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What is the best Smash Burger beef blend?

Smash burgers have become increasingly popular in recent years. The thin, crispy patties and caramelized edges are irresistible. But what makes a great smash burger? The beef blend is key. The right blend of cuts and fat content can take your smash burgers from good to phenomenal.

What is a Smash Burger?

A smash burger is a thin, flat burger that is smashed on a hot griddle or skillet while cooking. This smashing technique sears the burgers quickly, creating a crispy exterior while keeping the interior juicy.

Some key characteristics of smash burgers:

  • Thin, compact patties – usually 2-5 oz
  • Smashed/pressed into the griddle to get a crispy sear
  • American cheese is commonly melted over the top
  • Served on a soft burger bun or slider rolls
  • Toppings kept simple – lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard

The smashing technique results in burgers with more surface area for browning reactions and a crispy, lace-like crust. The interior stays tender and moist. Overall, you get an awesome textural contrast in each bite!

Why the Beef Blend Matters

While technique is important, the beef blend is the real star of a great smash burger. The blend determines the flavor, texture, and juiciness of the final product.

Smash burgers do well with blends containing substantial amounts of fat. Higher fat content keeps the patties tender and juicy despite being ultra thin and cooked very fast over high heat.

The cuts of beef used also affect the taste and texture. Blended chuck has robust, beefy flavor while sirloin adds tenderness. Brisket brings moisture. Short rib contributes fat and richness.

Finding the right ratios of these cuts is key to making the ultimate smash burger blend.

Factors to Consider in a Smash Burger Blend

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when formulating a smash burger beef blend:

Fat Content

Look for a blend with at least 20% fat. This maintains juiciness and flavor without greasiness. Around 75/25 lean to fat is ideal. Going much leaner results in dry burgers.

Cut Balance

Use a balanced mix of cuts. Chuck provides beefiness while sirloin or round lends tenderness. Brisket and short rib add moisture. Mixing complementary cuts gives the best results.

Grind Size

A coarser grind with some texture is preferable. Smash burgers do well with a grind around 1/4 inch. Finely ground blends often result in dense, rubbery burgers.

Fresh, Never Frozen

Make sure the beef is fresh, never frozen. Frozen then thawed beef releases moisture during cooking, leading to drier burgers. Fresh yields better texture.

Flavor Enhancers

Spices, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, or MSG can enhance the flavor profile. Use lightly to avoid over-seasoning.

Fattiness of Cuts

Select cuts with sufficient marbling or intermuscular fat. Loin or round cuts are too lean. Brisket, chuck, and rib cuts have more fat integrated in the meat.

Doneness Preference

If you prefer medium or medium-well burgers, use fattier cuts like brisket and short rib. For rare to medium-rare, leaner cuts work. Adjust fat content accordingly.

Popular Smash Burger Blend Recipes

Here are some popular, proven smash burger blend recipes to try:

The Double Nickel Blend

  • 45% Chuck
  • 35% Brisket
  • 20% Short Rib

This blend from the famous SoCal burger joint is juicy and flavorful with around 25% fat content. The chuck and brisket provide beefiness while the short rib adds richness. Great for medium burgers.

America’s Test Kitchen Blend

  • 25% Chuck
  • 25% Sirloin
  • 25% Brisket
  • 25% Short Rib

This evenly balanced blend covers all the bases. Chuck and brisket for moisture and beefy flavor, sirloin for tenderness, and short rib for fat and richness. Also excellent for medium doneness.

Alton Brown’s Smashed Burger Blend

  • 85% Chuck
  • 15% Brisket

A simple blend that lets the beefy flavor of chuck shine. The brisket provides moisture. Best for burgers cooked to medium-rare or rare doneness to avoid dryness.

Blend Chuck Sirloin Brisket Short Rib Fat Content
Double Nickel 45% 0% 35% 20% 25%
America’s Test Kitchen 25% 25% 25% 25% 20-25%
Alton Brown 85% 0% 15% 0% 15-20%

Tips for Grinding Your Own Blend

For the ultimate smash burgers, consider grinding your own blend. Here are some tips:

  • Use fresh, high-quality beef cuts trimmed of excess fat
  • Cut the meat into 1-2 inch cubes before grinding
  • Chill meat and grinder parts prior to grinding
  • Use a coarse die plate around 1/4 inch
  • Grind in small batches to control blending
  • Mix batches together lightly to create your blend
  • Handle the ground meat gently; don’t overwork it

Ask your local butcher for grinding advice and beef cut recommendations based on your blend. For home grinding, a quality electric meat grinder like the STX Turboforce 3000 is a great choice.

Ready-to-Use Store-Bought Blends

If grinding your own burger blend isn’t feasible, look for these ready-to-use options:

Nueske’s Smoked Beef Blend

This blend from the acclaimed Nueske’s Meats contains juicy chuck, flavorful brisket, and thinly sliced smoked beef belly for incredible burger flavor. Around 20% fat.

Pat LaFrieda Short Rib Blend

Burger aficionado Pat LaFrieda’s short rib burger blend contains a high amount of luscious bone marrow-enriched short rib meat for ultimate juiciness.

Snake River Farms American Wagyu Blend

For indulgence, this blend of highly marbled American Wagyu trimmings has over 30% fat for insane richness and beefiness.

Fresh Local Butcher Shop Blends

Many quality butcher shops offer special proprietary blends ideal for smash burgers. Ask them to tailor a blend to your preferences.


While many cuts and blends can make great smash burgers, beef blends in the 75/25 lean to fat ratio range with a blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib result in the ultimate juicy, crispy, and flavorful smash burger. Grinding your own custom blend using fresh cuts allows you to perfectly tailor the beef to your tastes. But high-quality premade blends can also produce phenomenal smash burgers with less effort. No matter what blend you choose, following proper smash burger cooking techniques will take your burgers to the next level. Experiment with different blends and cuts until you find your ideal smash burger beef perfection.