BEHOLD! My burger obsession returns.

smoky sweet cherry pepper cheeseburgers - my version of shake shack's smoke shack I

It didn’t really go anywhere. In fact, a few weeks ago I ate a burger at Red Robin (after seeing the disgrace that was the Jersey Boys movie and also should I add: at like 11:30PM) and have been dreaming of it ever since. I would like to cover my entire life in onion straws right now.

But anyway. It’s Friday. Time for burgers.  And mojitos. And agua fresca for me… whomp whomp.

I realize this little chopped pepper makeshift relish below looks like nothing. But please take a moment to allow that to translate to EVERYTHING. This is everything.

smoky sweet cherry pepper cheeseburgers - my version of shake shack's smoke shack I

This here was our 5th of July celebration, meaning that I made the burgers while Eddie cut the sleeves off of his 5K t-shirt from that previous morning. Welcome to true life: none of my t-shirt’s have sleeves.

So I must tell you: this is my trashed up version of the smoke shack burger at Shake Shack. A few years ago on my first visit there, I didn’t even try a regular burger. I went straight for the smoke shack. (And the cheese fries. DUH.)  Something about the sweet and hot cherry peppers with the bacon and… and… ugh. Just reeled me in.

I’ve since had a regular old burger there because sometimes you just want a REGULAR burger. But the smoke shack is my usual choice. It just does it for me.

smoky sweet cherry pepper cheeseburgers - my version of shake shack's smoke shack I

For my at-home version, I added some smoked cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon and a smoky spread. Just enough smoke. Not enough that makes you feel like you’re eating a burger rubbed in an ashtray. Sorry for that delicious visual. But it’s the perfect amount of flavor, sweetness and heat. Because let’s be honest. I couldn’t just make a regular cheeseburger and cover it with chopped jarred peppers – which is kinda what I did anyway. With extras. It’s worth it though! Do I usually steer you wrong?

I found the sweet and hot cherry peppers (read: simply pimentos) at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and grabbed them immediately with “OMG SMOKE SHACK” in mind. They had no other destiny. No other choice. They were meant for this meal.

I can’t even think about this without losing my mind.

smoky sweet cherry pepper cheeseburgers - my version of shake shack's smoke shack I


Smoky Sweet Cherry Pepper Cheeseburgers

Yield: serves 4 appropriately, 2 obnoxiously

Total Time: 1 hour


1 pound ground beef (I like 85% grass fed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, sliced
1/2 cup mayo
1 teaspoon diced dill pickle
1 teaspoon bourbon smoked paprika (I adore this brand)
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
8 slices applewood smoked bacon, fried
2 cups hot and sweet cherry peppers (also called pimentos), diced
4 potato buns or your favorite hamburger buns


In a bowl, combine the ground beef, salt and pepper until just combined. Allow the ground beef to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then form it into 4 equal sized patties. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the burgers and cook until your desired doneness - for medium-well, I do about 5 minutes per side. After you flip the burgers once, cover the tops with the slices cheddar cheese. At this point I like to cover the skillet and allow the cheese to melt all around the burger. You can also grill the burgers, obviously.

Mix up the smoky spread by combining the mayo, pickle, paprika and mustard in a a bowl until smooth and creamy. Sounds weird, tastes DELICIOUS. To assemble the burgers, spread the mayo on the bottom, topping it with the cheeseburger. Add the bacon on top along with a few spoonfuls of the peppers, then top it with the bun and smash it all together. EAT.

smoky sweet cherry pepper cheeseburgers - my version of shake shack's smoke shack I

now just give me the fries.

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57 Responses to “Smoky Sweet Cherry Pepper Cheeseburgers. (aka, my trashed up smokeshack.)”

  1. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — July 11, 2014 @ 7:38 am

    Ok, every time you post a burger recipe, I find myself getting to the bottom of the post and going “wooooooahhhhhh!” You truly know how to fancy things up (or trash them up, in How Sweet-speak). And now… I’m craving a burger. Happy Friday Jess!


