Smashed Burger vs. Regular Burger: Know the Differences

We all have preferences when it comes to our burgers, and one of the biggest challenges is choosing between a regular burger or a smashed burger. Which one of these tastes best? Everyone has a different answer, so let’s take a look at this “dilemma” in more depth.

Regular burger with thick patty instead of smashed burger
A regular pub-style burger

The Great Debate

In the ongoing debate regarding which one is best—regular or smashed burgers—both sides have their fans. The thing is, both sides have good reasons for preferring their burgers served a certain way.

At one time, burgers were cooked with a spatula but not mashed down, but that is no longer the case. Thanks to restaurants such as Five Guys, Shake Shack, and others, burgers that are mashed down are now in vogue. These burgers are usually thin and seared down until they have a flat surface. Oftentimes, the restaurants that serve burgers this way will serve them with American cheese, a “special” sauce, and sometimes a potato roll.

Smashed burger patties instead of regular burger patties
Smashed burger patties

Cooking a Smashed Burger

The restaurants that smash burgers usually start by seasoning the burgers well and using a super-hot griddle or frying pan. Many of them use a burger press, which is specially made for this type of cooking. This way, the burgers come out even and neat-looking. The chef usually cooks these burgers until they develop a crispy crust, then the burgers are turned over so they can cook on the other side. A slice of cheese is usually placed on top of the meat at this point, and the cooking continues.

Most chefs agree that if you want smashed burgers, you should use a carbon steel griddle. They also agree that the higher the fat content in the beef, the tastier the burger will be. After you season the ground beef, roll it up into balls, and sprinkle some oil on the grill before starting to cook. You should wait until the griddle is extra hot before you place the beef on there, then use a spatula or burger press to start pressing them into shape.

Grilling thick regular burger patties instead of smashed burger patties
Thick burger patties

Cooking a Regular (Pub-Style) Burger

Regular burger patties, also known as pub-style burgers, are not mashed down and they’re usually much bigger than mashed burgers. Because of this, classic burgers usually take longer to cook, but you should still use a super-hot griddle to cook them. Cook each side until they’re brown on the edges, which normally takes around three minutes, then continue adding the other items, such as cheese, onions, etc.

One of the biggest differences between smashed and regular hamburgers is the cheese used. More often than not, you’ll only see American cheese on smashed burgers. Pub burgers can have American, Swiss, Gouda, brie, or numerous other types of cheese. American cheese is usually used on mashed burgers because the burgers don’t cook for very long, and you need a cheese that is going to melt quickly as you cook the burger. Regular burgers cook for a longer period of time and therefore the cheese has a lot longer to melt.

Of course, feel free to use any type of cheese you want on either of these burgers, but these “rules” are commonplace regardless of what type of restaurant or diner you purchase your burgers from.

Regular burgers with thick patties instead of smashed burgers

Which Type of Burger Tastes Best?

While both smashed and standard burgers are juicy and tasty, many people think the smashed burgers taste better, and there could be some merit to this opinion. As a general rule, it is thought that the browner the burger is, the better it tastes. Why? Part of the explanation can be explained by the Maillard reaction, which states that when you mash your burgers, a reaction occurs between amino acids and a type of sugar called reducing sugar.

Reducing sugar is found on the very top of the patty, and the reaction produces top-notch flavor when exposed to high heat. The reaction produces not only very bold flavors but also a lot of the hefty aromas that permeate the air when a burger is being cooked. In addition, because these burgers are very thin, it’s easier to stack them on top of one another, which makes double and triple burgers a lot easier to cook.

If you do a little online research, you can find burger joints all across the country that serve smashed burgers, especially in larger cities such as New York and Los Angeles. A good burger can be mashed or cooked regularly, but if it’s cooked the right way, it’s going to be juicy and delicious every time.

Patty melt burger sandwich
Patty melt

Are There Other Burger Styles?

Of course, there are numerous other types of burgers besides these two. Burgers can be made of so many different things, including beef, pork, black beans, turkey, and even salmon. There are also patty melts, steakhouse burgers, and numerous others that are custom-made.

Few foods are as common and popular as hamburgers, and one of the nicest things about this dish is that you can find it almost anywhere, from sit-down restaurants to fast-food joints.