Smash Burgers

$11.85 recipe / $2.96 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.47 from 15 votes
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If you love a meaty, juicy burger patty with loads of crispy edges and tons of smoky crooks and crannies for your favorite sauce or cheese to sink into, this Smash Burger recipe is for you! Will you be left with a greasy stovetop? Undoubtedly. Will your smoke alarm holler? Probably. Will it be worth it? A million times YES. Plus, you get four burgers for what you’d pay for just one at a restaurant. Oh haiiiii, Budget-Friendly Smash Burger! Let’s be best friends.

Side shot of a Smash Burger with a toothpick in the bun.

What is a Smash Burger?

Unlike traditional burger patties that are thick and round, a Smash Burger has a thin patty with crispy, charred edges packed with smoky flavor. You make a smash burger by smashing a ball of ground beef onto an ungreased, hot, flat surface.

Ingredients for The Best Smash Burger

Smash Burgers are easy (though a bit messy) to make, ridiculously delicious, and perfect for a weekend get-together. Here’s what you’ll need to make a Smash Burger:

  • Ground Beef- Don’t use lean ground beef. You need fat for a smashed patty to be flavorful and juicy. Instead, use 80/20 ground beef, which means the beef is 80% meat and 20% fat. If you want to make your burger patties with ground turkey or ground chicken the same rule applies.
  • Butter- Adding frozen butter to the beef mix helps give you juicy results with deep, meaty flavors while also delivering smoky, crispy edges. To add even more depth to your burger, you should butter your buns before toasting them.
  • Seasoning – We use our Homemade Burger Seasoning, but you can also season this burger with a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. For a little more kick, try using a teaspoon of your favorite spicy blend, like our Homemade Cajun Seasoning.
  • Buns- What’s a burger without a fabulous bun? I prefer potato buns, but classic white, pretzel, brioche, or sesame buns are great choices too. You can also wrap your patty in a big, juicy lettuce leaf!
  • Toppings – If you want to make a cheeseburger, I recommend American cheese, which melts beautifully. We went super-classic with lettuce, red onion, and slices of tomato for our toppings, and skipped sauces that would overpower the flavor of our patty. But you do you. Other toppings that work fabulously are slices of avocado and crispy bacon topped with a fried egg. Or smother your patty with sautéed mushrooms and onions and smoky chipotle peppers.
Overhead shot of three Smash Burgers tucked into a tray with fries nestled around them.

Tips For A Great Smash Burger

  1. Chill your beef. Cold burgers have solidified fat. That means more fat stays in the patty as it cooks, producing a crispy brown exterior with a juicy interior.
  2. Salt your burgers when you’re ready to cook them. Salt denatures the proteins in ground beef very quickly, and it only takes minutes to transform the patty into a dry, rubbery, meatloaf-like texture.
  3. Use a cast iron or heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan which holds heat when a cold patty hits it. Do not use a non-stick pan; you should never heat non-stick to high temperatures.
  4. Use the biggest, heaviest spatula you have to smash your burger. If you need more leverage, place a tall, thick, heavy glass lip-side down on the spatula and place your palm on its bottom to smash down even more.
  5. To ensure your burgers are cooked evenly, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The internal temperature of a cooked burger should be 160°F.

What To Serve With Smash Burgers

We paired our Smash Burgers with our Oven Baked Steak Fries and they were absolutely AMAZING. You can also try our super crispy Garlic Parmesan Oven Fries. Other great options are our Easy Creamy Coleslaw or our Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad.

How To Store Smash Burgers

You can store cooked patties in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Then, reheat the patties in a preheated pan until steaming hot. Avoid using a microwave, which will leave you with rubbery results. If you’d rather freeze the burgers, don’t cook the patties. Instead, freeze the buttered, unseasoned ball-shaped portions wrapped in plastic or wax paper in an airtight container. Take them out of the freezer the day before you want to prepare them and thaw them overnight in your fridge.

