assembling chicken burger on wooden board

Allow me to sneak in at the start of your holiday weekend, here at the unofficial beginning of summer (and my favorite weekend of the year) with a humble but high-key FANTASTIC chicken burger. This is one of those smash burger recipes that once you know, you cannot unknow.  This will color your burgers for the rest of your days and… you’re welcome.

All the gratitude and genius goes to cookbook author, Ali Slagle, and her new book, I Dream of Dinner (so you don’t have to).  This book has taken up permanent residence on my kitchen island. It answers the 5:55pm question of, “Whats for dinner?” with simple creativity and honestly… a humanity that makes me feel capable of making a whole lotta something from nothing.


ingredients for chicken burger recipe set on a kitchen conter.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make the very best chicken burger:

•  ground chicken

•  thick slices of bacon, cut in half

•  red onion

•  buns – I love Martin’s Potato Rolls because they’re sturdy but have just the right amount of softness, though any

brioche bun is lovely.

•  mayonnaise

•  bibb lettuce

•  sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

•  Options: tomato slices, avocado slices, a slice of cheese, dijon mustard

I like to cook these smash burgers in a large cast iron skillet.  Heat the pan over medium-heat and add a splash of neutral oil to toast the buns to golden.  In my opinion, an untoasted bun is like a taco made with a raw corn tortilla – just a bummer.

Remove the buns from the skillet and place on a large cutting board or baking sheet for assembly.

Next up – cook the halved bacon slices until crisp on both sides. Crisping the bacon will also render the fat and we’ll use that glorious fat to cook our chicken burgers.

ground chicken patties on cast iron with onion and jalapeno

To get the most tender chicken patties, you’ll actually want to work with the ground chicken as little as possible.  There’s no need to knead a bunch of seasoning and flavor into the meat – we’ll pack all that flavor on the outside of the patty.  Divide the pound of ground chicken into 4, 4-ounce loose balls.  Gather the meat just enough for it to hold together without packing it too firmly.  Season the outside of the meat generously with salt and pepper.

As soon as the seasoned chicken balls hit the hot cast iron pan, use a metal spatula to smash the meat into as thin a patty as you can.  As the meat sears over medium-high heat, add a thin slice of onions and a few slices of jalapenos.  Flip and cook all those toppings to finish the patties.

Oh!  Try not to overcrowd that cast iron skillet! I cook two patties at a time.

Now if you’d like to make these smash burgers on the grill, use your hands to smash each meat patty very thin. Allow to rest on parchment paper or wax paper before transferring to the grill.

If we’re going to have ground chicken burgers let them be literally packed with flavor.  This is one of those burger tricks that will change the game.  Just think about all the things you could smash into turkey burgers and beef burgers!  Also we’re going to need some cheddar cheese on those beef burgers, no question.

I hope this serves you well this coming holiday weekend, and I hope you hold on to this little burger hack all summer long.

Let me know your burger variations in the comments below. I’m fully invested!


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lettuce and bacon on a smash burger

Bacon Jalapeno Smashed Chicken Burgers




  1. Gather and arrange all of the ingredients prior to frying the burgers. Working the ground chicken as little as possible, divide the ground chicken into 4 loose, 4-ounce meatballs. Press them down just slightly to give the balls flat tops.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add a splash of neutral oil (like canola or avocado oil). Toast each side of the buns for 1-2 minutes then set aside. Spread the buns with mayonnaise.
  3. We’ll make two burgers at a time to ensure we have enough room in the pan to smash the burgers. Add half the bacon slices to the skillet and cook until crisp on both sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer the bacon to the plate with the toasted buns.
  4. Season two of the meatballs generously with salt and pepper. Place them far apart in the hot skillet and use a spatula to smash the meatballs until they’re as thin as possible. Top each meat patty with onion and jalapeño slices, pressing them into the top of the burger as it cooks. Cook, without moving the meat around the pan for 2 minutes.
  5. Flip the patties so the onions and jalapeños are now facedown and cook for another 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until the onions are golden and the patty is cooked through. Place each patty on a hamburger bun. Top with bacon and lettuce and that’s your burger!
  6. Repeat, cooking the bacon then frying the remaining two meatballs.
  7. Enjoy burgers warm with chips!


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