Sweet Barbecue Kim-cheese Burgers

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

A juicy burger glazed with a sweet soy reduction, topped with cheese, kimchi, and quick pickled carrots and cucumbers.

Note: You can cut matchsticks by hand or use a mandoline. Alternatively, grate cucumbers and carrots on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor fitted with the large grating attachment.

Sweet Barbecue Kim-cheese Burgers

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4
Active time:45 minutes
Total time:1 hour
This recipe appears in: From the Archives: Sweet Barbecue Kim-Cheese Burgers Serious Entertaining: Backyard Burger Bash Burger Topping Week: Sweet Barbecue Kim-cheese Burgers


  • 1 small cucumber, seeds removed, cut into thin matchsticks (about 1 cup, see note above)
  • 1 small carrot, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks (about 1 cup, see note above)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 18 ounces freshly ground chuck
  • 1 recipe bulgogi-style marinade, or 1/2 cup store-bought bulgogi sauce
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 4 burger buns
  • 1/2 cup chopped kimchi
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions


  1. 1

    Combine cucumber, carrot, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and vinegar in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.

  2. 2

    Divide meat into four even piles and shape into burger patties about 1/2-inch wider than burger buns. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

  3. 3

    Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

  4. 4

    Place burgers directly over hot side of grill and cook until well charred, about 2 minutes. Flip patties and brush with sauce. Cook on second side until well charred, about 2 minutes longer, brushing with sauce occasionally. Flip burgers again, transfer to cooler side of grill, brush with more syrup, and continue to cook, brushing with sauce occasionally, until patty registers 125°F to 130°F on an instant read thermometer for medium rare, about 5 minutes total, or 135°F to 140°F for medium, about 6 minutes total. Top each burger patty with 1 slice cheese, then transfer to a large plate and tent with aluminum foil.

  5. 5

    Toast buns directly over hot side of grill until browned, about 30 seconds.

  6. 6

    Place bottom buns on a cutting board and top with burger patties. Top each burger with chopped kimchi, pickled carrots/cucumber, and scallions. Drizzle with more sauce. Close sandwiches and serve.


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