How to Make Smash Burgers on the Grill: Easy Steps for Perfect Patties

Discover the art of creating mouthwatering smash burgers on the grill, as we guide you through a simple and delicious method to elevate your barbecue game.

If you’re a fan of burgers, there’s nothing quite like biting into a juicy, flavorful smash burger hot off the grill. With its crispy edges and tender center, it’s no wonder that this style of burger has become so popular in recent years.

But if you’ve never made one before, you might be wondering where to start. Fear not! In this article, we’ll show you how to make delicious smash burgers on the grill that are sure to impress your friends and family at your next BBQ.

So fire up the grill and get ready for some mouthwatering goodness!

What Makes a Smash Burger?

how to make smash burgers on the grill easy steps for perfect patties

At its core, a smash burger is all about the technique. Unlike traditional burgers that are formed into thick patties and cooked to your desired level of doneness, smash burgers are made by taking a small ball of ground beef and smashing it down onto a hot griddle or grill.

This creates an ultra-thin patty with crispy edges and plenty of surface area for maximum flavor.

But what makes a great smash burger isn’t just the technique – it’s also about using high-quality ingredients. Start with fresh ground beef that has at least 20% fat content (80/20 blend).

The fat will help keep the meat juicy as it cooks, while also adding flavor.

When choosing your meat, look for freshly-ground chuck or sirloin from your local butcher shop or grocery store. Avoid pre-packaged meats if possible since they may contain fillers like breadcrumbs or soy protein concentrate which can affect both texture and taste.

Choosing the Right Meat

You want a ground beef that has enough fat content to create a juicy and flavorful burger, but not so much that it falls apart on the grill. Look for ground beef with at least 20% fat content – this will give you the perfect balance of flavor and texture.

You can also experiment with different types of meat blends such as chuck or sirloin mixed with brisket or short rib for added depth of flavor. Just make sure to choose high-quality cuts from your local butcher or grocery store.

Avoid using lean meats like turkey or chicken as they tend to dry out quickly when cooked on high heat. Stick with traditional beef if you want an authentic smash burger experience.

Preparing the Burger Patties

The key here is to handle the meat as little as possible. Overworking it can result in tough, dry burgers that are less flavorful than they could be.

Start by dividing your ground beef into equal portions – around 4-6 ounces each is a good size for a smash burger patty. Use your hands or a kitchen scale to ensure that each portion is roughly the same size.

Next, gently shape each portion into a ball and then flatten them slightly with your palm until they’re about an inch thick. Don’t worry too much about making them perfectly round or uniform – remember, these are meant to be smashed!

Use your thumb or knuckles to create an indentation in the center of each patty. This will help prevent them from puffing up during cooking and ensure even cooking throughout.

Seasoning the Patties

While some people prefer a simple salt and pepper seasoning, others like to get creative with their flavors. Whatever your preference may be, make sure not to over-season the meat as this can overpower the natural flavor of the beef.

A classic seasoning blend for smash burgers is a mixture of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle both sides of each patty generously with this blend before placing them on the grill.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding other spices or herbs such as garlic powder or smoked paprika for an extra kick of flavor. Just remember that less is often more when it comes to seasoning burgers – start small and adjust according to taste.

Pro tip: If you have time, let your seasoned patties rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before grilling them.

Smash Technique Explained

It involves pressing down on the patty with a spatula as it cooks, which creates those crispy edges and helps lock in all of that juicy flavor. But there’s more to it than just squishing your burger with a spatula! To get the best results, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right amount of pressure and timing your smashes correctly.

Firstly, start by preheating your grill or griddle over high heat for at least 10 minutes before cooking. This will ensure that everything is nice and hot when you start cooking.

Next up, place your patties onto the grill or griddle surface (make sure they are seasoned well) then use a sturdy metal spatula (preferably one without holes) to press down firmly on each patty until it flattens out into an even layer about 1/4 inch thick.

Be careful not to press too hard – if you do this can cause all of those delicious juices inside of your burgers escape leaving them dry instead!

After around 30 seconds or so has passed since smashing them flat flip each patty over carefully using another clean metal spatula then cook for another minute or two until done according to preference.

Prepping the Grill

Begin by cleaning the grates with a wire brush to remove any leftover debris from previous cookouts. Next, preheat your grill on high for 10-15 minutes until it reaches a temperature of around 400°F.

Once the grill is hot and clean, use tongs to lightly oil the grates with vegetable or canola oil. This will help prevent sticking and ensure that your burgers get those coveted crispy edges.

