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Smash Burgers

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Pressed onto a sizzling hot griddle or skillet, smash burgers are easy to make and loaded with flavor.

Smash Burgers

I created this smash burger recipe for my son, Zach, whose freshman college kitchen was, shall we say, quaint: a simple fridge and an electric griddle. The first time he made them, he FaceTimed me from his dorm for a step-by-step walkthrough. I guided him through the cooking process, and watching his friends devour the burgers was the definite highlight of my week! Smash burgers are exactly what they sound like: burgers that have been smashed onto a hot griddle or skillet, sizzled until deeply browned, and cloaked with melted cheese. While they’re easier to make than my steakhouse burgers, I love them just as much. And they’re perfect for when you’re making a small batch of burgers or you’re just not in the mood to fire up the grill.

Though smashing burgers sounds counterintuitive – usually, pressing down on burgers allows all the flavorful juices to escape – when done right, the technique can create gorgeously brown, juicy, crispy burgers. To make good smash burgers, it’s important to:

  • Use ground chuck, or 80% lean ground beef; anything leaner will make the burgers dry
  • Be sure the patties are very cold before cooking
  • Smash the burgers immediately when you put them in the pan, and don’t smash them again
  • Season the outside of the burgers right before cooking rather than adding the salt to the meat mixture. Without any binders in the meat mixture (like my steakhouse burgers have), salt will give the burgers a strange texture (read the scientific explanation on Serious Eats here).

What You’ll Need To Make Smash Burgers

smash burgers ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the beef, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. (Do not put the salt in the mixture; you’ll add it later.)

ground chuck and seasoning in bowl

Using your hands, mix until evenly combined.

mashed smash burger mixture

Form the meat into 4 large meatballs (about 4½ oz each).

forming the meat into balls

Pat each ball into a 1-inch-thick disc; smooth out the edges as best you can. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or until ready to cook.

forming the meat into discs

Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the patties from the fridge and season all over with the salt.

seasoning the smash burgers with kosher salt

Coat the hot pan evenly with the oil. Place the burgers on the skillet one at a time, firmly smashing them flat with a metal spatula until about ¼-inch thick before adding and smashing the next one.

smashing the burgers in the skillet

Let cook for about 2 minutes until nicely browned and crusty on the bottom. Flip the burgers.

flipped smash burgers

Top the burgers with the cheese.

adding the cheddar cheese to the burgers

Cook for 2 minutes more for medium-rare to medium burgers, or 3 minutes for medium to medium-well burgers. cheese melted over burgers in skillet

Place the burgers on the buns and serve with toppings of choice.

Video Tutorial

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Smash Burgers

Pressed onto a sizzling hot griddle or skillet, smash burgers are easy to make and loaded with flavor.

Servings: 4 burgers
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 20 Minutes, plus at least 15 minutes to chill the patties

Ingredients

  • 1¼ pounds ground chuck (80% lean ground beef)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable oil, for cooking
  • Heaping ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 slices Cheddar cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns (lightly toasted, if desired)
  • Burger toppings of choice

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. (Do not put the salt in the mixture; you’ll add it later.) Using your hands, mix until evenly combined. Form the meat into 4 large meatballs (about 4½ oz each), then pat each ball into a 1-inch-thick disc; smooth out the edges as best you can. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or until ready to cook (up to 24 hours, covered).
  2. Turn on your exhaust fan and heat a 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the patties from the fridge and season all over with the salt. Coat the hot pan evenly with the oil. Place the burgers on the skillet one at a time, firmly smashing them flat with a metal spatula until about ¼-inch thick before adding and smashing the next one. Let cook for about 2 minutes until nicely browned and crusty on the bottom. Flip the burgers and top with the cheese; cook for about 2 minutes more for medium-rare to medium burgers, or 3 minutes for medium to medium-well burgers. Place the burgers on the buns and serve with toppings of choice.
  3. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The uncooked burgers can be frozen for up to three months. (Freeze the burgers on a baking sheet or plate so their shape sets, then transfer them to a sealable plastic bag for easy storage.) Defrost the burgers overnight in the refrigerator prior to serving and then cook as directed.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 burger
  • Calories: 612
  • Fat: 41 g
  • Saturated fat: 17 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Sodium: 503 mg
  • Cholesterol: 129 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • My 3 teen sons said it’s better than Shake Shack, Smashburger and Five Guys combined. It’s so juicy and flavorful. You are so right that you must salt the burger all over. It makes all the difference. Love it!

    • — Renee on December 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • I love your recipes, so not a criticism, but a suggestion. You need a burger press not a spatula. For a true smash burger, you need that thing flat which you gives you the crispy/craggly edges.

    • — Joe on September 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hey Jenn,
    I’m planning on making these tonight but want to have a sauce to go on it. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    • — Rebekah Hartkopf on September 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is a HUGE hit in our house (four teens)! I don’t change a thing. We use brioche buns that are lightly toasted.

