Grilled & Smoked Rabbit Burgers(The Most Tender Recipe)

We all know cooking rabbit meat can be tough if not prepared correctly, especially wild rabbit. It’s sad because it is just so delicious. Browning the meat, making a gravy and cooking for a couple of hours is an excellent way to prepare rabbit meat but it is not the best way. There is a secret that most people don’t know about and that is what we will share with you today! Keep reading and learn the best way to cook and prepare your own rabbit burgers. I hope I didn’t give away the secret already!

Disclaimer: This post does contain affiliate links that I do earn a small commission from at no extra cost to you. This is one way to support my blog and is truly appreciated! 

Farm To Table

We raise our own rabbits and are blessed to have our own meat. From their nesting boxes, to their hide boxes, to the butcher station, to the table. A happy and extremely sad day on our farm. If you want to get grinding click here. You can make smash burgers here, or get grilling. If you want to keep reading along I would enjoy that!

The Top 3 Best Ways To Cook And Prepare Rabbit Meat

  1. Bunny Burgers- This is my favorite way to prepare and cook rabbit meat in my opinion. Grinding the meat will tenderize the meat. Adding the grass-fed beef fat will add the juice and the flavor you crave in a burger.
  2. Rice and Gravy- Brown the meat, onions and seasoning. After the meat is brown, add a little water and scrape the bottom of the pot to get all that browned meat incorporated in the water. transfer to an instant pot for around 2 hours and you will have a tender rabbit to enjoy!
  3. Frying- I’ve actually never deep fried rabbit. But I think that is pretty self explanatory. Some can be chewy so only tender cuts should be used. To know what age rabbit would be good for frying click here.

I love a good gravy and I don’t even need the rice, but it gets a little tiring preparing rabbit meat the same way over and over again. So that is why bunny burgers are now my go to option. I butcher 4 or 5 young rabbits at a time. After the resting stage in the fridge, I like to debone the whole rabbit and grind it into burger meat, hind legs, front legs. everything goes into this ground meat. It will make around 7-10 pound of ground meat depending on the size of your rabbit

What Is The Best Cooking Method For Rabbit?

If you are not making it into ground meat, a good idea will be browning the meat and making a gravy. Cook it for a few hours and you will have a great meal. If you do grind up the meat and add the grass-fed beef fat, you will definitely want to make smash burgers. This makes for a juicy burger or smoked burgers. The options are endless when you make rabbit ground meat, meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, dirty rice……….and so much more!

cold rabbit meat coming out of a MEAT! grinder

Do You Need To Soak Rabbit Before Cooking? How Do You Tenderize Rabbit Before Cooking?

A marinade would help tenderize the meat especially before frying, but I have never needed to do this when slow cooking the rabbit in a gravy or making burgers. I have even heard of people boiling the rabbit first then searing it. A meat mallet tenderizer could be a good option as well, though I have never had personal experience with this. Marinating the tender cuts of your rabbit would be your easiest option.

What Part Of A Rabbit Is Best To Eat?

The tenderloins are the best part of the rabbit to pan fry because it is the most tender part of the rabbit. My favorite part is not what you are expecting, I really enjoy the heart, kidney and liver. They are the most nutritious part of a rabbit and the tastiest. Making the bones into a stock is also such a good way to enjoy all the nutrients the rabbit brings to the table. Those organs will very soon end up in some rabbit burgers for sure making a primal organ meat.

grind rabbit meat into rabbit burgers

80/20 Rabbit Ground Meat? How is this possible? Rabbits Are Too Lean, Right?

We process ground meat all the way through from the farm to the table. Rabbits meat is an extremely lean meat without inter-muscular fat, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make a delicious burger. These burgers are not just 80/20 ground meat, this is the most delicious burger you will put in your mouth because rabbits are so delicious! The best thing to do when making rabbit burgers is to add local grass-fed beef fat. Instead of grinding the meat and making a lean burger and being disappointed, try adding beef fat to add juicy results and flavor to impress all of your friends at your next BBQ or smash burger cook off. In today’s post, we will be covering recipes for both smash burgers and smoked & grilled rabbit burgers.

second grind on rabbit ground meat

Meat Grinder Options

If this is your first time grinding fresh rabbit meat and you don’t have a meat grinder or think they are too expensive think again. There are handheld options for grinding under $75 or you can go to MEAT! This company has all the affordable options without sacrificing the quality of products.

rabbit ground meat setup, Bearded butchers, MEAT!

