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The Great Burger Debate: Smash vs. Pub Style

Which is better? Does it matter?

By Rachel Robey
Aug 18, 2021
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There are countless ways to riff when it comes to making burgers, from the Juicy Lucy to butter burgers to black bean, turkey, salmon, portobello—and so on. Of the many, two, in our opinion, stand out: the pub burger, and the smash burger.

Don’t know the difference? Let’s get into it.

Smash Burgers

Smash burgers are officially en vogue, thanks to Shake Shack, Five Guys, and other fast food chains serving up the thin, crispy seared beef burgers. They almost always feature American cheese, are often served on potato rolls, and usually come with a “special” house sauce.

To prepare them, cook your seasoned beef patties on a smoking hot surface—preferably a Carbon Steel Griddle or Frying Pan—and use a Burger Press to apply pressure. Once the burgers are completely flat and have developed a golden crust on one side, flip them, top with American cheese (the only option), and cook until the cheese is melted. Stack your burgers or make it a single, and place them on a toasted bun. Top as you wish.

If you’re looking for more in-depth instructions and a sure-fire recipe to impress at your next cookout, look no further than our very own Smash Burger Recipe.

Pub Style Burgers

Pub style burgers are larger—and take a bit longer to cook—than smash burgers. Commonly around 8 ounces (or half a pound) in weight, pub style burgers are thicker and more common in sit-down restaurants that offer table service.

Most burgers are prepared in a similar fashion, and pub burgers are no different: get a Carbon Steel Frying Pan or Griddle nice and hot, and add some oil, cook one side until browned along the edges (about three minutes) and flip. Cook for a further three minutes, or until browned.

We’re going to go ahead and say American cheese is the only cheese right for smash burgers, but when it comes to pub style burgers, there’s room for deviation. Cheddar is definitely a crowd favorite, but we wouldn’t be mad about Swiss, Brie, Stilton, Taleggio, or Gouda. Again, top your burgers as you see fit.

Other Burger Styles

The world of burgers is vast, from steakhouse burgers (which feature dry-aged beef trimmings), to patty melts (a grilled cheese stuffed with a patty, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese) to  Minneapolis’ own Juicy Lucy (two burgers stuffed with American cheese and served on a bun). We’ve never met a burger we didn’t like, but here’s one we love.

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