A juicy venison patty with crispy edges, gooey American cheese, perfectly toasted buns—what’s not to love about a smashburger? If you’ve ever wanted to have the In-N-Out experience with wild game, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Smashburgers are delicious because they’re seared in a hot pan that creates a savory crust. It’s my favorite way to cook burgers. Unlike cooking over a grill where the fat drips into the flames, this allows that flavor to stay in the pan instead. This is also the perfect way to cook a burger that includes bear or hog meat.
Last but not least, wild game smashburgers are better pre-smashed. A ball of lean, ground venison smashed in the skillet will expel a lot of precious juice. Avoid that problem by smashing the meat ahead of time, which also helps keep the patty together.
Time to make
2 lbs. ground venison
Parchment paper, cut into small squares
8 hamburger buns
Salt and pepper
Slices of American cheese
Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles
Ketchup, mustard, mayo, or special sauce (below)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. ketchup
3 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
Also works with
- Roll about 4 ounces of meat into a small ball. Place the meat in between two pieces of parchment paper and use a heavy cast iron pan to smash it flat. Do this to each patty, eight total. Keep one side of the parchment paper on top of the meat to separate and stack. This also makes it easier to lay the meat flat on the skillet.
- Have your condiments and toppings ready before cooking. If you’re making the special sauce, blend the mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish together. Slice the tomatoes and onions then shred the lettuce. Pre-mix salt and pepper in a small bowl so that you can quickly season the meat as it grills. If you want buttered, toasted buns, go ahead and do that now.
- Smashburgers can be cooked over a grill or on a stovetop, but they need to be in a skillet. If cooking indoors, I prefer to use a stainless-steel pan. If using a grill, use a cast iron griddle or skillet. You can take it a step further by adding woodchips in a bowl of foil to add smoky flavors. Whatever method you choose, make sure to heat the pan until it’s very hot—nearly smoking.
- Drizzle a little bit of oil into the pan and swirl to coat. If cooking with very lean venison (90-100%), add a little extra oil to the pan to help it fry and give it crispy edges. If you want the onions cooked, sauté them in the pan first and set aside. Next, lay each patty down and cook for 1-2 minutes, undisturbed. Season the top side with salt and pepper.
- Once the patties are crispy on the bottom, use a spatula to scrape up the meat and flip carefully. After flipping, season with more salt and pepper and lay a slice of cheese on top. Once the cheese is melted and the bottoms are crispy, transfer to a bun. This should only take one minute more. Repeat until each patty is cooked.
- Build your smashburger by layering with condiments and a cheesy venison patty. If you want to double down, we say go for it.