Recipe: Venison Smash Burgers

posted on March 2, 2023
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The concept of a smash burger is simple—make a firm meatball and smash it flat onto the griddle. The meat can be compressed or smashed with a burger press, spatula or even the bottom of a frying pan. What is essential, is to to smash the burger on a hot grill or in a cast-iron pan. The increased surface area of the meat on the hot iron increases the Maillard reaction, creating the browned pigments in cooked meat. Browning meat adds incredible flavor, and both sides of a smashed meatball will tantalize the tastebuds of any burger aficionado.

Burgers and cheese on the grill

Finishing the burger can be done to individual taste. Topping the burger with caramelized onions with a slice of cheddar that melts until dripping over the edges is gourmet.

Cheese melting and buns toasting

Unique sauces and condiments can be added, along with the classics like lettuce, tomato, pickles, bacon, and other standard burger accouterments. Furthermore, do not forget to toast your bun.

Venison is fantastic for making smash burgers. Elk and axis deer are perfect on their own. Deer, antelope, and moose may require some pork to add moisture and fat. Adding up to 30-percent pork ensures the burgers hold together and have fat to increase the Maillard reaction. Experiment to find the perfect burger for your friends and hunting camp.

Caramelized goodness

Standard Equipment

  • A Camp Chef stove with a flat-top griddle is perfect for smashing burgers and toasting buns. Use a cast-iron frying pan or an electric griddle if cooking indoors.
  • A spatula used for flipping burgers works excellent for pressing them flat. Start in the center and smash the edges to the same thickness, about ¼ of an inch. Use parchment paper over each burger to prevent the spatula from sticking to the meat.


  • 2 pounds of venison burger
  • 8 hamburger buns
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 8 slices of cheddar
  • Salt and pepper

Onion preparation

  • 1 large, sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of oil


Burgers on the grill, onions in the cast iron
  1. Separate the meat into eight equal portions, or about four ounces each. Form meatballs with firm pressure, but do not overwork the meat.
  2. Place the butter and oil in a cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices and stir often as they caramelize. If you time it right, you can add the finished onions to the top of each burger when flipped. If not, the onions can be set aside in the warm pan for placing on the burger.
  3. Heat the griddle to medium-high heat. Place meatballs eight to 10 inches apart. Smash the meatball to an even consistency of ¼-inch thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for two to three minutes, then flip the burger. Do not peek or rush the process, or the meat will not brown and release properly. Add equal amounts of caramelized onion to the top of each burger and top with a slice of cheddar. Cook for two minutes or until the cheese has melted. Place the burger in the toasted bun and serve.
  4. When the burgers are initially placed on the griddle, butter each bun and place them face down on the griddle. The buns can be toasted ahead of time to ensure the burgers are served hot.


  • Chill the meatballs before cooking. Typically, meat is at room temperature for cooking, but a thin, smashed burger will stay juicy if it starts cold.
  • Cook the burgers in batches to prevent the cooling of the griddle, to ensure the burgers brown properly.
  • Some great options for salt and pepper substitutes are Bearded Butcher Original Blend Seasoning, Hi Mountain Hickory Burger Seasoning, or Fire & Smoke Society Burger Royale.


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