There’s nothing quite like the classic smashed diner burger experience. You sit down in a booth or pull up to the bar and order up a delicious, classic cheeseburger. YUM!
So what makes these burgers so special and how can you replicate that at home? Let’s uncover the secrets to creating the smashed diner burger in your own kitchen…
Smashed Diner Burgers: The Right Way to Smash a Burger
You may have heard that you should never squeeze or smash a burger, and that is true in most cases. The problem with smashing a burger is as it cooks, the fats melt and fill it with delicious, juicy flavor. If you smash the burger you’re squeezing out the juice and turning it into a dry hockey puck.
The secret of creating a juicy smashed burger is to do the squishing in the first 30 seconds of cooking. Throw that sucker in the pan and immediately press down on it until it’s the size you want. Because the fats haven’t melted you haven’t lost any flavor.
Why Are Smashed Burgers So Good?
You may have had a smashed burger at a diner or a restaurant like Smash Burger or Shake Shack. What makes them so tasty? To get all scientific, it’s called the Maillard reaction. This is when the meat hits about 300° F and gets that golden brown crust. This adds awesome flavor and texture to the burger.
Smashing the burger makes this crust form all over the burger by adding surface area. You’re making the burger fit the pan and get evenly coated with deliciousness.
Tips for the Perfect Smashed Burger
- First off, make sure your meat is cold. You want the fats in the burger cold so they melt.
- Next, get a cast-iron skillet (I use this Lodge skillet) brush it with oil and get it really hot. If you want to make burgers inside this is a great tool that keeps even heat. It’s also nice to have if you ever want to transfer a pan from the stove to the oven (I use this when making steaks). If you don’t have a cast-iron you can try a heavy stainless steel skillet.
- Finally, get a sturdy spatula to do the smash within the first 30 seconds of cooking. You’ll want to be able to put down enough pressure to quickly get the burger smashed out. You can also get a second spatula and press down on the first one with your other hand to make it even easier.
Smashed Diner Burger
- 1 Lb Ground Beef 80% lean / 20% fat
- 4 Slices Cheese
- 4 Hamburger Buns
- Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Cup Mayo
- 2 Tbsp Ketchup
- 1 Tbsp Mustard
- 1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Tomato
- 1 Onion
- If you're making fry sauce, mix the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Cut up your optional toppings. If you'd like fried onions you can put them in a pan on low heat with some butter for about 20 min.
- Wad up a paper towel and rub in your cast-iron skillet to coat with vegetable oil.
- Add pan to stove on med-high heat until hot (just beginning to smoke). You may want to turn on a vent fan.
- Divide burger meat into 1/4 lb pucks (a couple inches wide & tall). Salt & pepper one side.
- Add meat to pan, spiced side down and immediately smash with spatula (or two) until it's about the size of the bun.
- Top the 2nd side with salt and pepper. Cook for about 1-1.5 mins and then flip the burger (don't smash again). Finish cooking for about 30 secs to 1 min for medium.
- Add to your bun and top how you'd like. Enjoy!