Friday 25 May 2012

Smash Burgers and Homemade American Cheese

A title tells a thousand, hold on, that's not right.

Actually in this case it is.

I've been doing some home burger experimentation in preparation for Burger Off!, a big BBQ I'm holding in the summer for some of the members of #TeamBurger, London's ace, crime fighting* burger eating elite.

And the menu today is smash burgers with homemade American Cheese.
*they don't fight crime.

So first up, let's make the American Cheese.

I've adapted a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, with the ingredients I could find in my cupboard. I decided to size it down a bit as it could be shit, so here's the recipe:


  • 140g Red Leicester (chosen for mild flavour and good colour - similar to processed American cheese)
  • 70ml whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/10 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
  • 1/2 tablespoon water

Kitchen items:

  • Baking tray
  • Cling film
  • Food processor or hand blender and hand grater
  • Spatula

1. Add the gelatin to the water, allowing it to bloom for about 10 minutes.

2. Grate the Red Leicester on the finest setting. I used a hand grater and it took bloody ages, so I suggest you use a food processor. Add the salt and cream of tartar to the cheese and massage it in by hand (or pulse your blender) - about three turns should do it.

3. Bring the milk to the boil, take it off the heat, and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is mixed in. 

4. Using the hand blender or food processor, slowly add the milk into the cheese and pulse to mix until smooth.
5. Once smooth, use your spatula to spread the cheese onto a cling film-covered baking tray -  try to make it even, not like my ham-fisted attempts below. Put in fridge to chill for three hours, or ideally overnight.
6. Once chilled, cut into squares and separate with greaseproof paper. 

Smash Burgers

  • 600g chuck mince (mine was 28-day aged from local butcher)
  • Homemade American Cheese slices (see above)
  • Soft white burger buns
  • Chopped onions
  • Sea salt
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced dill pickles
  • Mayo
1. Roll chuck into balls of about 85g (3oz).
2. Place your balls of meat onto a smoking hot cast iron pan, or griddle. Cook for 30 seconds then squash with a steak weight or spatula. Season with a generous pinch of sea salt. You'll get a great crust on the bottom side of the burger. Cook for no more than 1 minute and then flip.

3. Once flipped, place homemade American cheese on top of the burgers and cook for a further 1 minute 30 seconds. Place a lid on to get a proper melt on the cheese.

4. Serve onto toasted buns with shredded lettuce and mayo base. 

5. Add Ketchup and French's mustard to taste.

6. Enjoy!


  1. They look great dude! I WANT a burger now :(

    1. They were GREAT! And really quite easy to do, too.

  2. What is it with American cheese? Ilove a good twangy cheddar Denhay Mature perhaps? Burgers look good, great site.

    1. Thanks for the feedback on the site!

      It's the meltiness, you just don't get it with cheddar...however I recently made a version of this with Davidstow cheddar and it was excellent.

  3. Homemade American cheese! Thanks for the recipe - definitely going to try this one day.

    1. Do it - not only will it impress guests, but it tastes great too!

  4. Anonymous12 June, 2012

    That kind of processed American cheese slice is so ubiquitous in America (where I reside), the notion of going to extra lengths to make some at home seems positively heroic, if not downright insane. Kudos to you, sir. Also, if you're going to all that trouble to make a burger, I'd skip the ketchup. A1 steak sauce or something, please!

    1. Why thank you, kind anonymous poster!

      You'll have to enlighten me on the A1 sauce, I find Ketchup is very hard to beat...

  5. use the serious eats cheese method. It's miles better.

  6. As an American who's eaten my share of American cheese (not with any great fondness), the notion of someone going through all those steps to make some at home seems absurd!


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