Smash Burgers with House Sauce Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Smash Burgers with House Sauce

40 reviews / 4.9 average

The famous Smash Burger! Deeply crisped, craggy, juicy, squashed patties covered with melty cheese, piled on a buttery bun, and topped with a dreamy zip of secret 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 drooling? Crying? Screaming? Some combination of all three? Welp, us too. So, don your aprons for this one, folks (you'll need it). This is an absolute burger game-changer.


In This Post: Everything You Need To Make Smash Burgers


Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

So... What's a Smash Burger?

If you've never ventured into a Shake Shack or SmashBurger or any of your local non-chain faves (Bebe Zito if you're in Minneapolis, YUM!), then it's possible we're saying “smash burger” and you're all, “whaaa?”

But it's exactly as described. It starts with a ball, not a patty, of very cold beef, and then it is, well, quite literally smashed on a very hot griddle and quick-seared to a stunning crisp in its own fats, making a perfectly thin little irregular disk that is still juicy and full of unbelievable flavor. It is most definitely not the super thick, dare we say, kinda dull dad-burgers that taste...just a little too...burger-y? You know? Certainly a time and a place for that on your grill, but this is not that time.

Smash burger with a bite taken out of it.

There is something just so special about these. The history of this smashed burger method is a little wrinkly. Most credit the midwest-founded Steak n' Shake which gave inspiration to the infamous NYC-founded Shake Shack. Other internet clicks mention a little burger shop in Kentucky called Dairy Cheer where it's said they discovered that smashing the meat with a bean can made for the best-tasting burger around.

Regardless of whoever gave us this absolute meat-icon method, we thank you forever and ever.

Let's Talk About Sauce (And Other Magic)

Ingredients in a bowl for the house sauce.

What smash burger would be complete without a secret sauce? Luckily for you, we have absolutely no desire to keep it secret because we, like, reallyreallyreally want you to make it and absolutely not skip it because, my oh my, is it a zippy swath of magic on these burgs. Please! Take the extra step to make it! It's the stuff of love letters.

For your house sauce:

  • mayo
  • ketchup
  • horseradish (✨grabbing a little jar of this is SUCH a worthwhile investment!✨)
  • Worcestershire
  • sriracha
  • paprika
  • shallot or garlic, minced or grated  

I also love these burgers with this incredible gochujang sauce. Spicy, creamy, saucy goodness!

House sauce whisked up in a bowl.

The other sauce to note that makes this particular recipe sing is the sneaky little mixture you put INTO your burger meat for an extra fun flavor-party. The type of beef you use will also be important. You need to choose a blend that has some fat in it or you won't get that signature crisp. An 80/20 blend is a pretty ideal place to start.

Beyond that, you'll need:

  • melted butter
  • Worcestershire
  • fish sauce
  • smoked paprika

This idea of adding this smoky umami flavorwave into the meat itself came from Carnal Dish and we absolutely do not regret one single drip of just general extra-ness that it provides. YOU WILL NOT EITHER. Smash burgers are already magic, but this becomes a real magic-plus situation.

All About The Toppings

Sometimes, with the aforementioned dad-burgers, you tend to pile a million toppings on because they need those extra flavor boosts. Here, the burger itself tastes so ding dang buttery crisp good that you might want to consider keeping things relatively simple.

You'll definitely want to melt some cheese on there, and you can't beat a slice of really good - like from the deli - American cheese. Superior melty gooeyness. But if you're mad about it, you could sub your fave cheese.

You'll want a perfectly squishy brioche bun. Buttered and toasted, only on the inside. Trust.

We already spent some time pleading with you not to skip the house sauce. Just, please don't.

Beyond that, some thinly sliced red onion, a juicy tomato, maybe a ruffle of lettuce. You're there. It's perfect. Dig in.

Tools To Make It Happen

First, and foremost, a smash burger can definitely be a bit of a splatter platter so, you'll want to have an apron ready and leave your vent on. And because the really thin, irregular-edged smash is v v important, there are a few tools that can help out.

We loved the Lodge cast iron griddle (affiliate link) and cast iron press (affiliate link) for this job. The griddle is great for other things like pancakes, french toast, grilled cheese parties and more, but it's going to be hard to not just be making smash burgers on it all day every day.

