I mean the type where mustard is placed on the hot griddle, and the patty is placed or smashed on top.

Mustard is actually mostly water (with some vinegar and mustard powder mixed in). The water inhibits browning of the patty and causes the patty to be steamed, so it does not seem like a great idea to put it below the patty.

There are other ways to add mustard flavor to the burger, like adding mustard or mustard powder to the sauce, or smearing mustard or mustard powder on the patty after it has been cooked. You could even season the patty with mustard powder before cooking it.

So, why place the patty on that mix of water, vinegar and mustard powder, which we know as mustard?

  • 4
    The point is, some people like it that way.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 14:59
  • Mustard is not generally made with mustard powder, rather the seeds are mixed with a liquid (often vinegar), salt, and sometimes other spices.
    – moscafj
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 19:58
  • 1
    @moscafj - whether from ground or whole or seed is regional. English mustard is always from ground seed, never whole (& never vinegar, just water, or it loses its 'hit'). Dijon, on the other hand, can be either, or both...
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 10:52
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Mustard-fried burger patty Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 20:52
  • Hi @KateGregory. Thx for the link. I saw it before. It does just explain HOW it is done, but not WHY. Untypical for Kenji really...
    – Usal
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 18:42

3 Answers 3


I did various tries and ate a lot of smashed cheeseburgers lately. Here is what I found:

The best option is, in the case of smashed burgers, to fry the first side without mustard, and the second side very briefly with mustard. This tastes better than frying without mustard at all, frying both sides with mustard, frying just the first side with mustard, smeering mustard on the patty after frying or adding more mustard into the sauce or elsewhere on the burger.

I cannot say why, but I can say that at least for my palate and my wife's palate mustard frying only the second side very briefly is best.


You are right how it's not a great idea to put mustard below the patty.

If you saw this in a recipe or saw someone do this, the recipe is most likely by a person who personally likes the taste and/or texture of resulting patty, and there would always be other people in this world (be it few or many) who would agree.

In short, food critics (Gordon Ramsey's my favorite) might not go easy on encountering such a method. On the other hand, here is a post that might interest you: Mustard-fried burger patty

  • Thx Anastasia. I saw the link question before and actually I did get the entire idea of this post from Kenji recipe. Kenji does just explain HOW it is done, but not WHY. Untypical for Kenji really...
    – Usal
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 18:46

As others have said, there is no good reason to do this other than personal preference. Yes you will get more of a mustard flavor by just putting mustard on as a condiment. Ground mustard seed in the meat works better. If you want a steamed burger, just use a little bit of water under the party before tossing a steel basting done on top.

The places that are doing this are likely doing it for two real reasons. 1: Their customers expect it and 2: It's super quick and they are pumping out thousands of burgers a day.

  • Thx Drew. Why would you get more mustard flavor out of it by putting it below the burger? Could this be a case of "secret sauce", in the sense believing there is a great benefit for doing so makes it taste better and thats why customers want it? I think I might have to do some testing myself.
    – Usal
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 18:45

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