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 :)

  • Yield 4 burgers


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.