What exactly is a smashburger? The basic premise is all based on chemistry and technique. The raw, minced burger meat (plain or with seasonings) is first rolled into a loose ball and literally splattered onto the blazing hot surface of a frying pan or a flat top grill. One then smashes the meat a bit, flattening it out as it cooks for the first few seconds. The heat, coupled with the pressure combines to result in a crispy, well-browned and juicy burger patty that cooks fast due to its greater surface area.
This is the ideal condition for a Maillard reaction to occur—once the minced meat is smashed down on a hot surface, the inherent fat in the protein has nowhere to go but back up into the burger patty itself.
Though an ancient technique, its application to burgers came about in the early 1980s. It is believed that a certain William Hunter Culbertson from Kentucky first created the smashburger at his burger joint called Dairy Cheer. This was rather by chance, when an employee of his discovered that smashing the minced meat with a can of tinned beans while grilling imparted a great flavour and juiciness.
Though thinner than a regular burger patty, smashburger patties have their own legion of devotees for whom flavour trumps heft. In the US, burger chains like Five Guys and SmashBurger have been pioneers in the smashburger space for over a decade now.
In India too, the smashburger has been making slow but confident strides into the fast food and even gourmet burger sectors with some truly interesting premium versions. Here are a few places around the country where you can get them.
The Mumbai-based dine-in burger joint, BOSS Burgers Brews + BBQs, and multi-city cloud kitchen, BOSS Burger, stay true to the idea behind a smashburger. They offer an in-house baked brioche bun layered with chargrilled smash buff patty with cheese and buttered onions, served with nacho chips. Price: ₹399-450+ (depending on choice of toppings and extra burger patty).
Available in: Mumbai, Pune, Delhi NCR and Chandigarh.
Claiming to offer burger lovers a “premium burger eating experience”, with offerings like the rather OTT gold leaf burger, this multi-city delivery chain has also hitched a ride onto the smashburger bandwagon. On offer are two versions—lamb and buff. The former is the sum of its double lamb patty, signature animal sauce, Emmental cheese and truffle mayonnaise parts. The latter also features a double buff patty with a sharp English cheddar cheese standing in for Emmental. Price: ₹345++ for both lamb and buff.
Available in: Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bengaluru.
The guys behind this all-burger dine-in and delivery kitchen say that the idea behind having a range of smashburgers on their menu was tactical. That was to bridge the gap between their signature, huge stacked burgers and the two bite, short-stacked ones. They offer an extensive list of smashburgers (using chicken, buff and lamb mince) with the patties and fixings drawing inspiration from places as varied as Shanghai, Birmingham and Bangkok. There is a local Delhi-inspired smashburger made with seekh kebab mince and topped with hari chutney, and a mint mayonnaise.
Boldly defying the norms and cooking principle of this inherently meat-based type of burger, there is also a vegetarian smashburger made from a non-potato mash base of assorted vegetables and beans. Price: ₹250+ for the vegetarian smashburger, and ₹290-315+ for meat.
Available in: Delhi NCR (Gurugram and Panchsheel Park).
“We’re not normal” is the tagline for this Pune outpost of the international burger dine-in and delivery chain that originated in South Africa. Known for their trademark smashburgers, the chain claims to make them from freshly minced meat with no binding agents or fillers.
The chain’s signature (and most popular) items on the menu, the seven smashburgers (chicken and lamb mince) range from the Classic Cheese, using cheddar, to the bacon and guacamole-enhanced Bacon Cheese Guac and the gigantic Rockstar with Emmental and caramelised onions.
For the vegetarians, there’s the tikka smashburger with a paneer mince smash patty, cucumber mint mayonnaise, served with a laccha salad. Price: ₹149-399+
Available in: Pune (Kharadi).
145 Café & Bar
Though not the closest representation of a smashburger in terms of size—what with it weighing in at a portly 160g—this burger gets the crispiness and juiciness of the patty spot on. Served alongside a portion of fries, the in-house made bun houses a smash buffalo meat patty that’s topped with smoked cheddar, a sweetish orange-hued house sauce, mustard, aioli and pickled onion rings. Price: ₹450+
Available in: Mumbai (Kalaghoda, Kamala Mills, Bandra and Andheri).