Pat LaFrieda's Secret To The Best Homemade Smash Burgers

Pat LaFrieda, the CEO and butcher of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors as well as the author of "MEAT: Everything You Need to Know" and "Glorious Beef: The LaFrieda Family and the Evolution of the American Meat Industry," is full of tips on how to cook a good burger. And during an interview with Tasting Table in February 2023, LaFrieda addressed the smash burger trend, in which patties are smashed into thin pieces of meat, and gave us some insight into the best way to make one.

LaFrieda said, "If you want to smash, the important part is to make sure the cast iron that you're smashing it on is hot. You definitely want that thermometer, and you want that to be 425-plus degrees [Fahrenheit], because if you smash a burger on that and you're not getting a sear immediately and you're not able to flip it within a minute, it's going to stick." He also suggested seeking out pre-smashed burgers (4-ounce flat burger patties) in order to get that smash burger taste without having to worry about doing the work yourself. However, a smash burger is not always LaFrieda's go-to burger.

To smash or not to smash

Smash burgers may be trendy, but, according to Pat LaFrieda, they're not perfect. LaFrieda told Tasting Table, "[A smashburger] limits you to a cast iron skillet as opposed to a barbecue. A barbecue offers great textures and flavors that a cast iron can't always offer."

When asked for his suggestions on how to make the best burger possible at home, LaFrieda pulled from his own professional experience and discussed how they go about it at his meat purveyors business. As it turns out, LaFrieda thinks that how the meat is cut makes a huge difference in taste. LaFrieda explained, "We don't use any trimmings when we make our burgers. Our burgers are made from whole cuts of meat. That's important because there's no other way to control the flavor of it ... Specific cuts of meat that are made for burgers is what's important, because then you'll have that same burger experience time after time. If it's trimmings or there are no claims on it, then it could be meat from anywhere." Whether you decide to go with a smash burger or not, LaFrieda has definitely provided some vital insight to consider for the burger-making process.