Cooking With Confidence
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Beef, Economical, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Sandwiches

A Smashed Burger

by Nick

When I cook a burger – and I’ve cooked a lot of burgers – I tend to keep it simple. I season them with salt and pepper, toss them on a hot grill and let them cook for 4-5 minutes per side until they are medium-ish in doneness. Assuming you use decent beef that has 15-20% fat in it, you’ll be in good shape just by doing no harm.

But there may be a better way. There’s an mid-range burger restaurant that started in Denver, called Smashburger, that now has locations all over the U.S. and they take a slightly different approach to the burger. As their name implies, they literally smash the burger on a super hot grill. It cooks in about two minutes and is one of the better burgers I’ve ever had. The intense heat and pressure sears in the juices from the beef and makes for a really tasty burger.

While the restaurants use an expensive, patented pressing device that no home cook has access to, I figured there was a way to duplicate this crazy method at home.

I was right. It turns out not to be that hard and is totally worth the effort.

Yield
3 large burgers
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Homemade Smash Burger

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 large buns
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced tomato
  • Fresh lettuce
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Burger Seasoning:
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • Special Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon diced pickle

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) For sauce, dice pickle very fine and stir ingredients together. Store in refrigerator until needed.

2) Portion out three 6-oz. burgers and roll them into loose balls.

3) Heat your large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes until it's very hot. While it's heating prepare the second cast iron skillet (smaller) and wrap some foil around the bottom of it.

4) When you're ready to cook a burger, add some butter to the hot pan and let it melt. Then add a burger ball and press it down hard with the second skillet. Try to press down straight from above so create an even circle. Press down on the burger for 10 long seconds.

5) Remove the top skillet and season the burger with seasoning mix. When the juices start to bubble up from the burger, flip it.

6) If you're adding cheese, add it after the flip and cover the burger with a metal bowl to steam the cheese.

7) Cook the burger on the second side until the burger reaches 165 degrees F. in the center, about 90 seconds or so.

8) Serve the burger on a toasted bun with lots of sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion.

Special Sauce

One signature thing about Smashburger is they have this special sauce called “Smash Sauce.” Their website gives zero hints as to what is in it so I kind of had to wing it. Basically, I made a mix of mayo, mustard, and relish. I’m not sure if it’s what they actually use, but it tastes close and is really good.

A guess...

A guess…

Just dice up the pickle really finely and then stir together the ingredients in a bowl. The pickle juice may sound strange but it’s pretty crucial.

Pretty tasty!

Pretty tasty!

Seasoning

Every burger needs seasoning and this one is no exception. I  mixed together a ratio of kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and seasoned salt. This is enough seasoning for 8-10 burgers so you can save it for later.

Seasoning mix.

Seasoning mix.

Also, before we actually start cooking the burgers, get the other toppings ready that you want. You can go crazy here and top this sucker with anything you would throw on your favorite burger.

I kept it simple for this version with just a diced red onion, tomato, and fresh lettuce.

Burger toppings!

Burger toppings!

Making the Burger

You need to start with a large burger for this to work right. A small burger won’t smash correctly. I like to use 6 ounces of ground beef, but you could even go up to 8 ounces honestly.

Once you have the meat portioned, roll it into a loose ball. You want it to be in a ball, not in a patty when it hits the pan.

6 ounces is perfect.

6 ounces is perfect.

Now for the setup. To get the proper smashing you need two heavy skillets. The larger skillet needs to be able to get very hot so cast iron is a good choice. The top skillet just needs to be smaller so you can fit it in the larger skillet. The top skillet won’t actually get hot. In fact, you don’t need to use a skillet, but something flat and round works.

Whatever you use, it’s a good idea to wrap some foil around the bottom of it so the foil is in contact with the burger. This is especially true if you’re using a dirty old cast iron skillet like I used.

The setup.

The setup.

When you’re ready to cook, get your larger pan very hot. Put it over medium-high heat and let it heat for a few minutes. Then, turn on the vents above your stove because it’s gonna get steamy.

When you’re ready to cook, add a small pad of butter to the pan and spread it out so it melts evenly. Then add your burger ball to the pan and immediately press down on it with the top part. Try to press down straight from above so the pressure on the burger is even, creating a round patty.

