RECIPES:
Jun 15, 2023

Animal Style Smashburger Tacos

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Pressing down on an extremely hot skillet cooks the meat quickly and adds a delicious crust to the meat.
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I take the viral smashburger tacos one step further in this recipe by giving it the In-N-Out treatment, serving it “animal style” with Thousand Island dressing, grilled onions and pickles in addition to the standard lettuce and tomato toppings. Pressing a thin layer of beef onto small flour tortillas makes a great easy dinner. They’re quick to cook and full of flavor!

Animal Style Smashburger Tacos 

What is “Animal style”?

At In-N-Out you can order your burger “animal style” where a mustard-grilled patty comes with grilled onions, extra pickles and spread in addition to the standard lettuce and tomato toppings.

What’s in the sauce?

In-N-Out doesn’t call their sauce “special sauce” like many other places – instead they just call it “spread” and it is very similar to Thousand Island dressing. While the exact ingredient list is unknown, the spread doesn’t have quite as complicated an ingredient list as does Thousand Island . How is it different than Big Mac sauce? The addition of ketchup. The sauce may seem like a long list of ingredients, but most are kitchen staples you will already have in your fridge. 

ingredients for smashburger taco

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Beef – The ground beef is pressed in a thin layer onto the tortillas. You want to make sure the meat is pressed right to the edge because the meat shrinks as the patty cooks. The meat is seasoned simply with salt and pepper. 
  • Yellow mustard – A thin spread of yellow mustard over the meat adds extra flavor to the smashed patty and helps to create a caramelized crust. If you aren’t a mustard fan, don’t worry – it doesn’t give it an overwhelming mustard flavor. 
  • Tortillas – Small flour tortillas, sometimes referred to as “street taco size” tortillas make for the best vehicle. 
  • Onions – Onions are sautéed in the rendered fat from smashing the patties for extra flavor. 
  • Cheese – American cheese melts perfectly onto the hot smashed patties. Unwrap the slices ahead of time so they can easily be added to the patties immediately after they come off the pan.
  • Lettuce – Shredded romaine lettuce adds a crisp, fresh garnish to the tacos. 
  • Tomato – Look for small Campari tomatoes or medium tomatoes on the vine for the perfect size slices to garnish these tacos. Any other tomato slice will do – I just prefer the size and flavor of Campari tomatoes. 
  • Pickles – I use pre-sliced dill pickle chips, made using a vinegar-based brine with salt, sugar and fresh dill. 

How to Make Smashburger Tacos

spread for the smashburger taco
Step 1: Make the spread.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, red onion, white vinegar and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The spread can be made up to 1 week in advance.

Step 2: Prep patties.

Press 1.2 oz (32g) of the ground beef onto each flour tortilla. Make sure the meat is spread thinly and evenly across the tortilla right to the edges. Spread about ½ teaspoon (3g) of yellow mustard evenly over each pressed patty. Season with salt and pepper. 

patties for smashburger taco
cooked patty
Step 3: Cook patty.

Heat a large cast iron pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, work in batches to cook the tacos depending on the size of the skillet. Add the tortilla patties, patty-side down onto the hot pan and use a metal spatula or heavy item to smash the tortilla flat onto the pan. 

Step 4: Flip tortilla.

Cook for 1 minute then use the metal spatula to scrape the patty and flip the tortilla to warm it for just a few seconds.

cooked tortilla for smashburger taco
tortilla with patty and cheese
Step 5: Add cheese.

Remove to a platter and immediately top with a slice of cheese. Repeat with the remaining meat and tortillas.

Step 6: Cook grilled onions.

Return the pan to heat, add the diced onion to the pan and sauté in the rendered beef fat until the onions are soft and start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

grilled onions
served smashburger taco
Step 7: Assemble tacos.

Top the burgers with a spoonful of the spread, grilled onions, pickles, a slice of tomato and the shredded lettuce. Serve hot.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

Troubleshooting Smashburger Tacos

If you’re having trouble getting the meat to stick to the tortilla after smashing it in the pan a few things may be happening:

  • The pan isn’t hot enough. The trick to getting a good crust on the smashburger is making sure the pan is smoking hot. You want it to cook quickly at a high heat!
  • The tortillas are cold. If the tortillas are cold the meat won’t stick well and they may separate from the meat when you go to remove them. I recommend warming the tortillas to room temperature if needed. To help fix this you can also switch the cooking process and cook the meatless side for a few seconds first then flip and smash them.
Swaps and substitutions 
  • Swap the grilled onions for caramelized onions for a deeper flavor topping.
  • Swap the American cheese for Cheddar or Monterey Jack. 
How to Make Big Mac Inspired Smashburger Tacos

To turn these animal style smash burger tacos into McDonald’s Big Mac inspired tacos, you just need to make a few small changes: 

  1. Omit the ketchup from the spread recipe. 
  2. Omit the onions and tomato.
  3. Garnish with a sprinkle of white sesame seeds. 
smashburger taco served on a plate

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this smash burger taco recipe, give these a try and follow me on Instagram

Animal Style Smashburger Tacos

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 8 tacos

Ingredients:

For the spread:

  • cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

For assembly and serving:

  • 8 small flour tortillas
  • ¾ pound ground beef 80/20
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 8 slices American cheese, unwrapped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Sliced dill pickles, for serving
  • 1 small Campari tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 romaine heart, finely shredded

Instructions:

For the spread:

  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, red onion, white vinegar and garlic powder.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The spread can be made up to 1 week in advance.

For assembly and serving:

  • Press 1.2 oz (32g) of the ground beef onto each flour tortilla. Make sure the meat is spread thinly and evenly across the tortilla right to the edges. Spread about ½ teaspoon (3g) of yellow mustard evenly over each pressed patty. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large cast iron pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, work in batches to cook the tacos depending on the size of the skillet. Add the tortilla patties, patty-side down onto the hot pan and use a metal spatula or heavy item to smash the tortilla flat onto the pan.
  • Cook for 1 minute then use the metal spatula to scrape the patty and flip the tortilla to warm it for just a few seconds.
  • Remove to a platter and immediately top with a slice of cheese. Repeat with the remaining meat and tortillas.
  • Return the pan to heat, add the diced onion to the pan and sauté in the rendered beef fat until the onions are soft and start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  • Top the burgers with a spoonful of the spread, grilled onions, pickles, a slice of tomato and the shredded lettuce. Serve hot.

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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing !! So delicious 😋 I have wanted to try this for a while , so happy that I did . Will be making this again soon . Recipe was super easy and tasty