- Five Guys is known for its smashed burger patties and ample toppings.
- I went behind the scenes at the chain to see how its burgers are made.
- From preparing the ground beef to stacking the sandwich, I got a first-hand look at the process.
The chain prides itself on using fresh, never frozen beef patties made by hand in-house every day.
I went behind the counter and into the kitchen at my nearby NYC location to get a peek at the process and see how it’s done.
Amy Cryzter, the director of training at Five Guys who was on-site to help out with my pseudo shift, told me employees must wash their hands every time they change their gloves, in addition to any other time it makes sense.
There is a handwashing sink in the back kitchen as well as in the front-of-house, customer-facing kitchen so that employees don’t have to walk back and forth each time they need to wash up.
Then, a large knife is used to make an incision down the middle, lengthwise, making for an easy meat removal process.
Cryzter told me it should take two employees 10 minutes to get an entire case of the meat into sufficiently-sized balls using a small food scale to measure out the ounces.
First, I placed one of the meat spheres in the center of a paper square. Then, using my hand, I pushed down slightly to get the flattening process started before covering it with another paper square.
The team employs a heavy metal tool that, when used properly, smushes down the meatball into a thin, round beef patty. It’s more difficult than it looks — I had to reshape the meat and try again at least twice after flattening them out past the bounds of the paper.
There are no freezers inside Five Guys restaurants, so the meat sits in the walk-in refrigerator until it’s needed or for up to 30 hours.
The temperature inside the drawer gets checked every two hours to ensure the meat is being kept cold enough.
The restaurant is set up with a separate grill section for cooking bread and the occasional grilled cheese, keeping these items free of any meat contact.
Cryzter said that a perfectly toasted bun will have a slightly darker color and should be rough — in a good way — to the touch.
In order to check the bun temperature, employees are encouraged to softly place the palm of their hand on the top. If it feels warm, the bread is likely toasted enough. If it’s still cold, chances are it needs more time.
There, employees will wait until they see blood pooling on the top of the burger patty. That’s when you move it to stage three.
For a little burger — which has a single patty — one slice of cheese gets melted directly on the grill for no more than three seconds before being added to the cooked meat and transferred to the bun.
So while one employee works on getting the perfect cook on a patty, another focuses on loading up the rest of the ingredients onto a bun.
Dry items like lettuce, tomato, pickles, and raw jalapeños all go on the top bun. Wet items, like the grilled mushrooms and grilled onions, go on the bottom bun, which means they sit below the beef in the finished sandwich.
This team member is also responsible for placing the on-bun condiments, which include ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Other sauces, like hot sauce and barbecue sauce, get placed directly on the beef patty when it’s ready.
Once the top bun is closed, the employee will take opposite corners of the foil and carefully fold them inward, over the bun. Then the other two corners follow in the same path.
I learned that technique is everything at Five Guys. While you want to make sure each burger is secure in its packaging, you also want to avoid smushing the bun. A team member showed me how to very gently guide my hands around the parcel to ensure the job was done perfectly.
From patty prep to grill method and even the detail of what type of topping goes on what part of the bun, I can see how quality is controlled and kept consistent across the chain’s many locations.