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10 Restaurant Chains That Make the Best Smash Burgers

Want a juicer, more flavorful burger with perfectly crispy edges? These spots have just the thing.
FACT CHECKED BY Chris Shott

At your typical burger chain, the cooking process is highly streamlined. You pull from stacks of pre-formed, perfectly round patties, then slap them on the griddle. Flip once and you're basically done. While this efficient method surely helps the kitchen save time, it can ultimately fall flat when it comes to flavor and texture. What several burger chains have discovered, however, is that it pays to actually hand-smash or hand-press ground beef into a patty once it's added to the heat.

A smash burger is made with a mound of ground beef, typically in a pre-portioned cube or ball, placed onto a flat-top grill or griddle, and smashed flat into the shape of a patty. Some restaurants have custom-made smashers, but a spatula will also do the trick, if you're just looking to smash some burgers yourself. The result is perfectly juicy meat encased in a brown crust that many think is the superior way to enjoy a hamburger.

Who wouldn't love a juicer, more flavorful burger with a perfectly crispy edge? If you want to visit a restaurant chain that cooks up what many consider to be the ultimate hamburger, here are 10 places that serve some delicious smash burgers.

Jack in the Box

jack in the box classic smashed jack
Jack in the Box
Nutrition:
Classic Smashed Jack (Per Order)
Calories: 700
Fat: 46 g (Saturated Fat: 18 g, Trans Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 1,290 mg
Carbs: 45 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 26 g

Jack in the Box kicked-off 2024 with the launch of its new Smashed Jack burger, which sold out in two weeks, according to Business Insider. Luckily, the burger is now available as a permanent addition to the menu.

The Smashed Jack features a quarter-pound smashed-inspired beef patty, melted American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and a new Boss Sauce on a buttery brioche bun. Customers can also order a Bacon Double Smashed Jack, which includes the same toppings as the classic variety, plus an extra patty and hickory smoked bacon.

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Mellow Mushroom

mellow mushroom ritz burger
Mellow Mushroom (115 N Loop 1604 E, #2100, San Antonio) / Facebook
Nutrition:
Ritz Burger (Per Order)
Calories: 1,170
Fat: 76 g (Saturated Fat: 30 g, Trans Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 2,240 mg
Carbs: 61 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 57 g

Mellow Mushroom might be best known for its pizza, but the restaurant chain has other offerings like wings, sandwiches, and burgers. In November 2023, Mellow Mushroom updated its burger lineup by replacing its previous burger patties with hand-pressed smash-style patties made with 100% black Angus beef.

Anne Mejia, Mellow Mushroom's vice president of brand development, told FSR Magazine that these new patties have a shorter cooking time and better suit consumer preferences.

Customers can choose from three burger choices. There's Mel's Classic Burger, which features the beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles on a brioche bun. Then, there's the Ritz Burger, which includes the beef patty, melted Swiss, caramelized onions, garlic aioli, romaine lettuce, Roma tomatoes, and pickles on a brioche bun. If you'd prefer to customize your burger, there's also a build-your-own option, which starts with the ingredients of Mel's Classic Burger.

7th Street Burger

person holding bugers from 7th street burger
7th Street Burger / Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable.

7th Street Burger opened its first location in New York City back in 2021. Since then, the burger chain has grown to include 16 locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Hoboken, N.J. Customers can choose between a single or double cheeseburger, which are topped with grilled onions, pickles, and house sauce on a Martin's potato roll. 7th Street also serves Impossible patties for those seeking a plant-based option.

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Smashburger

smashburger double bacon cheeseburger
Smashburger / Facebook
Nutrition:
Classic Smash Burger (Per Order)
Calories: 630
Fat: 37 g (Saturated Fat: 15 g, Trans Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 1,630 mg
Carbs: 41 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 30 g

The most obvious chain on this list, Smashburger serves up specialty smashed hamburgers made with fresh, never-frozen certified Angus beef. Smashburger even has its its own custom metal smasher built to perfectly fit its patties. The beef is smashed on a hot buttered, seasoned grill, which ensures "the most flavorful, crave-able, juicy sear," according to the chain.

While Smashburger is certainly not the only burger spot to cook hamburgers in this manner, it definitely lives up to its name with its commitment to only serving hand-smashed patties with caramelized crispy bits cooked right in.

