If you’re on a mission to find a recipe for tailgate season, you’ve found it with these Smash Burger Sliders. They’re fun to make, absolutely delicious, and require just a bit of smashing and flipping over a warm griddle. Beer in hand, this sounds like the ideal fall game day!
Smash Burger Slider Ingredients
A full list of ingredients and measurements are below in the recipe card—here are a few notes on some key ingredients.
Ground Beef: We recommend using fattier ground beef than you normally would. Something with 15 to 20 percent of fat. We think 80/20 best for smash burgers because when heated and smashed on the griddle, the beef releases some of the fat into the griddle which encourages the beef to brown and create a crisp crust.
Also, keep in mind, fat is flavor! The fattier the beef, the more flavorful your smash burger slider will be.
Lettuce: When it comes to sliders, nothing compares to a few crisp layers of iceberg lettuce. It’s just the only way. We like to fold a piece of iceberg lettuce to create multiple layers and exceptional crunch.
Cheese: If you’re going to make a smash burger slider—you’ve gotta go all in. And that means using ultra-melty American Cheese. We like the ease of individually wrapped Kraft Singles, but you can also purchase a chunk of American cheese at most meat and cheese counters.
We do not recommend hard or aged cheeses—to do a Smash Burger slider right is to use a cheap, melty cheese!
Burger Sauce: This recipe uses our very secret, very fancy (kidding) smash sauce as the base for our slider sauce. Our homemade Smash Sauce is made with equal parts whole-grain mustard, prepared yellow mustard, and olive oil mayonnaise.
And since sliders can require a lot of assembly, we’ve opted to add some of the burger toppings to the sauce, so all you have to do is dollop that on and call it done. So in addition to the mustards and mayo, we’re adding minced pickle, minced onion and just a dash of ketchup.
Buns: There’s just something about a pretzel bun that screams “slider” to us. We like that they are soft yet sturdy and can hold up to a juicy slider burger.
How to Make Sliders
The full recipe for these smash burger sliders is below, but let’s take a look at the process so you’re prepared when you start cooking.
- Preheat a cast-iron, griddle or flat top. You can do this on the stove top or on the grill.
- Toast the buns then roll the ground beef into balls.
- Place four balls of meat in the hot skillet (if you’re using a griddle, cook as many as you can at once!) and season with kosher salt. Avoid seasoning the ground beef balls ahead of time or it will draw out moisture and cause the beef to steam instead of sear and brown.
- Immediately smash the meat down into very thin patties using a heavy-duty spatula or burger smasher. You want the patties to be about ½ inch thick (or thinner).
- Cook the slider patties until crisped and browned then press a few slices of onion into the patties and flip. (It’s like a mini grilled onion burger—so good!)
- Place a small slice of cheese over each slider patty and cook until the cheese has melted and onions are griddled and golden.
- Double up the griddled slider patties and stack them on toasted buns slathered with the burger sauce. Top with iceberg lettuce and the top bun (also slathered with sauce). Dig in!
How to Get a Crispy Crust on Patties
There are three key steps to getting a crispy crust on a smash burger slider.
1. You gotta use fatty ground beef. 80/20 is ideal but 85/15 will also work. When the fat in the beef heats up, it sizzles and crisps the bottom and edges of the smashed slider patty.
2. The skillet or griddle has to be ripping hot! If the grounf beef doesn’t sizzle the moment it hits the pan, it’s not hot enough. Cooking smash burger sliders is all about the smash and the crust. They’re so thin you don’t have to worry about them cooking through. Just focus on achieving a golden brown crust.
3. Season the beef just before smashing. If you season the meat too far in advance it will pull out beads of moisture on the surface of the meat and cause the slider pattiers to steam instead of sear in the skillet.
Smash Burger Sliders Recipe Tips
- The most important step in making smash burgers is the smashing. (Shocking, I know.) We recommend using a solid, very heavy duty spatula that can withstand a lot of pressure without bending or snapping. If you’ll be making smash burgers a lot, get a burger smasher (they’re amazing!).
