How to Make Smashed Burgers on the Grill

Meat patties get pressed on a hot cast iron skillet over the grill then topped, assembled, and wrapped in foil creating a savory, juicy smashed burger

Can we take a minute and admit that we’ve stretched the whole gourmet burger thing to it’s limits? Don’t get me wrong, a burger is a great canvas for innovative combinations but does the world really need another way to serve a meat patty with specialty cheeses and exotic toppings in between an artisanal bun?

It’s time we go back to our roots and create the burger that made us fall in love with burgers in the first place. Not the half-pound behemoths served on a crusty roll the size of your face with every kind of fixings and cheese you can’t even pronounce but the quarter pounder with melted cheddar served on a steaming, soft white bread bun with maybe a pickle or two tucked in. That’s the burger I want to eat right now.

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This is a smashed burger, which means the meat gets pressed down with a spatula to create a thin patty that develops a nice crust on the outside. The key to keep the juices in the burger is to press it once as soon as the meat hits the grill pan. If you continue to flatten the patty as it cooks, the juices will run out, but smashing it right at the beginning of the cooking process will create a seal on the outside and keep all the flavor it.

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Another key to the developing the perfect burger flavor is in the quality of the meat. Going too lean will guarantee a dry burger. Chuck roast that’s 80% lean is a great option. These burgers were made with venison that was cut with some bacon to give a little extra fat and flavor. I don’t add anything to the meat, either. Just a little Old Bay on the outside. This helps the burgers retain great beefy flavor.

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I’m doing these burgers on the grill using a cast iron skillet perfect for high heat. This also keeps the burger meat from falling through the grate when you press them down. While the burgers are rolling on high heat, I throw some onions next to them and get them nice and caramelized. As soon as I flip the burgers, I place a slice of cheddar on the patty and allow it to melt. To finish these burgers, I assemble them by placing my patty on the bun, scooping some of the onions on top, adding a pickle or two, placing the top bun on everything then wrapping everything in aluminum foil. I throw the whole foil-wrapped burger back on the grill to soften the bun and get all the ingredients incorporated.

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After a few minutes, the burgers are ready to be enjoyed. The bun gets soft and steamy on the grill and the cheese acts as a perfect oozy adhesive for the onion and pickle. The real test of how good your burger came out is in the amount liquid that runs down to your elbows when you take a bite. Try out the recipe and tell me about in it in the comments below!

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How to Make Smashed Burgers on the Grill

Makes 4 Burgers

  • 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 Lb Ground Beef or Venison
  • 1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • Sliced Pickles (optional)
  • 4 Slices Cheddar
  • 4 White Hamburger Buns

Tools

  • Large Cast Iron Skillet or Grill Pan
  • Spatula
  • 4 Sheets of Aluminum Foil

Place your skillet or grill pan on the grill and preheat your grill to medium high heat. Add the oil to the pan. Divide your meat into 4 sections and roll into balls. Season the outside with the Old Bay seasoning and place in the fridge until you’re ready to grill (keeping the burgers cold will keep the fat in the meat in a solid state which means it won’t run out when they get thrown on the grill keeping the burgers nice and juicy). After the grill has had a chance to warm up for 10 minutes, place one of your meat patties on the grill and immediately press down with your spatula. Follow this step with the rest of the patties, doing this in batches if necessary to keep from over crowding the pan. Add the onions to the pan. After the patties have cooked for 2-3 minutes, flip and place your cheese on top.

After 2-3 minutes, place your patties on the bun and top with the onions and pickles slices, if using. Place the top bun over the burger and wrap it in the aluminum foil. Place on the top rack of the grill for five minutes. Remove from the grill and enjoy!