The Ultimate Cali Smashburger with Burger Sauce

Cali Smashburger

Instantly elevate your burger nights with my melty & delicious Cali Smashburger! I’ve been in my burger making era lately and let me tell you, these smashburgers do not disappoint.

Double patties, smothered in melty cheese and topped with crispy fried onions, juicy tomatoes, fresh spinach, and creamy avocado. All nestled between two buttery potato rolls, slathered with the best burger sauce. Get ready to savor every mouthwatering bite. They’re super easy to make and of course customizable. So grab your favorite toppings and 80/20 ground chuck and let’s get to cooking!

Initially I was going to share a simple smashburger recipe with you. But I recently made a Cali Smashburger and HAD to share the recipe. I ate it two days in a row. They were THAT good. Something the whole family will love.

The other day, I had a taste for a really good burger and wanted to try new toppings than my usual. So that’s where the fried onions and avocado came in. Oh and the pepper jack cheese of course. You guys, when I tell you this burger was absolutely DELICIOUS.

What’s a Cali Burger?

I’m not sure where or how it got its name. But most Cali burgers I’ve had usually are a classic cheeseburger with some sort of ranch, avocado and pepper jack cheese.

Smashburger’s are the perfect weeknight meal. ESPECIALLY when you’re trying to save money. All it takes is a few extra minutes to prep and you’ll have a delicious burger in about 20 minutes. Tell the kids you got food at home!

I’ve discovered the name of the game is simplicity when it comes to seasoning my burgers – just salt and pepper will do. I know, I know. As someone who takes seasonings very seriously it shocked me. But as I’ve experimented more with red meat, I’ve come to appreciate that sometimes, less is actually more.

What you’ll need-

  • Ground chuck- I prefer 80/20 for my burgers. But feel free to use ground beef.
  • Salt& Pepper- surprisingly, this is all the seasoning you need for your burgers.
  • Mustard- I like to fry my patties in mustard! In-N-Out style!
  • Cheese– I like to add American or pepper jack cheese for this burger.
  • Onions– For this burger, I decided to cut them thinly and fry them. This added such a delicious flavor and texture to the burgers. Grilled or caramelized onions will also be great
  • Buns- I highly recommend Martin’s potato buns. They’re my favorite. So soft and melt in your mouth!
  • Burger Sauce- can’t forget the secret sauce. It’s a combination of mayo, ketchup, mustard and relish. Seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika.
  • Avocado
  • lettuce
  • tomato– make sure to season them with salt & pepper.

The secret to this burger is in the toppings...

topping ideas for this Cali Smashburger

  • Pepper Jack
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce or Spinach
  • grilled onions
  • bacon
  • fresh or pickled jalapeños
  • Ranch
  • BBQ sauce

How to make the perfect smashburger?

  • When you press the patty down, allow it to sear without moving for at least 90 seconds to get a nice crust.
  • highly recommend using mustard! Frying the patty in mustard adds great flavor to the burger.
  • When melting the cheese- add a 1-2 tbsp of water then place the top on the pan. And cook for 1 minute. The water will produce steam, helping cheese melt. 

More summer inspired recipes

Honey Harissa Chicken Rice Bowl CAVA Inspired
Sushi At Home- Shrimp Tempura
Spicy Shrimp Crispy Rice

If you make this Cali Smashburger, please be sure to leave a comment, and or tag me on Instagram @cookwithci. I would love to see your recreations and hear your thoughts.

Cali SmashBurger

The perfect weeknight meal! Customize it to your own liking and enjoy this incredibly easy and delicious burger at home!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • burger press or a flat spatula


  • 1 lb 80/20 ground chuck
  • pepper jack cheese
  • American cheese
  • yellow mustard
  • salt + pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Burger sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2-3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp dill relish
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste


  • lettuce or spinach
  • tomatoes
  • pickles
  • mustard
  • hot chili peppers
  • avocado

fried onions

  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 tbsp AP flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • salt
  • All purpose seasoning


For fried onions

  • thinly slice 1/2 white onion. Season with all purpose seasoning, and salt. Add in cornstarch and flour. Toss to coat the onions. Heat up oil then deep fry. Once golden, remove from the oil and drain on a towel.
  • Bring ground beef to room temperature and form into balls placing them on separate pieces of parchment paper. Heat cast iron skillet or pan over medium high heat. Add in 1 tbsp of oil.
  • Add ground beef ball to the hot pan and press with a burger press into the pan. Remove parchment paper, cook for 2-3 minutes. On the free side, season with salt, pepper and yellow mustard, then flip. Cook the burger for 3-4 minutes, or to your desired doneness. Then season the opposite side with salt and pepper. Repeat steps if you want a double cheeseburger.
  • Reduce heat to medium low. Place a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Add a splash of water to the pan then cover for 1 minute until the cheese is melted.

For the secret sauce

  • Combine mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, onion powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Taste and adjust to your liking if needed.

To assemble

  • Spread secret sauce on the bottom bun. then lettuce, tomato, burger patties, fried onion. Then on the other bun, add more sauce and sliced avocado. bring the burger together to close it, Serve with fries and enjoy!


When melting your cheese- add a 1-2 tbsp of water then place the top on the pan. And cook for 1 minute. The water will produce steam, helping cheese melt. 
For the fried onions, use a paper towel to dry down the onions after salting. Salt draws out liquid in the onions. 
Keyword Cheese Burger, Hamburger, Smash burger

Did you make it? 

Tag @cookwithci on Instagram and hashtag #CookwithCi

Recipe Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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