Copycat Red Robin Whiskey River BBQ Burger with Onion Straws

Make these delicious copycat Whiskey River burgers from Red Robin at home at your next barbecue! This all beef burger features Cheddar cheese and bourbon-infused Whiskey River BBQ sauce plus all the fixings from tomatoes, lettuce, and crispy homemade onion straws.

burger with onion straws in front
Prep Time:
35 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Soak Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
4 burgers


  • 1 cup very thinly sliced sweet onion (8 oz.)

  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk

  • 5 cups Vegetable oil, for frying

  • ¾ cup flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt

  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 ½ pounds ground chuck or 80% lean ground beef

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • ¼ cup bottled whiskey-flavored barbecue sauce, plus more for serving

  • 4 slices Cheddar cheese

  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • 8 thin tomato slices

  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce


  1. Combine onions and buttermilk in a bowl and soak at room temperature for 1 hour.

  2. Pour oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches into a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet or pot or a deep-fat fryer; heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  3. Meanwhile whisk together flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon paprika in a large bowl for the breading. Remove onions from buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Toss onions in the breading until well coated.

  4. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Working in 3 batches, fry onions, turning occasionally to break up any clumps, until crisp and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to drain. Repeat with remaining onions.

  5. For rub, stir together 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, celery salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Shape beef into 4 patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Brush patties with oil; sprinkle both sides with rub.

  6. Preheat grill to medium-high and lightly oil grate. Grill patties, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until slightly charred.

  7. Flip patties; brush barbecue sauce evenly over patties. Continue cooking about 3 minutes more or until charred and a thermometer inserted into centers registers 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Top patties with cheese; grill, covered, until cheese is melted, about 1 minute more. Grill buns, cut sides down, uncovered, until toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  8. Spread buns with mayonnaise and additional barbecue sauce. Fill buns with patties, onion straws, tomato, and lettuce. Serve immediately.

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