These smash burgers, with crispy crusts and juicy beef, are fast, easy, and super simple with minimal ingredients but maximum flavor.
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Out of all the burgers I’ve made, the smash burger is probably my absolute favorite.
Sure I love love the pub-style, “extra thicc”, super burgers, but diner-style smash burgers check off all the boxes of a good burger: they’re fast and easy, they have a crisp, flavorful crust, they’re simple yet so perfectly just burger-esque in their simplicity.
Am I going on a tangent again?
The most satisfying part of a burger-joint/diner-style smash burger is that crisp, brown crust all over both sides of the patty. And I added a fried egg over medium…because my hubby got me hooked on adding eggs to my burgers. Haven’t tried it? Just do it, you can fry the egg on the griddle with the burgers and it’ll still be just as fast.
I know that you’ve been told to never smush or mess with your burgers while you’re cooking burgers, and yes, for the most part that’s true. But the reason why you want to smash this burger is to get a nice wide surface to cook over high heat and create the Maillard Reaction, aka the browning reaction.
Don’t confuse the Maillard Reaction with caramelization, the browning in this situation comes from the protein compounds in the meat breaking down, not from sugar. Not only does it help make the meat look better and have a better texture with a crunchy crust, but it actually makes the meat taste meatier.
Smashing the burger gives you more surface space for browning, and get that crispy crust without burning the outside of the patty while waiting for the inside to cook.
Now, do you remember why you were told not to smash a burger? Oh, yeah, because you’ll squeeze the juices out, right?
Not with this burger! You know why? Because you immediately smash the burger as soon as you put it on the griddle, while the fat in your patty-meatball is still cold and therefore, is still solid. Do this with a grill press, like this one, because if you mess around with a flimsy spatula, pressing multiple times trying to flatten out the patty, you will end up pressing out the now-liquid juices out.
Juice and fat can’t run out if it can’t run, right?
Needless to say I hope you don’t try this method on a grill, unless you do it on a solid surface like a cast iron skillet on the grill. Otherwise you’ll just smash your patty right into the fire.
We’re trying not to set things on fire, y’all.
I have an electric griddle, but if you have a gas range, which I’m a little jealous of since I miss them so much, I suggest using a cast iron griddle that you can place over the stove ranges, which will heat up evenly and give you a great crust.
One more thing. I barely form the patty-meatball, just touching it enough to ensure it’s together and won’t fall apart on the griddle. Too much mushing around will make the meat too tough for such thin patties, so just scoop the meat into ball shapes and gently press together…
…I only season it on the outside with salt and pepper.
Don’t look at me like that. Don’t judge me. It’s legit, y’all.
Look, I don’t know what it is, because I first attempted to season it with all my usual suspects, S&P, garlic powder, minced onion, etc, gently combined it into the meat…but my second go, third go, with just salt and pepper tasted better. It just did. The meaty flavor was more prominent, it tasted just like it came fresh from one of those great burger places.
It was that iconic taste, and that was what I was going for.
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- 2 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cheese slices
- Toppings and condiments, as desired
- Burger buns, toasted
- Divide your ground chuck into four, 4 oz, portions, gently pressing them into a spherical shape. Season them with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper on all sides.
- Heat a griddle on medium high heat, waiting for a couple minutes until the griddle is fully heated, then add beef and use a stiff metal spatula or grill press to press down on each one until they are very wide and about 1/2 inch thick.
- Let cook for about 2-3 minutes without moving the patties to develop a good brown crust. Use the spatula to carefully scrape up the patties and flip them, one at a time. Add cheese now, if using.
- Continue cooking until patties are cooked through, about 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, and cheese is melted.
- Place patties, toppings, and condiments onto toasted burger buns, add top buns, and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.