If you’re using a gas grill, turn off one side of burners after preheating so that you have both direct heat (over flames) and indirect heat (off-flame). For charcoal grills, arrange coals in two piles: one for direct heat and another for indirect cooking.

Grilling the Burgers

Place the patties on the hot grates and let them cook for about 2-3 minutes per side. Resist the urge to press down on them with a spatula – this will only release their juices and make them dry out faster.

After a few minutes, use your spatula or tongs to flip each patty over. If you’re adding cheese, now is the time to do so – simply place a slice of cheese on top of each burger and close the lid for another minute or two until it melts.

Keep an eye on your burgers as they cook; depending on how thick they are, they may need more or less time than others in order to reach their desired level of doneness (rare, medium-rare etc.). Use an instant-read thermometer if necessary.

When you’re satisfied that your smash burgers are cooked through but still juicy inside (ideally at least 160°F), remove them from heat using tongs and transfer onto a plate lined with paper towels.

How to Smash a Smash Burger

This is where the magic happens! Using a sturdy spatula or burger press, firmly press down on each patty until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. You should hear a satisfying sizzle as the meat hits the hot surface of your grill.

It’s important to use enough pressure when smashing your burgers – this helps create those crispy edges that make smash burgers so irresistible. But be careful not to overdo it – if you apply too much pressure, you’ll end up with dry and tough patties.

As for how long to cook each side after smashing? It depends on how well-done you like your burgers. For medium-rare, aim for about 2-3 minutes per side; for medium-well or well-done, go closer to 4-5 minutes per side.

Remember: resist the urge to flip and fuss with your burgers too much while they’re cooking! Let them sit undisturbed until they’re ready to be flipped over (you should see some nice browning around the edges), then give ’em a quick flip and let them finish cooking through before removing from heat.

Checking for Doneness

Overcooked burgers can be dry and tough, while undercooked ones can be unsafe to eat. To ensure that your smash burgers are cooked just right, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the patty.

The internal temperature should reach 160°F (71°C) for ground beef or 165°F (74°C) for ground turkey or chicken.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer on hand, there are other ways to check if your burger is done cooking. One method is by using the touch test: press down gently on the center of each patty with a spatula or tongs – if it feels firm and doesn’t give much when pressed down lightly in the middle then it’s likely well-done; medium-rare will feel soft but springy; medium will feel somewhat firm but still slightly springy.

Adding Cheese

This step is optional, but highly recommended for an extra burst of flavor. American cheese is a classic choice for smash burgers, as it melts quickly and evenly.

However, feel free to experiment with other types of cheese such as cheddar or pepper jack.

To add the cheese, simply place a slice on top of each patty during the last minute or so of grilling. Covering the grill with a lid can help speed up melting time if needed.

Toasting the Buns

It might seem like a small detail, but it can make all the difference in how your burger tastes and holds up. A toasted bun adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to your burger, while also preventing it from getting soggy too quickly.

To toast your buns, simply place them cut-side down on the grill for about 30 seconds to one minute until they are lightly browned and crispy. Be sure to keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly if left unattended.

If you want to take things up a notch, you can also spread some butter or mayonnaise onto each half of the bun before placing them on the grill for added richness and flavor.

Don’t Skimp On the Bun

One crucial element that should not be overlooked is the bun. After all, it’s what holds everything together! Don’t skimp on quality when choosing your buns – opt for a soft yet sturdy variety that can stand up to juicy burgers without falling apart or getting soggy.

To take things up a notch, consider lightly toasting your buns before assembling your burgers. This will add an extra layer of flavor and texture while also helping them hold their shape better.

Remember: every component of a great burger matters – from the meat and seasoning down to even something as seemingly simple as the bun.

Assembling the Burgers

Start by placing the bottom half of the bun on a plate or cutting board. Add any desired condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayo or homemade burger sauce.

Then add lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes for some freshness.

Next up is the star of the show – your delicious smash burger patty! Place it on top of the veggies and add a slice (or two) of cheese while it’s still hot so that it melts perfectly over your patty.

Finish off with some caramelized onions or crispy bacon if you like before adding another dollop of sauce on top. Top off with pickles and place the other half bun atop everything else.

Toppings and Condiments

When it comes to smash burgers, there are endless possibilities for customization. From classic options like lettuce, tomato, and onion to more adventurous choices like avocado or jalapeños, you can get creative with your toppings.

