Smash Burgers on the Grill are super crispy burgers, made of ground chuck or butcher’s trio, that have been “smashed” on the grill to form those crispy edges we all love.
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The crispy, caramelized crust that forms on the patty of these smash burgers when pressed down onto a hot grill adds an amazing depth of flavor and texture to the burger. The crust locks in the juices, creating a superbly moist and juicy burger.
While the crispy patty is a major part for this burger experience, there are some other essential components too, like the perfect bun and toppings.
Smash Burgers need a bun that’s soft but with some bite so that it holds together well, with no sesame seeds! The typical toppings for a smash burger are grilled onions, cheese, and a mayo-pickle relish. From there, you can go in whatever direction you like.
What Is a Smash Burger?
A smash burger is a type of burger that is made by smashing a ball of ground chuck onto a hot griddle. To make a smash burger, the ground beef is formed into a ball, seasoned with salt and pepper or a dry rub, and then placed on a hot cooking surface.
A heavy spatula is then used to press the ball down, flattening it into a thin patty that cooks quickly and evenly. The burger is usually topped with cheese and other toppings of your choice. Maybe throw on some bacon and some grilled onions.
Why Smash Burgers Are Great for the Grill
Smash burgers are a popular and delicious option for the grill for several reasons. They are easy to make with just a few basic ingredients, making them a great choice for a quick and easy meal. They also cook quickly on a hot grill, making them a convenient option for busy weeknights or when you’re entertaining guests.
- Ground Chuck or butcher’s trio – You can use any ground beef but I prefer a butcher’s trio of brisket, chunk and short ribs, because it has more fat, flavor, and it sticks together easier. You can get Butcher’s Trio pre-made patties at Safeway or Vons. You could also go with a ground chuck for burgers.
- Salt & pepper – A simple seasoning of salt and pepper is all you need.
- Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise or burger sauce is a staple on a smash burger.
- Pickle Relish – Relish will add a nice acidity that you need to break up the richness of this burger. Alternatively you can chopped up 2 pickle slices in place of the relish.
- American Cheese – American cheese is the cheese of choice for smash burgers because it’s creamy when it’s melted. You can use any cheese that’s meltable.
- Hamburger Buns – I prefer to use brioche buns for smash burgers. Use your favorite brand.
- Butter – The butter will be divided among the onions and buns. I use salted butter for this.
- Onion – Cook some sliced onions alongside the burger to give a little more nuance to the burger. You could also go with crispy onions.
- Bacon – We go back and forth on whether we add bacon to our burgers. It’s good, don’t get me wrong. But it does add an extra richness to an already rich burger. It’s not really needed.
- Grill – I use a Weber Genesis E325 for most of my grilling, though I also have a Z Grills Smoker/Grill combo that I sometimes use. You can use whatever grill you have, whether it’s gas or charcoal.
- Griddle – It’s not possible to make smash burgers on a regular grill with spaces between the grates. You will need a griddle or flat pan to set on the grill. I use the Weber Crafted frame kit and griddle.
- Propane or Charcoal – Depending on your setup.
- Smashed Burger Press – This is essential for making perfectly smashed burgers. I have a few different ones, but I like this one from Cuisinart. You can use a heavy spatula in its place, but it has to be really sturdy.
- Grill Tools – I swear by this set of sturdy grill tools from Cuisinart that includes everything you need for grilling, like tongs, a flipper, a digital temperature fork, silicone basting brush, and more.
What Temperature Should Smash Burgers Be Grilled At?
The ideal temperature for grilling smash burgers is about 450°F. It needs to be screaming hot to really get a good sear on the burger without overcooking it.
To ensure that the grill is hot enough, preheat it for at least 15 minutes before cooking the burgers. This will help to create a sear on the outside of the patty, locking in the juices and creating that desirable crust.
Once the burger is cooked to the desired temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
How Long Does It Take To Make Smash Burgers on the Grill?
The time it takes to make smash burgers on the grill can vary depending on a few factors such as the thickness of the patty, the temperature of the grill, and the desired level of doneness.
On average, it takes about 2 minutes per side to cook a smash burger on the grill. It’s important to keep an eye on the burger while it’s cooking and to use a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F for food safety.
How to Make Smash Burgers
Roll about 4 ounces of beef into a ball. Season it generously with salt. Set the balls on a plate to rest while you prepare the grill. On a side note, you can either make one 4-ounce patty, or make two 2-ounce patties and stack them for a classic double smash burger.
For this recipe, you need a griddle or flat top grill to set on your grill grates. Because of the nature of the smash burger, you need to be able to press the ball of meat down into the grill and it will just push down into the grates if you don’t have a griddle.
Heat the grill to high – around 450-500 degrees F.
Combine the mayonnaise and relish in a bowl. Then cover and refrigerate until the burgers are done. This makes the sauce you’ll put on your grilled smash burgers.
