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Flavor Up Your Memorial Day with Smash Burgers

Have you been to Smashburger? Aren’t their hamburgers delicious? They aren’t too thick, have crispy edges, and are, oh, so juicy. If you are planning on grilling burgers this weekend for Memorial Day, give my recipe for Smash Burgers a try. You won’t need to change your shopping list, but you will need some equipment you don’t normally use for grilling regular hamburger patties; a cast-iron griddle pan or a cast-iron skillet and two spatulas. You can make smash burgers either on your stovetop or on your grill. The technique is included in the recipe that follows.  

A smash burger is just what it says—it is ground beef that is smashed onto a hot grill and cooked until it’s golden and crispy. We use 80/20 ground beef or ground chuck when we make burgers. Ground beef with a higher fat content will yield juicier grilled burgers. We prefer using American cheese because it melts perfectly and has just the right amount of sharpness. And, of course, we prefer brioche buns. They are made with butter, eggs, and milk; and we think they are softer, moister, and richer than other buns. 

Smash Burgers Makes 4 two-patty burgers

For the seasoning:

2 tablespoons salt 1 tablespoon large grind black pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine and set aside. This recipe will yield more seasoning than is needed for 8 patties. Store any unused seasoning in an airtight container.

For the patties:

2 pounds 80/20 ground beef or ground chuck Form ground beef into 8 (4-ounce) chunks. Do not shape into patties or roll into balls. Season each chunk on all sides with the seasoning mix. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Place griddle pan on the grill and heat until griddle pan smokes, about 2 minutes. Place ground beef chunks on the griddle pan. Using 1 or 2 spatulas, smash each chunk onto the griddle for 10 to 15 seconds. Cook patties until browned around the edges and juicy on top, about 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Do not lift burgers up with your spatula to see if they are browned. Check the edges. When juices pool on the surface of the burger, they are ready to flip. Flip patties. Cook for about 1 more minute. Place cheese on patties and cook for 30 seconds more.

For the toasted buns: 4 brioche buns Butter Split buns in half and butter. Place buns directly on the griddle and toast for 10 to 15 seconds. Place two patties on each bun and serve with desired toppings.

Suggested toppings:

You don’t need to serve your smash burgers with all the toppings—only the ones you prefer.

4 slices American cheese 4 slices tomato Mayonnaise Ketchup Mustard Dill pickle slices Relish Crispy bacon slices Red onion slices to taste Lettuce leaves to taste

Tips for buying ground beef: Some ground beef products are labeled “lean” and “extra lean”. “Lean” means that for every 100 grams of beef there are less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. “Extra Lean” means for every 100 grams of beef there are less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

Supermarkets will also label beef according to the meat/fat ratios: 73/27; 80/20; 85/15; 92/8; 93/7; 94/6. Select the type of ground beef that is appropriate for how you will prepare the beef. Ground beef with higher fat content will yield juicier grilled burgers. Leaner ground beef is good in recipes where the meat is crumbled—like spaghetti sauce or taco filling.

Tips on using ground beef at home: When exposed to oxygen, ground beef will become a rosy, red color. Sometimes you may find the center of a package of ground beef has darkened. This is not harmful. This is the result of lack of exposure to oxygen. If you have concerns about ground beef, check the smell. It should be fresh, not sour, and the meat should feel moist not slimy.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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