By Christie Vanover | Published May 22, 2019 | Last Updated February 16, 2023
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Certified Angus Beef® brand in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.
In order for a burger to be so popular it breaks instagram (AKA goes viral), it has to be crazy unique. Burgers that stand out include the ramen bun burger, the donut bun burger the BK black- and green-bunned burgers.
But there was one key thing all of these viral versions were missing. In my opinion, they weren’t really all that appetizing.
In my quest to create a burger that Instagram would go gaga for, I started with a classic – the smashburger.
We all love smashburgers for their crazy, crispy, beefy crust and simple ingredients, but no one (that I’ve found) is making a smoked smashburger. Literally, as of May 22, 2019, zero people have used the hashtag #SmokedSmashburger on Instagram.
Can you imagine biting into a cherry- or hickory-smoked uber-crusty skinny patty topped with melted cheese?
Sure people have added barbecue sauce or smoked cheeses to add that smoky kiss to a smashburger, but that’s just not the same as smoked meat.
If no one has made a smoked smashburger, maybe it’s because it’s not possible
I’m not a girl who gives up easily. I wasn’t going to let the science of cooking interfere with my imagination.
To start my research, I grabbed a pound of Certified Angus Beef® brand ground beef. As with my regular smashburger recipe, I use an 80/20 blend. (80% meat/20% meat).
For test one, I shaped the ground beef into four balls, and smoked them at 225F degrees for 20 minutes.
The smash went okay, but the color and flavor didn’t quite hit the mark.
For test two, I upped the time on the smoker to 30 minutes, still cooking at 225F degrees. The color was much better. The outer shell had a beautiful mahogany shimmer.
But the smash was a fail. No matter how much pressure I put on the bacon press, I couldn’t get that sucker to thin out. As it cooked, it shrunk and fell apart.
I pondered over this for a couple of days. At one point, I thought well, this may just be why #SmokedSmashburger isn’t a thing.
Then, I got home one day and made four more balls. I smashed one raw, and it was flat as a pancake.
The secret to a smoked smashburger is revealed
That’s when it dawned on me that the meat needed to be as close to raw as possible before it hit the griddle.
I adjusted the smoker temp to 200F and smoked another round for 30 minutes using cherry wood on my pellet smoker. It had the same beautiful color as test two, but the meat was visibly more pliable.
When I brought it to the griddle and performed the coveted smash, I yelled out a big fat, “Hot Damn!”
But it was the flip that made me even happier. Not only did this smoked smashburger perform well under pressure, but it maintained that gorgeous mahogany color it picked up from the smoke.
So the secret to the hashtagless burger is a slow and low smoke. Who’d a thunk it. Isn’t that the secret to all good barbecue.
Now that the science is figured out, let’s do this up right
While I was being all sciencey with the beef, I decided to mix things up with the cheese, as well.
I don’t care what anyone says, my favorite cheese for a smashburger is American – period. To me, it has the best melting quality and silky mouthfeel.
I like a little texture with my burgers, too, so I added another cheese component – a cheese crisp. This isn’t like the kind you find at a Mexican restaurant. It’s just pure cheese cooked on a griddle, until it crisps up.
Add about a half cup to the medium-high griddle surface, spreading it out into a 4-inch circle. Just let it cook for about 90 seconds. The cheese will start to bubble, and the edges will turn golden brown.
Carefully, slide a spatula under the cheese crisp, and set it aside, for your burger build.
Let’s celebrate with caramelized bourbon onions
The last ingredients I like on my smashburgers are onions and pickles. Since this burger calls for a celebration, I added a dash of bourbon to my onions – okay maybe it was more than a dash.
After letting the onions sweat on the griddle with some oil for about 6 minutes, I poured two tablespoons of bourbon onto the pile, and let that sweet drink soften the onions down.
For the build, I used a toasted brioche bun, five pickles, a cheese topped smashburger, that cheese crisp, another patty, bourbon onions and finally the top bun.
In the end, I downed a half-pound double-decker smoked smashburger with glee and pride.
Now it’s your turn
How will you top your #SmokedSmashburger? Be sure to tag it, so the cool kids who are following along can see your creations.
Who knows we just might break instagram with all the excitement.
- 1 lb Certified Angus Beef® brand ground beef (80/20)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese finely shredded
- 2 brioche buns
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 white onion thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- salt and pepper
- 4 slices American cheese
- 10 dill pickle slices
- Divide the beef into four equal parts and roll into balls.
- Smoke at 200F degrees for 30 minutes.
While the burgers are smoking, make the cheese crisps
- Heat a griddle to medium-high. Add a half-cup of cheese to the griddle. Spread it into a 4-inch circle.
- Let it cook for 90 seconds. When the edges brown, it's ready. Gently remove it from the griddle with a spatula, and set it aside.
- Repeat with the remaining shredded cheese.
Toast the buns
- Spread each bun half with butter. Toast on the griddle, butter-side-down, for 30-60 seconds, until golden.
Caramelized bourbon onions
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the griddle. Add the sliced onions. Saute for 5-6 minutes.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of bourbon (or water) onto the pile of onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until softened.
- After the burgers are smoked, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the griddle. Add the smoked balls to the griddle, and smash them as flat as you can using a bacon press or spatula.
- Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Flip. Top each patty with American cheese. Continue cooking, until the cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes.
- Place a cheese crisp on top of one of the patties. Top with the other patty.
- Layer on a pile of onions and the top bun.
- Place 5 pickles on the bottom bun, and add the patty tower on top.
- Repeat for the second burger.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator
You’re a genius
This recipe is so good! Best burger we ever smoked!
You should give this a shot:
After smoking your meatballs put them for a rest in a fridge for an hour or so.
Quickly transfer them from the fridge to the hot griddle when your ready to smash
you will notice a huge difference on fat retention into your patties
Hello….You mentioned the temp to smoke the hamburger balls but you didn’t mention what temp for when you smashed the burgers down? Seems like you would have to crank the heat up to 375 or 400 degrees, no?
I heated the griddle up to medium-high. If you’re using a pellet grill, I would go around 350F.
I use a cold smoker attachment to smoke most of the meats I want to cook on the grill. Adds smoke without cooking the meat.