    • — CarynB on September 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Would it be OK to make the burgers with spices, but not the salt and then freeze them? Salt would be added when they are going to be cooked. It would be convenient to be able to pull an already seasoned burger or two from the freezer.

    • — Barbara on September 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yes definitely!

      • — Jenn on September 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • I always wondered what made my mother’s burgers so tasty. I’ve spent many years trying to figure out her secret and always came up short. This is it!! Thanks so much for all your wonderful and easy to follow recipes!

    • — Cindy on September 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Fabulous favorite
    We love this and making it for tonight pairing with yr ceaser salad
    Super YUM!

    • — Elizabeth Verloop on August 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • OMG! Hubby doesn’t eat beef so I thought I’d give this recipe a try with ground Turkey. The burgers were very tasty and moist! Hubby didn’t add any condiments, but I added hot sauce. Don’t overcook, perfection at 165 degrees. Thanks Jen!🤗

      • — Marty on September 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • For some time I wanted to buy quality ingredients and make my own burgers. So I found this recipe and it was a success. Another one to keep and add to the rotation. The recipe is quick and easy, and still very delicious.

    • — Maya on March 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • These are so delicious ! I mean, it looks like a regular burger recipe. But, so much better. The taste is fantastic. It’s the seasoning and quick cooking. But, do yourself a favor and try it one time.
    Tasty, tasty, tasty !

    • — Ruthie on October 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Is there a substitute for ground mustard? Can I omit that ingredient? Thanks!

    • — Sohnia on August 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sohnia, you can just omit it. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • My new go-to burger recipe for a those hectic school days! The boys say they taste just like Shake Shack burgers which is a very high compliment!

    • — Adrienne on May 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can these be cooked on a grill?

    • — Linda on April 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, If you’d like to cook the burgers on the grill, smash them beforehand. They won’t really be “smash burgers,” but they’ll still be delicious. I worry that smashing them on the grill would cause them to stick.

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2022
      • Reply
  • HI Jen,
    My husband and I loved the smash burgers. The recipe is quick and easy and so delicious. Thank you and please tell your son “Thank You” too.
    Libby

    • — Libby Levinson on April 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on April 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • Fantastic flavor and super easy…loved them!

    • — Lynn on April 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this tonight. I didn’t care for the Worcestershire sauce in this, but my family liked it. It transforms it in to a meatloaf sandwich somehow. Otherwise, it is a good method.

    • — E on April 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Your burger buns look very nicely toasted, but there is no mention of that in your instructions. I usually toast them in the burger skillet. Is that what you did?

    • — Kathy Douthit on April 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, I toast mine in the toaster because there’s so much grease in the pan after I cook the burgers.

      • — Jenn on April 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    You are my go-to resource for culinary counsel.

    A quick question about this recipe. Can you make the recipe using 2-oz burgers and serve them as sliders? I’m guessing the cooking time would need to be reduced.

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    • — Cheryl on April 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Cheryl, yes, you could make these into sliders but I would make them a little thicker so that they don’t overcook. Instead of pressing them to ¼-inch thickness, I’d leave them at ½-inch. And I think the cook time will be a minute or so less. I’d love to hear how they turn out as sliders!

      • — Jenn on April 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I’m excited about your smash burgers as I have made them for years using about 3.5 ounces per and only s/p. Your Steakhouse burgers are delicious as are all you recipes. I love both your cook books the Croque Monsieur was very yummy. Thanks for being you and making my family love coming for breakfast or dinner. Gail

    • — Gail on April 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Thanks for your very sweet words, Gail — so glad your family likes the recipes! ❤️

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can’t wait to make this one. What toppings am I looking at on your burger? Also, your bun appears to be toasted. Do you toast your bun in a toaster or in the cast iron skillet?

    • — Andrew on April 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrew, I put some bacon, sautéed onions, and a mayo/ketchup mixture on there but this would be good with just ketchup (I think you can skip the mayo). And I usually lightly toast the buns in the toaster. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • How do you have a college aged son?!?! I am hoping that your secret to such a youthful appearance is in your recipes 😂 Thanks for the great recipes!

    • — Natalie on April 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2022
      • Reply
      • Jen, prep a few thinly sliced sweet onions and place burger on top when you flip. They will steam and fry beneath the burger. Awesome!

        • — Richard on April 21, 2022
        • Reply
        • Yum!

          • — Jenn on April 21, 2022
          • Reply
        • This tip placing sliced onions under burger is Awesome! Thank you Richard ! And Jen this burger recipe is Delicious.

          • — Rochelle on July 23, 2022
          • Reply
        • Looks like a good burger recipe but definitely not a smashburger. Way to thick to achieve the proper technique. Please rename.

          • — Dustin on November 17, 2022
          • Reply
          • Dustin…I like using a round metal potato masher instead of a metal spatula to get a real smashburger effect quickly. Works for me.

            • — Sona on February 5, 2023
          • Dustin, in the recipe instructions it clearly states to firmly SMASH the burger to 1/4″ thickness while cooking. I call that a smash burger.

            • — Amy on February 19, 2023

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