No grill? No problem. Once you learn how easy it is to make crispy-edged burgers in a regular skillet, you may never fire up the grill again.
You don’t have to wait until grilling season to enjoy a juicy take-out-worthy burger at home. In fact, grilling a burger to your preferred doneness can be pretty tricky. You have get the coals right, the thickness of the patties right, and the timing just right. Too often I’ve been served a burger that looks more like a meatball on an oversized bun than the crispy-edged patty I crave.
Enter the smash burger method—a thin patty with crispy, craggy edges, that you put on a hot skillet or griddle until just cooked through, then serve on a soft toasted bun with special sauce and pickles. It's like getting to enjoy my favorite fast-casual burger, but without standing in insanely long lines. Smash burgers couldn’t be easier to make at home. Just keep these tips in mind:
Pick The Right Percentage
No matter what type of burger I’m making, I use ground chuck. That means the beef contains 20 percent fat (versus ground sirloin which generally contains about 10 percent). The added fat keeps the meat moist and juicy no matter how I cook it, but especially when it gets cooked all the way through.
Don’t Worry About Pretty Patties
Instead of shaping your ground beef into tidy patties, gently form the meat into loose portions, using about 6 ounces per burger. They don’t have to be perfect either: those loose edges are what create the crispy fried bits and pieces that poke out from the bun and keep me wanting more.
Put On The Pressure
Conventional burger-cooking wisdom posits that you should avoid putting pressure on your patties as they cook. Why? Because that forces fat and moisture out of the burger and, if you’re grilling, onto the hot coals, which creates smoke, which can overpower the flavor or your beautiful handcrafted burger. But, when cooked in a skillet, the smashed burger fries in its own drippings and soaks all of that deliciousness back up. Use a wide spatula to press the burger firmly into the skillet until it's about 5-inches in diameter. Cook until the outer edges are brown and crisp. Season with salt and pepper, flip, and continue to cook on the other side until just cooked through.
Top with cheese if you like (just cover the skillet for a minute to help it melt) and serve on toasted buns with lettuce, tomato, and a little special sauce. Get the full recipe here for the smash burger and fries!