Press down for a long 10 seconds. One one thousand. Two one thousand… you get it.

It will smoke and hiss and complain, but it’s all good.

Smashed.

Smashed.

When the 10 seconds is up, remove the top pan and the foil and immediately season the patty really well with the seasoning blend.

Season well.

Season well.

Let the patty continue to cook on this side for 30 seconds or so until the burger starts to brown up around the edges. You’ll also notice that the juices bubble up a bit in the center.

When you flip this guy, take your time. There will be a serious crust on the bottom of the burger and you want to make sure that crust stays attached to the burger. Use a sturdy spatula and really work around the patty to make sure the burger loosens nicely.

If you do it right, it’ll be a thing of beauty.

Nice crust!

Nice crust!

The burger only needs to cook for about 90 seconds on the second side since it’s so thin at this point. If you’re using cheese, add the cheese and then I recommend slapping a metal bowl down over the burger which will help melt the cheese faster.

Cheese melting method.

Cheese melting method.

Here’s my finished patty which was done about three minutes after I started it.

Perfect!

Perfect!

Stack this sucker on a toasted bun with a good smear of the sauce and whatever other toppings you want and you’re in business!

Done deal. All mine.

Done deal. All mine.

This post isn’t sponsored by Smashburger or anything. In fact, they might dislike the fact that I just showed you how to make their burgers at home, but if you drive by one it’s worth checking out. They make really tasty burgers (and try their fries with rosemary).

But, if you’re feeling frisky and have a large skillet, this is totally a doable way to make a really delicious burger.

Has anybody tried a Smashed burger? Leave a comment!

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30 comments on “A Smashed Burger

  1. I absolutely hate smashburger! Mostly because they use that gross cheese spread on a lot of their burgers and I feel like everything is over seasoned BUT their rosemary fries are completely delicious!

    1. Interesting! Well, their method definitely works at home and then you can use good cheese and season it perfectly. :)

  2. The best thing about smashburger is the black-bean veggie burger. It’s the best! I don’t know if I’ve even had a beef burger there.

    1. Agree! Their veg burger is super delicious. Probably my favorite of their burgers honestly. Forgot to mention that in the post.

      1. Good to know. I am super picky about veggie burgers (as well as visiting chain restaurants in strip malls), but smashburger opened up in my ‘hood, and I know my husband wants to check it out. Now I don’t have to be so reluctant.

  3. Not being a huge burger eater, I will pretty much always, make an exception for Smash Burger…or In-N-Out. Going to have to give your recipe a try! Looks pretty simpe and delicious!

  4. Live at the Jersey Shore and used to go to a burger place in Point Pleasant where they cooked burgers about the same way, on a very, very hot flat top, flattened the burger with a spatula until it was very thin, flipped it once, cooked for a short time, as you said as flattening it made it pretty thin. The best part was the crispy outer crust. Some fried onions on top. The place was Peter Skoko’s…gone now, but not forgotten.

  5. We have Smashburger out here in Vegas. I’ll take it over In-N-Out any day. Also, you’re right their fries are really good. Gonna try these at home.

  6. Love Smashburger!!! Moved to the East Coast five years ago, but trips back home to Colorado always include a Smashburger run!!!! So, I am going to give this recipe a try – Thanks, Macheesmo for figuring this out!!

  7. I have been going to Smashburger for 2 years!!!! If you are a proper connoisseur of burgers, then this place should top your list. I never get cheese on my burgers as I am VERY fussy about my cheese but the whole grain bun impressed me. One bite and I was a fan of the Smashburger. Until I tried their chicken burger! It is moist, huge, and perfectly done. The veggies are all fresh and I do love their sauce. Fries, what can I say except delicious, I have tried the sweet potato, rosemary and regular…toss-up so I always say, “Surprise me!” The shakes….made right there on the spot. They run a special shake every 6 or so weeks. I had to stay away when they had the salted caramel shakes as I could not refrain from ordering this. Appreciated method to try to duplicate this burger at home….I drive almost 30 miles one way to my nearest Smashburger.

  8. Hmmm . . . doesn’t interest me. I don’t particularly care for super thin burgers. But thanx for showing the method if for no other reason than to tell me not to go find a Smashburger. I don’t even think much of In-N-Out. Now the Wood Ranch Buckeye burger . . .

