Top 3 Tips for a Perfect Smashburger Recipe

Classic smashburger recipe with cheese, onions, and a spicy mayo

Crispy, simple, and irresistible are the only ways to describe smashburgers. Let’s talk about the core elements for an easy smashburger recipe and my top 3 tips to make sure you have the most success.

Two different types of smashburger recipes

What is a Smashburger, really?

By now you’ve probably had them, and perhaps even perfected making them.

Smashburgers are known to be smashed on a flattop cooking surface, such as a griddle or cast iron skillet. Smashing ground meat onto a screaming hot surface cooks the meat fast and creates amazing textures.

Classic burger wisdom says “don’t press on your burger!” which is incredibly wrong in this situation. We want maximum crust!

Why You’ll Love Smashburgers

  • Ready in a flash. Only have a few minutes? Yeah, then you can make smashburgers. Smash them down in a hot skillet, flip, and top.
  • Crispy edges. Part of the reason smashburgers are so popular is because of the incredible texture that comes from the searing heat and thin profile. This is a very different burger.
  • Juicy while crispy. Don’t let the thinness fool you, the high heat does seal in juices without drying out the beef.
  • Fun to build. Want 3 patties? Go for it, and don’t feel guilty. Typically smashburgers are stacked high, using smaller amounts of beef per patty. Have fun!
Classic smashburger recipe with cheese, onions, and a spicy mayo
“Classic” smash burger with some added heat. Recipe below.

Smashburgers are Still Juicy

Let’s address why you can’t press down on a typical burger, but you can with a smashburger.

Classic burger patties are thick juice bombs, with crust on the outside, and a perfect pink in the middle. You’ve created a nice crust to capture the juices. Pressing down forces the juices out, leaving you with a dry burger.

Smashburgers are different because you’re working fast. The fats are still solid in cold ground beef. The strategy is to smash your burgers quickly so you don’t lose juices. You lose very minimal liquid when pressing down on the cold ground beef, allowing it to brown and cook immediately.

Smashed ground beef on the griddle, cooking before they are flipped.
These are juicy and ready to flip.

Tip 1: Beef Choices

It starts with the product. We’ll talk about 2 different elements here: Quality and Prepping

Quality and fat content are both important. If you can grind your own, or you’re willing to, it’ll easily be the best result. I highly recommend 80/20, which will give you the best possible crust when you’re searing. 85/15 will work too, but anything leaner and you will not have the same results.

You want to use loose meat, forming loose balls of beef for patties. I cannot stress this enough (see photo above). It’s important because the meat will spread out more easily and you will also press out fewer juices when you’re smashing. The burgers will have more texture and flavor. Show them the love!

Pressing down on the loose burger meat with a spatula to smash the patties
Hulk SMASH!

Tip 2: Accessorize

Part of the fun with making smashburger recipes is having all of the proper toys.

The flat-top could be a cast-iron skillet or a propane gas griddle. Smashburgers are pretty messy from the splatter, prompting me to cook them outside, so a griddle is my preferred choice. This allows you to cook multiple burgers and toast your buns at the same time.

Have something flat and heavy to smash the beef! You can certainly use a heavy spatula, or if you’re willing to spend a little more, a heavy steak press.

Wax paper sheets are pretty handy too, preventing the meat from sticking to your smasher. They can also be used to hold the meat as you’re setting it on the flat top, keeping your hands clean.

Pepperjack slices with two smashed burger patties
Pepperjack cheese on a double stack.

Tip 3: Less is More With Toppings

The crispy crust of a smashed burger is pretty amazing on its own, and doesn’t require a lot of love and support.

There are a few options to maximize the experience of having the best smashburger recipe in town:

  • Cheese. American cheese is the classic choice, a simple, recognizable flavor with an ideal melting point for burgers hot on the griddle. There are other cheeses that perform very well, such as Havarti, muenster, Gouda, Monterey jack, Pepperjack, Swiss, and many many more. The key is to use a cheese that’s not too hard, such as sharp cheddar, so it has a proper chance to melt. Smashburgers cook quickly so there’s not much time on the grill!
  • Something saucy. Typically you’ll see mayo, which works well, but don’t limit yourself there. Try a hot sauce, pesto, mushroom sauce, spicy herb sauce, or just about anything that’s wet and flavorful.
  • Something crispy. The burger crust is crispy, but having something else to crunch on can be fun. Pickles, shredded lettuce, onions, or pickled jalapenos are my top choices.

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Classic smashburger recipe with cheese, onions, and a spicy mayo

Classic & Spicy Smash Burger

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Get out your spatula and American cheese! We’re going to tackle a classic-style smash burger with some jalapenos and chipotle fry sauce. 

  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • Ground beef 80/20, formed into 3oz loose balls per patty
  • Potato buns
  • American cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Red onions, sliced thin
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning
  • Butter for toasting the bread

Chipotle Fry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup chipotles in adobo, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Make the fry sauce. Mix all ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Heat the flat-top to medium-high heat. Add the butter and toast the buns to your preference, watching closely so they don’t burn.
  3. Apply the sauce to both buns, and the veggies to the bottom bun. The burgers cook fast so this will save you from scrambling to assemble.
  4. Add the beef to the griddle. Take one of the 3oz patties in your wax paper. Season the top, and place on the hot surface so the seasoning is on the bottom. Repeat for each patty.
  5. Quickly lay the wax paper on the burger, place your spatula or press on top and press down firmly. Make sure all edges are flat. Remove the paper and repeat quickly with each one.
  6. Flip the burgers when there is barely any pink left on the top, and it’s crispy on the bottom. You may need to scrape them, this is normal. As soon as you do, apply the cheese.
  7. After 15 seconds, stack the burgers and the cheese together, and then assemble on your bun. Enjoy!

Notes

Make sure you don’t leave the beef on the griddle for very long before you smash. I recommend smashing within 30 seconds after you place it down for maximum juice.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Griddle
  • Cuisine: Burgers
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