Buffalo Burgers

January 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Posted in Beef | 54 Comments
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I’ve always said that if I had to kill my own food, I’d be a vegetarian. 

I’ve also always claimed that if I were a vegetarian I’d miss hamburgers so much that I’d kill a cow to get one, if I had to. 

For Buffalo burgers???  I’ll leave the killing of a bison to the experts.  I don’t even think a konk on the head with my cast iron skillet would cause them to blink an eye.  Have you ever seen one of those things in real life?

They snort and they’re big as all get out.  They’re the bulldogs of the bovine world.

Did you know that there are about 500,000 bison in the United States and many thousands of them are right here in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming? 

Yes, I live in the Wild West and we have a small herd just a few miles south of Highlands Ranch and here’s a picture of my neighbors. 

 I’d like to introduce you to (from left to right) that’s  Bill, Joe and little Joey Jr….

Did you know that buffalo is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork and chicken and even half the fat of turkey? 

 Ground buffalo is so lean you may need to turn your skillet down or spray it with non-stick spray. 

4 tips for cooking buffalo:

  • Lower heat
  • Cook slower
  • Think Pink
  • Don’t overcook

I rarely eat buffalo and honestly am not all that crazy about the idea of killing these majestic animals.  I did buy ground buffalo meat for this recipe.  If you’ve never eaten Buffalo, the taste is very similar to beef. 

This recipe is a combination of great flavors that would work well for turkey burgers or hamburgers and the sauce would work in many situations.   I also liked the Marsala Wine method for the caramelized onions.  These burgers would be best grilled, but my Weber is still in hibernation, so I pan fried them in my cast iron skillet. 

So with all that said here’s the recipe:

Buffalo Burgers With Caramelized Onions

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 C. diced onion, plus 1 onion sliced into rings for garnish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 t. dried rosemary
  • 1 t. dried thyme
  • 2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t. brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1 pound ground buffalo meat
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted
  • Lettuce and tomato for garnish



  • 1/4 C. of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 C. ketchup
  • 1/4 C. mayonnaise

Caramelized Onions:  Saute 1 onion thinly sliced into rings in 2 T. Marsala wine for 10 – 15 minutes or until caramelized.

For the burgers:  Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until softened; set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, combine egg, rosemary, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt and pepper,  Mix in cooled onion and buffalo meat  Shape mixture into four 1/2 inch thick patties.  Chill up to 6 hours.

When ready to cook burgers, cook patties for about 5 minutes per side in a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or grill).

To build your burger:  Spread sauce on toasted buns and serve remaining sauce on the side for dipping.  Place patties on bun and garnish with lettuce and tomato and caramelized onions.

Beer Pairing:  Lightly malted Colorado Golden Ale

Wine Pairing:  Malbec from Argentina would have the red and black fruits and the body to go well with the buffalo burger.

I’m certainly not an expert on cooking buffalo meat.  Did a little research and  here are my sources:

  • National Bison Association
  • Colorado Classique Cookbook
  • Maverick Ranch

So how do you feel about eating Buffalo?



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  1. You know, I never heard of bison being sold in the grocery stores until I moved to TN. I’ve been skeptical, but many have told me how good the meat tastes and how lean it is. After reading your post and drooling over your gorgeous pictures, you have tempted me beyond redemption! I have to try this!

  2. Beautiful post – the carmelized onions sound like a great addition to a burger of any kind! I love buffalo meat. They are pretty plentiful up here, too, with wild herds around Yellowstone. They even have buffalo meat at our little grocery! I love that it’s leaner than beef, but just as tasty. Also, I ADORE the little cobalt footed sauce bowl. You just put that in there to tease me, didn’t you? 😛

    • That blue footed bowl was just for you Vickie! 🙂

      As always, thanks for stopping by.

  3. I am much like you in sentiments about a burger; thus I could never be a complete vegetarian. As for a buffalo burger, I like your tips & recipe. Especially the caramelized onions. Nice addition!

  4. Buffalo are coming back. In 10 years, there will be as much bison meat available as beef. And for good reason. When cooked right, it is better for you and has a great taste.

    Also, it is better for the environment to raise bison than the factory farm approach of raising cattle. More meat to the hoof.

    We should start a “what to do with bison” blog nnow and get in on the ground floor. We have a very large bison farm near us as well.

    • I’m going to have to make an effort to try a Buffalo Steak so I can really try the flavor. I’ve only had the hamburger with all the trimmings, mustard, catsup…etc.

      This whole factory farming thing is making me angry. I still love and use your quote about creating it in our lifetime and getting rid of it in our lifetime.

      Thanks as always for stopping by Dave.

  5. Just haven’t been able to get the image of you conking a buffalo with your iron skillet . . . lmao! 😛

  6. I love buffalo burgers. I rarely by ground beef anymore. But, if you only like well done burgers, don’t bother using buffalo they turn into a brick and tastless. But, medium rare, they are terrific.

    If you ever go to Ted’s Montana Grill, they have a bison (that’s the term they use) burger on a salad that is really yummy. They also have different cuts of bison that are really tasty.

    I agree with Vickie the conking…lol

    • I love Ted’s Burgers. I’ve not had the salad. I didn’t know that about a well done Buffalo burger. That’s good to know. OK you’ve convinced me, I’ll buy more Buffalo.

  7. My husband loves buffalo, I’ve never tried it.

  8. Good looking burger. Back in my skiing days, we used to stop off at the Buffalo Restaurant & Bar, in Idaho Springs, for a little bison. I think I’ve had burgers, prime rib, and Philly cheese steak, and liked them all.