How To Calculate The Fat For An 80/20 Ground Meat

rabbit ground meat in a pan
  • 1 pound Meat, 0.25 pound Fat = 1.25 pound total
  • 2 pounds Meat, 0.5 pound Fat = 2.5 pounds total
  • 4 pounds Meat, 1 pound Fat = 5 pounds total
  • 8 pounds Meat, 2 pounds Fat = 10 pounds total
  • 12 pound Meat, 3 pounds Fat = 15 pounds total
  • 16 pounds Meat, 4 pounds Fat = 20 pounds total
  • 20 pounds Meat, 5 pounds Fat = 25 pounds total

Lets use 14 pounds of rabbit meat for example. So, 12 and 2 from the chart will cover our 14 pounds of rabbit meat.

Using the chart values now:

12 meat / 3 fat
2 meat / 0.5 fat
14 meat / 3.5 fat

You will need 3.5 pounds of fat to go with 14 pounds of rabbit meat and the result will be 17.5 pounds of mixed meat and fat.
(14 meat + 3.5 fat = 17.5 mixed)

Let’s Get Into The Meat Making!

If you are not grinding your own meat and want to skip to the smash burgers, click here. or you can smoke the burgers here.

Things You will Need

  1. Meat Grinder
  2. 2 Large bowls
  3. Deboned Rabbit Meat
  4. Beef Fat
  5. Natural cleaning products for cleanup

A Simple Grinding Process

If you have the dual grind grinder that I have it is super simple. This grinder can do a coarse and fine grind all in one pass. I still like to send it through a second time for a smoother mix. If you don’t have this option that is perfectly ok, you will just have to change the plates out between each grind. Start with a coarse grind and work your way down until you get to the smallest plate.

rabbit ground meat setup

Making the Burgers

This is when your mouth starts to water! The most delicious rabbit recipe you will ever eat!

  1. Put two pounds of ground meat into a very large bowl. A small bowl will make a mess when mixing.
  2. Add cajun seasoning, onion powder, salt, garlic powder a dash of maple syrup for a slightly sweet flavor and 2 farm eggs.
  3. mix this by hand until you have a dough like consistency. It is a little nerve racking at first when it gets slimy and doesn’t hold together.
  4. Don’t get discouraged, keep working the mixture for a few more seconds and it will thicken up.
  5. Roll the meat into balls(should be around 6-8 balls)
  6. Transfer the balls to a sheet tray, large platter, or cutting board lined with parchment paper for easy clean up.
  7. Now you are ready to smash or grill

*Don’t be afraid to add any ingredient you’d like such as black pepper, green onions, cayenne pepper, red pepper.

For sweetness- Mix sugar, honey, soy sauce, brown sugar, coconut aminos.

All the recipes we do are healthy recipes, but if that’s not your cup of tea, then hey, add what you want and enjoy!

Smashing The Rabbit Burgers

Rabbit smash burgers on cutting board in front of bbq grill
  1. Place the meat balls onto a hot well seasoned cast iron.
  2. Press down with spatula or burger press until the patty is around 1/4 inch thick
    • You can butter your spatula or press to prevent sticking or use parchment paper in between the press and burger.
  3. Let the burger cook until it is almost all the way cooked.
    • Don’t rush this you want a nice crisp on the bottom of the burger for the best flavor(A nice golden brown or dark brown will do just fine)
  4. Flip and add your cheese
  5. Wait a few second and remove from your pan(internal temperature should be between 145-165)
  6. Add butter to the pan and toast the buns
  7. Add whatever topping you would like
  8. Enjoy!

