The Big Mess Burger

Super Bowl Sunday is two weeks away and sports fans are going to be watching football and stuffing their faces.  Serious football parties require serious munchies.  Search “football food” on the web and you’ll find all different kinds of fun snack ideas, including mini stadiums made entirely of food.  My favorite food to eat while watching a game is spicy chicken wings, but this Super Bowl I plan on cooking up my Big Mess Burger.

So what ingredients make The Big Mess?  It’s a cheddar cheese burger topped with sautéed onions, bacon, pineapple and espresso barbecue sauce.  It’s got the salty, sweet and savory thing going on.  Add some obligatory lettuce and you’ve got yourself one serious sandwich.  I first made this burger a few years ago.  I can’t remember the inspiration or how I chose the ingredients, but it was so good the first time that I haven’t really tweaked the recipe.

When I make hamburgers at home, with the exception of grilling, I always cook them in my cast iron pan.  The thick cast iron retains so much heat, that it never fails to deliver a great crust.  My pan is well seasoned so it doesn’t even need any extra cooking grease, but generally I’ll add a dab of butter which helps the meat brown better and adds flavor.  Overcrowding the pan is a big no-no because the juices won’t evaporate and you’ll have a steamed burger instead.  Most importantly, don’t play with it!  A caramelized crust will form only if you leave it alone, so flip it only once.

I couldn’t really figure out what to name this hamburger.  A potential candidate was the Monty Python burger because the combination of flavors is a little crazy but that didn’t stick.  Naming it the bacon, onion, espresso barbecue sauce and pineapple cheddar cheeseburger would make it take longer to say it, than eat.  Eventually The Big Mess Burger stuck because every time my wife eats it, she says, “This burger is a big mess.”  So be prepared to have an extra napkin or two on hand, but I promise it will be well worth it and definitely the best mess you ever ate

The Big Mess Burger

Serving Size: 4


  • 1 medium red onion cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (thicker is better)
  • 30 mls (one shot) espresso
  • 4 slices pineapple rings
  • 4 six ounce, 1-inch-thick hamburger patties
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • Lettuce leaves (optional)
  • 4 buns


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the bacon in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp, turning half way through cooking. Transfer to paper towel lined plate.
  • Add the barbecue sauce and espresso in a small bowl and stir until combined.
  • Preheat a medium-sized frying pan over medium-low heat with a few teaspoons of cooking oil. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Stir every few minutes and cook until the onions have softened and browned slightly but still retain some texture, about 10-12 minutes. Set the onions aside.
  • In the same pan, cook the pineapple slices until warmed through, about 30-45 seconds per side.
  • Finally preheat a large cast iron skillet or frying pan over high heat just to the point of smoking. Add a tablespoon of butter and the burgers and turn the heat down to medium-high. Cook for 4 minutes, flip and add the cheese, cooking for another 4 minutes for medium-rare (130 F). Cook an additional minute per side for medium (140 F). Let the burgers rest for a few minutes.
  • Place burgers on the buns and evenly distribute the toppings, adding barbecue sauce to taste.