Side shot of a Smash Burger with a toothpick in the bun with a second Smash Burger in the background.
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Smash Burgers

4.47 from 15 votes
If you love a meaty, juicy burger patty with loads of crispy edges and tons of smoky crooks and crannies for your favorite sauce or cheese to sink into, this Smash Burger recipe is for you!
Side shot of a Smash Burger with a toothpick in the bun and french fries in the background.
Servings 4 burgers
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef ($6.99)
  • 4 Tbsp frozen salted butter, divided ($0.56)
  • 3 tsp Homemade Burger Seasoning ($0.33)
  • 4 burger buns ($2.99)
  • 4 leaves iceberg lettuce ($0.37)
  • 1 tomato, sliced into thin rounds ($0.45)
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced into thin rounds ($0.16)

Instructions 

  • Separate the ground beef into four equal portions.
  • Grate 1/2 tablespoon of frozen butter onto each portion. Wrap the meat around the butter and shape it into a ball. Chill the beef until you are ready to cook. Place an ungreased cast iron skillet over high heat. Turn on your exhaust fan. Open a window.
  • When the skillet is smoking hot, sprinkle a 3/4 teaspoon of burger seasoning all over the beef ball, then place it in the pan.
  • Smash down with a spatula and keep the spatula on the burger as it cooks. When you see the top of the patty change color (about 2 minutes), carefully work the spatula under the patty. Take your time with this step, as the patty will be stuck to the pan.*
  • When you have loosened the patty, flip it and smash it again. Cook for 2 minutes more, remove the patty from the pan, and rest it on a cooling rack. Wipe the pan down with a paper towel and cook the remaining patties.
  • While the patties rest, place a rack in the top third of your oven and put it on broil. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush it onto the inside of the buns. Place them buttered side up on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for a few minutes until golden.
  • Assemble the burgers. Place the burger on the bottom bun and top with onion rounds, tomato slices, and lettuce. Add the top bun and enjoy the crispiest, smokiest, burger ever!

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Notes

*If you want to make this a cheeseburger, as soon as you flip the patty and smash it again, remove the spatula and top the patty with a slice of cheese. I prefer American, as it melts beautifully. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1burgerCalories: 516kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 24gFat: 36gSodium: 453mgFiber: 1g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!
Side view of Smash Burger being held by two hands.

How to Make Smash Burgers – Step by Step Photos

Overhead shot of one pound of ground beef separated into quarters.

Separate 1 pound of ground beef into four equal portions.

Overhead shot of frozen, grated butter being tucked into a ball of beef.

Grate 1/2 tablespoon of frozen butter onto each portion. Wrap the meat around the butter and shape it into a ball. Chill the balls of beef until you are ready to cook. When it’s go time, place an ungreased cast iron skillet over high heat. Turn on your exhaust fan. Open a window.

Overhead shot of ball of beef in a black cast iron pan.

When the skillet is smoking hot, sprinkle a 3/4 teaspoon of our Homemade Burger Seasoning all over the beef ball, then place it in the pan.

Overhead shot of raw Smashed Burger patty in a black cast iron pan being smashed by a silver spatula.

Smash down with a spatula to create an even patty about 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick. Keep the spatula on the burger as it cooks. When you see the top of the patty change color (about 2 minutes), gently slide the spatula back and forth to take it off the top of the patty. If you try to just push it up, the movement could break the patty. Then, carefully work the spatula under the patty. Take your time with this step, as the patty will be stuck to the pan.

Overhead shot of cooked Smashed Burger patty in a black cast iron pan.

When you have loosened the patty, flip it and smash it again. If you want to make a cheeseburger, top the patty with a slice of cheese. Cook for 2 minutes more, remove the patty from the pan, and rest it on a cooling rack. Wipe the pan down with a paper towel and cook the remaining patties.

Overhead shot of melted butter being brushed onto a bun in a sheet pan with other buns.

