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How Should I Grill 24 Hamburgers?

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I normally grill one hamburger each for Marcia and me on a small hibachi.  They’re ¼-pounders, ½-inch thick and 4¼-inches across.  On that little grill they’re done at four minutes per side.  I don’t bother to take any fire or meat internal temperatures.


But I’ll have to use my Kamado Joe Big Joe to cook the same burgers for 14 people.  This will be my first attempt at cooking that many hamburgers and none of my experience applies.


So…what are your recommendations?


       How large should the fire be?

      How should I set up the Big Joe? (I’d prefer to not use the heat deflectors, but I’ll listen to your advice.)

       Lid open or closed?

       When should I put the cheese on top to melt it a bit?

       Anything else I should consider?


Thanks for the help.  I know it’s a page one cook, but I’m not comfortable.  I’ll probably do a test run before the big day.


BTW, they’d be smashburgers if I had a griddle. I can cook them.

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Cooking for a crowd is something I usually botch, but here are my suggestions based on those botches!


I would build the fire across the entire diameter of the big joe, and bring it to 400 degrees with lid closed. As you begin cooking you'll be opening and closing the lid frequently and all that oxygen will drive your temps even higher. I would not use heat deflectors. Lid closed except for when you're flipping the burgers, putting on cheese, etc. If you leave the lid open the fire will get away from you. Cheese usually melts in 60-90 seconds under these conditions for me with the lid closed.


Be glad you don't have a griddle, if you tried to cook that many smash burgers the amount of fat rendered would be unbelievable and would make cooking very difficult IMO. However, if you have grill grates you could use the flat side as a griddle and the slots would take care of the grease build up.


I hope this helps and good luck with the cook!






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I did 24 burgers and 24 dogs for our son’s birthday a few weeks ago, I also did them on the Blackstone so I didn’t have to deal with a charcoal fire.... that being said, I’ve cooked burgers and brats for my 10 employees on the Big Joe and took them to work on a few occasions. My advice is to set up a 2 zone cooking area and cook in batches because the grease from even 80/20 can cause flare ups that will get away from you in a hurry. Kamado flash is a real danger here when the lid closed so I tend to do my burger cooks lid up. When cooking burgers in batches, I like to line a Tupperware container with foil, pour some hot beef broth in the bottom, and set the burgers in there while I cook the others. Put the lid on and this will keep them nice and juicy. The foil gives me the peace of mind that I won’t melt plastic into my burgers once they come off the screaming hot grill. They don’t have to be submerged in the broth, just enough to cover the bottom and maybe 1/4 inch or so. My burgers I did on the Blackstone were just as good juicy as if I’d just taken them off but were held over for about 90 minutes. Worked like a charm. 

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Also, i looooove the cheese melted on the burger but there’s always some weirdo at the party who don’t like cheese.... just leave the cheese off and play it safe. Trust me, no one will care that they have to put a slice of cheese on their burger but you’ll never hear the end of it if they didn’t want cheese!!!

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For 14 burgers I would go 2 zone as Mr. Cue suggests.  There's a lot to do with 14 burgers you want the cool side for the cheese to melt.  Like you mentioned, burgers are page 1 but honestly 14 burgers is chapter 10.  I would go with 350-400, lid closed.  If you can remember, I'd close the bottom vent while you're flipping the burgers and adding cheese, just remember to open it back up when you close the lid.  The will help with the temps rising as was mentioned by Tarheel.  Cheese is quick, for me usually 30 seconds lid closed on the classic but it depends on the cheese.  Cheddar is longer than american.


A dry run is a good idea and honestly my biggest challenge when I cook 8 burgers which fills up half the classic is room for the spatula to flip. Yes the burgers shrink which helps but give yourself some extra space and do another batch.  Good luck!

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I'm part of 100-head event every summer. Our Grill-master uses a 2-level approach on a gas grill. We use covered, half-sheet pans for cooked food, doubled-up so gentle heat hits the food.  


HAve fun



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Close the bottom vent when the dome is open, it could help lessen the runaway temps.

I did a many burger burn for my daughter's baby shower on my gasser, one time. I could have done the same thing on my Akorn. I used frozen patty's that are intended to be grilled from frozen. I ran them through a quick wash of half Dale's and half balsamic vinegarette.

I worried over the large cook and everyone there loved them!

So, don't sweat it and have fun! It will work out like gangbusters! 

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I did my test cook last night.  Your suggestions payed off.  I think I learned enough to get me through.

  • The 375° fire was controlled by a stoker with a 5CFM blower.
  • It was spread as wide as possible to make the temperature consistent across the 24-inch grate.
  • I preheated the Big Joe for a half hour and the grates for about 15-minutes.
  • The hot ceramic made for rapid temperature recovery when opening the lid to flip and add cheese.
  • Four minutes per side cooked them through (no pink) with nice grill marks (not important on a burger).
  • The cheese didn’t melt quite enough at 1½ minutes. I’ll try 1¾ minutes for the actual cook.

 Thanks for the help.  I won’t need the Prozac.

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