The One Tool You Really Need If You Want Flavorful Burgers

You might think a thick patty is best but once you start smashing your burgers, you’ll never want them any other way.

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June 08, 2021

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Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

One of the first things I ever learned about cooking burgers was not to smash the patty, for fear of losing all the savory juices. A steadfast rule-follower, I have never once given into the temptation to press my spatula down on a patty mid-sear. Honestly.

You can imagine my surprise then when (several years ago) a new fast-food burger joint opened up near me: Smashburger. I thought to myself, “There’s no way they’re smashing the patties. They’ll be dry! They’ll be flavorless! The name must mean something else.” But, sure enough, when I got to the restaurant I saw that they were serving up some seriously thin-pressed patties.

I was skeptical but, after the first bite there was no going back. That burger was the juiciest, most-flavorful one I had ever tasted.

I later learned that smashing a patty while it cooks is way different than smashing it before it hits the heat. Burgers are juicy because they include fat. So, pressing a patty before you cook it (or immediately after putting it in the pan) while the fat is solid and can’t escape, won’t cause it to dry out. And, because it’s so thin, a smashed burger is able to develop a really crispy browned crust, which gives it an insanely meaty flavor.

It should come as no surprise then that when burger night rolls around in my house, we’re making this recipe — and stacking our burger buns high with smashed patties. This burger press makes it easy; just lay a square of parchment over a ball of beef and let the heavy-duty, cast iron do its job. No sticking, no messy clean up. Just an evenly thin, ready to cook patty.

Best of all, this press makes generous 6-inch rounds. The burgers are big enough that, even though they’ll shrink a little during cooking, you’ll have plenty of crisp, cracked brown edges (the best part of any smashed burger!) peeking out of your bun.

Just don’t be surprised if, once you start smashing your patties, your friends and family ask you to make the burgers all summer long!

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