Classic Smash Burger Recipe

Classic Smash Burger Recipe
Picture by Rickey Pinard

The classic smash burger recipe has transcended its humble origins to become a beloved staple in burger joints across the globe. Its simplicity, coupled with the complex interplay of flavors, makes it a perennial favorite among burger enthusiasts. Here, we’ll delve into the detailed process of crafting the perfect smash burger, explore its history, and offer tips and tricks to elevate this culinary classic to new heights.

Understanding the Smash Burger: A Brief History

The smash burger is often hailed as a modern marvel in the world of burgers, but its roots trace back to the diner culture of the 1950s. The concept is deceptively simple: a ball of beef, smashed onto a hot griddle, resulting in a crispy, caramelized crust that locks in the juices. This technique not only enhances the flavor but also improves the texture, making each bite a delightful experience.

Ingredients Breakdown: What You’ll Need

A classic smash burger requires minimal ingredients, yet each element plays a critical role in achieving the perfect balance of taste and texture. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you need:

Beef Patties

Quality Ground Beef: The cornerstone of any great smash burger is the beef. Opt for ground chuck with a fat content of 20% for the perfect balance of flavor and juiciness.

Freshness Matters: Always use fresh meat. Avoid pre-ground meat from the supermarket unless it’s ground on the day of purchase. Freshly ground beef ensures a tender patty with a rich, beefy flavor.


Soft, Toasted Buns: Brioche or potato buns are ideal. They provide a soft texture that complements the crispy patty without overpowering it. Lightly toasting the buns enhances their flavor and adds a slight crunch.


Cheese: American cheese is traditional for its meltability and mild flavor. However, cheddar or Swiss can also be excellent choices, adding a sharper taste.

Onions: Thinly sliced onions, either raw or caramelized, add a sweet, pungent flavor that contrasts beautifully with the savory patty.

Pickles: Dill pickles or bread and butter pickles add a tangy crunch that cuts through the richness of the beef and cheese.


Classic Sauce: A simple blend of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise forms the classic smash burger sauce. Some prefer adding a touch of garlic powder or Worcestershire sauce for depth.

Seasoning: Salt and pepper are essential, but don’t shy away from adding a pinch of garlic powder or smoked paprika to elevate the flavor profile.

Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting the Perfect Smash Burger

Classic Smash Burger Recipe
Picture by Rickey Pinard

Creating the ultimate smash burger is both an art and a science. Here’s a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you master this iconic dish:

Step 1: Preparing the Beef Patties

Portion the Beef: Divide the ground beef into 2-ounce balls. Handle the meat gently to avoid compacting it, which can lead to a dense patty.

Season Generously: Season each ball with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Seasoning the meat just before cooking ensures that the seasoning penetrates the beef, enhancing its flavor.

Step 2: Heating the Skillet

Preheat the Skillet: Use a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast iron pan. Preheat it over medium-high heat until it’s smoking hot. A hot skillet is crucial for achieving a crispy crust.

Add Oil: Lightly coat the skillet with vegetable oil or a high-smoke point oil to prevent sticking.

Step 3: Cooking the Patties

Smash the Patties: Place the beef balls in the skillet and use a sturdy spatula or a burger press to smash them down. Apply firm pressure to create a thin patty. The goal is to achieve maximum surface area for a crispy crust.

Sear Until Crispy: Let the patties cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes, allowing the Maillard reaction to work its magic. Flip the patties once they have formed a rich, brown crust, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Step 4: Adding Cheese and Toasting the Buns

Add Cheese: Place a slice of cheese on each patty just before flipping. Let it melt over the hot beef for about 30 seconds.

Toast the Buns: While the patties are finishing up, lightly butter the buns and toast them in a separate skillet until golden brown. This step adds a delightful crunch and richness to the burger experience.

Step 5: Assembling the Smash Burger

Layering the Toppings: Start with the bottom bun, then add the cheesy patty, followed by the sliced onions, pickles, and a generous dollop of sauce. Top with the other half of the bun and press gently to meld the flavors together.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Smash Burger

Temperature Matters: Keep the skillet at a consistent high heat. Too low, and the patties will steam rather than sear. Too high, and they’ll burn.

Don’t Overwork the Meat: Handle the beef as little as possible to keep the patties tender and juicy. The less you handle it, the better the texture.

Experiment with Toppings: While the classic toppings are always a hit, don’t be afraid to get creative. Avocado slices, fried eggs, or even a spicy aioli can take your smash burger to the next level.

Table: Smash Burger Recipe Plan

1. Prepare BeefPortion and season beef balls10 minsUse 2-ounce balls, season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat SkilletPreheat skillet to high heat5 minsUse a cast iron skillet or heavy pan.
3. Cook PattiesSmash beef balls in skillet5 minsSear for 2 mins each side until crispy.
4. Add CheesePlace cheese on patties, let melt1 minUse American, cheddar, or Swiss cheese.
5. Toast BunsButter and toast buns in a skillet5 minsToast until golden brown.
6. Assemble BurgerLayer patties, toppings, and sauce10 minsFollow the layering order for best taste.
Chart by Rickey Pinard


By following these detailed steps and tips, you’re well on your way to creating the ultimate smash burger. The combination of simplicity and flavor makes this burger a timeless classic. Enjoy crafting your perfect burger, and don’t forget to share your delicious creations with friends and family!


What is a classic smash burger?

A classic smash burger is a burger patty made by smashing a ball of ground beef onto a hot cooking surface, creating crispy, caramelized edges while keeping the center juicy.

How do you make a classic smash burger at home?

To make a classic smash burger at home, start with high-quality ground beef, form small balls of meat, season generously, then smash them onto a hot skillet or griddle. Cook until the edges are crispy, flip, add cheese if desired, and assemble with your favorite toppings on a toasted bun.

What toppings are traditionally used on a classic smash burger?

Traditional toppings for a classic smash burger include American cheese, sliced pickles, diced onions, lettuce, tomato slices, ketchup, and mustard. These toppings complement the simplicity of the burger and enhance its flavors.

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