While the patties rest, place a rack in the top third of your oven and put it on broil. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush it onto the inside of the buns.

Overhead shot of toasted buttered buns in a sheet pan.

Toast the buns buttered side up in the oven for a few minutes until golden. Assemble your burgers with red onion rounds, slices of tomato, and lettuce. Top the burger with the remaining bun and chow down, my friend!! Don’t forget to say “I cook. You clean.” as you get showered with compliments! #Trust

Overhead shot of three Smash Burgers tucked into a tray with fries nestled around them.

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  1. I really miss what Budget Byte used to be. I’ve been a fan of the blog for well over a decade at this point, and it has taught me so many things while I was still a newbie in the kitchen and struggling to pay bills and still eat decently. I will continue to support Beth but I’m just really bummed how it has devolved into what it is.

    1. I can appreciate your perspective because I also felt the same at first. Adapting to the new website format/concept was a gradual process for me, but I’ve grown to appreciate it. The introduction of diverse and intriguing new recipes have had a positive impact on my motivation to cook and overall enjoyment of the culinary experience. I know Beth and her team are committed to continually offering fresh and exciting recipe options to inspire us. Sometimes change is needed to stretch and grow.

  2. When I was a kid, my dad made us a similar burger, and I’ve been chasing that burger all my adult life. It only took one look at this photo to know this was it!! I immediately sent it to my boyfriend (he knows my story), and he made it for us last night. Oily, crunchy, and absolutely delicious. Thank you for posting this recipe. It really made my day!

  3. Don’t listen to the grumpybutt. These burgers were delicious, and we love that Monti is now on the BudgetBytes team. We’re big fans, for many reasons.

    A huge part of your appeal is that I can learn find great recipes without over-the-top cheffy outcome expectations. I’m just making dinner here, in my home kitchen, I don’t care if tomatoes are wonky. Mine will be much wonkier, I promise you. I love a messy burger, and love that I can recreate this at home.

    My 13 yo is learning from you too, and your tone and approach take the anxiety and perfectionism out of it. There’s too many food gatekeepers out there – you’re accessible, without lowering standards.

    Thank you – for the whole package, and for this delicious variant on our regular burgers. You are doing what you’ve set out to do, and doing it really well. 🇨🇦

    1. I couldn’t agree more! I love Monti’s contributions and always look forward to her recipes.

    2. Thank you so much, Tina! We work hard to keep our recipes approachable here. It’s one of the things I love about working for Beth. PS I LOVE that your 13-year-old is in the kitchen learning. I have a 13-year-old and have to applaud anyone that can get their kiddo away from a screen long enough to put a meal together. Your #mompower is strong!

    1. Thanks for trying them out Dawn! Butter in the beef is a chef’s trick. Gordon does it with his fancy burgers in Vegas. xoxo

  4. I’m reviewing the concept of smashburgers themselves, because I want to take my time making these decadent burgers. That photo is gorgeous and I’m jealous of whomever got to eat such a delicious meal. I also want other people to enjoy these and SOMEONE has caused there to be a one star rating for this recipe. I’ll remove once more reviews are added.

    Hope your friends did a good job cleaning your kitchen, Monti! You deserve it!!!

  5. I’m a huge fan of Budget Bytes. Not of this recipe and not of smashburgers. They are an abomination.

    In the general case, smashburgers are a way for people to feel they are piously ordering a medium rare burger that in reality is all crust and well done. It doesn’t help that the cooking audience, especially the American audience, grew up with thin overcooked burgers from McDonald’s and other fast food purveyors. Smashburgers are a cult, not good food.

    Which brings us to the recipe.

    You put stuff in meatloaf, not burgers. If you need more fat (in this case butter) get higher fat meat. 70/30 is a good choice for burgers, especially if you cook them right. Working in butter is asking for grease to roll down your arm when you try to eat it which is not a good look. Distribution of fat in the meat will be better with 70/30 than with 80/20 with extra butter.

