This smash burger recipe is your favorite, even if you don’t know it yet. This method for a cast iron skillet burger is the secret to crispy, craggy hamburger edges and a seriously juicy center. It’s so simple. You will never go back! Make it for 4th of July!

Smash Burger Recipe

Originally posted June 28, 2017

Eric looked in the fridge the other day and said, “I’m not going to tell you how many tubs of sour cream are in our fridge right now.”

So I counted…5. Five sour creams. And one of them was a huge 3 pound tub from Costco. Sour cream is the thing at the store that I’m always like, “Hm, do we have any sour cream at home? Probably not.” And then I add it to the cart. (Five times.)

Smashburger Recipe

The reason I bought the huge one from Costco was because of Taco Tuesday. A few weeks ago I read an article on Kitchn called “5 Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party (and Seeing Your Friends More Often.)” Basically the idea is to stop worrying so much about fancy food and clean houses and focus on just hanging out. Somebody mentioned in the comments that they have a standing Taco Tuesday at their house. So we are trying it out! It’s been a lot of fun and hasn’t been too overwhelming. (Read: no cleaning allowed.) But apparently people don’t eat sour cream like I do, so we still have 4 unopened tubs of sour cream.

But I don’t have a taco recipe for you today. (In fact for Taco Tuesday my rule is NO SPECIAL RECIPES. Just regular ol tacos. Less stress.)

The best Smash Burger Recipe

Cast Iron Skillet Burger

Today we are talking SMASHBURGERS. Look at this beauty. Have you had one? Of course you have. You may not have known it. But probably any burger that you have eaten and thought to yourself, “That was exceptional,” it was made using this method. They are incredibly juicy, not too thick, and have perfectly crispy edges that are the star of the show. You get this effect by throwing some 80% ground beef on a hot pan, sprinkling with salt,  and smashing the heck out of it.

Cast Iron Burgers

Two years ago my mother-in-law came to visit and told me that she wanted to try a new hamburger recipe for dinner. She smashed up these cast iron skillet burgers and I’m not kidding you, we have never gone back. Every burger that has come from my kitchen since that day has been a smash burger.

The basic rules for Smashburgers:

  • You need something to smash the burgers with, obviously. A heavy spatula will do, but a grill press works even better I think. Here’s one for sale that is similar to the one I have pictured here, but here’s the kind I wish I had; it’s round and the perfect shape for a burger. You can see that some of the burgers I made today are a bit oval.

Smashburgers before the smashing

  • The less you mess with the meat, the better. You want really loose ground beef. The more you mold it, the more packed it will become. (No bueno.) Don’t round off those edges; craggy, crispy edges are what you’re going for.

Cast Iron Burger getting smashed

Pre-Smashed and Post-Smashed Burgers

  • This isn’t meatloaf. You don’t need a bunch of seasonings to get a great burger. Salt is all you need. Burgers are great because beef is great. Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec says it best: “It’s a hamburger made out of meat, on a bun, with nothing. Add ketchup if you want, I couldn’t care less.”
  • You need to buy 80% ground beef. That’s 20% FAT, my friends. Fat is flavor. Say it with me now: Fat=flavor. Don’t you forget it.

More secrets to cooking a great smashed skillet burger

  • Ditch the grill. A cast iron skillet or griddle is what you want. All the fat drips into the fire on a grill, and remember what fat is? So instead we are cooking the meat in its own juices, which is the secret to getting those delightfully crispy edges. You can cook this in a skillet on your stovetop, but I actually like to cook it on the grill so that I don’t heat up the whole kitchen. Like this:

Cast Iron Skillet for Burgers

I have a flat griddle, but I’m thinking of buying this one from Lodge. It is nice and big so you could fit a bunch of burgers at once, and it has raised edges so all the fat doesn’t drip into the grill. It would be great for making bacon when camping too, I’m always starting grease fires with a flat griddle.

  • You need mayonnaise. I didn’t say you might want some; I said you NEED IT. (again: “add ketchup if you want, I couldn’t care less.”)

