Table of Contents
- Is cast iron good for burgers?
- How to make smash burgers in cast iron?
- Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Smashburgers
- Cast Iron Smashburger Tips and Tricks
Is cast iron good for burgers?
Burger chefs and aficionados can likely agree on one thing—a cast iron skillet is the best tool for making diner-style smash burgers at home.
The key to a great burger is the Maillard reaction: this is the chemical process that gives well-browned foods their delicious flavor. It’s what gives your seared steak a perfect crust, with the best umami flavor concentrated on the outside.
Cast iron skillet smashburgers follow the same logic: if all the best flavor is concentrated on the outer crust, then maximizing the surface area will maximize the delicious Maillard flavor. That’s why we smash! For a perfectly cooked patty with a salty, crackly, well-browned crust, a hot skillet is the closest thing to a diner griddle—and a well-seasoned pan will clean up just as easily.
How to make smash burgers in cast iron?
Here at Field Company, we are huge fans of cast iron smash burgers, and share with you today our favorite cast iron hamburger recipe. Let’s start with the skillet. You need enough space on the cooking surface smash with your spatula, so a larger skillet will work better. A Field No.10 or extra-large No.12 is your best bet, but a No.8 will do in a pinch. If you’re cooking for two, it’s easiest to use two pans.
When you’re ready to smash, it’s best to use a broad, firm, and flat Griddle Turner, cast iron grill press, or even the bottom side of a smaller No.4 Skillet. Pro tip: you’ll want a Leather Handle Cover to make sure you have a firm grip on the skillet in order to safely apply full force on the spatula smash, and again when it's time to flip.
Recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Smashburgers
Fatty ground beef: 80/20 is fine, 70/30 is better!
Sliced American cheese
Bun: Martin’s Potato Roll is best, but any soft, absorbent bread will do
Onion, chopped or sliced to taste
Iceberg lettuce, sliced
Ketchup, mayo, mustard
The Field Method for Cast Iron Care
Roll burger meat into 5-ounce balls, medium tight. You don’t want them to fall apart, but you don’t want to create a super tight sphere either. Do not salt ahead of time.
Assemble mise en place, including salt, pepper grinder, smashing tool. (Smash burgers cook fast, so toppings need to be ready ahead of time!)
Pre-heat skillet on medium-high to desired temperature of 400°F to 500°F. No oil necessary.
Hold the spatula near the hot skillet, and apply a small amount of neutral cooking oil or butter. (A cold smashing tool can create sticking, so a bit of grease and heat helps.)
Place a 5-ounce ball of ground beef in the center of your cooking surface pan. Within about 30 seconds, smash into as thin a layer as you can manage. (There is really no such thing as too thin here!)
Season with salt and pepper. Cook until you can see browning and caramelization around the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes.
The flip: slide a thin, sharp spatula, under the smash burger, attempting to leave no Maillard behind. Flip and season again with salt and pepper. Cook for the same amount of time — this is about burger browning, and not internal temperature. The patty should be thin enough to cook quickly.
When nearly done, melt 2 slices of cheese on top. Remove from the pan when the cheese is melted.
Toast bun, using leftover fat in pan if desired.
Assemble the cast iron skillet smashburger. Preferred sequence:bun, burger + cheese, bacon, tomato, onion/pickle, ketchup/mustard, lettuce, mayo, top bun.
Eat immediately, repeat often.
Cast Iron Smashburger Tips and Tricks
Use loosely ground beef: The more you pack it into a tight patty, the less likely you are to get as many crispy, crunchy edges as possible. This crispy exterior is what makes cast iron hamburger recipes so exquisite.
As the name suggests, cast iron skillets need to be smashed—the pressure helps create the perfect exterior. Use a flat spatula, cast iron press, or even the bottom side of a smaller No.4 Skillet.
Simple is best when it comes to cast iron smashburgers—there’s no need to overseason, and a good pinch of salt will do the trick to create a perfect burger.
How do you make thin patties for this cast iron hamburger recipe?
It all starts with good ground beef: you want an 80/20 blend (that’s meat to fat), or even as far as 70/30 to maximize flavor. To achieve a thin patty, start with a roughly 5-ounce ball of ground beef and form it into a medium-tight sphere. It needs to be loose enough to flatten out easily in the pan, but should remain in a single piece.
When you add your balled burger to the pan, apply firm downward pressure until it spreads out into a single thin patty. It’s easy to go thinner in a larger skillet: there’s more room to spread, and you can more comfortably press downward without sidewalls in the way.
Is it better to cook burgers in the oven or on the stove?
It is without a doubt always better to cook burgers on the stove than in the oven—in the oven, you simply will not achieve the crispy, seared exterior and juicy center that you get when cooking cast iron smashburgers.
How hot should cast iron be for burgers?
Your cast iron skillet should be pretty hot when cooking cast iron smashburgers—preheat your skillet on medium-high to desired temperature of 400°F to 500°F.
Smashburgers can be cooked in a cast iron skillet on your stovetop, but you can also cook these burgers in the skillet on a grill in case you’re at a barbecue or don’t want to heat up your kitchen. Don’t cook the smash burgers straight on your grill because you will miss out on the delicious fat drippings that help make cast iron smashburgers so delicious.
What is the best oil to season cast iron for smash burgers?
Our cast iron hamburger recipe does not require adding oil to the skillet before cooking, because you should be using a well-seasoned Field Skillet. Field Company’s Cast Iron Seasoning Oil is our optimized formula to protect your cast iron and build non-stick seasoning.