How to Make a Wursthall-Style Smashed Burger

Ultra smashed cheeseburger

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Every once in a while I feel like eating a big, fat, drippy, messy, snake-jaw burger like this one, but the vast majority of the time, I'll take a thin, griddled smash burger. In fact, I love them so much that I've opened up two different restaurants that serve them. The first is Harlem Shake in New York (I swear, the place was named before the meme), which has been serving smashed burgers as its mainstay since 2013. When my partner and I opened up Wursthall in 2018, at first we resisted putting a burger on the menu, as we wanted guests to focus on the sausages. But in the end we said f%&k it. People are asking for a burger, we have the equipment and the know-how, let's just do it. It was a wise move.

My particular brand of smash burger features two very light patties that are smashed ultra-thin and sandwiched around a slice of cheese. 2 ounces per patty at Harlem Shake and 2.25 ounces at Wursthall. There's a couple reasons for this. The first is flavor; with two thinner patties, you get double the surface area for browning than you'd get with a single larger patty, and a smash burger is all about that deeply browned crust. The second is speed; once smashed, the patties take all of 45 seconds to cook through. Now that's a speedy lunch.

Check out the video above to see exactly how we make the burgers at Wursthall. Note that as chef, I rarely am the one actually cooking the burgers, hence the imperfect smashing and scraping. Griddle station cooks Axel and David, who cook hundreds of these per week, are the true smash-masters.

If you want to make them yourself at home, getting yourself a Baking Steel Griddle will really up your game. It's what I use at home (you can see it in action in this older video).