For A Juicier Smash Burger, Try Cooking It In The Air Fryer

Although there are many different ways to cook a hamburger, an air fryer is often overlooked compared to a large outdoor grill or a cast iron skillet. Air fryers, however, quickly deliver a juicier smash burger than other typical cooking methods. Traditional smash burgers done on a flat, searingly hot surface can quickly lose their moisture when being flattened by a heavy weight if pressed too hard or too late in the cooking process. An air fryer eliminates this moisture loss because there is no pressing involved during cooking. When you use an air fryer, the "smash" of the patty occurs before the cooking process begins, retaining the juices from the meat and eliminating any moisture escaping from a hard or delayed press.

Due to the thinness of a smash burger patty, an air fryer allows for minimal cooking time that locks in the higher fat content used for burger patties, normally a blend of 80% lean meat to 20% fat. The patties get cooked so quickly on the outsides that the insides don't have time to overcook, leading to a juicier end product in a fraction of the time. The consistent high temperature of an air fryer also enables the Maillard reaction that makes smash burgers so delicious with their thin, crispy, browned edges that contrast with their juicy centers.

Use high quality ground beef and preheat your air fryer before cooking

For the juiciest burgers, use high quality ground beef with a higher fat content, and handle the meat gently to not overwork it when forming small balls. Always make sure to preheat your air fryer so it's hot and ready to properly cook, and lightly spray the basket or tray with cooking oil to avoid sticking. Parchment paper can aid in keeping things clean by creating a barrier between the meat and your smashing tool, whether that be a sturdy spatula or your hands. Be careful to avoid overcrowding the fryer basket so each patty has room to cook evenly, cooking in smaller batches if necessary, and allowing those crispy edges to form. If you're making smashed cheeseburgers, add the cheese on top of the patties about a minute or two before the finished cooking time so the cheese has a chance to melt. Lastly, as with most meats, give the burgers a few moments to properly rest after cooking to let the meat further retain its juices. 

Given the speedy cooking time, we recommend you have all your fixings for your smash burgers prepped and ready before cooking the burgers. You can even toast your burger buns in the air fryer first so there's less equipment to clean afterward. Next time you're in the mood for easy smash burgers, give the grill a break and consider taking your air fryer for a spin.