How to Make DC’s Favorite Smashburger at Home

It comes with an herbal, anise-heavy, housemade Thousand Island

July 25, 2023 7:00 am
Burger and fries on a plate
Want smashburger at home ? follow this recipe from a DC favorite.

The smashburger renaissance is no surprise to Christian Plotczyk, director of culinary operations at KNEAD Hospitality + Design.

“Smash is the way to go,” he says. “Thin and crispy taste better than fat and juicy in my book.”

And at Roaring ’20s-themed Gatsby, a reimagined diner with a menu appropriately dotted with American favorites, that’s exactly what’s on offer. Here, the double patty smashburger is served with American cheese, tomato, onions and Thousand Island dressing, all piled high on a sesame seed bun. It’s as classic as they come at first glance. But a closer look reveals a host of cheffy influences, beginning with the patty.

For Plotczyk, the fat ratio at the heart of the perfect burger is non-negotiable.

“Burgers must be 80/20,” he says. “Anything else is unacceptable.”

The homemade Thousand Island, meanwhile, not only features the zesty flavor of house-made bread-and-butter pickles but loads of fresh herbs like chives, parsley and even tarragon for a slightly anise-y twist.

“We really wanted to add levels to the flavor profile and felt herbs really accomplished that,” says Plotczyk.

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Caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness and umami richness. The key to mastery here, according to Plotczyk, is beginning with top-quality onions; sweet ones preclude the need for any added sugar, especially when you coax them into caramelized submission over a very low heat in vegetable oil, which Plotczyk dubs “the way to go so they are not too greasy.”

At Gatsby, the cooks stay true to American diner tradition by smashing the patties on a flattop, though a hot cast iron pan is a good alternative for home cooks. Once the patty is crisp and browned with lovely lacy edges, it’s paired with fresh tomatoes and bibb lettuce, and good old American cheese seals the deal.

“Gatsby is an American diner reimagined,” says Plotczyk, “and the burger needed to reflect that.”

Gatsby Smashburger

Servings: 1

  • 1 sesame seed bun
  • 2 three-ounce ground beef patties (80/20 fat ratio)
  • 2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon caramelized onions
  • 1 leaf hydroponic bibb lettuce
  • 1 slice tomato
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chardonnay vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 whole bread-and-butter pickle, minced
    1. Melt the butter and brush the bun to toast.

    2. Season the patties with salt and black pepper, and press onto a hot flattop (or pan). Cook until well seared, then flip. Press the patties down to get a nice seared crust. Lay a slice of American cheese on each patty and leave on heat to melt, then stack the patties and top with caramelized onions. 

    3. Combine the ketchup, mayo, shallot, vinegar, Dijon, tarragon, chives, parsley and pickle. Spread the Thousand Island dressing on both sides of the bun. Finish assembling the burger and serve with a pickle and fresh fries.


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