Skillet-Cooked Bison Burger with Havarti and Pesto is an amazing burger recipe! Cooking bison burgers in a cast iron skillet is a quick and fool-proof method that results in a juicy, delicious burger each and every time! Add havarti cheese and homemade pesto for the ultimate burger experience.

Skillet-Cooked Bison Burgers with Havarti Cheese and Pesto Sauce | #recipe #burger #dinner


Your eyes do not deceive you.

Quick question: How do you like your burgers?

Grilled to perfection? Char broiled? Cooked à la stove top à la skillet? Mooing, medium, or dead to this world?

Moi? I’m truthfully in the habit of cooking my burgers in a cast iron skillet, unless I have other goods to toss on the grill as well.

Plus, it has cooled off a bit in the Sierra Nevada, which for me means I’m a-okay bringing all the cooking inside.

Seriously, though, get a load of your next meat hangover…

Skillet-Cooked Bison Burgers with Havarti Cheese and Pesto Sauce | #recipe #burger #dinner

So bangarang even the lost boys are blushing.

I know what you’re wondering, and yes: that is, in fact, a half-pound bison burger. Locked and loaded with havarti cheese, homemade pesto sauce, some vegetation, and toasted bun.

You’re air-swiping in the righterly direction right meow, aren’t you? anyway, aren’t you? It’s a Match!

Just kidding. Tinder jokes are so passé. Or are they?….

The idea behind this bison burger is super simple, so the bulk of this post is more in regards to the methodology rather than the ingredient list.

The theory: a perfectly-cooked burger made indoors. The execution: cooking on the stove top in a cast iron skillet.

Skillet-Cooked Bison Burgers with Havarti Cheese and Pesto Sauce | #recipe #burger #dinner

Backstory: during the summers, my dad would come home for lunch and make us kids cheeseburgers on the stove top.

As I got older, I realized not many people make burgers this way, yet more often than not, I pan-cook burgers in a cast iron skillet rather than grilling them.

The result: a seared, crispy outside with a perfectly moist and tender inside.

Tips For Making Perfectly Juicy & Flavorful Burgers:

  • Use high-quality meat. I like using ground bison or ground turkey with a higher fat content.
  • If using lean meat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the meat in order to ensure the burgers hold together. You can also add a well-beaten egg.
  • For medium-rare burgers, cook burgers a total of 6 minutes. For medium, 7 to 8, and for well-done burgers, 9 to 10 minutes total. Note: For turkey or chicken burgers, cook burgers for 5 minutes on each side, then continue flipping and cooking 1 minute per side until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total.
  • Give each burger patty a little thumb print in the center. While burgers cook, they tend to bloat in the center and not cook evenly. To avoid bloated burger syndrome, press the center of the raw burger patty, leaving a small indent so that as the burger cooks, the juices distribute throughout the meat and you’re left with a perfectly cooked (rather than super raw) center.
  • Flavor the meat with sea salt, pepper, spices, and fresh herbs. While not required, this always gives the burger a little something extra.
  • Once the burgers have finished cooking, transfer them to a plate or cutting board and allow them to sit 2 to 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat and flow on the plate rather than the onto bun. To avoid soggy bun syndrome, be sure to not skip this step.
  • Cheese it! A few minutes before your burger is finished cooking, add your favorite sliced cheese then cover it just until the cheese is melted.
  • Sauce it! Top the burger with your favorite sauce, such as pesto (try this recipe using kale or arugula), chimichurri, hummus, chipotle sour cream, guacamole, etc.
  • Top it!: Freshen it up with a variety of in-season veggies. For those who eat gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free buns, or go bun-less using a lettuce wrap for a paleo option.

Enjoy these glorious pan-cooked bison burgers!

More Delicious Burger Recipes:

My cookbook, Paleo Power Bowls, is now available! CLICK HERE to check it out. Thank you for your support!

If you make this recipe, please feel free to share a photo and tag @The.Roasted.Root on Instagram!

Skillet-Cooked Bison Burgers with Havarti Cheese and Pesto Sauce | #recipe #burger #dinner

Skillet-Cooked Bison Burger with Havarti and Pesto

4.41 from 5 votes
Perfectly juicy and flavorful Skillet-Cooked Bison Burger with Havarti and Pesto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3 burgers


Bison Cheeseburgers with Pesto:

  • 1 pound ground bison meat
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For Serving:

  • 2 to 3 hamburger buns toasted
  • 2 slices to 4 havarti cheese
  • 1/3 cup pesto sauce
  • Baby Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Red Onion


Prepare the Burgers:

  • Add all of the ingredients for the bison burger patties to a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix everything together until well combined.
  • Place a cast iron or non-stick skillet on your stove top. Add enough oil to generously coat the surface and heat to medium-high.
  • While the skillet is heating, form burger patties. Divide the meat into two to four portions - for 1/2-pound burgers, divide the meat in half, for 1/3-pound burgers, divide the meat into thirds, etc. Form a ball out of one portion of the meat. Press the meat into a disc, making sure it has uniform thickness throughout so that it cooks evenly.
  • Repeat for the remaining meat, and place patties on a plate while skillet continues to heat the rest of the way. Note: During the cooking process, the center of the burgers will bow out and become thicker in the center. To avoid this, press the center of the patties down so that they appear lower than the sides of the patty.
  • Test the skillet by carefully flicking water onto the surface. If the oil sizzles and pops, it is ready for cooking.
  • Carefully place the burger patties on the hot skillet, giving them at least 1 inch of space between for even cooking. Note: To avoid fat and oil splatter, place a fine mesh splatter screen over the skillet.
  • Cook 3 minutes, or until the first side is browned and crispy. Carefully flip and cook another 3 minutes. Continue cooking and flipping every one to two minutes, until burgers reach desired doneness. For medium-rare burgers, cook burgers a total of 6 minutes. For medium, 7 to 8, and for well-done burgers, 9 to 10 minutes total.
  • Add the cheese after you've finished flipping the meat. Cover the pan with a lid until cheese has melted.
  • Transfer the burgers to a plate or cutting board and allow them to sit 2 to 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat and collect on the plate rather than causing the bun to get soggy.
  • Serve burgers on toasted buns along with your favorite toppings, such as tomatoes, red onion, mixed greens, avocado, and pesto sauce.


Serving: 1Burger · Calories: 595kcal · Carbohydrates: 24g · Protein: 44g · Fat: 37g · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 2g
Author: Julia
Course: Lifestyle
Cuisine: American
Keyword: amazing burger recipes, bison burger, elk burger, pan-fried burger recipe, pesto burger, skillet-cooked burgers
Did You Make This Recipe?I want to see it! Tag @the.roasted.root on social media!
Julia Mueller
Meet the Author

Julia Mueller

Julia Mueller is a recipe developer, cookbook author, and founder of The Roasted Root. She has authored three bestselling cookbooks, – Paleo Power Powers, Delicious Probiotic Drinks, and The Quintessential Kale Cookbook. Her recipes have been featured in several national publications such as BuzzFeed, Self, Tasty, Country Living,, etc.

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Questions and Reviews

  1. I always cook my burgers in cast iron! It may be because I don’t have a grill at the moment, but they do turn out great. I have yet to try a bison burger, though, and this big bad boy is really calling my name. Love the idea of pesto on top!

  2. The stars must have aligned because I just purchased ground bison and havarti cheese for burgers earlier this week, and then you post this recipe! I personally am plant-based but routinely cook bison burgers on the stove for my loved one. It really is pretty simple and not too messy. I aways indent the center but never let them rest before serving…oops! Thanks for the tip!