Grilling Guide

What is a Smash Burger

What is a smash burger? Well, unless you just don’t get out much, chances are you’ve already heard of them or had the pleasure of eating a smash burger. Did you know, you can easily make this restaurant style burger in your own backyard? It may be time to impress your friends and family and serve Smash Burgers at your next gathering. 

A Little Bit of History

Yes, Smashburger is a nationwide chain that opened its first restaurant back in 2007. But the very first smash burger was invented several decades earlier by the original Dairy Cheer hamburger shop owner Bill Culvertson.  An employee discovered that smashing the meat with a can of beans while grilling was a great way to get the best flavor into a burger. So, from that cooking method the Smashburger was born.

What’s the Difference

Smash burgers are unique in the way the beef is formed into loosely packed balls, then smashed flat onto a hot griddle or flattop grill, for at least 45 seconds to get a proper sear. This creates a crispy crust on the outside while keeping the inside juicy and tender – with a flavor you just won’t find in other types of burgers.

Classic burgers are seasoned before shaping them into thick patties. Usually cooked to medium, resulting in pink, super juicy center. Classic burgers are also typically grilled, but not pressed down and flattened like smash burgers.

Both burger types are customized with lots of different topping options, such as cheese and don’t forget the bacon. Any great burger deserves to be served with a heaping pile of fries. 

Why Smash Burgers Are So Good

The secret lies in the flavors of the patty and a little bit of science called the Maillard reaction. This form of browning is “loosely explained as a chemical reaction between amino acids and a type of sugar called a “reducing sugar,” located on the surface of food, in the presence of heat.” This reaction creates the dark, crisp-crusted, flavor-packed, mouthwatering patty.

When you smash the burgers down on a super-hot grill, the fat has nowhere to go but back up into the burger patty, so the burgers are cooking in their own beefy juices. Since most of the meat is pressed down onto the grill and browned, you’re getting more Maillard goodness than when cooking a regular burger. Since the patties are so thin, you can easily stack several on a buttered, toasted bun.

Simple Ingredients

All you need for smash burgers are the following basic ingredients to create these delicious and unforgettable treats.

  • Ground Beef, 80/20
  • Salt & Black Pepper
  • Sliced Cheese of your choice
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Brioche or Potato buns
  • Butter for toasting buns
  • Optional: bacon, pickles, sliced onion, and any other burger topping you prefer

 Simple Prep, Cook and Assembly

1. Divide the ground beef evenly into 3-ounce portions and form into loosely packed balls so they will be easy to smash. Cover and refrigerate while preparing burger toppings.

2. Preheat grill, griddle, or cast-iron skillet to 400°F.

3. Butter both sides of the buns. Toast the inside of each bun on a griddle or skillet for about 30 seconds or until golden brown. Set aside until the burgers are ready.

4. Place two balls of beef on the hot grill, griddle, or cast-iron skillet. You can cook all the burgers at the same time if the griddle is large enough. Work quickly because the meat cooks fast. 

5. Smash the beef balls to a 1/4-inch thickness with a spatula or burger press. Since we are making double (or triple) meat burgers, the patties need to be thin. You can cover the meat with a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking to the spatula.

6. Once smashed, add pepper and heavily salt the top of each patty. Sizzle and cook for 1-2 minutes. When you see color creeping up the side, Flip the patties with a metal spatula, make sure to scrape up the crusty layer that has formed underneath. Add more salt and pepper. Add sliced cheese on top of the patties. Cover and cook for 1-2 more minutes.

7. When the meat is fully cooked, place one patty on top of another. Prepare burgers by taking the bottom toasted bun, add condiments, and toppings of choice. Place smashed burger on top of layered toppings and top with the other half of toasted bun.

That’s a Wrap

Smash burgers are a quick and easy meal for any occasion. Whether you’re planning the next tailgate, backyard barbecue or looking for something different for busy weeknight meals, smash burgers will be a hit. So, how about giving this Classic Smash Burgers recipe a whirl. Your friends and family will thank you!