  2. #
    Rachel Cooks — July 11, 2014 @ 7:39 am

    I’m sitting across from my husband right now and he’s also wearing a shirt with the sleeves cut off. lol!

    Burger looks amazing — loving that spread.

    And those chips! They look perfect — what brand are they?


    • Jessica — July 11th, 2014 @ 11:44 am

      trader joe’s cheddar horseradish!


  3. #
    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} — July 11, 2014 @ 7:41 am

    Nobody can make me crave a burger like you can. Happy weekend!


  4. #
    Molly @ Yes to Yolks — July 11, 2014 @ 7:44 am

    I feel ya on the no mojitos. :( I keep saying “it’s going to be a looong summer.” Anywho, these burgers are making my mouth water!!! I love how the peppers had “no other destiny.” Hahaha. Love it. Perfect Friday recipe!


  5. #
    Bri | Bites of Bri — July 11, 2014 @ 7:44 am

    You never steer us wrong, especially when it comes to burgers. I love smoky flavors and this looks like my kind of burger. Have to admit, I’ve never been to the shack. :(


  6. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — July 11, 2014 @ 7:47 am

    These look like the perfect burgers! And yes, I totally feel you on the smoke thing–too much, and I feel like I’m eating cigarettes. But when it’s good, its oh so good.

    Also, don’t worry, I’ll drink a few more mojitos in your honor.


  7. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — July 11, 2014 @ 7:58 am

    Omg, I literally just tried this exact burger at Shake Shack a few weeks ago and I about died. So so good. I love that you recreated it!!!!


  8. #
    Kim — July 11, 2014 @ 8:00 am

    This is some of your best photography yet. Who knew a few burgers could look so beautiful! Stunning, Jess.


    • Jessica — July 11th, 2014 @ 11:44 am

      wow, thank you! i actually hated these photos so much i almost didn’t post this recipe. made my day!


      • Bridget Black — July 11th, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

        AGREED! Gorgeous. The colors pop against the minimal propping and background. Love the green and red play. From a graphic designer and photo director; thank you for resisting (unlike so many) the trend to put recipe titles on your photos. :)

  9. #
    Brittany — July 11, 2014 @ 8:30 am

    looks delicious!


  10. #
    Stephanie — July 11, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    looks amazing. and many many congratulations to you and Eddie!


  11. #
    Ashley — July 11, 2014 @ 9:06 am

    Almost spit out my coffee when you mentioned rubbing a burger in an ashtray…yum! Also, that was my elementary school nickname….boo hoo


  12. #
    Chelsea @ Gal on a Mission — July 11, 2014 @ 9:12 am

    I agree the photos are gorgeous! By the way, I so want this burger for breakfast! Sounds and looks delicious! Have a great weekend! :)


  13. #
    Elizabeth — July 11, 2014 @ 9:25 am

    OMG. I was actually wondering if you’d do this at some point, because for some reason the smokeshack just seemed so you. Can you do the cheese fries next? I don’t know what they put in them, but they are AMAZING.

    Also, you should probably eat a few more of these. I hear babies love a smokeshack.


    • Jessica — July 11th, 2014 @ 11:45 am

      agreed – those fries are seriously some of my favorite EVER.


      • Rachel — July 11th, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

        Did you know they CHANGED their fries?!? I have no idea what they were thinking :( Also in relation to the above commentary on your photography – I just texted the picture from your instagram to a friend with the comment “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more delicious looking cheeseburger photo” – yes, I’m creepy, but these photos are stunning!

  14. #
    alicia — July 11, 2014 @ 9:43 am

    this is a sight for sore eyes, indeed. looks fabulous!


  15. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — July 11, 2014 @ 9:47 am

    Ahhh I will never be over burgers! Any kind, I’ll take ’em! These look insanely delicious! And at least you can make up for the lack of mojitos by eating more of these!


  16. #
    Molly @ Doughvelopment — July 11, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    Had my first smoke shack burger a few months ago! It was AWESOME! it’s probably a good thing there is not a Shake Shack near me….haha! But now this brings it right to me!
    Also, do i spy burger baskets from Target?! I just got the same ones, but have yet to fill them with burger-y goodness! This might be the first recipe to fill ’em up!