However, if don’t have one of those, you can use a spatula paired with a potato masher. Simply press the beef ball down with the spatula then use the potato masher to press top-down until flattened. If your spatula has holes in it, lay a small piece of parchment paper over the ground beef balls before smashing. This will keep the meat from pushing up through the holes in the spatula.
- It can get pretty smoky when making this hamburger sliders recipe in the kitchen. We recommend firing up your kitchen vent or opening some windows before getting started.
- If you experience issues with the meat sticking to the burger smasher, instead of pulling the smasher or spatula straight up off the meat, gently slide the smasher off the meat after smashing.
- If you have a flat top griddle (Blackstone) or attachment for your grill, this would be a great time to use it. We developed the recipe using a cast-iron skillet because we find most people have access to one.
Toppings for Hamburger Sliders
The best smash burger slider is one that keeps the toppings simple and straightforward. Here’s are some topping ideas:
- Smash Sauce
- Sliced onion
- Iceberg lettuce
- Sliced dill pickles
- Sliced American cheese
Leftovers and Reheating Slider Burgers
Store leftover smash burger slider patties (without the bun) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the patties gently in a skillet over medium heat, uncovered, until nearly warmed through.
Cover and continue to reheat for a few seconds until completely warmed through. Serve as desired.
Prep Ahead Tips for Smash Burger Sliders
If you’re making these slider burgers for game day or a tailgate, it’s going to be important that you prep things in advance. Here’s what you can do ahead of time:
- Make the smash sauce and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Divide the meat into balls and arrange them on a baking sheet or plate. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Cut the cheese slices into quarters and store in a zipper-lock bag for up to 1 week.
- Wash and prep the iceberg lettuce. Store it in a zipper-lock bag for up to 2 days.
More Ground Beef Recipes to Try
If you enjoy these sliders, try making a full Smash Burger! They’re the perfect weekend dinner!
Give your classic meatball recipe a Korean twist! Try these Korean Meatballs—the gochujang drizzle sauce is dreamy! And if you’ve got leftover gochujang, make our Ground Beef Bulgogi—a weeknight version of Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi.
Keep exploring the flavors of different cuisines and try our Beef Kofta. Essentially a ground beef skewer, each bite is infused with fresh herbs, warm spices, and buttery pine nuts.
Smash Burger Sliders Recipe
- ¼ cup whole-grain mustard
- ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup minced dill pickle
- ¼ cup minced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 pounds ground beef (85/15 or 80/20)
- 12 pretzel buns, split
- kosher salt
- ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 6 slices American cheese, such as Kraft Singles, cut into quarters
- ½ head iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
- Mix together ¼ cup each whole-grain mustard, yellow mustard, mayonnaise, minced pickle, and minced onion, and 2 tablespoons ketchup. Set aside.
- Divide meat into 24 even balls (about 1.3 ounces each). Transfer to a plate or small baking sheet.
- On a stove or grill, heat a large (12-inch) cast-iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel skillet over medium-high heat until hot and nearly smoking, about 5 minutes.
- Toast four buns, cut side down, in skillet until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Repeat with remaining buns in two more batches.
- Increase heat to high so skillet is ripping hot and smoking.
- Add four beef balls to skillet; season with kosher salt then smash beef balls down with a burger iron or heavy duty spatula (use a potato masher to press down on top of the spatula for extra leverage), until very thin, about ½-inch thick. Cook, without moving, until bottom sides are crisp and browned, about 1 ½ minutes.
- Arrange a couple onion slices onto burger patties then scrape up patties and flip, onion-side down.
- Place one quarter slice of cheese over each burger and continue to cook until cheese is melted and onions on bottom are griddled and golden, 30–60 seconds.
- Transfer patties to a baking sheet; repeat smashing and cooking process with remaining beef balls, onions and cheese. (Wipe out skillet at needed.)
- To assemble, spread scant tablespoon smash sauce on cut sides of buns (tops and bottoms). Stack two burger patties on cut side of bottom bun then top with a folded sheet of iceberg lettuce followed by top bun. Serve immediately.
This sponsored post is in partnership with the Iowa Beef Council. As always the thoughts, opinions, recipe, photos and content are all my own.