Hands Down, the Best Burger You’ll Ever Eat

Okay, we realize that’s quite a claim we’re making in the title of this post, but adjectives such as “amazing” and “awesome” just didn’t quite capture our ebullient opinion of this burger.

We found the recipe in the June 2011 edition of Food & Wine magazine, in which the debate between grilled and griddled burgers is convincingly satisfied.  To no surprise to us, the griddled burger wins out.  The article goes on to say why and even gives a few griddled burger recipes, including this one from Adam Fleischmann, founder of the Umami Burger chain in Los Angeles.

Smashed Burgers by Adam Fleischmann (makes 4 patties)

  • 1 1/4 pounds freshly ground beef chuck
  • Half a white onion, sliced into rings
  • 4 slices yellow American cheese (Adam uses cheddar, we prefer American)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 or 4 bakery fresh potato buns (we used kaiser buns from Fresh Market – you want a chewy bun)

First of all, if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go out and buy one.  Just do it.  You know you’ve been meaning to.  There’s no excuse.  You can find one at Target, already seasoned, for around $40 bucks – and it will last you a lifetime.

Now, we’re not going to lie to you, ground chuck burgers cooked in a cast iron skillet smoke a lot.  You have some options here: 1) Take the batteries out of your smoke alarm, 2) Use a good vent hood or 3) Cook outside on one of these or on your grill, like we do.  The picture above shows that a 12″ skillet will fit perfectly on a Mini sized Big Green Egg.

It’s important to set out all your ingredients, because these burgers are done in 5 1/2 minutes from start to finish.  Divide the beef into four loosely formed balls (five ounces each).  Don’t compress the beef a whole lot – handle it as little as possible.  Slice your onions into rings and separate them.  Have your cheese slices, salt, and pepper handy as well, and your buns sliced.  If you like a toasted bun, do that before you start the burgers.  You’ll also need a lid to cover your skillet for the last portion of the cook.

Heat your skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke.  Place two of the meatballs on the skillet with equal spacing between them and the sides of the skillet.

Allow the meatballs to sear for 30 seconds, then flatten each into a 5″ diameter patty using a heavy-duty spatula.  After flattening, let them cook for 2 minutes.

While the burgers are cooking on this first side for 2 minutes, season them with salt and pepper, and press into them some of the sliced onion rings.

When the 2 minutes have elapsed, carefully flip the burgers so that the onions end up underneath the patties.  Add the cheese and cook for 2 more minutes.  Then add the lid and cook for 1 more minute to completely melt the cheese.

That’s right – 5 1/2 minutes and dinner is ready.  We chose to serve these up as a double-stack.  Oh, and don’t worry about additional condiments – you won’t need them.

Juicy, tender, and rich in flavor, these old-school style griddle burgers are good to the last bite.

Do yourself a favor and try these burgers – you won’t be sorry.  And you may never go back to grilled burgers again.

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33 Responses to Hands Down, the Best Burger You’ll Ever Eat

  1. rx4foodies says:

    those burgers look soooo tasty and juicy! i can’t wait to give this recipe a try! thanks for sharing!

  2. That cheese melting all over the patty is the kicker. I’m now craving one of these burgers for sure!!

  3. Sasha says:

    Gotta love a classic burger that’s been stripped of all the extras – looks divine!

  4. Matt says:

    A few tips to make the great even greater..

    Make the fresh ground chuck from 28 day dry aged Waygu
    Do not overwork the grind
    dont crush the patty on the griddle while it’s cooking !!
    Cook to medium rare – pic’s above look well done
    Use Taleggio instead of that plastic American cheese
    Potato Buns should still be warm from the oven
    Season with Fleur de Sel and toasted/cracked black pepper

  5. sophistimom says:

    The best burger I’ll ever eat??

    I totally believe you.


  6. Nicole says:

    Matt, when do you suggest flattening the burger patty?

  7. Dave says:

    Wow those burgers look good! I love the idea of browning the onions under burger. That’s gotta add a ton of flavor. Great post.

  8. Mary says:

    I tried this today, and it was perfect. You were right: no additional condiments necessary!

  9. Normally I don’t react to burger recipes online but this one took the cake when you have a cast iron skillet on the grill and potato buns. I agree with Matt, don’t flatten the patties, they’ll keep a better texture and the juices stay in while cooking.

  10. Love that you grill your burgers in a cast iron skillet, my husband does the same with his amazing rib-eye steaks that he finishes in the oven. Oh my, and the cheese, the cheese! Love the simplicity of your burger and letting the chuck shine.

  11. pinkpolkadotblog says:


  12. I am definitely saving this recipe because everyone needs a great backpocket burger recipe. And this sounds like one. Seriously. You cannot beat meat, cheese and onions in a seasoned pan…

  13. Oh man that looks awesome. I love keeping burgers simple. Bring on the double stack.

  14. Amanda says:

    Looks delicious!

