This burger is truly a show stopper and a flavor bomb! If you’ve never had ground pork smash burgers you are really missing out. Just like the popular smash burgers made with ground beef, this version starts with seasoned ground pork patties smashed to thin and crispy perfection.
They are topped off with a slice of gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and pickled apples on a brioche bun, all to make the perfect burger.
This recipe is sponsored by the National Pork Board.
What are smash burgers?
Smash burgers are balls of ground pork or beef that have been smashed down by a press onto a hot griddle or hot pan. This results is a thin smashed burger patty with a nice crispy crust.
Typically a heavy burger press is used to smash the patties down as thin as possible. This combined with the high heat allows them to cook faster and also gives a nice texture to the outside of the meat. I’m a huge fan of them myself!
How to make a good smash burger?
To truly make a good smash burger here are a few must haves and a few substitutions that will do in a pinch.
A burger press: You will need something heavy like a cast iron burger press to smash the burger with. If you don’t have one, here is the one I recommend! Alternatively, you can always use the back of a spatula and press with your hands but make sure you are wearing some kind of heat resistant glove or mitten.
Also the bottom of a mug will work too. You may want to spray the bottom with cooking spray to avoid the pork sticking to it.
A griddle or cast iron pan: If you have a cast iron griddle or an outdoor flat top griddle that is the ideal cooking surface for smash burgers. Those griddles get hot quickly and also have plenty of space to smash the burgers down.
A cast iron pan is also a great option as they retain a lot of heat and will give your burgers a good sear.
High quality ground meat: Use high quality ground pork or consider grinding your own to create something flavorful and memorable.
Why use ground pork instead of ground beef?
Ground pork is extremely versatile and very cost effective. It is the perfect protein swap and can be easily interchanged in a lot of your favorite recipes. Pork is flavorful and pairs well with many different ingredients. Make sure to visit pork.org for more cooking inspirations and recipes.
Ingredients you will need for this recipe.
Seasoning: Kosher Salt, black pepper, and garlic powder
Condiments: Ground mustard and mayonnaise
Pickling liquid: Champagne vinegar, water, kosher salt, sugar
How to make ground pork smash burgers.
Pickling the apples.
I have a recipe here for quick pickled apples or just keep reading to get the basics. First wash then slice 2 small pink lady apples very thin. You can use a sharp knife and cut 1/8′ slices or a mandolin works great. Just watch your fingers!
Then cut each slice of apple in half and put them into a heat safe glass bowl or jar. Bring the champagne vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a boil and stir until dissolved.
Pour the hot liquid over the apples and let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate. These pickled apples can be eaten within an hour but best after they have been refrigerated for a day.
Caramelize the onions.
Next it’s time to caramelize some onions. Start by slicing onions into 1/8″ thick pieces. Melt butter and olive oil in a large pan on medium low heat. Then add onions, salt, pepper and the same pickling liquid that was used on the apples.
Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until caramelized, about an hour. They should be thick, jammy and a golden brown color. Be careful not to rush this step as you could burn the onions in the process.
Once the onions are done set them aside and prepare the ground pork. Start by dividing the ground pork into 3-4 ounce balls. Preheat your griddle or cast-iron skillet to medium high heat. Once you have a hot surface its time to smash some burgers!
Making the burgers.
Place each ground pork ball down onto the griddle and smash them down with a burger press.
They should be pretty thin once you press down and ready for seasoning. Season them with salt, pepper and garlic powder and after 2-3 minutes, you can flip them.
The pork should be nice and seared and an internal temperature of 160°F. After another minute you can place a slice of gruyere cheese on them to let it melt before removing.
While you have some of the grease from the pork on your griddle, toast your hamburger buns for a minute.
Assembling it all together.
Assemble these pork smash burgers by placing a spoonful of the mustard mayo on the bottom bun followed by one pork patty. Then top it with some caramelized onions, another pork patty, and the pickled apples.
Place the top bun on and it’s time to eat! These are the best burgers ever and one of my favorite ways to use ground pork.
Variations of this recipe:
Use different cheeses: White cheddar, smoked gouda or pepper jack would all make a great substitute here.
Try it in a wrap: Try a low carb wrap and add some greens like lettuce for a healthier option.
Make it spicy: Add some fresh jalapeños or crush red pepper flakes to give this burger a nice kick!
Side dishes to try with ground pork smash burgers.Print
Ground pork burgers
- 1.5 pounds fresh ground pork
- 4 brioche buns
- 8 slices of gruyere cheese
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Quick pickled apples
- 2 small pink lady apples
- 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 3 large yellow or Spanish onions
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons pickling liquid from apples
- Wash and slice apples into 1/8″ slices using a knife or mandolin.
- Place remaining ingredients for the pickled apples in a small pot and bring to a boil.
- Pour hot liquid over apples that have been placed in a mason jar, or heat safe glass bowl. Let it come to room temperature and refrigerate. Apples are ready in an hour.
- Slice onions into 1/8″ pieces. Then melt butter on medium low heat in a large saute pan. Add onions, salt, pepper, and pickling liquid.
- Continue caramelizing onions, stirring occasionally for about an hour until they are golden brown and soft.
- Divide ground pork into 3-4 oz balls and place them onto a hot griddle or cast iron pan. Smash them down with a burger press until they are thin. Then season lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- After a few minutes flip each burger patty and add gruyere cheese. Remove burgers after 1 more minute and when the pork has reached an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Toast brioche buns in the rendered pork grease thats on the griddle.
- Assemble the burger by adding the mustard and mayo together and smearing that onto the bottom bun. Add 1 burger patty, caramelized onions, and 1 more burger. Finish with pickled apples and the top bun.