Pitmaster Rodney Scott Shares His Go-To Burger Recipe For Your Memorial Day BBQ

Rodney Scott was named 'Best Chef' by the James Beard Foundation in 2018.

The Messenger; Dish: Jerrelle Guy

"Oof, mercy, that's a good burger," Rodney Scott, chef-owner of his eponymous barbecue restaurant, says as he describes his go-to, crowd-pleasing dish.

The James Beard Award-winning pitmaster and cookbook author founded his own barbecue empire, Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ, in 2017, which now has five locations.

When it comes to cooking at home, though, and serving up food for his family, guests, or himself, the professional turns to a barbecued, bacon-topped cheeseburger.

"I always had a love for burgers," Scott told The Messenger. "And still hasn't changed," adding that there was a point in time when he thought a patty melt was an excuse to eat burgers for breakfast.

Whether it's a smashed patty, a thick round of ground beef, or a burger topped with bacon, the Charleston chef says he's tried this meal in a myriad of different ways.

Scott says he loves burgers with different types of seasonings and even uses his own brand's Rib Rub (or sometimes his sauce) as a mix-in for the ground beef — the latter of which is written into this favorite recipe of his.

Rodney Scott BBQ
Rodney Scott BBQ (Credit: Angie Mosier)

Scott told The Messenger this BBQ Bacon Burger was conceived rather quickly, and that he was trying to pay homage to the flavors of the American Southwest. That's where the idea for jalapeño came into play, he said.

Scott says that grilling the pepper helps to bring out its natural sweetness while providing a savory heat. But still, he flip-flops on whether he prefers the pepper as a side item or as a burger topping.

"Sometimes it's slices, sometimes it's just the whole jalapeño pepper [on the side]," he said, "and it's just, bam, I just bite right into it."

Scott said that the first time he tried the complete dish, he knew it would become a beloved recipe. The chef says it "never gets old" and is a home run every time he makes it.

"We've done it so many times," Scott added. "Each time, that burger has just been on point."

Part of the appeal, he said, is that there's minimal prep time and not much work to do. "You don't stand over the grill for hours at a time," he added.

Scott explained that the process of putting together this dish is a fun way to involve kids and other guests, and that it won't take you away from entertaining for too long. He suggests allowing yourself 35 minutes total for prep and cooking.

Mains BBQ Bacon Burger
Mains BBQ Bacon Burger Credit: Jerrelle Guy


For the sautéed onions

  • 1⁄4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon Rib Rub

For the burgers and peppers

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • Canola oil, for the grill
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 tsp Rib Rub
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 slices white American cheese
  • 4 potato rolls (or other soft sandwich buns)
  • 1⁄2 cup Rodney’s 1,000 Island Dressing
    • Editor's note: Scott combines Thousand Island dressing with his brand's Rodney Sauce for this burger topper.
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, fried crisp and cut into two-inch pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup the Other Sauce


  1. Fire up your grill. Heat the grill to 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make the burgers: Divide the ground chuck into eight equal portions (4 ounces each) and form each into a one-inch-thick patty.
  3. Char the peppers:
    1. Use grilling tongs to lightly brush the grill grate with a canola oil-soaked cloth.
    2. Place the jalapeños on the grill until evenly charred and black, turning them every two minutes for 10 to 12 minutes.
    3. While the peppers are still hot from the grill, place them in a bag and close it, or place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to steam for about five minutes.
    4. Take the peppers out of the bag and use a spoon or gloved fingers to remove the skin. Discard the skin, stems and seeds (and take care not to touch your face or eyes).
  4. Crank the heat on the grill up to between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit, by opening the vents three-fourths of the way for a few minutes. Once the temperature has risen, close the vents slightly to maintain temperature and avoid flare-ups.
    • Editor's note: vent instructions are for a charcoal grill.
  5. Cook the burgers:
    1. Season both sides of the patties with the Rib Rub, place them on the grill and close the top. Cook until each side has developed a slight brown crust, and some dark grill marks, about three to four minutes per side.
      • Editor's note: You can buy Rib Rub, or make it yourself. See Pro Tip.
    2. Put cheddar cheese on four of the patties and white American cheese on the remaining four patties.
  6. Split and toast the potato rolls on the grill, flat side down, for 30 to 45 seconds, depending on your preference.
  7. Spread Rodney's 1,000 Island dressing on both the top and bottom buns.
  8. Stack a cheddar-topped burger on top of an American cheese-topped burger on each bun. Top with the sautéed onions, bacon, and the Other Sauce. Place the top bun on top and serve with the grilled jalapeños on the side.

Pro Tip

  • You can buy Rib Rub, or make it yourself.
    • Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ sells their signature Rib Rub online for $4.99, and the recipe is in their cookbook.
    • Scott says if you can't get his version, you likely have ingredients in your spice cabinet to make something similar: chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and kosher salt.
  • For the sauces, the same applies.
    • Scott says the Other Sauce ($8.99) is apple cider vinegar-based, and his company's Rodney Sauce ($8.99), which is used for the 1,000 Island dressing, has a white vinegar base.
    • "You can kind of play with those things and put them together [with barbecue sauce]," he said. "You can probably find exactly what you want."
  • For the 1,000 Island dressing, Scott says it's a little more ad hoc.
    • "That's something we threw together," he told The Messenger, adding that it's not on the website as a recipe yet. "It's one of our favorite things that we like to do - we call it the burger sauce."
    • He says home cooks can use regular thousand island, but recommends mixing in a bit of Rodney Sauce "to give it a little zing"
  • Scott recommends fully smashing the patties while they're on the grill but says the flatness level is ultimately up to the home cook.
    • A full smash allows for both crispy bits and tender, juicy bites as well.
    • Flip your burger once it gets a little crust on the sides, he says.
  • Some folks will wait for the burger to rest, Scott says. But if you're like him, "my patience is thin when it comes to that burger coming off the grill." He says there's no need for resting time.

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