Smashburgers Recipe

  • American cheese melts better than cheddar cheese. Don’t turn your nose up at me. It is the best. (Read this article if you’re not convinced.) I got mine from the deli at the grocery store. (My friend Tawna told me the other day that she’s never gotten anything from the deli. NEVER. This is crazy, right? Or do I just go to the deli a lot.)
  • Get yourself some nice soft buns. Not too big.

How To Make Smash Burgers

I think that’s about it. It really is simple. If you are grilling for 4th of July next week you seriously have to try out this smash burger recipe! If you don’t have any cast iron, now is the time. It’s a game changer!

Update: The day after I published this recipe my cousin Alice texted me…”Karen, I read your post about the sour cream. I went to the fridge and counted how many open jars of pickles I have. 6.” HA!

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Two years ago: Tomato Tart with Blue Cheese
Three years ago: Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Spicy Honey Bacon Glaze
Five years ago: Baked Black Bean Taquitos

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Smash Burgers

Serves 4     adjust servings

The smash burger method is the secret to crispy, craggy burger edges and a seriously juicy center. It's so simple. You will never go back!


  • 1 pound 80% ground beef
  • vegetable oil, to brush the pan
  • salt
  • 8 slices American cheese
  • 4 buns, not too big
  • mayonnaise. LOTS. not optional.

Topping ideas

  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • onions
  • pickles


  1.  Place a cast iron skillet or griddle on your grill. Turn the grill to high heat and close the lid. Let it heat up for several minutes, until it is very hot. (You can also make these on the stovetop; set your skillet over medium-high heat.)
  2. Brush the skillet with vegetable oil.
  3. Take 1/4 pound of ground beef straight from the package. Loosely shape it into a ball if you need to (depending on the shape of the ground beef you bought, you may not even need to do any shaping. If it came from the store in a nice tall mound, you might just need to grab a hunk.) Do NOT pack. 
  4. Place the ball of meat on the oiled skillet. Work in batches if you need to; I can fit 2 at a time on my skillet. (Need to get myself a griddle!)
  5. Smash the burger with a metal spatula or a grill press. You want your 1/4 pound burger to be about 4 inches across.
  6. Season with a generous amount of salt. Salt is your friend. Add some pepper if you want, but not necessary. 
  7. Close the lid of your grill (no need to cover if you're on the stovetop.) Let cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes, until the outer edges are brown.
  8. Flip the burger, season with more salt, and place two slices of American cheese on the burger. Cook until the cheese droops, about 1 more minute. This is for medium rare. Remove from the skillet.
  9. Serve with a soft warm bun, lots of mayonnaise, and whatever over toppings you want. You really can't go wrong. You could even get crazy and stack 2 patties together for a double decker. (2 thin patties is way better than 1 too-thick patty.)


If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

More grill material for 4th of July this week!

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat ( JDawg’s Special Sauce Copycat) << No lie. Try this. You’ll never go back!

The Best Hot Dog You Will Ever Eat (JDawgs Special Sauce Copycat) from The Food Charlatan


Bacon and Goat Cheese Aioli Burger with Crispy Onions

Bacon and Goat Cheese Aioli Burger with Crispy Onions from The Food Chatrlatan


Caprese Burger with Artichoke Pesto Sauce << great way to use up any fresh basil you have from the garden!

Caprese Burger with Artichoke Pesto Sauce from


More burgers from food blogger friends!

Daddy’s Open Faced Hamburger from Foodiecrush << I’m dying to try these! Made in the oven!
2 Secrets for the Best Hamburger from Oh Sweet Basil
Cast Iron Skillet Cheeseburgers from Brown Eyed Baker
In n Out Burger Copycat from Your Home Based Mom

Here’s a side dish that I’ve been dying to try that would go AWESOME with these Smash Burgers:

Carrot Salad with Raisins and Pineapple from The Salty Side Dish (my friend Trisha just started this blog, it’s all about side dishes, how awesome is that??)