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Spicy Bacon Burger with Queso Blanco

Chef Ben Ford


Fire 'n' ice jalapeños
  • 1 16-ounce jar sliced hot jalapeños
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 chiles del arbol
  • Grilled pepper-glazed bacon
  • 12 slices thick cut bacon
  • Brown sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup syrup from fire 'n' ice jalapeños (recipe above)
  • Queso blanco (makes about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white onion
  • Salt, to taste
  • cups half and half
  • 6 ounces Jack cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces aged white cheddar, grated
  • 12 ounces white American cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Burgers
  • 8 3½-ounce burger patties
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces queso blanco (recipe above)
  • 4 burger buns
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 12 slices grilled pepper-glazed bacon (recipe above)
  • 24 slices fire 'n' ice jalapeños (recipe above)
  • 4 ounces mayonnaise
  • Chef notes

    This spicy burger is a chile lover's dream! It's topped with peppery bacon, hot jalapeños and sharp melty queso.

    Technique tip: If you're cooking the bacon indoors, bake at 375 degrees on a baking sheet fitted with a cooling rack. The grease needs to be able to drain off to make the bacon crispyl 

    Swap option: If making queso from scratch isn't in the cards, try using pepper jack cheese. 


    For the fire 'n' ice jalapeños:

    Empty the liquid from the jar and discard. Pour the jalapeños into a bowl, add the sugar, garlic and chiles and stir to combine.

    Spoon the mixture back into the jar. Put the lid on tight and place them in your refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. The sugar will dissolve and turn to syrup (turn the jar upside down every few days to make sure the sugar dissolves).

    For the grilled, pepper-glazed bacon:


    Preheat grill to medium-high heat.


    Sprinkle the bacon slices with brown sugar and pepper on both sides, gently pressing to help the seasoning adhere, if needed.


    Carefully place the bacon on the grill grate and brush with a little of the syrup. Cook about 7 minutes on each side, brushing every few minutes with more of the syrup until crispy.

    For the queso blanco:


    Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion with a pinch of salt and sauté until softened, about 4-6 minutes.


    In a separate bowl, toss the cheeses with the cornstarch. Once the onions are soft, add the half and half and bring to a simmer. Then add your cheeses and let melt over medium heat. Bring to a soft simmer to thicken.


    Season with garlic powder, ground cumin and salt to taste. Keep warm.

    For the burgers:


    Preheat grill to medium-high heat.


    Season the burger patties liberally with kosher salt and black pepper.


    Place the burgers on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. When the first red juices start to come out of the top of the burger, place one piece of cheese on top of each patty.


    When the corners of cheese just start to turn down, pull the burgers off of the grill and let rest.


    Butter the top and bottom of the buns and toast them on the grill to warm (don't do this until you're about ready to serve so the bread doesn't dry out).


    Place a good amount of shredded iceberg lettuce on each bottom bun, top with one beef patty and a hearty spoonful of the warm queso blanco. Top with the second patty and more of the queso followed by 6 slices of the fire 'n' ice jalapeños, and 3 slices of the grilled pepper-glazed bacon. Dress the top bun with mayonnaise and serve.