Turkey or Beef Smash Burgers
Yield: 4 burgers (recipe easy to scale up or down)
I like patties that are 3 to 4 ounces in weight. It’s just right for creating the ideal thickness when smashed and a circumference that extends to the edge of the bun. The burgers cook in a flash, so have your rolls toasted and condiments ready.


  • ½ teaspoon + ½ teaspoon vegetable oil (or another high heat oil like peanut, canola, sunflower, safflower, or ghee)
  • 12 to 16 ounces ground beef or turkey (preferably 80/20 or 85/15), divided into four 4-ounce portions (see notes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: Cheese slices, optional (we love Cooper Sharp for flavor—and it melts well)
  • For serving: Four toasted burger buns, toppings and condiments of choice


  1. Form the burgers: Divide the ground beef into four evenly sized portions and form each portion into a ball. Press together just until meat holds its shape. For best results, refrigerate for 30 minutes (longer is fine) or freeze for 10-15 minutes. (In the latter case, set a timer so you don’t forget.) Starting with cold meat will help the flavorful crust form before the burgers overcook.

    When ready to cook: Rub ½ teaspoon of the oil over the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet. I use a paper towel to very lightly and evenly coat. Place the skillet over high heat and allow it to preheat until very hot but not smoking, about 4-5 minutes.

    Add 2 meat balls to the skillet. Immediately place a piece of parchment paper over the first burger and, using a very stiff metal spatula or smaller pot (my preference), press down on the burger until it’s roughly 4 to 4½ inches in diameter and ½-inch thick. Repeat with the second burger. (Alternatively, you could wrap the pot in foil, but the parchment works better to prevent the burger from sticking to your smashing implement.) Season generously with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

    Cook without moving (and no more smashing because the juices will start to flow) until a golden-brown crust develops, about 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the patties, making sure to scrape all browned bits from the skillet. If using cheese, add it now. Continue to cook until burgers are cooked to desired doneness—about 30 seconds longer for medium-rare. If using turkey, cook another 2 to 2½ minutes to ensure the meat is cooked through.

    Immediately remove to a plate, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, and repeat process with remaining meat balls. (Tip: For a quick, restaurant-style clean, pour about ½ cup of water into the hot skillet and use tongs and a paper towel to wipe it clean.)

    Place the burgers on the toasted buns, adding toppings as desired, and serve immediately.

Notes & Tips

Skillet size: Two patties at a time can be cooked in a 12-inch skillet. I’ve squeezed in three, although there isn’t enough room for four once smashed. The process is fast, however, so it’s easy to repeat. Alternatively, two skillets may be used.

Using ground turkey? Thigh meat makes a more flavorful, tender burger. Try not to go higher than an 85/15 lean meat-to-fat ratio. I’ve made smash burgers with leaner breast meat (90/10 and 95/5), but they tend to be drier, even when I added fat back in (which sort of defeats the purpose!). That said, they aren’t bad when topped with cheese, avocado, and condiments of choice and make a speedy meal if that’s what you prefer to use.

Cooking for one or two? This recipe can easily be scaled to cook one burger at a time, in which case a smaller skillet will work. Just make sure your smashing implement fits within the skillet.

Smash burgers are great for those who like a double-decker. In this case, start with smaller size balls (3 ounces) and serve with the cheese in between the two.

More recipes at FountainAvenueKitchen.com