One popular topping for smash burgers is cheese. Whether you prefer cheddar, American or Swiss cheese – adding a slice of melted goodness on top of your patty will take your burger game up a notch.

Another must-have condiment for any burger lover is ketchup and mustard. But why not try making homemade versions? You can experiment with different spices and ingredients until you find the perfect blend that suits your taste buds.

If you’re feeling fancy, consider adding some aioli sauce or barbecue sauce as well! These sauces add an extra layer of flavor that will make every bite even more delicious.

Don’t forget about pickles either! They provide a tangy crunch that pairs perfectly with juicy beef patties. And if all else fails – bacon makes everything better!

Homemade Burger Sauce

While there are plenty of store-bought options available, making your own homemade burger sauce is easy and adds a personal touch to your meal.

To make a simple yet flavorful burger sauce, start with mayonnaise as the base. Add ketchup for sweetness, mustard for tanginess, and pickle relish or chopped pickles for some crunch.

You can also add garlic powder or onion powder if you like more depth in flavor.

Mix all ingredients together until well combined and adjust seasoning according to taste preference. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving so that all flavors meld together nicely.

Side Dish Suggestions

When it comes to smash burgers, there are plenty of options that pair perfectly with this delicious meal. Here are some side dish suggestions that will take your BBQ experience to the next level.

1. French Fries: You can’t go wrong with classic french fries! Whether you make them from scratch or buy them frozen, they’re always a crowd-pleaser.

2. Onion Rings: Crispy and flavorful onion rings add an extra crunch to your meal and pair well with the juicy goodness of a smash burger.

3. Grilled Vegetables: For those looking for something on the healthier side, grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers or corn on the cob make for great sides dishes that balance out all that meaty goodness.

  1. Coleslaw: A refreshing coleslaw adds texture and flavor contrast while also helping cut through any richness in your burger patty.
  2. Macaroni Salad : This creamy pasta salad is perfect for summer barbecues and pairs well with almost anything!

Smash Burger Variations

One popular option is to add bacon into the patty mixture for an extra burst of flavor. You could also experiment with different types of cheese, such as blue cheese or feta, for a tangy twist.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding some unexpected toppings like avocado slices or grilled pineapple rings. And don’t forget about sauces! A spicy sriracha mayo or homemade BBQ sauce can take your smash burger to the next level.

For those looking for a healthier option, consider swapping out beef patties with turkey burgers instead. Or go vegetarian by using black bean patties and topping them off with fresh veggies like lettuce and tomato.

Cleaning the Grill

Not only will this help extend the life of your grill, but it will also ensure that any leftover food particles or grease don’t attract pests or cause flare-ups during future grilling sessions.

To clean a gas grill, start by turning off all burners and disconnecting the propane tank. Once cool enough to handle, remove any remaining food debris with a wire brush and then wipe down the grates with a damp cloth.

For charcoal grills, wait until all coals have burned out completely before removing them from the ash pan. Then use a wire brush to scrub away any remaining residue on both sides of each grate.

Regardless of which type of grill you have, be sure to empty out any ash or debris from inside before storing it away for next time.

Storing Leftover Burgers

If you’re not planning on eating them right away, let the burgers cool down completely before storing them in an airtight container or wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep leftover burgers in the fridge for up to three days or freeze them for longer storage.

To reheat frozen smash burgers, simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then heat up on a skillet over medium-high heat until they are warmed through. Alternatively, you can also reheat frozen patties directly on the grill by placing them over indirect heat until they are heated through.


Can you do a smash burger on a grill?

A: Yes, you can make a Smash Burger on a grill by preheating it to high heat, placing the patties directly onto the grates, and using a spatula to press down on them for the signature crispy edge, although a griddle or skillet is the ideal tool.

Should you smash burgers before grilling?

Yes, you should smash burgers within the first 30 seconds of hitting a hot skillet for maximum juiciness and a flavorful, well-browned crust.

How long do you cook a smash burger on each side?

Cook a smash burger for approximately two minutes per side on a preheated skillet to maintain juiciness and prevent overcooking.

What type of ground beef is best for making smash burgers on the grill?

For making smash burgers on the grill, the best type of ground beef is one with a fat content of 20-30%, such as 80/20 or 70/30 beef.

How can you prevent the burger patties from sticking to the grill while smashing them?

To prevent burger patties from sticking to the grill while smashing them, lightly oil the grill or the spatula used for smashing.

Are there any specific toppings or condiments that pair well with grilled smash burgers?

Popular toppings and condiments for grilled smash burgers include cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.