Oh, the smash burger. In my opinion, it’s the best style of burger out there. A thinly charred burger with shaved onions pressed into it, two slices of the best cheese and sauce dripping down your hands — come on! If paper towels could be listed on the ingredient list, it would be at the top. Some Oklahoma onion burger purists skip toppings altogether, but I’m taking the history of this burger and expanding on it with a BBQ smoky slaw to add creamy, vinegary flavors and a crunchy texture that’s pure bliss.
Preheat a griddle, large griddle pan or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat for at least 10 minutes.
Whisk together the barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons pepperoncini liquid, mustard, smoked paprika and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Roughly chop the pepperoncini peppers and toss together with the coleslaw mix in a large bowl. Add three-quarters of the sauce and toss. Reserve the remaining sauce for the bun and burger.
Loosely form the ground beef into 4 balls. Season with salt and pepper on all sides.
Brush the griddle with canola oil and add 1 ball of beef griddle. Add 1/4 cup of the shaved onions on top of the ball and smash it down with a heavy metal spatula. You want to smash and spread the meatball, making sure those onions are pushed into the beef, and creating a patty that will be bigger than your bun. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the onions are steamed and caramelized, about 2 minutes. For this burger, it’s OK to give it another press with your spatula—we want that Maillard reaction (see Cook's Note). Top the burger with 1 tablespoon of the remaining mayonnaise mixture, then 2 slices of cheese and cook until melted, 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining beef, cooking in 2 batches.
Meanwhile, spread the mayonnaise mixture on the bottom of the buns and cover with 4 dill pickle chips.
Once the cheese has melted, place each burger on a bottom bun and top with 1/4 cup of the slaw mixture. Smash each top bun on the slaw and enjoy! Your friends will thank you.
When the sugars and proteins in the beef heat up, a Maillard reaction occurs and results in the beautiful browning of these burgers.
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