    Matt mentioned not to to flatten the burgers, but doesn’t that go against the style of these burgers, “smashed burgers.” I never smash mine normally, but I think that it’s just what’s done for this kind of burger. I’m interested in trying it!!

  15. Sid Miller says:

    I’ve just tried the recipe for my lunch, they were really good, thanks for the recipe.

  16. Pingback: Hands Down, the Best Burger You’ll Ever Eat | TheshoeboxKitchen « Sid's Food Fascination

  17. FLGrillMaster says:

    I tried tons of burger recipes and this one is the very best so far. Smashing the patties only twice (as directed) allows the meat to retain most of its juices. I also agree that cast-iron skillets really cook burgers way better than regular non-stick pans.

    Since patties are smashed only twice, I would still recommend to shape a small depression in the middle to prevent bulging.

    If you are using an electric stove like I did, it would be wise to set the heat a bit lower than maximum. I followed the whole recipe with heat set at about 9/10 and my patties turned out perfect.

    If you want a sharper cheese taste, try blue cheese instead of cheddar. The result is amazing. Blue cheese may melt slower than cheddar or American cheese, so you may want to leave the lid for an extra minute or so and set the heat anywhere between low and medium at the end of the process to avoid overcooking the meat.

    Fantastic recipe – no disappointment ahead!

  18. DJ says:

    Great !!!!
    Thanks man!

  19. AJ says:

    This was a really great recipe! Thanks! …and for once my burgers did NOT shrink! YAY! 🙂 Since I was cooking 3 at once on a natural gas not-so-high btu burner (range was new in 1979…when my parents bought the house) I upped my times to 5 min per side (noone in the family likes it with pink in the middle). After both sides were done I carefully cut 3 slots/incisions (used a serrated knife) into each patty…and then put the cheese slices on top (used thick slice mild cheddar). Covered with the dome lid from my turbocooker (steamer) for a minute and finished in a pre-warmed 200F toaster oven. 5 min later when everyone was finally at the table the cheese had finished melting and somewhat oozed its way into the patty…YUM! ..added treat….sauteed remaining onion in the pan juices.

  20. yenergy says:

    This is now the only way I will ever do burgers- done it three times now and it’s so good every time. I’m partial to pepper jack, but yes, these are juicy and beautiful. I’ve also tried using some ground sirloin too, which I’d recommend. Yum! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  21. Anybody tried this with bison?

  22. Pingback: The best burger ever | Baking and Math

  23. Jackson Drerger says:

    Followed your recipe and wow, absolutely fantastic. We all loved them, thanks a bunch!!

  24. Liz says:

    I’ve made these several times and have to agree…THE BEST BURGER! I used cheddar twice and gruyere once. I don’t think you can go wrong with a cheese you like!

  25. dankeir says:

    Reblogged this on THESITE and commented:
    mmhhh burgers

  26. Tina Slaght says:

    This was truly an amazing burger, I read your recipe and had the burgers completely done in probably 10 minutes from leaving the computer to the plate!!! I’ll never cook burgers any other way at home. Thanks!!!! Oh, and I wanted ours not so done, so I only cooked them for about 30 seconds once flipped with the lid on (perfect).

  27. Dawn D says:

    We cooked ours on the stove as directed – 5 minutes per side because I’m not a fan of red in burgers and they were perfectly done and tasted great!

  28. Ovella Levacy says:

    Sounds so-o-o-o good; can hardly wait to try them! Thank you so much for passing your recipe along to me!

  29. LD Meyer says:

    Try caramelizing onions first, slather the top of the burger with mustard then put the onions on it and flip it when 3-4 minutes have passed, you may have to press the onions into the burger and sacrifice a little juice, I think they call it an” Oklahoma Onion Burger”, the recipe goes clear back to the 30’s depression era when things were yummy and simple. We could probably use a “good ol’ depression” again to draw people together. Adios n’ Hasta La Bye Bye! L.D.

  30. Audrey says:

    Awesome! Best burger I have ever made at home and it beat most burgers I have had at restaurants. The only thing I would change is I would dice the onion (instead of leaving the onion in slices) that is pressed into the burger. It was a little sloppy to eat when the rings all came out in one bite…that may have been my fault for taking such a big bite. This will definitely be my burger technique from now on. Thank you, Adam Fleischmann!

  31. Anita Weber says:

    I just joined this blog and sent a copy of this yummy burger recipe to my man, who loves to cook and does most of it, I don’t mind one bit. I like the idea of using a serrated knife to cut 3 or so slices on the side the cheese is placed. NEVER eat orange cheese! NOT good for you. Milk is white not orange, lol. I now know what we’re having for dinner, just need to go shopping now. Does anyone have something special to serve on the side rather than French Fries? I love them but would like to try something different. Can’t wait, already hungry and it’s only 3:49 P.M. God Bless us All!

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