  17. #
    Karly — July 11, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    You should totally rename these ashtray burgers. Haha! No, don’t, because I’m desperate to eat them and that might ruin it for me. That relish sounds amazing!


  18. #
    lacy — July 11, 2014 @ 11:45 am

    oh my goodness. i want this everyday for the rest of my life.


  19. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — July 11, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

    I’ve never seen those sweet and hot cherry peppers at TJs. I’m going today (surprise surprise, I go like 5x a week, always forgetting that one ‘must have’ that I didn’t know I needed) and will totally be picking those up! Love pimentos!


  20. #
    Kim in MD — July 11, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

    Wow…I’m starving and this burger is calling my name! I hope my TJ’s has those peppers!


  21. #
    Amber | Loves Food, Loves to Eat — July 11, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

    Soooo. Last night my fiance asked who I think is the very best of all the food bloggers in the land… and though it’s really hard to say, because so many bloggers bring so many good, different things to the table, I picked you. I love the range of recipes you post–sweet, savory, healthy, trashed-up, fancy, simple, and everything in between, and I love that your writing is down to earth and real.

    So anyway… then, this morning I see this! The smokeshack is the fiance’s favorite shakeshack burger! I showed him the post and said “See what I mean!”

    Girl, you’re killin it!


  22. #
    Brittany from CountingMyCupcakes — July 11, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

    Some of the best burger photos I’ve ever seen! So gorgeous I’m about to eat my screen.


  23. #
    Larry — July 11, 2014 @ 3:43 pm



  24. #
    Medha @ Whisk & Shout — July 11, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

    These pictures… damn girl. I’m salivating and I don’t even eat meat!! Looks amazing.


  25. #
    Janna — July 11, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    Well this is pretty darn delicious looking


  26. #
    Lili — July 11, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

    Just had the Shack today – all my love is in the Shack.


  27. #
    Sarah | The Sugar Hit — July 11, 2014 @ 9:11 pm

    I would like to put this in my face without delay, please.


  28. #
    Happy Valley Chow — July 11, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

    Those burgers look awesome and I am totally digging the photos. Great post all around :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow


  29. #
    Rebecca @ Hello Creative Blog — July 11, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

    Holy cow! I must make these as soon as possible.


  30. #
    leftifeildtrends — July 11, 2014 @ 11:52 pm

    This recipe is nice and simple and taste surprisingly AMAZING!
    your photograph skills are just top notch quality.

    Thanks so much for your recipes :D


  31. #
    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — July 12, 2014 @ 12:35 am

    We have been on a major burger kick lately as well! Adding this one to the ‘to make’ list!


  32. #
    Laura — July 12, 2014 @ 1:49 am

    I can’t believe Jersey Boys was bad… I’m so sad to hear that


  33. #
    Pat — July 12, 2014 @ 11:36 am

    I’m drooling ~ incredible photos!! Love the combo of flavors.

    I’ve heard that Jersey Boys was wonderful ~ sad to hear otherwise. Enjoy your weekend!



  34. #
    Ashley @ QLCC — July 12, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

    I think you made my dream burger! I looove spice and smokiness, this looks perfect!


  35. #
    ATasteOfMadness — July 12, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

    These burgers look insane!! I can’t believe I have only ever made burgers twice in my life…there is something seriously wrong with me.


  36. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — July 13, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

    My guys are going to go crazy for these burgers. Burgers are so hard to photograph, love your shots!


  37. #
    Amy — July 14, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    I’ve been craving a burger all weekend and now i have to have your sauce too! Please share why you were disappointed in Jersey Boys. I loved the play and have been trying to get to the movie but (with a six-month old), haven’t gotten a chance.


  38. #
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures — July 15, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

    Ooh! I’m glad you burger obsession has returned!


  39. #
    Tash — July 17, 2014 @ 2:01 am

    This is beautiful. I have been craving a burger since last night. It is now 8am the next day; I still haven’t had my fix…but I am reading your blog. God help my cravings…



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