If you’re cooking onions for your burgers, add some of the butter to the flat top grill. Set the onion slices on the butter and grill until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. This is when you’ll want to put the burgers on.
When the grill is very hot, place the meat balls on the grill. Wait about a minute so the fat in the meat can start to loosen.
Smash each ball flat with a burger press or spatula. You want it to be no more than 1/2″ thick all the way around. If you need to, use a clean kitchen towel to help press harder to smash the burger.
Cook without touching for 2 minutes, or until the edges all look crispy. If they aren’t crispy yet, leave the patties to cook longer, until they are.
Meanwhile, you can toast the buns on the grill as well, starting with a pat of butter on the griddle. Slide each bun around in the butter and let it get toasty.
Now for the flipping. This is a careful business because you don’t want to mess up the patty. Wedge your spatula under the burger, scraping a bit to keep the crispy edges intact.
Once you flip, immediately add a slice of cheese to each patty and cook without moving for about 2 more minutes, until the cheese is melted.
To assemble the burgers, remove the buns from the grill and top with the burger sauce, the onions (if you made them, and your smashed patty.
Tips for Making the Best Smash Burgers
- Don’t use more than 4 ounces of beef to make the patties. I prefer making two 2-ounce patties instead for maximum crunch. Stack them with the cheese in the center.
- The griddle should be absolutely dry with no oil or butter on the pan, and get it screaming hot before you add the patties.
- You’ll need a good heavy spatula to press down hard enough to flatten the burgers. If you don’t have that, you can use a kitchen towel to help you place more pressure on the spatula.
- The grill will immediately start to lose heat, so once you’ve smashed, it’s best to close the lid for a minute. Then flip and close the lid again.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Store the burgers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let the burgers cool to room temperature before storing them to avoid condensation and moisture buildup in the container.
Reheat the burgers in a preheated oven, toaster oven, or on a grill to restore their crispy exterior. Try not to reheat them in the microwave because they may become soggy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make smash burgers on a gas grill?
The best way to cook a smash burger on a gas grill is with a griddle or flat top that fits tightly into the grill, like the Weber Crafted Griddle. You will need a flat top in order to smash the burgers without pressing them through the grates.
Can you smash burgers before grilling?
If you don’t have a flat top or griddle for your gas grill, you can attempt to smash the burger patties before grilling, so you don’t risk pushing the meat right through the grates. To do this, press the meat balls onto parchment paper with a burger press to the right thickness. You can then transfer the thin patties to the grill by flipping them upside down and removing the parchment paper.
Our Top Grill Recommendation
I chose this grill based on quality, performance, and features. It’s pretty much got it all (large cooking area, plenty of BTU, high-quality cooking grates, and it’s priced well. If you’re feeling fancy, you can upgrade it to add more burners, smart grilling technology and grill lighting.
What to Serve on the Side
For sides, there is an endless array of salads and veggies that would make a good choice. Here are a few of our favorites:
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Smash Burgers on the Grill
- 8 ounces butcher’s trio or 85/15 ground chuck
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon pickle relish or 1 pickle slice chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 slices American cheese
- 2 brioche buns
- 2 slices onion optional
- For this, you need a griddle or flat top grill to set on your grill grates.
- Heat the grill to 450 degrees F.
- Form meat balls, about 4 ounces each. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Combine the mayonnaise and relish in a bowl and stir. Cover and refrigerate until the burgers are done.
- Add half the butter to the flat top grill. Set the onion slices on the butter and grill until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. If you have room, you can toast the buns on the grill as well. Place the rest of the butter down and rub the buns in some butter, then allow them to toast.
- Make sure the grill is dry where you’ll add the burgers. Place the meatballs on the grill. Wait a minute so the fat can loosen. Smash each ball to ½” thick with a spatula. Use a kitchen towel to place more pressure on the spatula to flatten the burgers, if necessary. Cook without touching for 2 minutes, until crispy edges begin to form. Scrape the spatula under the burgers to flip them, keeping the crispy edges intact. Immediately add a slice of cheese to each patty and cook without moving for 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- To assemble the burgers, remove the buns from the grill, slather on the mayonnaise, top with a patty, and onions.
- The grill needs to be very hot in order to get the nice crispy edges on the patties.
- Use a sturdy burger press to get the burgers thin enough to get crispy (that’s the signature of a good smash burger!)
- Add any additional toppings you like, such as bacon, but keep it simple for a more authentic smash burger.
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Laura is a passionate home cook and grill enthusiast who has spent years perfecting her culinary skills, with a particular focus on grilling techniques and flavor combinations. Her fascination with the grill, smoke, and the mouthwatering results they produce has led her on an exciting journey to discover the best methods for grilling delicious and unforgettable meals.