Today, I’m sharing with you what I think is the best bison burger recipe, friends. It’s a copycat Big Mac, but obviously made with bison.

Bison meat is notoriously lean, so I’ll show you ways to keep it moist and some tricks I’ve learned about how to boost flavors so the whole burger will be one you will want to make again and again.

If you’re a die-hard burger fan, you can find the rest of my epic burger recipes here.

Two burgers on a plate with lettuce and tomatoes.

What Makes for a Juicy Bison Burger?

A glass bowl with minced onion, minced raw bacon, and black pepper in it.
Minced onion provides juiciness while minced bacon brings smoky flavor and extra fat to the naturally lean bison. You can add pepper to the mix, but don’t add salt. Salt the patties on the grill.

Bison is a lean meat, and if you overcook it, it can be dry. I guard against that by adding some juicy goodies into the meat mix.

Here’s what you need:

  • a juicy ingredient (in this case, minced onion)
  • a fatty ingredient (in this case, minced bacon)

The combination of the onion and bacon work well together to keep these burgers juicy, even if you cook them to well done. Promise!

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The Components of This Bison Burger (to make it kind of like a Big Mac)

You all know the song (or am I dating myself?)

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bunnnnnn.

McDonald’s marketing for the Big Mac back in The Day.

And as much as I love me a good Big Mac once a year or so, it really isn’t the best burger ever. It’s not super juicy–okay, it’s dry. The sauce is a bit too sweet and the Iceberg lettuce really does not bring its A game.

So, for my copycat Big Mac bison burger recipe (a literal and figurative mouthful), here’s what I used:

  • 1 bison/onion/bacon patty (but you could use 2, of course)
  • special sauce (a mixture of ketchup, a touch of fish sauce, and our favorite hot sauce, Gator Hammock)
  • butter lettuce (bye, iceberg)
  • cheddar (you can use American if you want, but cheddar brings a bit more flavor)
  • pickle relish (because you can spread it all over the bun)
  • sliced onions (more texture than minced onions)
  • sliced heirloom tomatoes (because tomatoes are awesome on burgers. Come on, McDonald’s)
  • Kaiser rolls (or go for sesame buns or even potato rolls)

See? Here it is open-faced so you can see all the goodies (except the cheese and relish which are hiding under the lettuce):

2 bison burgers on lettuce with the buns open to show the sauce and sliced tomatoes.
Note that we grilled the buns. It brings out more flavor in the bread and adds another level of crispiness. The special sauce is a real winner. And if you haven’t tried Gator Hammock, prepare to fall in love!

Why Would You Put Fish Sauce in a Burger?

A bottle of ketchup, a bottle of fish sauce, and a bottle of Gator Hammock hot sauce on a counter.
My special sauce consists of ketchup and Gator Hammock hot sauce with just a touch of fish sauce mixed in. It’s flavorful and intense. So good. You can also lessen the intensity just a bit by inviting mayonnaise along to the party.

It had never occurred to me before until I read the umami burger post from White on Rice couple. Her mom always added some fish sauce to her burgers, so I decided to try it.

And let me tell you, they don’t taste fishy at all. The fish sauce just adds a bit more depth of flavor and extra umami goodness to the burger.

You can mix a few shakes right into your meat mix, or you can add it to your sauce. Or both. But do give it a try.

I understand if you’re skeptical, but trust me. Buy a good brand of fish sauce from an Asian market or online (what I used here was not really high quality, and even so, the burgers were awesome), so please go for it!

How to Keep a Burger from Turning Into a Puck on the Grill

There is nothing more awkward than trying to add toppings to a burger that is shaped like a charcoal briquette.

The proteins in meat naturally draw up when cooked, and, since the edges of a patty tend to be thinner, everything ends up drawing to the center, and you end up with a burger with a fat middle.

The worst part is that there’s no real flat surface on which to pile on your toppings. It’s like trying to balance playing cards on top of a baseball. Everything just wants to slide off.