  9. I love buffalo meat for the taste and how lean it is and love burgers made from it too. Your sauce looks delicious too.

  10. Heh, I have seen buffalo. A herd (complete with babies) crossed the road in front of my familys van while we were in Yellowstone once. Good times.

    The burger looks great! I love buffalo, but it’s hard to get around here.

    • The babies are pretty darn cute. Thanks for stopping by Bob

  11. This looks wonderful! I haven’t had buffalo since our last visit to Catalina Island (film studios took a few over to make westerns, and they’ve naturalized… the Conservancy now maintains the herd). I’ll have to make some just to taste the memories. Thanks for a great post!

    • That’s interesting that thanks to Hollywood you have Buffalo culinary memories! Cool! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  12. Funny post… but buffalo is seriously delicious. It also is so widely available now so there is no excuse not to try it. GREG

    • Thanks for stopping by Greg. I’m trying a steak next.

  13. Oh yum, I do think buffalo makes an awesome burg.

  14. We have buffalo meat at our local food market. It is priced competitive with beef burgers. I think it tastes great.

    I am not a hunter, but I think it might be a kick, to get naked except for the loin cloth, take a running start and jump on a horse and shoot a big ole buffalo with a bow and arrow. Naw, I am just going to Safeway.

    • LOL Thanks for the visual….of course the visual included Black and Silver face paint.

    • That was funny.

      I’m afraid that my visual of me doing this wouldn’t match up with what some poor old lady would see out her car window…

  15. maybe if you konked it a few times – just a suggestion. You are making me miss New Mexico…..grrrrrrrr

    • Then it would complain of a headache …. and then kill me in the rage

      You’re from New Mexico???

  16. I got my name by making chili with buffalo! Put off some people who thought they were still an endangered species.. It’s a little stronger than beef, much leaner, and more expensive- but I love it!

    • BD always love that you stop by and comment. An honor.

      Lea Ann

  17. Ive had it once in Walt Disney World. Your burger sure looks fantastic. You live in the wild west.. cool.. know any hot cowboys;)

  18. Believe it or not… buffalo are raised in upstate New York… not far from my home there…. and I did know they are lower in fat…. and it’s very good… good article… thanks!

  19. A friend of my husband has a family farm somewhere in Kansas (no, I have no idea where) that has a herd of buffalo. He has always said that if we want, he could have one butchered for us. Except I think I would need a much, much bigger freezer. And a much, much bigger wallet. It sure is tempting though!

    Love that adorable condiment dish!

    • Yup, you’d have to buy an additional freezer. Thanks Karen.

  20. I’ve found that many buffalo ranches are in use of more humane free range methods…not all to be sure, but there seems to be a greater awareness.

    • I agree Dan. Thanks for stopping by

  21. I’ve never had buffalo but I definitely want to try it! I love all of the seasonings you put into these and caramelized onions make everything taste better.

  22. I was fortunate to be able to try a variety of red meat on my recent visit to Crested Butte, CO. I found buffalo and elk delicious! This looks like an awesome hamburger!

    • I had elk medallions at an Estes Park restaurant that were WONderful. I’ve also had friends try to prepare it and did-not-like-it-at-all

      I think there’s a trick to Elk. Thanks so much for stopping by

  23. I tried it about a year ago. The leanness of the meat caused me concern so I mixed it with some beef. I wasn’t crazy about it. I ALMOST bought a buffalo tenderloin but at the time it was more than double the cost of a beef one (I think it was ~$140.)

    My favorite part of the buffalo is their wings. Taste just like chicken.

    • Love the wings too Chris. It’s amazing they’re so small for such a large critter. 😉 As always thanks for stopping by.

  24. I would love to eat buffalo or bison more often, I rarely see it here. Thanks for the cooking tips!

    • You’re welcome Natashya. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Your post made me smile. I like buffalo. It’s not a meat that is readily available but, I have enjoyed it in a restaurant. Pretty good. Yours looks wonderful!

    • I’m starting to realize it’s obscurity with all of the comments. I guess I’m lucky that it’s always available here in Denver. Safeway has it, Whole foods…. Thanks for stopping by Velva

  26. So so true Lea Ann! I don’t think I could kill my own food. Fish or seafood maybe but not meat. Thanks for the tips on cooking buffalo. We don’t really see it here but I’m going to look out for it! 🙂

  27. I love bison burgers!! great post!

  28. I usually stick with pigs, cows and chickens. I have heard that buffalo is good, but I just can’t do it. Your burgers look great. I am having burgers next week – I might try this recipe with just plain ol’ cow instead of buffalo. Great Post!

  29. We love buffalo burgers. For a while we were getting packs of 1/3 pound patties from Buffalo Gal – pricey but delicious.

    One of the nice things about buffalo is that you really can’t use antibiotics or feed supplements on them, so they are one of the most organic meats out there.

    • I didn’t know that about antibiotics or supplements. Great name for a buffalo meat supplier! Thanks for stopping by Dave.

  30. YES I am from New Mexico

  31. I’m a fifth generation Wyoming rancher who has switched part of our ranch to buffalo. Thanks for helping the cause with the recipe. I’m not crazy about killing these majestic animals either. But by making it economically viable, the marketplace can keep a beautiful herd of 200 animals roaming free over 5000 unfenced acres on my small part of Wyoming.

    • Thanks for stopping by Jim and leaving a comment. I’ll be experimenting with a buffalo roast next, hope I don’t butcher the cause. 🙂

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