At one point or another in our outdoor grilling lives, we’ve taken our spatula to smash a burger into the grill. Maybe this was to keep the burger flat, or we wanted the grease to ignite for a fire licked burger.

It never works, does it? Lets stop this behavior and actually get flat burgers.

The Myth

By smashing the burger with your spatula you can prevent it from puffing up and get the fire going to lick the meat.

Amateurs Everywhere

Smashing Doesn’t Work

Fact: Smashing the burger actually makes it puff up more! The reason the burger puffs up to begin with is because heat causes the proteins to constrict. The constriction releases the water that is bound to the proteins.

The only thing keeping the burger flatter is the moisture… so by squeezing it all out, there is nothing inhibiting it from puffing up more. Also, you are just squeezing out the moisture. If you like dry burgers, keep doing it.

You may have been guilty of this burger smashing behavior or at least been witness to the crime. Good news, together we can stop this.

Strategies to Keep Your Burger Flat

I’m going to evaluate two popular internet methods side by side… and hopefully my post becomes so popular that people STOP posting about things that don’t work. (You can make it popular by sharing it!)

There are currently two main strategies being touted as ways to keep burgers flat.

The Ice Cube Strategy

The premise behind this strategy seems simple enough; Heat makes the burger swell up so you place an ice cube on top of the burger when you put it on the grill.

The claim: This allows the outside of the burger to cook, while the center still stays cool and no puffing.

It should be noted that sometimes I see this trick being pulled by creating a dimple to put the ice cube into… which is simply:

The Dimple Strategy

This is even simpler. Using your thumbs, push a dimple into the center of the burger prior to putting it on the grill.

The claim: By ensuring the center is thinner than the rest of the burger, when it does puff up, it will be even with the rest of the burger.

Strategy Comparison

To give the two strategies a fair shot, I made three burgers of all equal weight and size. One had an ice cube, one had a dimple, and one had nothing (the control).

I placed all three burger patties on a preheated hot grill for 5 minutes. I flipped them once and grilled for 5 more minutes. For the ice cube, when I flipped I placed a new ice cube on top. I then let rest undisturbed for 5 minutes.

The Results

I expect the strategy that best keeps the burger flat is the burger that puffed up the least or maintained the largest diameter. And….. The Dimple Strategy is the clear WINNER!!!

The ice cube strategy did have somewhat of an effect on the puffing as compared the control, but not sufficient enough to warrant the pain of obtaining a single ice cube and placing on a grill so water can melt all over the coals.

The Dimple strategy clearly kept the burger flatter and bun sized more than the ice cube method.

Full Disclosure

Now, in full disclosure, I knew this was going to be the result so I didn’t spend time making this overly scientific. I’ve tried most of the novel and trendy BBQ tricks because I always like to learn new and better. Unfortunately most of these are just gimmicks for people to make a name for themselves.

However, I was inspired to do this article because I have a friend who easily falls for this stuff (you know who you are) and gets swept up in the newest/trendiest things; he was convinced the ice cube would win because some other blogger said so. Unfollow them, follow me.


STOP smashing your burgers. The Dimple method is the easiest method to keep your burgers flat and works!

Ready to make an awesome burger? Check out some of the things stopping you from awesome burgers!

Happy Q’ing!

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