How to Make Smashburgers
Those that know me well are aware that cheeseburgers are my favorite food. And after doing an article on smashburgers for the magazine, I have come to the realization that they’re the ultimate in cheeseburgers. They’re the pinnacle of cheeseburgerdom. And they’re the last thing I want to eat before I meet my maker (not to sound morbid).
by Haley J. Wilson
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What is a Smashburger?
A smashburger is exactly what it sounds like. It’s ground beef smashed onto a griddle until golden and crispy, though a few more details bring these beauties into focus. Here's what you need to know to make the perfect smashburgers.
What Tools Will You Need to Make a Smashburger?
You’ll need one or two (two is my preference) firm, large spatulas. You don’t want the spatulas to be too flexible because they need to be able to smash the meat without the meat bending them. You’ll also need a cast-iron griddle pan. Cast iron take longer to heat up, but it retains the heat really well.
Cast-iron retains heat really well, making it great for searing and getting crispy bits. Griddle pans like this reversible pan make it easy to cook multiple burgers at a time. Use your griddle pan, or skillet, below, on the stove top or on a grill.
Cast-iron skillets provide great heat retention, but because of the higher sides, it can be tricky to smash the chuck — watch your wrists. A 10-inch skillet is perfect to give you enough space to smash the burger, but make sure to cook them one at a time. You can also use a round cast-iron griddle without sides to protect your wrists
Electric skillets like this 22-inch skillet with removable handles are a great option for smashing many burgers at once, but won’t retain heat as well as cast iron does.
The Best Seasoning Mix for Smashburgers
Combine 2 Tbsp. kosher salt, 1 Tbsp. black pepper, and 2 tsp. granulated garlic. Sprinkle desired amount of seasoning on all sides of each portion of meat.
*Store any remaining seasoning in an airtight container.
How to Make a Smashburger
Making a smashburger is a little different than making your more traditional burger, the kind we throw on the grill (more on this later). Instead of forming ground beef into perfect patties with smooth edges, go rogue. All you need is a hunk (4 oz.) of ground beef (I like 80/20). The meat should not be packed, smoothed into a ball, or shaped into a patty. You want a shaggy ball of beef that’s loosely held together. And to season the meat, I like to keep it simple. Even the granulated garlic in the seasoning mix I created for the article was a bit of a stretch for me, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Season the ball of meat generously, on all sides, then smash it onto a preheated griddle. And when I say smash, I really mean smash. No namby pamby squishing here. I like to use two large spatulas, because I get more leverage that way, and really lean into it. Keep pressure on the meat for 10 seconds to ensure a good sear. You’ll notice the edges of the burger are now broken, shaggy, and craggy. And while you might think that’s a problem, it’s not. Those edges are going to crisp up and be everything you never knew you wanted. You’ll see meat juices/fat begin to bubble up through the meat fibers. Your smashburger is cooking in its own fat and it’s pure heaven. When it’s ready, flip the burger, add the cheese (American is the only way in my book), and get the bun ready.
Weigh 4 ounces of chuck per burger. To avoid a dense burger, and achieve the crispiest edges, do not shape meat into a ball or patty.
Season chuck on all sides with the Seasoning Mix for the most flavor.
Smash chuck on the hot griddle with one or two spatulas for 10 seconds to achieve the best sear and crispy edges.
Flip patty using the front edge of the spatula to get under the burger. You don’t want to lose the great seared parts of the burger.
What Kind of Bun is Best?
Any soft bun will work, my preference is brioche — they’re nice and soft and have great buttery flavor. You’ll notice there are drippings on the griddle…use them. Let the cut sides of the bun absorb the drippings, then toast them right on the griddle. It’ll only take a few seconds to create crisp buns, and it’s a step I can’t live without. It might sound minor, but a toasted bun takes your awesome burger over the top.
Spread buns with butter, or for more flavor, use the cut sides of the buns to absorb excess drippings from the griddle.
Toast buns directly on the griddle, or in a skillet, until golden brown, about 10–15 seconds.
Toppings for Smashburgers
At this point the burger and bun are done and you can top it however you like. I’m of the opinion that a good burger needs nothing more than a generous smear of mayonnaise. I don’t want lettuce, no tomato, onion, or vegetables of any sort…if I wanted a salad, I’d get one. Veggies take a hot, juicy burger and cool it down too much, and in my opinion, take away from the burger, not enhance it. That being said everyone has their own idea of what makes a burger “the best”, so do what makes you happy.
I know that a smashburger hot off the griddle on a toasted bun with mayonnaise is my absolute favorite thing in the entire world to eat. There’s just something about the bold beefy flavor of the meat, the mayonnaise that mixes with the burger juices and seep into your mouth as you take each bite, and the soft bun that puts a smile on my face every time.
How to Make Smashburgers on the Grill
Want to get out of the house and make your smashburger on the grill? Just carry your griddle pan outside and heat it up right on the grill grates. Just watch the heat, as your grill likely gets much hotter than your burners inside do.
Recipe for the Best Smashburgers
Grab the recipe for Smashburgers here.
Equipment/Special Ingredients Needed
Want to give this technique a try?
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