Second best: if you don't have your hands on a press, a big flat spatula will of course work. Sometimes it helps to put a little piece of parchment paper on the burger before smashing to avoid any sticking. You can also use the handle of a second spatula/wooden spoon in the center of your spatula to really help press down for maximum smash.

Metal spatula smashing a burger in a pan.

And if you're like, “MUST HAVE SMASH BURGERS EVERY DAY, but the heck with this indoors thing!” Maybe an outdoor flat top grill like this one (affiliate link) is on your wish list?

No better time than this summer to become the absolute envy of the neighborhood with one of those out back, right?! Imagine.

Happy smashing, friends.

Two hands holding a smash burger.

Smash Burgers: Frequently Asked Questions

What if I want to make these outdoors? Because, well, summer!

While we typically make these inside on the stove using this griddle (affiliate link), you could also use the griddle out on the grill. OR if you want to really invest in the al fresco vibes, you could get this flat top grill (affiliate link).

Are Smash Burgers really worth the hype?

If you're wondering u0022are they really that good?u0022 we can confidently say that YES, they are. What makes them so good: the sauce mixed into the meat for a flavor explosion, and the texture of the patties themselves - crispy-edged but still incredibly juicy and flavorful.

How do you keep the burgers from sticking when you smash them?

The secret is in the parchment paper! Don't skip that step. Cut a small piece of parchment and use that between the meat and the press/spatula - this will keep the patties from sticking.

How can I make these for a crowd?

These are pretty simple to scale up recipe-wise! And for cooking a large number of patties, you'll either have to do them in batches and keep them warm in the oven, or invest in something like the flat top grill linked above to make a large batch at once.

Print
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Two hands holding a smash burger.

Smash Burgers with House Sauce


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 burger patties 1x

Description

The famous Smash Burger! Deeply crisped, craggy, juicy, squashed patties covered with melty cheese, piled on a buttery bun, and topped with a dreamy zip of secret sauce. 


Ingredients

Scale

Smash Burger Sauce (for mixing with the ground beef)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • a couple swishes of fish sauce (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Burger Essentials

  • 1 lb. ground beef (80/20 is ideal)
  • 4 Brioche buns
  • 4 slices American cheese (the good kind from the deli)
  • House Sauce (see notes for recipe - do not skip! this stuff is magical)

Toppings You Might Like

  • 1/2 onion, diced or sliced (sautéed for an extra level up)
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 1 tomato
  • 12 pickle slices

Instructions

  1. Mix the smash burger sauce in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, place the ground beef and pour the sauce over. Mix with your hands to get it well-distributed through the meat. Form into 4 balls. Place the balls in the fridge for 20-30 minutes while you prep everything else. You can even pop it in the freezer for a few minutes - you just want them to be pretty cold so the butter mixture doesn't immediately melt out everywhere once you start cooking them.
  2. Butter the buns and toast them on your skillet or griddle until golden.
  3. Prep the toppings and house sauce (see notes).
  4. Cut a small piece of parchment paper that you'll use on top of the burgers to prevent sticking.
  5. Heat a cast iron skillet or flat griddle until it's very hot; place a few of the burgers on the hot surface. Sprinkle them with a big pinch of salt and let them sit and sizzle for about 20 seconds. 
  6. Place the parchment paper on top of each burger and then, using a heavy, flat tool, press the burgers down as flat as you can get them in one swift motion. They'll be super sizzly and splattery, but they should make a nice, round, thin smash burger shape on the griddle. (The ideal tool for this is a cast iron grill press, but a flat spatula can work in a pinch). Cook for a few minutes and then flip and top with cheese right away. Leave them undisturbed for another 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese and get a max amount of flavorful browning on the back side.
  7. Assemble your burgers! Mine is always a toasted brioche buns, mega flavorful smash burger patty (or 2), cheese, crispy lettuce, and a thick smear of that house sauce. Happy, happy summer.

