Level up your burger game with these juicy, tender, flavorful Buffalo Burgers aka Bison Burgers. Lighter and leaner than ground beef and just 10 minutes on the grill make them perfect for quick weeknight dinners and fun weekend BBQs.
Table of Contents
- Unique Burger Recipes
- Buffalo vs Bison
- What do bison burgers taste like?
- Bison Burgers vs Beef
- Why You'll Love This Bison Burgers Recipe
- Ingredients for Buffalo Burgers
- How to Make Buffalo Burgers (Bison Burgers)
- Bison Burger Cooking Time and Temperature
- Recipe Tips
- Alternate Cooking Methods
- What to Serve with Bison Burgers
- How to Store
- How to Freeze
- How to Reheat
- More Recipes for Grilling Meat
Unique Burger Recipes
I've made burgers like Chorizo Burgers, Turkey Burgers, and Rodeo Burgers, and thought it was time to try my hand at making some not-so-traditional buffalo burgers. I love the bison burgers served at Ted's Montana Grill as they are so tender and leaner than ground beef so I came up with a delicious and easy recipe you can make in your own backyard.
But first, some information about American Buffalo because it can be a little confusing.
Buffalo vs Bison
Are buffalo and bison the same thing? Yes and no.
The terms buffalo and bison are often used interchangeably, particularly in North America. However, this is technically incorrect. When one says "buffalo" in the U.S., they are referring to what is scientifically an American Bison.
Difference Between Buffalo and Bison
There are two species of bison: the American Bison (Bison bison) that roams North America and the European Bison or Wisent (Bison bonasus), which is found in Europe. True buffalo species, such as the African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and the Asian Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), are native to Africa and Asia, respectively.
Bison have a large hump at their shoulders and a shaggy coat in the front. They have a large head with short, curved, and sharp horns. In contrast, buffalo have a more uniform coat and lack the shoulder hump. Their horns are longer, curving outwards and upwards.
So when you go to the grocery store or other markets looking for ground buffalo meat to make the burgers, you'll need to look for bison.
What do bison burgers taste like?
Bison is slightly sweeter than beef and has an earthy flavor aspect and it is not gamey.
My bison burgers have a deep, rich, and smoky flavor because BBQ sauce, bacon fat, and smoked cheese are in the patty.
Bison Burgers vs Beef
- Bison is leaner, has fewer calories, and has less fat than beef
- Both bison and beef have similar tastes although some bison may have a slightly gamier taste (personally I haven't found that to be the case)
- Bison is more flavorful and more tender than beef
- The bison sold in stores is usually of better quality than the beef
- Bison is more likely to be grass-fed rather than grain-fed making it healthier
- Compared to beef, bison is richer in protein
Why You'll Love This Bison Burgers Recipe
Bison is lean and a healthy alternative to ground beef
Juicy, flavorful burgers with little prep needed
Quick & easy to grill - just 10 minutes from grill to table
Perfect for quick weeknight meals or weekend BBQs
Ingredients for Buffalo Burgers
- Ground bison
- BBQ Sauce
- Minced garlic
- Bacon - totally optional but a delicious addition
- Green onion
- Smoked Gouda cheese
- Hamburger buns
- Toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles
How to Make Buffalo Burgers (Bison Burgers)
Prior to making burgers, cook the bacon until crisp and reserve the fat. Set aside bacon for topping the cooked burgers.
- Place ground buffalo meat )preferably cold), green onions, garlic, barbecue sauce, and shredded gouda cheese in a large bowl. Add bacon fat.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix just until blended as overmixing can cause the meat to be tough.
- Form into patties. Grill immediately or place in refrigerator until ready to cook. Buffalo burgers stay together much better when cold.
- Place burgers on a preheated medium-high heat grill for about 4-5 minutes per side. It is not recommended to cook bison beyond medium as it will dry out and become tough. Top with cheese in the last minute of grilling.
Serve on a hamburger roll with your favorite toppings like bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Enjoy!
How to Make Bison Burgers Stick Together
If you are wondering how to keep bison burgers from falling apart, there are a couple of things to do:
- Pack the patties firmly but not too much.
- Using cold meat helps keep them together. Combine cold ground bison with seasonings and form the patties. Refrigerate the patties until you are ready to cook them.
