Smash Burger + Not So Secret Sauce

Welcome back to QCK!

What’s more satisfying than a really good burger with a tangy, mayo based sauce? I can think of very few things. So that’s what today’s recipe is. A really good burger. Plus I’m going to share everything I’ve learned about making a perfect burger from working in restaurants.

In my opinion, a burger belongs in its simplest form. A really good patty, melty cheese, pickles, and a really good sauce. If you want to add lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. that’s cool, but I like mine just like this.

I use 80/20 ground beef, which I’ll talk more about later, and mix it with some butter, in true Midwest fashion. The butter and fat melt and help create the crispy edges of the patty. Then top it with the caviar of cheese, Kraft Singles (I’m kidding please do not yell at me). They melt so perfectly and if you’re wondering, yes your favorite restaurant burger uses them too. As for the sauce, creamy mayo is mixed with ketchup, a touch of Worcestershire, and chopped pickles. But the real magic is diced onions, sautéed in the pan drippings, strained slightly and mixed in at the end. It’s like an umami bomb with some tangy notes to balance it out. You’ll probably want to make a batch of oven fries to dip with.

Tips + Tricks for a Restaurant Style Burger

Over the years I’ve gained some knowledge on how restaurants make your favorite burger, so today I’m going to share with you how to do it at home.

First, and most importantly, the beef. It seems to be common knowledge to use 80/20 (80% lean meat, 20% fat) ground beef. While that’s true in most restaurants, your favorite burger is probably made of a combination of a few different cuts. Most kitchens use a combination of ground chuck, because it’s cheap, and whatever steak scraps they have hanging out in the cooler. When I worked at Bellecour, it was chuck and whatever Wagyu scraps were hanging out. Wagyu is extra fatty so it made for exceptional burger meat. The best way to recreate your favorite burger at home is to check out the restaurants menu, usually they list their mix on the menu. If not, you can always ask. You can use an even mix of all the cuts, or use majority of the cheapest cut and then 20-25% of the more expensive. To break it down, if you’re using chuck, ribeye and brisket and you want a total of 1 pound of meat, you’ll use 1/2 lb of chuck, 1/4 lb of rib eye, and 1/4 lb of brisket. Usually any local butcher is willing to grind it for you.

No matter what beef you’re using, the second most important step is how you process it. A step that most people don’t think/know about is that you can’t just grab a chunck of ground beef and form it into a patty. You need to mix and work the meat to bring out it’s natural fats. You can do this with clean hands or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle on low speed. Place you’re beef in a bowl, if you’re adding butter, add it now, and gently mix and knead it as if it were a bread dough. You’ll start to see the meat transform from it’s usual red to a pink with white streaks. This means that the fat is emulsifying with the lean meat. Once all the meat is pink and white, you can stop. You don’t want to over work it. This step is crucial in making an evenly textured, moist burger.

Third, and this one is really simple, don’t season the meat! Your favorite restaurants do not add any sort of spices to their mix. All you need is a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper (if you want) on both sides as you add the raw meat to the pan.

The way you cook your burger is everything. While a burger on the grill is always nice, the best way to cook your beef is in a cast iron pan. If you don’t have one, any sauté pan will work. When you grill, the fat drips off and is completely lost and the burger almost always ends up kind of dry. In a pan, you cook the burger in it’s own fat and you end up with juicy burger with crispy edges and a nice sear. Don’t mess with it too much while it’s in the pan either. Just let it do it’s thing.

Finally, let’s talk cheese. You don’t need anything fancy. Just use a nice melty cheese, and get it sliced. Shredded cheese isn’t the same. Kraft Singles, while I hate myself for promoting them, work wonders. Gruyere is a great option if you want something a little more high end. White cheddar, also a great choice.

This seems like a lot of information, but when put into action, these are really just simple steps that make for a really impressive burger.


Prep: 10 MinCook: 15 MinCategory: 30 Min MealServings: 4


  • 1 lb 80/20 Ground Beef, or 1 lb of your favorite burger mix (see note above)
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 C) Unsalted Butter, room temp
  • 8 Slices of Cheddar Cheese, I use Kraft Singles
  • 4 Burger Buns, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp Diced Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 C Mayonaise
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Pickles
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Pickles, for serving


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, using either clean hands or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle on low speed, combine the ground beef and butter until the mixture comes together and is pink in color with white streaks.
  2. Form into 8 equal sized patties.
  3. Bring a cast iron skillet, or a large sauté pan up in temperature and place the patties in the pan, making sure they are not touching. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Sear the burger on one side until you can see the sides of the patty begin to turn brown, then flip, about 5 minutes depending thickness. Salt the patties again.
  5. Continue to cook until you reached desired internal temperature (medium, med-well, well done).
  6. Just before the burgers are done cooking, place a slice of cheese on each.
  7. Once the cheese melts, transfer the patties onto the toasted buns.
  8. Leave the reserved fat in the pan.
  9. To make the sauce, cook the diced onion in the reserved beef fat over medium-high heat until they become golden brown, 3-5 minutes.
  10. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions.
  11. In a small bowl, mix mayo, ketchup, Worcestershire, mustard, garlic powder, chopped pickles, and onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Add sauce and pickles to your burger and enjoy!

As always, I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you tried it out let me know in the comments. For more recipes check out my homepage and follow along on Instagram. Don’t forget to like, follow, comment and share. Thanks for reading! 


One thought on “Smash Burger + Not So Secret Sauce

  1. Pingback: Pb&J Juicy Lucy – Quarter Cup Kitchen

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