Equipment

Notes

House Sauce: Mix 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 teaspoon horseradish, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire, a quick squeeze of sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, half of a shallot, minced or grated (or sub a clove of grated garlic). Season with salt to taste. NEXT LEVEL.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: smash burgers, smash sauce, smash burger recipe, best burger recipe

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79 Comments

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Very tasty burgers and especially the sauce. The only thing I would change is add salt to the burgers mix.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        This was absolutely the best burger I’ve ever had in my life! I don’t think I will ever make burgers any other way

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    These smash burgers were so tasty! I made these tonight for my family and they devoured them 🙂 juicy and crispy outside on the Pattie’s, packed full of flavour from the sauce in the burger as well as the delicious mayo recipe included! Will definitely make them again

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I made these last night, and they were excellent! Juicy and full of flavor. Thank you for the recipe. 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I can’t speak to the burger portion. (We’re vegetarian & used prepackaged veggie burgers but next time I’ll make my own homemade recipe to smash!). The house sauce is AWESOME!! Even my culinarily taciturn husband commented on how good it was

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We are also vegetarians. I used vegan oyster sauce and Impossible meat. These were perfection.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    SUPER delicious! Made these tonight and loved all of the flavor! I made 2 lbs but didn’t cook all of the balls o’ meat yet. Hoping they will keep fine in the fridge for dinner tomorrow night! 🤞🏼 Thanks for yet another great recipe! 😘

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made these tonight — so delicious. Omitted the fish sauce due to an allergy and it doesn’t seem to have mattered one bit. Haven’t bought American cheese in 20+ years — might need to get that into our usual burger process every now and again. Sauce was a great addition!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I ran out of time to make the special sauce, but my family really loved these! The warning in your post about using an apron is accurate— it was a total splatter fest on my griddle. But our tastebuds said “worth it!” 🙌🏻 The burgers were so flavorful with the add-in sauce mixture, but I will definitely make with the sauce recipe next time!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Our family already loves smash burgers, but to echo everyone else…the house sauce is amazing! My husband calls it “the miracle sauce!” Haha! We love all things POY!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    One more note – we made extra sauce for dipping our sweet potato fries and it was perfect for that too!😋

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      My husband loved the house sauce and devoured it. We both ate the sauce on our tator tots too. Next time I think I’ll add more sriracha or horseradish to it though. The flavor was a bit too ketchups for me. For me, the smash sauce didn’t add much flavor to the burgers and ended up adding more fat/heaviness to the meal. I would probably skip the smash sauce and just season the outside of the burgers next time. My girls had no problem eating these’

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Of what value is the house sauce ingredients if you do not include amount of each ingredient?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi John! See the recipe notes for the house sauce ingredient amounts.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is NOT SMASH SAUCE !! Or anything that even resembles it ! But keep misleading people !

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I didnt know burgers could be bad until I made these.
      Gross.
      I should’ve known. Good burgers need salt and pepper. And a solid sauce doesn’t hurt, for sure, but this was a sauce based on ketchup and paprika.
      Shoulda followed my food heart, even my husband didn’t eat the burger.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Veganized this recipe & they turned out SO GOOD! Will make again for sure.

    (used Impossible burger, Annie’s worchestershire, vegan fysh sauce, vegan butter, mayo & cheese)

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Where has this sauce been all my life?!? Literally, the best. The burgers were fantastic as well.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have made these several times. We double the house sauce recipe bc it is that good and toast the buns on the flat top. Burgers so good they make your toes curl 🙌🏼

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    So delicious and decadent!! We just made these and they were by far the best burgers we’ve made at home. This recipe definitely rivals a restaurant burger. So good!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh my!? I have been meaning to try these and finally did. Even invested in a cast iron press which I love! We’re fortunate that we have a center exchangeable griddle on our gas range which I’ve been too scared to use 😂 anyway I’m not going to ever hesitate to use it for these burgers! ❤️ Sure I’ll have to put the grates through the dishwasher, sure I’ll have to clean my stove top but who even cares? My husband is going to emulate this for grilled burgers = a whole lot less mashing the burger, making it more loose. It makes a better burger for sure!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I got this from another recipe that works quite well… You can smash the burgers ahead of time on the counter using the bottom of a flat pan between two pieces of wax paper. That way you don’t have to get specialized utensils to cook these with.