Deep South Burger by Melissa Cookston /photo by Stephanie Mullins

Deep South Burger by Melissa Cookston / photo by Stephanie Mullins


Celebrity chef, cookbook author and “Winningest Woman in Barbecue” Melissa Cookston shares her recipe for a juicy Deep South Burger for Fourth of July celebrations around a hot grill. A native of the Mississippi Delta, Cookston cranks up the flavor by topping her burgers with Southern classics Pimento and Cheese and Fried Green Tomatoes.

“A good juicy burger topped with melted pimento and cheese makes for a good day,” Melissa Cookston said. “It’s even better when you can add a lightly fried green tomato to give it a burst of tart freshness.”

The following recipe is taken from Cookston’s cookbook “Smokin’ Hot in the South.

Photo credit: Stephanie Mullins.

Deep South Burger Recipe by Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston

Deep South Burger Recipe by Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. Grillin’ Shake (recipe follows)
  • Pimento and Cheese (recipe follows)
  • 4 buns, for serving
  • Fried Green Tomatoes (recipe follows)
  • Grillin' Shake (makes 3/4 cup)
  • 6 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion flakes, lightly ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pimento and Cheese (makes 4 cups)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 2 tsp. grated Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • ½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. hot sauce
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup canned jalapenos, diced (optional)
  • Salt
  • Fried Green Tomatoes (serves 4)
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 2 medium green tomatoes, cut into ¼ to 1/3-inch slices
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup white cornmeal
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare a medium-hot grill for cooking. In a bowl, combine the ground beef, Worcestershire, garlic and onion powder. Stir until incorporated and pat into 4 (8-ounce) patties (I usually use a burger ring when I’m grilling so I can get evenly thick patties). Season both sides with the Grillin’ Shake and place on a medium-hot grill. Cook to your desired temperature, about 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium to medium-well.
  2. As the burgers are nearing temperature, place 2 to 3 ounces of Pimento and Cheese on each burger and let cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until the Pimento and Cheese is beginning to melt. Place the burger patty on the bun with your favorite burger fixings, then top with a fried green tomato and enjoy.
  3. For the grillin' shake, combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir until well incorporated. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 months.
  4. For the pimento cheese, whisk or beat the cream cheese until soft, then fold in the mayonnaise, pimentos, onion, pepper, hot sauce, hot sauce, cheese and jalapenos (if using). Stir until well mixed, then add salt if needed. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week, but bring to room temperature before using on burgers.
  5. For the fried green tomatoes, heat 1 inch of peanut oil in a heavy skillet to 350 F. Now, take the tomato slices in a bowl and cover with the buttermilk. On a separate plate, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper using a fork. Dredge the tomato slices lightly in the flour mixture on both sides. Set the tomatoes in the oil and cook until the bottom begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then turn over to brown the other side for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain until ready to serve.
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About Melissa Cookston:

Melissa Cookston was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta and is a trailblazing female food entrepreneur smoking the competition. Cookston is a 7-time world barbecue champion; owner of restaurants Steak by Melissa, a successful steak house in Southaven, Mississippi and Memphis BBQ Company, a successful barbecue restaurant with locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Dunwoody, Georgia; an author of two cookbooks, “Smokin in the Boy’s Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South;” and a celebrated southern Delta chef.

Recognized nationally from many appearances on national news and talks shows as well as cooking shows and Food Network, Cookston served as a judge on season 4 of Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” and was named one of America’s most influential BBQ Pitmasters and personalities by Fox News in 2015. Cookston is a Smithfield Brand Ambassador and is a frequent contributor to Smithfield communications and marketing efforts.

Suggested Reading

10 Recipes for the Perfect Barbecue Menu