Can You Make Smash Burgers on the Grill? Here are the Smash and Sear Techniques

Can You Make Smash Burgers on the Grill? Here are the Smash and Sear Techniques

Smash burgers have taken the culinary world by storm, captivating burger enthusiasts with their unique approach and irresistible flavors. A departure from traditional patty-making methods, smash burgers offer a delightful twist that has gained immense popularity among food lovers and grill masters alike.

Contrary to misconceptions, the realm of smash burgers extends beyond stovetops and griddles. It's time to set the record straight – smash burgers can indeed be crafted to perfection right on your grill. The idea of flattening the patty with a spatula to achieve those iconic edges may seem unconventional for grilling, but it's a technique that translates seamlessly to the outdoor barbecue experience.

Part 1: Getting Started: Mastering the Smash Burger on Your Grill

Before you embark on your journey to grill the perfect smash burgers, it's crucial to arm yourself with the essential tools and a solid game plan. Gather your trusty grill, a reliable spatula, high-quality ground beef, your favorite seasoning blend, and of course, fresh buns that will cradle your masterpiece.

However, the key to smash burger success extends beyond the tools. Proper preparation is the secret ingredient that elevates your grilling experience from good to exceptional. Take a moment to lay out your ingredients, ensuring they're easily accessible. Preheat your grill to high heat, creating the optimal canvas for those irresistible sear marks.

As you prepare to make your mark on the grill, consider the masterpiece you're about to create – a harmonious blend of flavors, textures, and aromas that will leave your taste buds dancing. With your tools in hand and a well-prepared mindset, you're poised to embark on a journey to smash burger perfection. So, get ready to infuse your culinary prowess with the sizzle and savor that only a well-crafted smash burger can provide.

smash burger

Part 2: The Concrete Guide to Make Smash Burgers on the Grill

If you're ready to elevate your grilling game and indulge in a symphony of flavors, then this concrete guide to making smash burgers on the grill is your ticket to burger paradise. Here is the guide you should follow.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Meat

Achieving the perfect smash patty starts with selecting an optimal meat blend to make smash burgers on a grill, characterized by a balanced fat-to-lean ratio. The ideal ratio, often referred to as the "80/20," signifies 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This balance ensures that the patty remains juicy and flavorful upon cooking, with the fat contributing to both moisture and rich taste.

For those craving a unique twist, experimenting with various meat options can yield exceptional results. Consider blends such as chuck, prized for its robust beefy flavor, or brisket, renowned for its tenderness. The short rib, with its marbling and tenderness, also offers an enticing alternative. Each blend contributes its distinctive qualities to the smash patty, allowing you to craft a masterpiece tailored to your taste preferences. 

Step 2: Preheating the Grill

Preheating the grill to high heat is a crucial step in achieving a perfect sear on your smash burgers. The intense heat of a preheated grill initiates the Maillard reaction, a chemical process that transforms the sugars and proteins on the patty's surface into a complex web of flavors and textures. This reaction results in those coveted crispy, caramelized edges that add a delightful crunch and a depth of flavor to every bite. Preheating ensures that the surface of the patty cooks quickly upon contact, sealing in juices and creating a beautiful sear that locks in moisture, ultimately delivering a mouthwatering and visually appealing smash burger.

Utilizing a two-zone setup – one area with direct high heat and another with indirect lower heat – enhances your smash burger grilling experience. The high-heat zone is where you achieve that sought-after sear, sealing in juices and creating those signature crusty edges. Once seared, move the patties to the indirect-heat zone for gentle cooking, allowing the interior to cook evenly without overcooking the exterior.

 make smash burgers on a grill

Step 3: Forming the Patties

Forming uniform, thin patties with loosely packed meat is a critical step in crafting the perfect smash burger. Begin by portioning your ground meat, using a kitchen scale if desired, to ensure consistency in size. Take a portion and gently shape it into a ball, avoiding over-handling to maintain its tenderness. Place the ball between your palms and lightly flatten it into a patty, ensuring an even thickness and leaving the edges slightly thicker to prevent overcooking. Alternatively, you can use a burger press to form the patties when you are making smash burgers on a grill.

Now, for the signature "smash" technique, preheat your grill to high heat. Place the patty on the hot grill grates, then take a sturdy spatula and press down firmly, using your body weight to create the thin patty. This action not only imparts those iconic crispy edges but also maximizes the patty's surface area for optimal searing. Release the spatula and let the patty cook for a brief period, allowing the Maillard reaction to work its magic. Flip the patty, and repeat the process, achieving a perfectly seared, thin smash patty that guarantees an explosion of flavor and texture in every bite.


Step 4: Seasoning and Cooking

Seasoning the patties just before placing them on the grill is a culinary strategy that maximizes flavor absorption. Salt, pepper, and other spices meld with the meat's surface, enhancing taste while drawing out natural juices. The cooking process begins with a quick sear on high heat, which creates a delectable crust while sealing in succulence. After a minute or two, flip the patty for even cooking. If desired, add cheese during the final moments, letting it melt into a luscious blanket of gooey goodness. This orchestrated dance of high heat and precise timing results in a smash burger masterpiece that tantalizes the senses. 