Smoked Rabbit Burgers(How-to)

smoked and grilled rabbit burgers on cutting board next to bbq pit

Hickory wood or mesquite wood chips do a great job of getting that sweet smoke flavor in a charcoal grill. You will want to do a three zone fire. I put the charcoal on the right side and place the burgers on the left where it is a little cooler for a little indirect grilling. This indirect heat will ensure you get that extra flavor from the smoke long enough without over cooking the burgers. I like to keep my grill at around 300-325 degrees if I can and smoke them for around 20-25 minutes then sear on the hot side until cooked. Here are the steps to get these burgers going. There is no right or wrong way, this is just what I do that has worked just fine.

You could also do the snake method for a longer smoke if that’s your thing. This can keep your pit at around 200 degrees. The snake method works by making a long ring of unlit charcoal around the outside of your pit.  Then placing a few natural fire starters at one end of your snake you are able to keep a consistent low temperature for a long period of time as the lit charcoal gradually lights the unlit charcoal.

Steps To Smoke and Grill The Rabbit Burgers

lit charcoal chimney in bbq pit

1. Fill the chimney 1/4-1/2 of the way full

2. When charcoal is ashed over or white on the top(20-25 minutes), it’s ready to dump onto the coal grate(right side)

3. Add the wood chunks and close lid

4. Let the wood burn until the smoke clears up a little(A light blue smoke is perfect)

5. Let the Grill temp Stabilize to around 300 degrees.

6. Open the intake slightly or close completely and open the exhaust slightly(adjust until consistent temp)

7. Place rabbit burgers on the left side of the grill to smoke for 20-25 minutes or until an internal temp of 135-140 degrees(cook time varies)

8. Sear the burgers on the hot grill side.

9. Flip and add cheese and bbq sauce if desired.

10. Check with a battery operated thermometer for an internal temp of 145-165 degrees

11. Let rest for a few minutes

12. Build your burger

13. Enjoy

I love to grill rabbit! This is a terrific rabbit recipe that you can add any barbecue sauce or Worcestershire sauce to dip. I personally like a sweet homemade honey mustard. If you don’t like all those strong flavors and just want to enjoy the sweet smoke flavor you don’t have to use anything. I’ve never done this but I’m sure you could even add lemon juice or lemon zest to the burger and it would add a nice tang. Maybe even mix a few tablespoons of melted butter with a diced up garlic clove and lemon and make a lemon-oil mixture sauce for your burger. I’m getting so hungry, I need to go eat some burgers!

The Results Are In!

The smashed burgers were so juicy and flavorful but the smoked burger was meaty with a nice sweet smoke flavor. I’ll take either one any day of the week. I used cheddar and mozzarella cheese I will say that the cheddar paired so well with the rabbit flavor! All around a great burger either way. The most important thing is that we processed this rabbit from our backyard and mixed it with local grass-fed beef fat, so we know exactly where this meat is coming from and you can taste the difference.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Even if you didn’t read everything, I hope you enjoyed the pictures! Like they always say it’s always better in person, so fire up your grill and get cooking! Do you like to get creative with your cooking? let me know how in the comments below!

One Last note- We reached out to the bearded butchers about using frozen ground meat. My question was can you use frozen meat from the freezer, grind it up and re-freeze it? They were kind enough to answer…. You can do this but need to keep the meat as cold as possible. I used partially frozen meat for this and the temperature stayed extremely cold even with two passes.


  1. I’ve never heard of rabbit burgers before, but you sure make it look and sound tasty! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hello Christy, I don’t see why you couldn’t use it! most people use pork fat when making deer sausage, or they will add it to any meat products that need some extra fat. We just use beef fat because it is from a local Butcher near by that has really good quality. I don’t think there would be any difference except that it might taste better with the pork fat. Thanks for your question, let me know how it goes! I hope you enjoy!

  2. Wow, thank you for this post !! We raise rabbits for meat, but have always just slow cooked in a crock pot then used the meat in pot pies, enchiladas, etc… we really love the flavor of the broth… so good ! But my question for you is HOW do you get the meat off the bones to grind into burger meat… that is what I want to do, but the hind quarters are so small and boney… Thanks for your time and input, GOD BLESS you and your family !!!

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