Ground Beef on the Grill Not Hamburgers: Can It Be Done?

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ground beef on the grill not hamburgers

We’ve all been there. You have a ton of ground beef to use up, but you’re not in the mood for hamburgers. Can you still fire up the grill? 

The answer is a resounding yes. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

Ground Beef on the Grill Not Hamburgers

Instead of making hamburgers, consider using your ground beef to create homemade grilled sausages or cottage pie. You can also encase the patties in foil with sliced veggies to make the campfire favorite known as hobo packs. There are numerous possibilities, and the only limit is your imagination. 

How To Cook Ground Beef on the Grill Not Hamburgers

If the meat isn’t formed into patties, how do you keep it from falling through the gaps in the grilling grate? It’s a good question. However, there are actually several ways around this. 

For one thing, you can form the meat into different shapes. Our recipe for miteiti (or mici), a popular Romanian street food, is an excellent example. 

ground beef on the grill not hamburgers

It’s also possible to pack the ground beef around a skewer. This helps the meat keep its shape and makes it easier to turn over as it cooks. The bacon burger dog skewer recipe you’ll find below makes good use of this method. 

Finally, just because you’re using the grill doesn’t mean you can’t use a skillet. Sure, the meat won’t have as much smoke flavor, but we’d rather brown our beef outside on a nice summer day than stand sweating over a hot stove top. 

Alternatives to Hamburgers: Ground Beef on the Grill


These tasty morsels are essentially sausages without the casing. The mixing process goes faster if you use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or dough hook. 

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound ground chuck, 1/2 pound ground pork, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, and 2 tablespoons beef broth. 

Mix the ingredients thoroughly using a stand mixer. You can also combine them by hand, but this will get messy. As the beef broth gets absorbed by the meat mixture, keep adding 2 tablespoons more at a time until 1/2 cup total has been incorporated. 

Cover the meat mixture and refrigerate it overnight to give the flavors a chance to meld. 

When you’re ready to cook, shape the mixture into cylinders measuring 4 inches long and 1 inch thick. You’ll need to moisten your hands frequently to keep the meat from sticking. 

Grill the mititei over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side. Make sure the grill doesn’t get too hot, or the outsides will burn while the insides remain raw. Serve with your favorite mustard on the side. 

Bacon Burger Dog Skewers

This creation is a carnivore’s dream come true. 

After seasoning your ground beef with salt and pepper, take a hot dog and pierce it lengthwise with a skewer. Pack the ground beef around it, then secure the mixture in place with strips of bacon. Repeat with additional hot dogs until you run out of ground beef. 

Grill the skewers over medium heat, turning frequently, until the bacon is crisp and the ground beef has cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit

If you want to get creative, add some shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese to the beef. You can also add minced jalapenos for a spicy kick. 

Hobo Packs 

These can be made in advance, refrigerated, and tossed on the grill whenever you’re ready, making them an ideal choice for camping trips. 

Combine 1 pound ground beef and 1 package of dry onion soup mix (such as Lipton’s) in a medium-sized bowl. Form the mixture into 4 equal-sized patties and set aside. 

In a separate bowl, combine 3 cups sliced potatoes, 2 cups sliced carrots, 1 cup sliced onions, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well to combine. 

Prepare 4 sheets of aluminum foil measuring about 12 by 18 inches apiece. Coat each one with cooking spray, then divide the vegetable mixture among them. Top each bed of veggies with a ground beef patty. 

Seal the packets well and grill over medium heat until the potatoes and carrots are tender and the meat is cooked through, about 45 minutes. 

Cottage Pie 

For a traditional shepherd’s pie, substitute ground lamb for the beef. 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or set a pellet grill to 375. When the grill is hot enough, set a large cast-iron skillet over the cooking grate to heat up. 

ground beef on the grill not hamburgers

Add 1 pound of ground beef to the pan and cook until well browned, breaking it up with a spoon as you go. If necessary, drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Add 3/4 cup diced onion, 1/3 cup diced carrot, and 1 clove minced garlic. Sauté until vegetables are soft. 

Sprinkle the mixture with 2 tablespoons flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of beef broth and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. 

Add 1 tablespoon each of fresh thyme and tomato paste. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup frozen peas. 

Spread the mixture in a flameproof 1-1/2 quart casserole dish or 10-inch cast iron skillet. Set aside. 

Prepare 4 cups of mashed potatoes, then spread the potato mixture over the meat using a spatula. This task is easier if you add the potatoes in several dollops, rather than all at once. 

Top the pie with 1/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan. Decrease the grill or smoker temperature to 350

Set the baking dish on the cooking grate and close the lid. Let the pie cook until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the potatoes are nicely browned, about 35-45 minutes. Serve hot. 

The Bottom Line 

These ideas should be sufficient to get you started, but feel free to get creative. Experiment with different seasonings for the homemade grilled sausages, or add brussels sprouts and butternut squash to the hobo packs instead of carrots and potatoes. 

Best of luck, and happy grilling!

Darren Wayland Avatar


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