The Very Best Patty Melt Recipe
A TRUE diner classic, the very BEST Patty Melt recipe ever will impress even the pickiest family members. Rich, juicy burger patties are layered with melty Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and slathered with a tangy patty melt sauce. Sandwiched between buttery, toasted rye bread, this is far more than your basic burger.
Let’s talk about the very BEST Patty Melt recipe on the planet. I’m not even exaggerating just a little bit.
I’m a big time burger fan….but I’m also a picky burger fan. I like my burgers to be thick….unless I’m at Five Guys or SmashBurger. My thick burgers must be cooked medium rare to medium MAX….anything more and you risk drying out the beef, not good eats.
And if you’re going to load up the burger with more than just American cheese and ketchup (ok, and maybe a little mayo…) then the toppings MUST be top notch. Like put a little effort into them….show them some love.
Patty Melt Sandwich
Almost every diner in America has a Patty Melt on their menu.
What’s a Patty Melt? A cross between a grilled cheese and a hamburger….it’s, basically, a juicy hamburger patty with melted cheese that’s topped with caramelized onions and patty melt sauce. It’s grilled between two slices of thick rye bread for a melty, gooey, juicy amazing sandwich that will set a full on lifetime craving into motion.
The Patty Melt is rumored to have originated in Southern California in the 1940s or 1950s. The traditional recipe starts with a ground beef patty topped with American, Swiss or cheddar cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, which is then pan fried in butter.
This Patty Melt recipe is my own take on the classic with my homemade Thousand Island dressing and easy caramelized onions. And while I stayed true to the rye bread used in many versions of the melt, I also love it served on thickly sliced Texas toast like the Whataburger Patty Melt recipe!
What’s on a Patty Melt?
A patty melt is made of simple ingredients so it’s best to use the highest quality ingredients you can get your hands on.
- Ground Beef – I like to use an 80/20 ground beef because I feel it leaves me with a more juicy burger. You can use a lean ground beef but be warned that it may not be as juicy.
- Onions – A sweet onion will work the best here because the caramelization adds a bit of sweetness. If you don’t have a sweet onion, no worries…your Patty Melt will still be amazing. A
- Cheese – This recipe calls for Swiss but you can use muenster, provolone, American, cheddar….just about any well melting cheese will work perfectly.
- Bread – Rye is the traditional bread for a Patty Melt but I also love slices of sturdy Sourdough bread. Just be sure to pick a bread that’s hearty enough to hold up to the other ingredients. As I mentioned before, Texas toast is a staple for the Whataburger sandwich.
- Patty Melt Sauce – People tend to think the sauce is a secret but it’s just Thousand Island Dressing. Plain and simple. Russian Dressing will work, too.
You can make your own variations on the Patty Melt by changing up the sauce, adding sautéed mushrooms, giving it smear of Garlic Aioli. There are no rules here so make it your own!
How To Make It
This easy recipe is super simple to make and it all cooks in just one pan. I like to use a heavy duty cast iron skillet, like this one, so it stays hot the entire time and all the ingredients get cooked perfectly.
Shape the ground beef into patties approximately 1/2 inch thick.
Season both sides of the patties with salt and pepper.
Cook the patties in a skillet over medium high heat.
Flip the patties and continue cooking until the desired degree of doneness. Transfer the patties to a platter and keep warm.
Wipe the pan clean and melt the butter.
Assemble the sandwich in the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Flip the sandwich over, continue cooking until golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Slice in half and serve with extra sauce if desired.
If you don’t have caramelized onions already made, you can make them in the pan before you cook the burger. The extra flavor from the onions will only enhance the burger patties when you cook them.
And if you plan ahead, this recipe will be a great way to end a busy weekday. Everything cooks in one pan for easy clean up so you won’t spend time hanging out over a sink when everyone else runs off to watch television for the night. (I mean, really…doesn’t that blow when they abandon you in the kitchen?!?!?)
I like to serve mine with a heaping pile of Salt and Vinegar Chips….because not every meal needs a pile of steamed veggies. Right? BUT if you want to round our your dinner with a bit of green, you can make these easy Zucchini Fries….because you still need some fries with your burger.
Get the Recipe: The Very Best Patty Melt Recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 sliced rye bread
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- 1 cup caramelized onions
- 1/2 cup Thousand Island Dressing
- Divide the ground beef into 4 equal portions and shape into patties approximately 1/2 inch thick.
- Season both sides of the patties liberally with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the patties to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the desired degree of doneness.
- Transfer the burgers to a platter and keep warm. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return to the heat.
- Melt the butter in the pan and add four slices of bread. Top each slice of bread with a slice of cheese, then top with the burger patties. Layer a slice of cheese over the burger and spread 2 tablespoons dressing on each. Top with 1/4 cup caramelized onions and the remaining slices of bread on each.
- Press down on each sandwich gently with a spatula and cook for 1-2 minutes. Carefully flip each sandwich over and continue cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes (adding more butter, if necessary).
- Slice in half and serve immediately with extra dressing on the side, if desired.