Bison Burger Cooking Time and Temperature
Here's a general guide for how long to grill bison burgers over medium-high heat:
- Medium-rare (140-145°F): 3 to 4 minutes per side
- Medium (150°F-155°F): 4 to 5 minutes per side
- Well (160°F-165°F): 5 to 7 minutes per side
Always use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature.
Can you eat bison burgers medium-rare? You can eat a medium rare bison burger if the meat was freshly ground.
- To prevent bison burgers from being dense and tough, don't overhandle the meat when mixing in the seasoning and or press too tightly when forming the patties.
- Do not press down on the burgers when they are grilling or else you will press out all the juices.
- Press your thumb into the center of the patties to create an indention. This helps keep the patties from puffing up while grilling.
- Watch the grill temperature and make sure it stays in the range of medium to medium-high (350°F to 375°F).
- Do not overcook bison. It should be eaten either medium-rare or medium.
Alternate Cooking Methods
How to Cook Bison Burgers on the Stove
- Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until it is hot (just starts to smoke). Add butter or olive oil.
- Reduce the heat to medium.
- Place the patties in the hot skillet and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until your desired doneness.
How to Cook Bison Burgers in Air Fryer
- Preheat the air fryer to 370°F.
- Place the patties in the air fryer.
- Air fry for 4 minutes, flip the patties over, and air fry for 4 minutes or until your desired doneness.
What to Serve with Bison Burgers
- Potatoes - Regular French fries or sweet potato fries, potato salad, or air fryer fingerling potatoes.
- Salads - Fresh garden salad, coleslaw, or pasta salad.
- Vegetables - Grilled veggies such as corn on the cob, zucchini, green beans, or asparagus.
How to Store
It is best to store the patties separately from the buns and toppings.
The buns should be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature for up to 4 days.
The toppings should be kept in separate containers or bags and refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Storing Raw Bison Patties:
- If you're not cooking the patties immediately, you should refrigerate them.
- Put the patties in a dish and cover it with plastic wrap or use a sealable plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.
Storing Grilled Bison Patties:
- After grilling, let the burgers cool down at room temperature (no more than two hours to prevent bacteria growth).
- Place them in an airtight container or wrap them in aluminum foil.
- Store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to Freeze
Freezing Raw Bison Patties:
- To freeze, wrap them tightly in a layer of plastic wrap then either another layer of aluminum foil or place the wrapped patties in a plastic freezer bag.
- They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the fridge overnight.
- You can grill them frozen, just add a minute or two to the grilling time.
Freezing Grilled Bison Patties:
- Similar to raw patties, allow the grilled bison burgers to cool.
- Wrap each grilled patty individually in aluminum foil or freezer paper.
- Place these wrapped patties into a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal, and then put it in the freezer.
- Grilled bison burgers can last in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat
Reheating Grilled Bison Patties:
To reheat, you can use the oven, stove, or microwave:
Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the patty on a baking sheet and heat it for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it's warmed through.
Stove: Heat a pan over medium heat. Add the patty and cook each side for about 3 to 5 minutes or until it's heated to your preference.
Microwave: Place the patty on a microwave-safe plate. Use the reheat setting if your microwave has one, or use 50% power for 1 to 2 minutes, checking and turning the patty every 30 seconds to prevent overcooking.
Always ensure that reheated meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure food safety.
More Recipes for Grilling Meat
Find lots of delicious and easy grilling recipes right here on 2CM!
- 1 ½ lbs. ground buffalo or bison
- 2 Tablespoons BBQ Sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons bacon fat (to help keep moist)
- 2 Tablespoons green onion, chopped
- ¼ cup smoked Gouda cheese, shredded (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4-6 slices smoked Gouda cheese
- 4-6 slices bacon or jalapeno bacon is a great option
- 4-6 hamburger buns
- Garnish: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles
- Cook the bacon so it is ready to go when the burgers are done. Reserve the fat.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the burgers up to the bacon, quickly working the ingredients together with your hands. DO NOT OVERMIX!
- Form into 4 or 6 hamburger patties, depending on how large you like your burgers. They won't shrink much as the meat is very lean.
- Grill burgers on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side. It is not recommeneded to cook bison beyond medium as it will dry out and become tough. Medium rare is best.
- In the last minute of grilling top each burger with a slice of gouda cheese.
- Serve buffalo burgers on hamburger rolls, topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and additional BBQ sauce on the side.
This post has been updated with an improved recipe, new photos, and more helpful information to make the best burger possible. It was first published on June 5, 2016.