Pepper Jack Cheeseburgers with Jalapeño-Cumin Sauce

The cheeseburger is an American icon; this one acquires Tex-Mex overtones, thanks to jalapeño-laced Pepper Jack cheese. Mixing the cheese right into the ground beef keeps the burgers incredibly moist, even when they're cooked to medium. The only problem is a tendency for the burgers to stick to the grill, so be sure to oil the grate well before cooking.


Slideshow: All-Time Favorite Burgers


  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 3 large fresh jalapeños, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • About 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 4 thin tomato slices
  • Pickled sliced jalapeños, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a blender, combine the fresh jalapeños with 1/2 cup of the cilantro, the garlic, lime juice, water, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground cumin and a generous pinch of salt. Puree the jalapeño-cumin sauce until smooth.

  2. In a medium bowl, lightly knead the sirloin with the Pepper Jack cheese, the remaining 3 tablespoons of cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. Loosely shape into 4 patties about 3/4 inch thick; tuck any large pieces of cheese into the burgers. Season very generously with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate lined with plastic wrap. Brush the cut sides of the buns with olive oil.

  3. Light a grill. When the fire is medium hot, brush the grate with olive oil. Grill the cheeseburgers for about 10 minutes, turning once, for medium meat. Move the cheeseburgers away from the heat and grill the cut sides of the buns until they are toasted, about 1 minute.

  4. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the cut sides of the buns. Set the cheeseburgers on the bottom halves and top with the lettuce, tomato and pickled jalapeños. Spoon some of the jalapeño sauce on the burgers, top with the buns and serve right away, passing the remaining sauce on the side.

Suggested Pairing

Beer The spicy jalapeño sauce that tops this burger and the peppery cheese in it demand a beer with a refreshingly hoppy, citrusy tang. Try the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Contributed By Photo © Tina Rupp Published June 2003

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