    From the photos, the product is too tall. You should not have to unhinge your jaw to eat a hamburger. You’re cooking for people, not for Instagram. Or are you?

    The recipe says thin tomatoes and onions. That isn’t what the picture shows. Ms Carlo needs one or more of a sharper knife, better knife skills, or judgment of what “thin” means. Where, by the way, are the pickles? Where are the condiments? Just melted butter? MORE pure fat? Condiments on a burger are mayo, ketchup, mustard, maybe sweet Indian relish (which can, maybe, sub for pickles). Pick what you like, but not more grease to roll down your arm.

    Raw onion is a lot for many people. At least grill or saute it, better caramelize it.

    Brioche is too tall. Sourdough, white, or potato are fine.

    The best ways to cook a burger are on a grill (American definition) or under a broiler (which our British and European friends call a grill). I both cases excess fat in the burger holds the patty together until enough crust forms to maintain structural integrity. Weigh a 70/30 patty and an 80/20 patty both cooked to med-rare or medium and you’ll find that the final cooked is about the same. In the recipe, using a pan (or a flattop in a restaurant) you’re frying the burger in all that fat instead of letting it drip through. You’re right back to overdone meat and grease running down your arm.

    Cheese is a topic. Kraft pasteurize process cheese food is not cheese and may not be food. Your best best is a good cheese shredded (hard cheeses) or crumbled (soft cheeses). Buy blocks and shred yourself. Anti-clumping agents and preservatives mean the cheese in pre-shredded bags and containers doesn’t melt well. Do it yourself.

    I also take exception to the construction. The pictures show a too-tall Instagram burger. You pick that up and manage a partial bite (because it is too tall) and put it down. Pick it up to bite again and you end up with a good bit of burger and toppings on your plate or in your lap. Did I mention the grease running down your arm from trying to squish (<- technical culinary term) the burger to get it in your mouth?

    Cook your good pub burger on a grill or under a broiler. Add your buns for less than a minute to toast (note no extra clean up). Assemble. Lower bun. Condiment. Lettuce (my preference is for shredded but a leaf is fine – iceberg has good structural integrity and putting it below the patty keeps the bottom bun from getting soggy). Cheese if you use it. Tomato. Onion. Relish if you choose. Condiment on the top bun and the top bun. If you need a toothpick with frilly plastic on it to hold it together you did it wrong.

    1. Sounds like you are judging smashburgers in general. And in the way it was presented here. Seems like most people would just say “nah, not for me” and move on. Instead, you give it one star. That’s right up there with those people who like to one-star the Grand Canyon because it rained that day.

      You have lots of ideas and opinions on burgers. Sounds yummy. You do you- and when you see a burger that is not quite up to your standards, make your own instead.

    2. Thanks for your comments. I am a chef, restaurant and menu consultant, and a James Beard committee member. Like many restaurant chefs and James Beard Award winners, I put butter in my beef patty and use American Cheese on my burger. It’s hilarious that this is the first you’ve heard of it and that you would take such an aggressive stand against something that is a common and frankly, beloved, practice among people that do this for a living. I also have plenty of knife skills, which is why I teach them at a collegiate level and at major food festivals through out this country. I really hope whatever it is that is really bothering you (it can’t really be a post about a smash burger) gets resolved. Have a great day homie!

      1. Well bless your heart.

        The uneven cuts of tomato and onion in your pictures of your food belie your claimed knife skills. Perhaps inattention to detail, much like your instructions for thin cuts and pictures of cuts that aren’t thin.

        Just because many people do something doesn’t make it right. Lemmings jump off cliffs. Butter and no condiments are certainly not common among the predominantly American audience of Budget Bytes. I can’t say I’ve noticed in my regular travel to the UK, EU, and throughout the Caribbean. And no pickles?

        Smashburgers are beloved in restaurant circles because you can cook them on a flattop and hire anyone off the street at minimum wage to cook them. They sell because people grew up eating McDonald’s. They are nothing for a “chef” to be proud of.

