Easy Smash Burger Recipe

There's nothing better than biting into a hot, juicy burger, and we'd argue that the bite is even better if it's a smash burger! Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn has crafted this easy smash burger recipe, and it's essential for those who enjoy a burger without the hassle. "Like anybody, I like a big, juicy homemade burger, but there is something really deliciously addicting about a smash burger," she explains. "The cooking technique and that special sauce is what makes it so good. Especially if you're using a cast iron skillet, you get a delicious crust on the burger, and it's still juicy even though it is so thin."

Unlike a regular burger, which McGlinn acknowledges only taste best when grilled, a smash burger tastes just as good, and all you need is a stovetop to make it. "I also really like that I only need meat, salt, and pepper for the patties," she explains. Sure, you could make a regular burger that way, too, but many recipes get a little too involved by adding lots of seasoning, sauces, and maybe even an egg or two. This recipe, like the title suggests, really is very easy, with pretty standard burger ingredients, but the results yield Shake Shack-level quality. 

Gather the ingredients for easy smash burgers

To make this easy smash burger recipe, you'll need ground beef (which you'll want to keep cold), salt, and pepper for the patties themselves. Of course, what's a burger without toppings — you'll need American cheese, thinly-sliced tomato, and romaine lettuce, and some buns to put everything in-between. 

For the special sauce, you'll need mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, ketchup, pickle brine (some of the juice from a jar of pickles), and some cayenne pepper, which adds that "special" element to the sauce. Finally, you'll need some butter to brush on the buns and to cook the patties in.

Form and season the patties

To get started, you'll be working with the ground beef. Separate the beef into four equal sections, then shape each section into a patty — they should look similar to a hockey puck in both size and shape. In a small bowl, mix together the salt and pepper, then sprinkle half of that mixture evenly over each patty. 

Let the patties sit in the fridge for at least 5 minutes, but according to McGlinn, even longer would be ideal. "Smash burgers are thin, and can be at risk of being dried out from pressing all those juices out," she explains. "That's actually why working with cold meat is essential." She goes on to explain that when you keep the meat nice and cold, the fat remains solidified — so when it comes time to actually smash your smash burger, all of that solid, juicy fat will remain in the patty. So, keep those patties cold, and better yet, don't take them out of the fridge until right before you cook them.

Butter and toast the buns

With all that's going on in the middle, it's easy to overlook the thing that holds the burger together — the buns! Give them a little attention by melting 1 tablespoon butter and brushing it on the inside of each bun. Place the buns butter-side down in a skillet over medium heat, until they toast up. You'll know the buns are ready to go when they're browned and crispy on the edges. Remove the buns from the heat and set them aside.

Mix the special sauce

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, ketchup, pickle brine, and cayenne pepper. Spread the special sauce across each of the top burger buns, then set them aside. "The special sauce is basically all of your condiments mixed together," McGlinn describes. "It's tangy, creamy, and a tiny bit spicy all in one."

It's time to smash some burgers

Place a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and once it's melting and sizzling, place one of the cold burger patties on the skillet, seasoned side down. Immediately press down — or smash — the patty with either a grill press or large spatula. Make sure the burger gets nice and flat, and once it's browning on the bottom, remove the grill press or spatula. "Smash hard and firmly, then remove the press so that the juicy fats stay in the patty as it cooks," McGlinn advises. "Then, don't touch!" 

Now, use the other half of the salt and pepper mix to season the top of the patty, and continue cooking until the bottom is deeply browned. The edges of the burger should start looking nice and crispy, too. Flip the burger, and press it down again if it puffs up. Then, add a slice of cheese on top and continue cooking, allowing the cheese to melt. "You just want to cook that second side until the cheese melts and the side is browned, about 1 or 2 minutes at most," McGlinn says. Once you've got melty cheese, it's time to remove the patty from the heat. Repeat this cooking process with the remaining three burgers.

Assemble and enjoy your smash burgers

To assemble the burger, place the cooked patty on the bottom bun. Place a couple of tomato slices on top, then some romaine lettuce on top of the tomatoes, and finish it off with one of the saucy top buns. Now, you're ready to serve and savor in these delicious smash burgers — they were pretty easy to make after all, weren't they?

As a pairing option, McGlinn says that you simply cannot go wrong with french fries. "I like making homemade fries — shoestrings or wedges — just to keep it healthier and homemade, but any frozen fry works," she says, also noting that Shake Shack-style crinkle cut fries would work well. She also suggests sweet potato fries or tater tots, and if you want to go a non-fry route, then she suggests "easy, cold side salads and veggies." Potato salad, 7-layer salad, grilled romaine salad — just about anything pairs well with a burger this smashingly good. 

Easy Smash Burger Recipe
4.9 from 17 ratings
When you want a thin, juicy, and slightly charred burger on your plate in about 20 minutes, you can't go wrong with this simple smash burger recipe.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
10
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
burger perched on metal tray
Total time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef, cold
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon dill pickle brine
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 8 slices thinly sliced tomato
  • 4 pieces of leafy romaine lettuce
Directions
  1. Separate the ground beef into 4 equal portions. Make a hockey puck-sized patty with each portion.
  2. Combine the salt and pepper to make a seasoning mix, and sprinkle half on the tops of the 4 burgers. Refrigerate for 5 minutes, or until ready to cook.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and brush the melted butter onto the inside of each bun. Toast the buns, buttered side down, in a skillet over medium heat, until browned and crispy on the edges. Remove them from the heat.
  4. To make the sauce, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, ketchup, pickle brine, and cayenne until well-incorporated. Spread the sauce on the tops of the toasted buns.
  5. To cook the burger patties, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the remaining butter, and once sizzling, place a cold burger patty into the skillet, seasoned side down. Immediately press down firmly with a grill press or large spatula. Flatten the burger completely, and once it's beginning to brown, remove the grill press.
  6. Season the top of the burger and cook until deeply browned. Flip, pressing down again if the burger begins to puff upwards.
  7. Add cheese to the top of the burger. Cook until the burger is deeply browned and the cheese is melted, about 1-2 minutes, then remove it from the heat.
  8. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining 3 burgers.
  9. To build the smash burger, layer the cheeseburger on the bottom bun, and top it with 2 slices of tomato and lettuce. Complete the burger with the sauced bun top.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 717
Total Fat 50.3 g
Saturated Fat 19.5 g
Trans Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 122.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36.1 g
Dietary Fiber 8.4 g
Total Sugars 8.1 g
Sodium 1,209.8 mg
Protein 32.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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