Woman grilling burgers at RV campsite


How to Make Amazing Smash Burgers on Your Next RV Trip

Over the last 5 years or so, portable camping griddles have become a must-have accessory for many RV owners. In fact, they have become so popular that many manufacturers even include them with the RVs they make. Griddles have become incredibly popular partly because they are great for making breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the campground. This is because they have a flat surface (instead of grill grates) and you can make pancakes and eggs on them in the morning and steaks and chicken on them at night.

There are many great meal options for griddle cooking, but the most popular campground meal to make on a flat top griddle may very well be smash burgers. If you have spent any time at a campground in the last five years you have probably heard fellow campers raving about smash burgers or sharing their favorite techniques for making them. Maybe you have even been served one at a friend’s RV site? Or maybe you are a smash burger master already? Either way, let’s take a second and define terms for the uninitiated.

What are Smash Burgers?

Smash burgers are made by shaping ground beef into a loosely-packed ball (you choose the size) and smashing it down on a smoking hot griddle with a burger press or a firm spatula for about 10 seconds. When you “smash” the burger down against the hot griddle (or skillet) a chemical process called the Maillard Reaction occurs which causes the browning of the ground beef and gives it a delicious flavor and aroma. American diners and burger joints have been making hamburgers this way for generations--and now you can make them yourself on your next RV trip with a portable camping griddle.

Here is a list of the gear you need to make smash burgers, followed by some great tips and tricks for making them. Also included are basic ingredients for the smash burgers, and a simple recipe for an amazing homemade burger sauce that your friends and family will love.

Essential Tools for Making Smash Burgers

  • A portable griddle or a cast iron skillet
  • A firm spatula or a burger press
  • Cooking spray or wax paper
  • A scraper for cleaning up
  • Paper towels for cleaning up
  • Propane tank or other fuel source

Tips and Tricks for Making Smash Burgers

Making smash burgers is incredibly easy, but here are a few tips and tricks that will make you a master in no time.

  1. Turn your griddle up to high heat
  2. Wear grill gloves to protect your hands
  3. Spray your burger press or spatula with cooking spray or use wax paper so the burgers don’t stick.
  4. Place the balls of ground beef on the griddle right over the burners for maximum heat
  5. Only smash one side. Do not smash the burger again after you flip it. It will drain the juices out of the beef if you do.
  6. Be ready to flip your burger in a few short minutes. Generally speaking, smash burgers cook more quickly because they are thinner.
  7. When you flip your burgers, move them to another spot on the griddle. The area that the burger was occupying will not be as hot as a new space on the griddle.
  8. Consider making smaller smash burgers and serving them up as double burgers. There will be more of that delicious, nicely browned surface area if you make doubles.

Ingredients for Smash Burgers and Homemade Burger Sauce

There are a hundred different ways to make smash burgers, but here are the basic ingredients that we use to make them when we go camping:

  • 80/20 ground beef for maximum flavor
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning or a favorite spice blend for burgers
  •  Martin’s Potato Rolls or similar
  • Cooking spray for the griddle surface
  • Pickles and/or lettuce and tomato

Ingredients for a delicious and easy-to-make homemade burger sauce. Mix the ingredients to taste and even consider making two versions of it--one hotter, and one sweeter!

  • Ketchup
  • Ranch dressing
  • Sriracha
  • Pickle juice
  • Relish

After you finish cooking your burgers you may be tempted to eat yours immediately. However, we do recommend giving your griddle a quick scrape off while it is still warm. It only takes a second and your smash burger will still be hot and ready to go when you are done!