Smashed Burgers (Midwest Style)

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Okay, I kind of can’t believe I’m going to write a post about this. But for a long time now, I have not really enjoyed eating burgers at restaurants. They are always too big, too thick… too something. As long as I can remember, I have been telling dear husband about the burgers they used to make at Steak ‘n Shake when I was a kid. The patties were flat and crispy – YUM!!! The only thing that comes close is the the mini burger at Kidd Valley. That’s my favorite.

So about a month ago, I looked up online “make crispy edge burgers like Steak ‘n Shake“, or something like that, and sure enough, I am not the only one hankering for a flat and crispy burger! In fact, it’s a thing. And it’s been a thing for a while. People actually get really excited about it. There’s an art to it. And there are several other places that make their burgers this way that I never heard of, like Shake Shack and In-n-Out Burgers, to name a few.

The trick is this: the burgers are smashed down the second they hit the hot pan, and the pan has to be very hot. The first time I tried making these, I used my cast iron griddle on my stove top, because cast iron can get good and hot. The burgers were fabulous, however, they didn’t have quite the crisp that I was going for. My cast iron doesn’t like it when I heat it up too hot on a burner, so I had to try something different. And I did. And it worked.

Here is what I did. First I put my cast iron griddle in my bbq grill and sprinkled some salt on it.

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I then closed the lid and let the bbq heat up to about 500°.

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Getting close to temp. Do you like my shadow?

Now, the burgers are small, about 3 oz. each. So I got 12 oz. of ground beef – 85%/15% – and made 4 small balls.

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The kitchen is a mess, and it’s about to get messier.

I then pre-flattened them, but you don’t really have to do that. I just had a feeling that it would be helpful. And I think it was.

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I then toasted the hamburger buns in butter, face down on my electric griddle, so I could do them all at once. I’ve read that you should use just plain old hamburger buns, nothing fancy, but we used whole wheat brioche buns, and there were no regrets. Hey, we didn’t have fries or shakes. Just burgers. So good.

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Do you like my state-of-the-art, vintage 1962 stove top? They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

While the grill outside was heating up, I got everything else ready, including preparing the individual buns and slicing cheese. It’s really important, because the smashing and baking is done in less than two minutes. Everything needs to be ready to go.

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a picture and do the smashing technique at the same time, so I’ll have to describe it to you. You want a very sturdy spatula that has no holes in it. Not something that is bendy or flexible. Heavy duty please. I found this one at a restaurant supply store. It’s not super big or anything, but it worked!

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They say 5 inches wide is ideal. This one is not that, but it still did the job.

I opened the lid of the bbq grill (leave the lid open for the rest of the time) and put the first burger on the griddle back left. I immediately smashed it down with all my might and without letting up on the pressure, slid the spatula toward me to remove it. I then smashed and slid again to make sure that the entire burger was smashed flat. This took about 4 seconds total. I then put the second one on the griddle back right (location is important for the sliding off part) and did the double smash. Then the third burger front left double smash and slide, then the fourth, same thing. (The slide part is important, because if you lift the spatula off, it will take part of your burger with it. Smash and slide, please.)

I let the burgers cook for about 40 seconds or so, keeping in mind that the first burger would be on there for probably a total of 60 seconds. Did I do that math right?

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I’ve never gotten steam like this before!

Then I flipped them. Important! Flip them in the same order that you put them on the griddle, and make sure that you scrape underneath all the crispy grilled part to get all the good stuff. You don’t want it to get left on the griddle! No more smashing. You only smash at the very beginning.

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Look at that seared perfection!

As soon as I flipped them, I put the cheese slices on and let them cook for about 15 seconds more.

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I then put them on a plate, and then immediately onto the prepared buns; this all happens very fast! My family absolutely loves these burgers. I took a picture of Millie’s burger (below). She asked me to text the picture to her. When I asked her why, she said, “Because it’s the perfect burger”.

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The perfect burger.

Smashed Burgers (Midwest Style)

What you will need:

  • Cast iron griddle
  • Skillet or electric griddle to toast the hamburger buns
  • BBQ Grill
  • Stiff, heavy duty metal spatula without holes
  • 3 oz. ground beef (80%/20% or 85%/15%) per hamburger
  • Hamburger buns, butter, salt and pepper, and whatever else you like on your burgers, but don’t pile them up too high with stuff. Flatter is better.

How to make them:

  1. Place cast iron griddle on your BBQ grill, sprinkle salt (and pepper if you wish) on the griddle. This will season the beef. Turn on to high, and close the lid.
  2. Divide ground beef into 3 oz balls, and pre-flatten if you wish.
  3. Grill your hamburger buns in butter.
  4. Prep buns with condiments so they are ready to go.
  5. Open BBQ grill and leave open. Place burgers on griddle one at a time, smashing each burger twice. Use the smash and slide technique.
  6. Let burgers cook for about 45 seconds.
  7. Flip burgers, making sure to scrape the crispy stuff with the burger, and place cheese on burgers, if desired. NO SMASHING THIS TIME.
  8. Let cook for 10 to 15 seconds more.
  9. Remove burgers from the griddle, place in buns, and enjoy!

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This entry was posted in Busy-day meals, Comfort Food, Fun in the kitchen!. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Smashed Burgers (Midwest Style)

  1. Matt says:

    To me it’s interesting that you say the stovetop is too hot for the cast iron, but the grill is not. I remember what the cast iron griddle (which you got for me to make French toast on) looked like after you nuked it on the stovetop – little burner-shaped circles scorched into the seasoning. What makes it different when you torch it on the barbie?

    • angelamara says:

      Hey dear husband, I love this question! Especially because I didn’t explain why it worked in my post, but I considered explaining it. Our stove top has electric burners, which actually touch the cast iron. It heats up unevenly, and those silly burners get super hot! So when I used the cast iron on our stovetop, I heated it on medium heat to avoid the hot spots. The burgers were good, but not seared and crispy the way I wanted them to be. For this same reason, it wouldn’t work very well on an electric griddle… burners directly under the griddle creating uneven heat. On our gas BBQ grill, the heat source is several inches away from the cast iron, so it heats up evenly. Because of this, I can heat the griddle to a higher heat – 500°. By closing the lid, it heats up all over, and can get nice and hot without any unusually high “hot spots”. The burgers were evenly seared, not burned in any way, but crisp and so good. I feel like I really hit the jackpot on this one!

  2. Susan says:

    Goodness, that’s a lot of love for a burger!😊

    • angelamara says:

      Yes it is, LOL! But really, the “lot of love” comes from childhood memories, and trying to recreate the things that I loved as a kid for my own children. Plus, you really should try these burgers and see if you don’t just love them a lot too!

  3. Pingback: Hamburger Buns | and everything nice

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