Smash Burgers with Homemade Spicy Ketchup

Grilled smash beef burgers with tangy bread and butter flavored pickles, melted cheese and spicy ketchup for a little extra kick.
smash burger

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Every good burger creator has their secret recipe. The perfect burger mince, the spices, and condiments. Even the type of bun that they use.

I’m always tweaking how I do one part of my smash burgers. I’m super happy with how they taste now, and I think it’s only fair that I share the recipe with you all.

I cooked these on my Weber Kettle over a griddle grate for some extra smokey flavor, but you can easily follow this recipe on a gas griddle or cast iron pan.

Why do you smash the burger?

The point of a smash burger is to squish the meat patty down with either a large spatula or a weighted burger smasher.

This will ensure a thin burger patty that has more surface area that can crisp up on the outside.

burger smasher on a wooden table
You can purchase a dedicated burger smasher or achieve the same effect with a spatula

If you have never heard of the Maillard reaction, I can assure you that you have definitely experienced it and I’m sure you loved it.

If you have eaten toast, roast meat, chocolate or drank beer, coffee or condensed milk amongst many others, then you have experienced the Maillard reaction.

It is what gives browned food its very distinctive flavor. A chemical reaction between amino acids and the reducing sugars in the food and liquids.

smashed burger patties on a weber kettle
It is important to watch the burgers closely when grilling, as it is easy to burn them

By pressing down the burger patties in a smash burger, we are creating more surface area for the Maillard reaction to take place. This gives us more of that beautiful taste we all crave with every mouthful.

This reaction usually occurs at temps around 140°F to 165°F and it happens quickly. Hence why there is a fine line between charing our food to create the Maillard reaction and burning it. Remembering we are dealing with sugars, and we all know at high heat that sugars tend to burn very quickly.

Items that will help you cook these are:

The ideal meat to use for burgers

I have found a mix of beef brisket and chuck steak gives a perfect ratio of fat to meat. I’ll explain the actual ratios a little further into this recipe.

Next up, this is just as important as the meat selection. How to grind the meat.

It may come as a surprise to some but you can have a fine mince and a coarse mince. If you do not have your own grinder, just ask your local butcher to do the grinding for you, they are usually only too happy to help you out.

ground beef on a white plate
For the best results, we suggest the ⅔ brisket to ⅓ chuck steak ratio for the beef mince

If you are getting your local butcher to do this, ask him to put the meat through his grinder once and on the course setting. You are going to want two thirds of brisket point muscle to one third of chuck steak.

That is the perfect smash burger meat ratio. Trust me, I have tried a lot.

What condiments to use

The condiments are just as important as the meat.

When I made this recipe, I was aiming for a similar taste we all grew up with, that being the famous burgers that were advertised with a clown at the front and with what seemed like a Scottish heritage, no names given here. I’m sure you can work it out.

Although it was the basis of this idea, I wanted them to be better.

Pickles were always going to be on the menu. I love trying different flavored pickles and lately I’m loving the bread and butter flavored ones. So they were given this recipe.

sliced pickles, cheese and burger buns on a wooden table
Pickles are a must-have ingredient in a classic burger. Today we use bread and butter flavored ones.

Next up was the mustard, I decided to stay with good old American yellow mustard. I had something in mind for the ketchup so I just wanted to keep the mustard as a good old faithful flavor I was used to.

The bottom bun I felt like it needed something lighter in flavor and maybe a little different. So I have used Kewpie mayonnaise, it is a Japanese mayonnaise and it has such a nice creamy texture and flavor that it was a perfect choice for this burger.

bottles with mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise on a wooden board
Kewpie mayonnaise works perfectly with this recipe thanks to its creamy texture and flavor

Next up was the ketchup, I went with my spicy variant to add a little kick to this burger.

Not too much kick but enough for your taste buds to say “there’s something different going on here”.

Last but not least is the cheese, we need a high melt cheese and the best out there is American Cheese, so I stayed with what I know works.

sliced cheddar cheese on a wooden board
Burgers take just a couple of minutes to cook, so choose cheese that melts fast

The full recipe and ingredients for the spicy ketchup are further down in this recipe.

Setting up your grill for the smash burgers

For this cook, I used a 22” Weber kettle and flat griddle hotplate. This is needed to smash the burger patties down nice and flat. In saying that, any flat top grill will work, even a flat cast iron pan is okay to use.

two charcoal baskets full of lit charcoal briquettes
Set up your grill using charcoal briquettes

Start by lighting up a chimney starter full of briquettes, once they are fully lit and all ashed over, place them into two charcoal baskets.