        Google says you’re a reality TV “personality” (who lost) and blogger whose blog doesn’t show up in Google searches. Hardly sterling certifications. The only mention of you on the James Beard website is as a member of an “advisory committee” for what amounts to a contest funded by a bank with naming rights for high school vocational track graduates. Some people work their way up the hawse pipe. No indication of that in your case.

        It’s a poorly written article about something of questionable taste that doesn’t even execute your own instructions in your own photographs. People trust Budget Bytes for good advice. You do not live up to the standard.

        I continue to think well of Budget Bytes. Indeed I’ve shared three deep links just this morning. You, however, are a hard pass.

          1. Can confirm, came from Reddit just to witness the roast, and now I want to try the recipe, it looks so good!

        1. If it’s not your preferred type of burger just move on. Lots of people love them. And if you’re gonna use “bless your heart” learn to do it right. For example, if I were going for condescending “Bless your heart, you wanted to look like an expert so bad.” It seems like you just wanted to be insulting, in which case “Bless your heart, did your burger making mama not hug you enough? Did daddy leave y’all for a Smashburger cook?”

        2. Dave, you sad, little man. I’m sorry for whatever happened to you to make you like this.

        3. Thanks for blessing my heart, Dave! Blessings keep falling in my lap. This reality show “loser” has a #1 show on Netflix, just won two Telly awards for the show she wrote, produced, and hosted for PBS, and a third show she hosted was just featured at Cannes. This “blogger’s” second book, a memoir about “losing” MasterChef was picked up by Simon and Schuster for well over six figures and will be out in the Spring of 2025. This “personality” will also be presenting at the Beard Awards for the third time this weekend to an audience of millions, and is a judge, host, and red-carpet contributor for the foundation as well as an advisor. Your Google skills could use some work, bud! PS The New York Times, Serious Eats, Taste Of Home, and Gordon Ramsay (my mentor and the person writing the foreword to my book), have all featured a Smash Burger recipe. They must not know as much as you do about the American audience, what with all of your extensive travel. LMFAO. (Also, I love that you think that I’m the one prepping ingredients for my recipes. Too cute.) I love what I do, and I’m great at what I do. And you can dump on it all you want. Facts are facts. The only people whose opinions matter when it comes to my success in the culinary world are people at my level. Which you (obviously) are not. Wishing you the best!

    3. Hi Dave! You sound absolutely miserable. A conversation with you would be exhausting and would result in a dire need to take two Tylenol. If you’re this insufferable about a simple cheeseburger, I dread to think of your opinions on things that actually matter.

    4. I propose that you be banned from this website for 1. Not even knowing what a smash burger is & 2. Suggesting that ‘onions are too much for some people’ and a ‘brioche is too tall for my little mouth to eat’.

      My advice, go find some kind of bland paste you can eat, baby food would probably be a good fit considering how much you btch and cry on here.

    5. Your lord and savior djt eats like 7 smash burgers a day, dude. He hates you now more than he did before. Sad!

    6. It’s one thing to disagree on preferences on burgers, but you just sound miserable and pedantic. And doubling down with personal attacks against the recipe author? I bet you love to read your own forum arguments out loud.

      Lighten up, Dave!

    7. You sound absolutely insufferable. Jesus if you don’t like it don’t make it. You act like it’s not normal to take a presentable photo for a food blog.

    8. If you don’t like smash burgers, then why are you here? Go make burgers you like and mind your own business.

  6. This is the burger I’ve alway dreamed about. It makes my mouth water. Thank you for the recipe and delicious photos.

  7. Hi! This sounds delish! What is the purpose of leaving the spatula on the patty? Are you supposed to be pressing it down the whole time?

    1. HI Michelle- yes- you continue to press down. That’s the smash in the smash burger. It help create crusty nooks and crannies and crispy edges. xoxo -Monti

      1. The continued smashing is missing from the step by step instruction at the moment.