Best Smashburger Sauce

Oh, the smash burger. The deeply crisped, craggy, juicy, squashed patty. The drip-melt of the cheese. The pile of your burger essentials like bright sweet tomato, ruffly lettuce, fried onions if you are a star. The buttery toast of the brioche bun. The dreamy zip of the secret sauce.

Are you salivating? Shedding tears of joy? Shouting with excitement? Maybe a combination of all three? Well, we feel the same way. So, put on your aprons, folks (you’re going to need them). This is a game-changer when it comes to burgers.

In This Post: Everything You Need To Make Smash Burgers

  • What’s a Smash Burger?
  • Sauce for Smash Burgers
  • Toppings for Smash Burgers
  • Tools We Use to Make It Happen
  • Watch How to Make a Smash Burger

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So… What’s a Smash Burger?

If you’ve never tried a Shake Shack or SmashBurger or any of your favorite local non-chain burger joints (like Bebe Zito in Minneapolis, yum!), then you might be wondering, “What exactly is a smash burger?”

Well, it’s just as it sounds. It begins as a ball, not a patty, of very cold beef. Then, it’s literally smashed on a scorching hot griddle and quickly seared to achieve a stunning crispiness in its own fats. The result is a perfectly thin, irregular disk that remains juicy and packed with incredible flavors. These smash burgers are definitely not the thick, somewhat dull dad-burgers that taste a little too generic. While there’s certainly a time and place for those on the grill, this is not one of them.

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Smash burger with a bite taken out of it.

There’s something truly special about these burgers. The history of the smashed burger method is a bit uncertain. Most credit the Midwest-founded Steak n’ Shake as the inspiration behind the infamous NYC-founded Shake Shack. Others mention a small burger joint in Kentucky called Dairy Cheer, where it’s said they discovered that smashing the meat with a bean can produced the most delicious burger around.

Regardless of who introduced us to this iconic method of cooking meat, we’re forever grateful.

Let’s Talk About Sauce (And Other Magic)

A smash burger would not be complete without a secret sauce. Fortunately, we have no desire to keep it a secret because we really want you to make it and absolutely not skip it. Trust us, it’s a zippy and magical addition to these burgers. Please, take the extra step to make it! It’s like receiving a love letter from your taste buds.

For your house sauce, you’ll need:

  • mayo
  • ketchup
  • horseradish (✨investing in a jar of this is totally worth it!✨)
  • Worcestershire
  • sriracha
  • paprika
  • shallot or garlic, minced or grated

Ingredients in a bowl for the house sauce.

Another sauce worth mentioning is the sneaky mixture you put INTO your burger meat for an extra flavor boost. The type of beef you choose is also crucial. You’ll need a blend with some fat content to achieve that signature crispiness. An 80/20 blend is a great place to start.

In addition to that, you’ll need:

  • melted butter
  • Worcestershire
  • fish sauce
  • smoked paprika

The idea of adding this smoky umami flavor to the meat itself comes from Carnal Dish, and we have no regrets about the deliciousness it adds. You won’t either. While smash burgers are already magical, this takes them to a whole new level.

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All About The Toppings

Sometimes, with traditional burgers, you tend to load up on a million toppings because they need that extra flavor boost. However, with smash burgers, the patty itself is so incredibly buttery and crisp that you might want to consider keeping things relatively simple.

You’ll definitely want to melt some cheese on there, and you can’t go wrong with a slice of high-quality American cheese from the deli. It’s wonderfully melty and gooey. But if you prefer a different cheese, go for it.

You’ll also want a soft and squishy brioche bun, lightly buttered and toasted on the inside. Trust us, it makes all the difference.

We’ve already implored you not to skip the house sauce, and we mean it. Just don’t do it.

Beyond that, some thinly sliced red onion, a juicy tomato, and perhaps a bit of lettuce. You’re all set. It’s perfection. Dig in.

Tools To Make It Happen

First and foremost, making smash burgers can get a bit messy, so make sure you have an apron on and your vent is on. Additionally, because achieving that thin, irregular edge is key, there are a few tools that can help.

We highly recommend using the Lodge cast iron griddle and cast iron press for this job. The griddle is versatile and can be used for other delicious dishes like pancakes, french toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more. But let’s be honest, using it solely for smash burgers all day, every day would be tempting.

If you don’t have a press, a large flat spatula will work just fine. Sometimes, placing a small piece of parchment paper on the burger before smashing helps prevent sticking. You can also use the handle of a second spatula or a wooden spoon in the center of your spatula to apply more pressure for maximum smashing effect.

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Metal spatula smashing a burger in a pan.

And if you’re thinking, “I MUST HAVE SMASH BURGERS EVERY DAY, but forget cooking indoors!” Maybe an outdoor flat-top grill like this one is on your wish list?

There’s no better time than this summer to become the envy of the neighborhood by grilling smash burgers in your backyard. Just imagine.

Happy smashing, friends.

Two hands holding a smash burger.

Smash Burgers: Frequently Asked Questions

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