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Do you know anyone who doesn’t like burgers? It seems impossible, doesn’t it. As crazy a thought as that this, what also leads to heated arguments is where one can find the best burger. In every city I’ve lived, the question of “where can I get the best burger?” inevitably comes up, probably a close second to “where can I get the best pizza?”
The best burger should be made in your own home, it turns out, and it’s easy to do. You’re familiar with grilled burgers, patties rendered into rich meaty goodness over a dancing flame. But do know smashburgers? These are ground beef patties you cook on the stovetop, smashing the patties with the back of a wide spatula to create craggy and uneven shapes that allow the burgers to crisp up on the edges, while the middles remain moist.
As soon as I made these smashburgers from The Kitchn’s Jesse Szewczyk, I was hooked. They are incredibly delicious and remind me of my favorite burger of all time, the All American Burger at WesBurger in San Francisco. The 80/20 ground beef is important to use here as not only does this ratio keep the meat moist, but it also gives the patty better flavor. You could go up to 85/15 if you wish, but don’t go any further as the burger will be dry.
But in order to make these delectable little numbers, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure your “smash” is truly “smash-worthy”:
1. Start with a very hot pan. And I mean hot. The burgers should be crisp on the outside, yet tender and moist in the middle. Heat up your pan at least three minutes before adding the beef. A cast iron skillet works well here.
2. Smash it once. Just once. Stop yourself from smashing the burgers a second time after flipping. I know you’ll want to, but practice self-restraint! Szewczyk says, “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 the patties around. Just as with the second smash, it’s tempting to move the patties around the pan as they cook. The smashburger is all about the crisp exterior, so leave those burgers alone! The burgers should release easily from the pan, so if they are sticking to it a bit, then they need more time to cook, just another minute.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s, Simply Organic, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 pound ground beef (80% fat / 20% lean)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil, or other neutral oil
- 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
- 4 split hamburger buns, toasted
- For toppings: pickle slices, thinly sliced red onion, tomato slices, lettuce, you name it!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the toppings of your choice, plus any condiments such as ketchup and mustard.
Leftover burger patties can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.