The easiest, most satisfying burger is unquestionably the smash burger. For patties with crispy, perfectly seasoned exteriors and juicy interiors, smashing is the way to go. These could not be easier to make, and are ready in 20 minutes.
Really, really good burgers that you can make inside! Smash burgers are so juicy, perfectly seasoned, and have the most satisfying crust. We like them even more than grilled burgers.
Though admittedly it's hard to beat grilling ambiance, if you're stuck inside, or need burgers ASAP, this quick method will give you a crave-worthy burger in a fraction of the time!
I like to keep burgers as simple as possible to spend more time on the toppings and side dishes. This recipe doesn't even require making a meat mixture - just portion out the ground beef, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook it!
What's so special about a smash burger?
There's a lot to love about a smash burger. It's a classic diner-style burger that always hits the spot!
Smash burgers get smashed immediately after being placed on the griddle. This makes a really thin patty that's easy to adequately season, and since it's cooked on a hot flattop, and the surface area is maximized via smashing, it gets a really delicious, crispy crust.
They also only take about 20 minutes from the time you get the beef out of the fridge to the time you're eating a burger.
How to make a smash burger
There are a couple of things different about making smash burgers vs regular burgers:
- The Patty: Start by dividing up your beef. No mixing required! Form the portions into balls and give the tops a hefty sprinkle of salt and pepper. Patties are formed by smashing here, so no need to flatten the balls out!
- The Smashing: Place the balls seasoned side-down on a hot griddle or cast iron skillet. Within the first 30 seconds, smash the balls down as thin as you can by placing a metal spatula on top and using a wooden spoon to press down on the top of the spatula. Repeat for all of the balls.
Then you'll sprinkle the tops (which are unseasoned) with the salt and pepper, leave to cook for a few minutes, flip, top with cheese, and cook another couple minutes, then assemble delicious cheeseburgers.
All about the beef
Whatever kind of ground beef you like to use will work for this recipe! I like to stick with an 80 - 85% lean blend (I find this to be a perfect midpoint for juicy burgers without too much shrinkage). If you have a leaner percentage, you may want to use a bit of oil on your skillet or griddle.
If you're like me and have been taught since birth that smashing burgers will squish the juice right out of them, you'll understandably have some qualms about intentionally smashing your patties. Fear not! To properly make a smash burger, you'll smash right after the beef is placed on the griddle, when the fat is still cold and there's not yet any juice to be squeezed out of the burger.
The key is to smash the patty down hard and fast. And of course, you should only smash these once and no more, so make it count! Smashing throughout cooking is the type of smashing you've been warned about your whole life.
Do it right, and you'll have the most delicious burger that's crispy and juicy all at once!
What to use to smash a burger
It's vital to use metal! I first attempted smash burgers using a plastic spatula and it did not provide the resistance required for adequate smashing. I'd recommend using a large metal spatula, but you could also use a metal pastry scraper, a small skillet, or get very official with a heavy duty grill press.
The whole meal
So many good ways to do burgers! My favorite is a build-your-own burger bar with lots of toppings/condiments set out. Throw in a couple summer sides if you want!
Burger topping ideas: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle chips, mushrooms, jalapeños, bacon, avocado, fried egg, condiments (ketchup/mustard/mayo/barbecue sauce/fry sauce/guacamole), etc.
The bun: any burger bun will do! I love a white bun for a really basic, really good burger. Whatever you choose, I highly recommend grilling it in butter!
The sides: potato salad, sweet potato fries, fruit salad, chips with salsa or pico de gallo, white bean salad, cucumber salad.
A metal spatula - this one is wide and will give you plenty of surface area for smashing!
An electric griddle - making burgers on a griddle is so convenient! Lots of surface area and good grease drainage. We have this and use it all the time for pancakes, french toast, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and now burgers!
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef (see note)
- 8 slices American cheese
- 8 buns
- Toppings (tomato, lettuce, onions, etc.)
- Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl.Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high. Meanwhile, divide the meat evenly into 8 balls. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper and place seasoned-side down on the preheated griddle. Working quickly, smash each burger into a thin layer using a metal spatula. Sprinkle the flattened tops with the remaining salt and pepper and cook - undisturbed - for 3 minutes. Flip the patties, place a slice of cheese on top of each, and cook an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to buns and serve immediately with desired toppings.
Method adapted from Shake Shack: Recipes and Stories: A Cookbook.