  9. Nice write-up! I really enjoy smashburgers as well. My buddy and I have a burger blog and have tried the smash method a few times after seeing it on Serious Eats. If you wanna check out ours: http://www.chowdownchamps.com/2013/07/12/the-smash-method-mg/.
    You really have to have some faith when making these; smash hard and know that it doesn’t take long to cook them. My dad says next time, he may try them with less fatty beef and no or less butter in order to get them to burn/crisp on the pan better. I make mine on a cast iron pan on the grill, by the by. Cheers!

  10. My all-time favorite burger! Juicy, and flavorful it has spoiled me for any other burger.
    Now I can try to make it at home! Thanks, Macheesmo for posting this recipe!!

  11. I just made smash burgers according to this recipe and they came out marvelously!

    Differences:

    *I used an anodized aluminum stockpot to smash the burgers instead of a cast iron pan.
    *I only had mayo, Trader Joe’s Sweet & Hot Mustard, and dill pickle juice to mix up for the “secret sauce,” so that’s what I used not only as a topping, but I spread some on the inside of the buns then lightly sauteed them with some butter prior to making the burgers.
    *I used Penzeys smoky seasoned salt as the sole burger seasoning.

    They came out with a beautiful crust and were hot and juicy inside. The only not so great thing was that I neglected to have my above-the-oven vent going the entire time and we wound up with a house full of smoke! You know what…it was worth it.

  12. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I just made it and the crust…yummy! Overall an AMAZING burger recipe!

  13. I’m going to try this; it looks delicious. My comment is about your quote dirty old cast iron skillet unquote. You probably know that you can reseason it and get many more years out of it.

  14. First of all, I am blown away and mystified by people who HAVE NOT MADE THIS RECIPE, but still feel the need to post negative or disinterested comments. Keep your vapid poison to yourself.
    I think it’s just great that this site posted this recipe.
    Second, I just made this burger for my man. He said it was the BEST burger he ever had. That’s saying a lot. I can’t get over how easy it is to make and how quickly it cooks. My father told me to NEVER smash a burger, but he was wrong. You just have to know how to do it. It was sooooo juicy and delicious. Also, I didn’t think it was really that “thin” – it was the perfect thickness.
    Thank you!

  15. Hi All, I worked at smashburger for some time and would love to just clear some things up. I no longer work there so I don’t mind spilling the beans. We used to make the smashsauce in house everyday that was as follows:
    16oz (by weight) Mayo
    16 fluid oz Mustard
    6 or 8 oz Sweet Relish
    And 3 lemon slices squeezed in.

    The super secret smasher you mentioned was nothing more than a handle with a shallow circle looking thing. We would smash for 10 seconds, but the REAL TRICK THAT MAKES THE BURGERS JUICY is how we prepped the beef. Take your beef and get it nice and Cold. Like straight out of the fridge. Maybe freeze for 10 mins. Now break up your beef into little tiny pieces the size of peas. Use forks or your hands if you have to. Now lightly press the meet into balls. Here is what would make the difference between juicy and rough, you want the balls to be almost falling apart. If they are packed too tight, your burgers will suck. Like a snowball.
    Also, we would season the crap out of the burgers, but a small amount of any good burger seasoning will work fine.
    For the true Smashburger make as follows
    Bun
    Smashsauce
    Ketchup
    Lettuce
    Tomato (2)
    Red Onion (one ring)
    And 3 pickles
    You have yourself a smashburger. Any questions about the restaurant I’d be happy to answer. Just comment below.

  16. I just pinned this, so it’s on the to make list. Have you ever made the onion burgers from Serious Eats? I just made these again last night , and they are fabulous. Check it out. It’s a smash technique too. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Awesome Vicky! Thanks for the pin. I’ll definitely check out the SE burger as well. They always make good stuff. :) Cheers!

  17. Thank you for this. I cannot wait to try my own version. I LOVE SMASHBURGER!! We are 90 miles away from the nearest one. My favorite by far is the Sin City it has egg, bacon,cheese, and onion straws. Yes, it is a heart attack but a treat that I enjoy about 4 times a year. Thank you also to Jane Doe, I will be utilizing all of your advice.

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