Then place the flat top griddle over the top of the lit charcoal. You can then put the lid back on and allow this to heat up for 10 minutes.

flat top griddle on a weber kettle
You don’t actually need a griddle for this cook, even a flat cast iron pan is okay to use

While the hotplate is warming up, you should start to measure out your mince mixture of brisket and chuck steak and weigh it out to 3.5 oz for each burger patty and using your hands, roll them into balls.

minced beef on a scale and raw meat balls on a white table
Each burger patty should weight about 3.5 oz

Now is a good time to start making the spicy ketchup up, this can be made prior if need be and to save a little time.

Into a saucepan place all of the ingredients, all of these are listed below. Stir this over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until everything is dissolved. Then allow it to cool and transferred it to a sauce bottle.

spicy ketchup in a saucepan
Homemade ketchup will add a little kick to this burger and it’s quick to make

The hotplate news to be around the 570°F to 600°F mark, this is the perfect searing temp for the burgers, give the hotplate a light oil and then place the burger patties on. You will need two for every burger you make. You should hear a loud and direct sizzle as they are placed on the screaming hot griddle.

Sprinkle over some kosher salt and then using a burger smasher, flatten each one. I do like to use a piece of baking paper between the burger and the smasher, it not only saves cleaning the burger smasher but helps it to not stick during the smashing process.

smash burger patties on a hotplate
Cook burgers for one to two minutes per side and flip once you see liquid on top of each patty

Because these burgers are now very thin, they will not take long to cook at all. In a minute or two you will see some liquid forming on top of each patty, that is your sign the burgers are ready to be flipped.

Once flipped, now is the time to place a piece of cheese on each burger and also your burger buns can go on the hotplate to brown a little as well. 

The cheese will literally melt before your eyes, so after a minute, take the buns off the heat.

smash burger patties with cheese on a hotplate
Put burger buns on the grill to warm and brown them a bit

Add some Kewpie mayonnaise to the bottom bun, using the back end of a spoon to spread it out evenly. Now add two burger patties and cheese to this, adding a good squirt of spicy ketchup and mustard and top it off with a few pickles. 

Bang on that top bun and enjoy one of the tastiest burgers you’ll ever shove in your face.

cooked smash burgers on a wooden board
Assemble your smash burgers and enjoy immediately!

The crunchy outer of the burger, the melted cheese, soft brioche bun and a mixture of the mayo, spicy ketchup, mustard and that tangy crunch of the pickles, they all mix together to create one awesome flavor and texture explosion.

Other delicious burgers to try

smash burger

Smash Burgers with Homemade Spicy Ketchup

Grilled smash beef burgers with tangy bread and butter flavored pickles, melted cheese and spicy ketchup for a little extra kick.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Australian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 879kcal
Author: Dean “Schuey” Schumann


  • 14 oz beef mince ⅔ brisket and ⅓ chuck steak
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 burger buns I used brioche
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • ½ cup pickles
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise

For the Spicy Ketchup:

  • 1 cup passata sauce (tomato puree)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • ½ tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt flakes
  • ¼ tsp black pepper ground


  • Roll the ground brisket and chuck into 4, 3.5oz balls (2 per burger).
  • Heat the grill to a hot temp.
  • Combine all spicy ketchup ingredients in a pan and heat over a low heat for a couple of minutes until the sugars are all dissolved, allow to cool.
  • Oil grill and place balls of mince on the hotplate, you should hear a sizzle as the meat touches the grill.
  • Season balls with a good sprinkle of kosher salt.
  • Flatten mince with a burger smasher, use baking paper to stop the smasher sticking to the patties.
  • Once fluid is visible on top of the burger patties, it’s time to turn them over.
  • Place a piece of American cheese on each patty and place burger buns on grill to brown.
  • Once cheese is melted, take buns off the heat.
  • Apply Kewpie mayonnaise to bottom buns.
  • Add two burger patties to bottom bun.
  • Apply mustard, ketchup and pickles to the top.
  • Add top part of bun.
  • Eat and enjoy!

To serve:

  • On their own.
  • With chips (fries).



Calories: 879kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 186mg | Sodium: 1749mg | Potassium: 1013mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 798IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 590mg | Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

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