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Summer Smash-and-Fry Burgers

Quick & Easy
Lettuce-wrapped smash and fry burger on a plate
Makes 4 servings15 minutes hands on time15 minutes total time

Thick slabs of iceberg lettuce not only offer a convincing bun-like way to hold a smash-and-fry burger patty with fixings, but they also add a satisfying crunch.

As everyone who is avoiding carbs or gluten already knows, a burger wrapped in a single leaf of lettuce is a fine thing to eat, but it’s not like eating a burger on a bun.

And this isn’t either, really, but oh, it is so much closer! Using thick slabs of iceberg lettuce not only gives you a convincing bun-like way to hold your burger and fixings, but it also adds a satisfying crunch. Plus, you’ll have plenty of lettuce leftover to make a salad.

If you have another way you’re sure is the best way to cook the burgers, go ahead. Otherwise try this fantastic smash-and-fry burger method and see what you think.

Recipe Details: Smash-and-Fry Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 3 grams per serving, excluding additional toppings


For the burgers:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt
  • 2 heads iceberg lettuce
  • Chipotle mayonnaise (see below
  • Burger fixings such as cheese, pickles, onions, etc. (optional)

For the chipotle mayonnaise:

  • 1 (7 oz) can chipotles in adobo (brands to look for include Embasa, San Marcos, Herdes, and La Costena)
  • Salt
  • Half a lime, juiced
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise


  1. Make the chipotle mayonnaise: To make the chipotle purée, scrape a (7-ounce) can of chipotles in adobo into the blender and puree it until smooth. Whisk 1 teaspoon of the chipotle puree with a pinch of salt, lime juice, and mayonnaise. (Store the remaining chipotle purée in your fridge in an impeccably clean glass jar where it will keep indefinitely − unless it doesn’t, which is what sometimes happens. A thin layer of oil over the top seems to help keep it longer in the fridge.)
  2. Make the burgers: Begin heating a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.
  3. While the skillet heats, divide the ground beef into 4 portions, and gently shape each portion into a wide, flattish patty that’s around 4 ½ or 5 inches in diameter. Salt each side of each burger significantly.
  4. When the skillet is very hot (after around 5 minutes, a flick of water should sizzle and evaporate), add the patties, using the flat bottom of a Pyrex or other heatproof dish to quickly smash each one flat after you put it in the pan.
  5. Cook the burgers for around 3 minutes, or until the bottom is crusty and dark brown, then flip them and cook another 3 minutes, or until done to your liking. If you’re adding cheese, you can put it on about two minutes before you think the burgers are done.
  6. Meanwhile, cut 4 half-inch slices from each head of iceberg lettuce: yYou’ll cut the rounded side off of 4 different faces of each lettuce head so you’ll end up with 8 skinny domed slices. These slices don’t need to be perfect. (You’ll have leftover inner lettuce, which you can store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.)
  7. Assemble the burgers: Arrange four lettuce “buns” cut-side up, top each with the burger and desired fixings, then add the remaining “buns” cut-side down.

Photo credits: iStock (top); Catherine Newman (bottom).