The remedy is to form your burgers so the edges are thicker than the center. That way, when it cooks, the whole patty ends up uniform and flat, perfect for adding toppings. See?

4 uncooked bison burger patties to make copycat big mac on a plate ready to be grilled.
See how the edges are thicker than the centers? This translates into perfectly flat, non-puck burgers once you cook them. Hooray!

What to Serve with Your Bison Burgers

Side dishes are the best, and here are some of my favorites to serve alongside a great burger.

Don’t Burn Yourself on the Grill!

The Beloved enjoys grilling, but he doesn’t do it very often. When he does, he always wears a big old welding glove to protect himself from the heat of the flames.

They aren’t expensive and they’ll keep your arms from getting singed.

A man wearing white and blue print shorts and a blue tee shirt. He is wearing wire-rimmed glasses and smiling. In one hand he is holding the handle of a spatula, and his other arm is covered to the elbow in a long, red suede welding glove.


If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

Please Take a Moment to Rate and Review

5 golden stars for rating recipes

The Best Bison Burger Recipe

Jennifer Field
Lean bison gets additional fat and flavor from minced smoked bacon and white onion. Add in some Big Mac-inspired fixin’s, and you end up with one excellent burger!
5 from 3 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 770 kcal


For the Burgers

  • 1 pound ground bison
  • cup raw bacon , very finely minced
  • cup white onion , very finely minced
  • as many grinds of black pepper as you like
  • about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Special Sauce

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce (we love Gator Hammock)

Other Fixin’s

  • toasted Kaiser rolls or your favorite burger bun
  • 8 Tablespoons relish
  • 2-3 leaves lettuce your favorite kind
  • 2-3 slices ripe tomato skip the tomato if they aren’t in season
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • thinly sliced white onion


For the Burgers

  • If you are at all concerned that the bacon won’t be completely cooked on the grill, go ahead and cook it for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. I didn’t bother, and we both lived to Tell the Tale.
  • Gently but thoroughly mix all the burger ingredients together except for the salt.
  • Form into 4 patties of equal size, making sure the edges are thicker than the centers since burgers tend to draw up into weird pucks on the grill. We don’t want Pucked Up Burgers, no we don’t.
  • Place on the grill and then salt each burger fairly liberally.
  • Grill to medium to medium-well, about 4-5 minutes a side over medium hot coals.

For the Special Sauce

  • Mix everything together. You’ll have enough to liberally sauce all four burgers, but please make this to taste, and make as much or as little as you need for the number of burgers you’re cooking.

To Build Your Burgers

  • On your toasted buns, spread on 2 Tablespoons relish.
  • Top with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and sliced onion.
  • Add the burger and spread with some of your special sauce.
  • Top with sliced tomatoes and finish with the top bun. Enjoy!

Did You Make Any Changes?


Feel free to change up the flavors of your burger with all sorts of add-ins. A couple of tablespoons of salsa and maybe some minced pickled jalapenos would be great. And then you could top your burger with guacamole or avocado slices, pepper jack, sour cream and maybe some enchilada sauce.
Finely grated summer squash or zucchini also brings a lot of moisture along with some Sneaky Vegetable Goodness.


Serving: 1burgerCalories: 770kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 55gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 2226mgFiber: 2gSugar: 19g
Keyword bison burger, burger, copycat big mac
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

And there you have it friends. A fabulous (if I do say so myself) up-leveled copycat Big Mac and one heck of a bison burger recipe!

Thanks for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.

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  1. Yum! Everything is better with fish sauce – well, almost everything. Can’t wait to try this tasty tip in all of our burgers.

  2. My son has been begging me to buy bison so he can grill it. I am sending him your link so he can learn how to grill it the right way!

    1. It pretty much just tastes like lean ground beef to me, but still, kinda cool for a change! And they don’t get fed corn, and that’s a good thing too. What’s Tennessee style, @OrgasmicChef:disqus ? 🙂

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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