Easy Homemade Smash Burgers

published May 4, 2020
Easy Homemade Smash Burgers

These no-frills burgers are exactly what they sound like: ground beef that's cooked in a skillet and smashed with a spatula to create rough, craggly little patties.

Serves4

Prep10 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Burger patties with a partially assembled burger, pickles and sliced tomatoes
Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If you’ve never had a smash burger before, you’re in for a treat. These no-frills burgers are exactly what they sound like: ground beef that’s cooked in a skillet and smashed with a spatula to create rough, craggy little patties. It’s that rough, uneven texture that allows the edges of the patties to crisp up and get so deliciously crunchy, and cooking them in a super-hot skillet gives them their deep, dark, flavorful sear. Here’s how to make them.

80/20 Ground Beef Makes a Better Burger

These burgers taste best when made with beef that has a high fat-to-lean ratio. Our recipe suggests using a ground beef that’s 80% lean, 20% fat, but anything over 15% fat will work well. The higher percentage of fat helps keep the burgers moist, and gives them a better flavor. A lot of the fat will render off during cooking, so don’t worry about them turning out greasy or too fatty. They’ll be perfectly juicy, tender, and full of flavor.

If you want to substitute another type of meat (such as ground turkey or chicken) make sure to also use a fattier variety. Ground dark meats typically have a higher fat content and make flavorful, moist burgers. These are typically labeled “dark meat” or “ground thighs.”

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

Mastering the Smash Technique

Achieving perfectly crisp, craggly-edged burgers is all about the smashing technique. Here are three tips for mastering it.

1. Make sure your pan is very hot. You want your burgers to be crisp on the outside yet tender in the middle, so make sure your pan is super hot. We recommend heating up your skillet for a full three minutes before adding the beef.

2. Only smash it once. Resist the urge to smash the burgers a second time after flipping. Smashing them after their initial smash could cause some of their juices and fat to release, resulting in a dry burger.

3. Don’t move them around. The key to getting a dark, crisp exterior is to leave the burgers alone. After smashing, don’t move them around. If the burgers are not releasing from the pan, that means they need more time to cook and should be left alone for another minute.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

Easy Homemade Smash Burgers

These no-frills burgers are exactly what they sound like: ground beef that's cooked in a skillet and smashed with a spatula to create rough, craggly little patties.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    seasoned salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1 pound

    ground beef (80% fat / 20% lean)

  • 1 tablespoon

    canola oil

  • 4 slices

    sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

  • 4

    split hamburger buns, toasted

  • Topping options: pickle slices, thinly sliced red onion, tomato slices, lettuce

Instructions

  1. Place 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  2. Divide 1 pound ground beef into 4 portions and form into rough, loose balls (do not press them together). Place on a baking sheet or large plate and sprinkle all over with the seasoning mixture.

  3. Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Working in 2 batches if needed so as not to crowd the pan, add the beef balls. Flatten the balls with a flat spatula to form rough 4-inch wide patties that are about 1/2-inch thick. Cook until the edges are brown and the beef no longer sticks to the skillet, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and place 1 slice sharp cheddar cheese on top of each patty, if using. Continue cooking until the cheese is fully melted and burgers no longer stick to the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately on toasted buns with desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover burger patties can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.