Shake Shack

shake shack burger
Shutterstock
Nutrition:
Single Shack Burger (Per Order)
Calories: 500
Fat: 30 g (Saturated Fat: 12 g, Trans Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 1,250 mg
Carbs: 26 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 29 g

According to the Chicago Tribune, Shake Shack was one of the pioneers of modern-day smash burgers and helped popularize this cooking technique.

In 2015, Mark Rosati, culinary director at Shake Shack, told Epicurious that the smashing process allows the thinner patty to caramelize in its own fat, helping to form nooks and crannies. Like Smashburger, Shake Shack uses a custom-built metal smasher, but Rosati noted that prior to its development, Shake Shack's cooks would smash the burgers the old-fashioned way: using metal spatulas.

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Freddy's

freddys double cheeseburger
Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers / Facebook
Nutrition:
Single Steakburger (Per Order)
Calories: 450
Fat: 24 g (Saturated Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 1,250 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 29 g

Freddy's opened its doors in 2002 and has grown into a nationwide burger chain with locations across 36 states. According to the chain's website, the thinly-pressed patties are made to order, meaning your burger is as fresh as it can be when you take that first bite.

Customers can choose from simple options like the Single, Double, or Triple Steakburger or opt for something with even more toppings like the Jalapeño Pepper Jack Double. This comes with two steakburger patties, pepper jack cheese, sautéed jalapeños, and Freddy's Spicy Jalapeño Fry Sauce on a toasted bun.

Five Guys

five guys bacon cheeseburger
Five Guys
Nutrition:
Bacon Cheeseburger (Per Order)
Calories: 1,060
Fat: 62 g (Saturated Fat: 26 g)
Sodium: 1,310 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 47 g

If you've ever stepped into a Five Guys restaurant, you'll notice a few things: its affinity for all things peanut oil, an array of burger toppings, and freshly pressed patties searing on the flattop grill. The process for making hand-smashed burgers at Five Guys is a little different than how other chains go about it. While some restaurants may hand-smash the moment the patty touches the griddle, Five Guys actually waits a minute to flip the patty, then it gets smashed onto the grill, according to Business Insider.

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Fatburger

fatburger impossible burger
Jacqueline Weiss/Eat This, Not That!
Nutrition:
Medium "Original" Fatburger (Per Order)
Calories: 590
Fat: 31 g (Saturated Fat: 6 g, Trans Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 1,190 mg
Carbs: 46 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 8 g)
Protein: 33 g

Despite its name, this chain's burgers are made of never-frozen burger patties that are hand-pressed nice and thin. Granted, the chain's menu includes burgers with multiple patties piled high. Take the XXL Double King Burger, for example. Described as the burger that made Fatburger famous, this menu item features double the patties—that's a full pound of lean beef—along with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard, pickles, and relish on a toasted, spongy dough bun.

Steak 'n Shake

Steak 'n Shake burger, fries, and drink
Steak 'n Shake / Facebook
Nutrition:
Original Double Steakburger With Cheese (Per Order)
Calories: 530
Fat: 32 g (Saturated Fat: 14 g, Trans Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 1,120 mg
Carbs: 32 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 27 g

Steak 'n Shake has been hand-smashing burgers before much of the world's population was even born. The chain first opened its doors in 1934 with its signature Steakburger, made with a unique blend of round, sirloin, and T-bone steaks.

Today, customers get to choose from a few different burger options, such as the Original Double Steakburger with Cheese and the Western BBQ Double Steakburger. For something a bit heartier, the chain dishes out its famous 7×7, which includes, yes, seven burger patties, along with seven slices of cheese.

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Culver's

culver's cheeseburgers
Photo: Culver's / Facebook
Nutrition:
Double Butterburger (Per Order)
Calories: 560
Fat: 30 g (Saturated Fat: 12 g, Trans Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 580 mg
Carbs: 38 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 34 g

Culver's is a fan-favorite burger chain for several reasons. Its frozen custard is hand-spun throughout the day. Its delicious, buttery burger buns are baked in-house. And its burgers are made-to-order, with the patties pressed and seared to lock in the juices, according to the chain's website.

That practice of hand-pressing each patty was demonstrated in a 2018 segment for WKYC-TV, where it was noted that this step in particular was a crucial part of the process when making the signature Butter Burger.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, updated information, copy edits, and fact-checking.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna