, cilantro, brown sugar, spices, pulled pork (if using) and 2 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce in a medium bowl and mix gently until well combined.  Form the mixture into four equal patties.  Transfer to a plate and refrigerate until ready to grill.

  • 03

    Oil the grates of the grill.  Place the burger patties on the heated grill and cook about 3-4 minutes.  Flip the burgers and brush the cooked sides generously with some of the remaining 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce.  Cook about 3 minutes, then flip once more and brush the second side with barbecue sauce.  Top with cheese slices, if using.  Cook just until cooked through and cheese is melted.  Place the burgers on the toasted buns and top with grilled onion slices and additional barbecue sauce as desired.


  • Your burger looks fantastic! Especially with a Corona;-)

  • So it’s a meat loaf burger of sorts? I was expecting to see the pulled pork on top of the chicken. I can wrap my head around the idea of mixing it in with the chicken….but I’d rather just sink my teeth into the burger!

  • Your picture is making my mouth water. This burger looks amazingly good! :)

  • Wow, this looks perfect for the nice weather here today!

  • I love barbecue chicken! Especially on pizza. I am loving this burger idea… and I agree with you! The best part about summer is grilling outside and hanging out with loved ones. A casual dinner party is my favorite kind.

  • This is the second home run I’ve read about this morning.

  • I knew I would be making chicken burgers for dinner tonight, I just didn’t know how I wanted to spice it up yet. Perfect timing! Thanks.

  • Bridget

    Sounds yummy!!! I am not very familiar with ground chicken. Did you use white-meat ground chicken or did it include dark (fat content info from package would be the indicator I would look for)? I would think using the darker meat with the higher fat content would create a better burger, but I am hoping yours turned out great with all white-meat :)

  • Annie

    Mine is from the butcher shop so I’m not sure what store bought packages would include, but I think you definitely need a mix of white and dark meat so they don’t dry out. If you can’t find ground chicken at the store, you can always make a quick substitute at home by pulsing chicken in your food processor. I’ve done that before and it works well.

  • Amy

    mmm these look delicious!

  • So glad you liked these, and that they are still yummy without the pork. Great picture too, but I had to do a double take – did you drink a beer???

  • Ahhh, you’re a bun toaster. I’m a bun toaster. Long live bun toasting! These look delish.

  • Annie

    Oh yes, toasting the buns is a must. I just tried it for the first time last summer I think, and I’ve never looked back!

  • Annie

    I drank about half of it. I really want to like it but I just don’t. I mean, it’s tolerable but I just don’t want to drink it the way I want a cocktail or wine. Oh well.

  • Great idea making your own BBQ sauce. My dad used to make his own, I need to get that from him… because I want to make these burgers!

  • I’ve had my eye on these and now you’ve convinced me to try them. Thanks for including the bbq sauce recipe, too!

  • I made chicken parmesan burgers recently and they were so moist and flavorful. This version also looks delicious! Can’t wait to try them the next time we grill out.

  • Mmm great dinner idea!

  • These look wonderful! Homemade bbq sauce is the best. I love switching up burgers with different meats and flavors – this is a great one, thanks!

  • This looks just fantastic. I am making this for dinner tonight!

  • I love that you added cornmeal to the burger. I cannot get enough barbecue sauce right now. I love grilling so much! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • I made these the other night and they were great.

  • poppy

    Is the burger mix supposed to be that wet? i used the amount of cornmeal that you called for but it seemed too loose. of course, then when i added more cornmeal the burgers turned out a bit dry.

  • Annie

    I use the amount indicated in the recipe and they are fine. A bit wet, yes, but then the burger isn’t dry.

  • Nicole

    could you make this with ground pork instead of ground chicken?

  • Annie

    Please see the FAQ page.

  • Made this for the Memorial Day weekend and they were delicious. Our grocery store didn’t have enough ground chicken (we tripled the recipe) so we subbed in a pound of turkey. We also included the pulled pork. Will definitely be making these again!

  • Love this photo!! Looks so appealing…my mouth is watering!

  • Amanda

    We made this burgers awhile back and my beef loving husband loved them. We will be adding this to our menu a lot this summer. My two small girls also loved them as well. Thanks for giving us another reason to pull out the grill, and me to take the night off from cooking! :)

  • Kellie

    Made these tonight for dinner. Both my husband and I enjoyed them. Thanks for the delicious alternative to a traditional burger. Served the burgers with BBQ corn and a tomato and cucumber salad. Delicious summer meal!!

  • Bet

    We have been making this sauce to put on grilled chicken thighs for awhile and love it! We finally tried the burgers a few months ago and they’re great, too. Mixing up a batch of sauce for the ribs and pork shoulder on the smoker right now! :o) Merry Christmas, Annie! Thanks for sharing your recipes!