Step 5: Flipping and Cheese Melting

Timing is pivotal in achieving an evenly cooked smash burger. Once the first side of the patty has developed a golden-brown crust, typically after 1-2 minutes of high-heat searing, it's time to execute the flip. A spatula gently inserted beneath the patty facilitates the process, ensuring a seamless transition. Flipping too early risks disrupting the Maillard reaction, while delaying it excessively might lead to overcooking. Aim for a careful balance to maintain a juicy interior while achieving those desirable crispy edges.

The art of adding cheese to your smash burger elevates it to new heights of indulgence. As the patty nears its final moments of grilling, typically during the last minute, lay a slice of your preferred cheese – be it cheddar, American, Swiss, or a gourmet option – atop the patty. To achieve impeccable melting, close the grill's lid, creating a mini oven that allows the radiant heat to envelop the patty and cheese. This encapsulating warmth triggers the cheese's transformation into a velvety, molten layer that clings irresistibly to the patty. The result? A symphony of textures and flavors that culminates in an unforgettable sensory experience – a true testament to the mastery of smash burger grilling. melt cheese for burger

Step 6: Assembling and Serving

Achieving perfectly toasted buns enhances the overall smash burger experience. Place the cut sides of the buns on the grill grates, directly over medium heat. Keep a watchful eye, as toasting happens quickly – in about 1-2 minutes. Rotate the buns occasionally for even browning, ensuring a delicate crispness without charring. The result is a warm, slightly crunchy exterior that provides an exquisite contrast to the succulent patty.

Part 3: Variations and Tips: Elevate Your Smash Burger Mastery

Creative Variations:

Elevate your smash burger game by exploring tantalizing variations that will leave your taste buds craving for more. Experiment with the art of flavors by adding caramelized onions, whose sweet depth complements the savory notes of the patty. For an explosion of zest, consider incorporating a medley of sautéed mushrooms or roasted peppers, infusing every bite with a burst of earthy goodness.

Saucy Delights:

Take your smash burgers to new heights with an array of inventive sauces. Elevate your flavor profile with tangy barbecue sauce, zesty aioli, or a drizzle of balsamic reduction. A dollop of truffle-infused mayo or a swipe of smoky chipotle sauce can transform your culinary creation into an unforgettable masterpiece.

Achieving Different Levels of Doneness and Flavor:

Perfecting the level of doneness in your smash burgers is an art that allows you to tailor each bite to your preference. For those who relish a juicy pink center, aim for a quick and intense sear on high heat. If you prefer a medium doneness, moderate the heat slightly and extend the cooking time, ensuring a perfect balance of char and tenderness.

Flavorful Fusion:

Unleash a symphony of flavors by seasoning your ground beef with an array of spices. A fusion of garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika can infuse your patty with layers of complexity. To kick up the heat, a pinch of cayenne pepper adds a tantalizing kick that dances on your palate.

Crafting Cheese Creations:

When it comes to cheese, the options are as limitless as your imagination. Opt for classic cheddar, embrace the creaminess of Swiss, or revel in the sharp tang of blue cheese. As your patty nears perfection, place a slice atop and let the smoky embrace of the grill work its melting magic.

Bun Brilliance:

Don't underestimate the role of the bun. Elevate your creation with a brioche bun for a touch of buttery luxury or opt for a whole wheat bun to add a wholesome depth to each bite. Toast the buns on the grill for a hint of smokiness that complements the patty's char.

Customize and Conquer:

Now armed with these variations and tips, you have the tools to customize your smash burger journey. Whether you're an adventurous flavor explorer or a connoisseur of classic tastes, the grill is your canvas, and the smash burger is your masterpiece. So, experiment, savor, and celebrate the boundless possibilities that await as you create smash burgers that reflect your culinary prowess and palate.


Unlock the boundless potential of smash burgers, where creativity knows no limits. Add caramelized onions, experiment with zesty sauces, or tailor the level of doneness to your liking. With each creation, you're the artist, the grill is your canvas, and the result is an indulgent masterpiece that's uniquely yours.

So, step into your grilling haven, armed with newfound knowledge and the excitement of creating smash burgers that mirror your culinary passion. Embrace the sizzle, relish the aroma, and savor every bite of these mouthwatering delights – it's a gastronomic experience that promises nothing less than pure satisfaction.


What type of buns work best for smash burgers?

Brioche buns, potato rolls, or sesame seed buns add a touch of indulgence, while whole wheat buns provide a healthier twist. 

Are smash burgers suitable for different occasions?

Absolutely! Whether it's a backyard barbecue, a casual weeknight dinner, or a gourmet grilling event, smash burgers fit any occasion with their customizable and delectable nature.

What makes smash burgers unique and appealing?

Smash burgers combine the best of both worlds – a crispy, caramelized exterior and a juicy, flavorful interior. The quick cooking time and endless customization options make them a favorite among burger enthusiasts.

Grace Rodriguez

About the Author: Grace Rodriguez

Grace Rodriguez is your passionate grill aficionado and the lively host of the Fox Heights Bar and Grill Podcast. With a zest for culinary adventures and a gift for making everyone feel like a friend, Grace brings a warm and welcoming vibe to the world of grilling. From sharing her top-notch tips for crafting the perfect burger to creating an atmosphere of camaraderie around the grill, Grace's genuine charm and relatable style make her podcast a must-listen for both seasoned grill masters and newcomers alike.

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