Here I’ll show you the most delicious way to make the classic Patty Melt!
I had my first ever patty melt at a diner in the US last year, and it was heaven at first bite. For my fellow Brits, this is indeed essentially a cheeseburger toastie. And yes, it is indeed heavenly in every way possible! Follow me…
Patty Melt Sauce
I don’t think it’s overly traditional to put a sauce inside the patty melt, but I much prefer it sauced up. The sauce is pretty similar to a classic burger sauce. It’s also inspired by the In-N-Out animal-style sauce (again – HEAVEN!). Here’s what you’ll need:
- Mayo – full fat, of course.
- Tomato Sauce – Aka Ketchup!
- Mustard – I recommend using Classic Yellow Mustard.
- Gherkins – Aka bread & butter pickles in the US.
- Vinegar – I use white wine vinegar, but apple cider vinegar would also work.
I managed to accidentally not film myself adding garlic powder and sugar, but they’re most definitely in the sauce! 😇
Process shots: add ingredients to small pot (photo 1), stir to combine (photo 2).
One non-negotiable in a patty melt is the onions. By caramelizing them you turn them gorgeously soft and sweet. The sweetness from the onions then balances out the sharp, tangy flavours of the cheese and sauce.
I like to caramelize them at the start, just because you can then take your time without the patty going cold. The lower and slower, the sweeter and softer they’ll be. You might find as they cook, they start to stick or dry out. To counteract this just add in water 1 tbsp at a time.
Process shots: add butter to pan (photo 1), add onion and fry (photo 2), season and lower heat (photo 3), fry until caramelized (photo 4).
Okay, onions and sauce out the way, let’s talk patty:
- High Fat – Ensure your beef is 20% fat to make the most flavoursome and juicy patties.
- Room Temp – Bringing the beef to room temp will relax the meat and help it cook through evenly.
- Seasoning – Make sure you generously season both sides with salt and pepper (no other flavourings/seasoning needed!).
- Shape – You’ll want to mould the beef into the shape of the bread, making sure it’s slightly bigger as they’ll shrink a fair bit in the pan.
- Overworking – Don’t overwork the meat or it’ll come out tough and chewy.
As you fry the patty, just ensure you get a nice crust on each side to develop flavour.
Process shots: add beef to chopping board (photo 1), mould into two patties then season (photo 2), add to pan and season (photo 3), fry both sides then remove (photo 4).
Making a Patty Melt
To assemble the patty melt, you’re essentially making a burger grilled cheese.
Toasting the Bread
I recommend toasting one side of each slice of bread. You can then face them inward and stack them that way. It just gives the sandwich a little more stability as the bread is then toasted on both sides! Plus, you can add the cheese straight to the toasted side, which starts the melting process right away.
What kind of bread to use?
Although Rye bread is more traditional, I typically go for something like a White Bloomer. I recommend slicing it fairly thick (1/2 – 3/4″ / 1.2 – 1.9cm) just so it keeps the sandwich nice and sturdy. I don’t recommend using square slices, the patty never fits properly!
What kind of cheese to use?
I believe the classic option is only Swiss, but I love the tangy flavour the American cheese brings. Yes, I’m talking about ‘plastic cheese’. Trust me on this one!!
Process shots: butter bread (photo 1), toast (photo 2), add cheese (photo 3), add sauce (photo 4), add onions (photo 5), add patty (photo 6).
Cooking a Patty Melt
You can toast the sandwich in the leftover burger fat, or you can wipe out the pan and butter the bread. Don’t have the heat too high or the bread will toast before the cheese melts!
Process shots: add patty melts to pan (photo 1), toast both sides (photo 2).
Serving a Patty Melt
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these patty melts shall we?!
How to make the best Patty Melt (Full Recipe & Video)
The Best Patty Melt!
- Large Heavy-Bottom/Cast-Iron Pan & Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Small Pot (for sauce)
Ingredients (check list):
- 2 tbsp Mayo
- 1 tbsp Ketchup
- 1/2 tbsp finely diced Gherkins/Pickles
- 1 tsp Yellow Mustard
- 1/2 tsp White Wine/Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 tsp Sugar
- 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
- 9oz / 250g Minced/Ground Beef (see notes)
- 4 slices of Bread (see notes)
- 4 tbsp / 60g Butter, or as needed
- 4 slices of Swiss Cheese
- 3 slices of American-Style Cheese, one square sliced in half
- 1 large White Onion, peeled & thinly sliced
- Salt & Pepper, as needed
- Combine the 'Sauce' ingredients in a small pot then place to one side.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in a large heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until they start to soften and turn golden, around 8-10mins. Lower heat and season the onions with a pinch of salt & pepper. Continue frying for another 15 mins, or until completely soft, deep golden and sticky/sweet. If they start to dry out/catch on the pan, just add water 1 tbsp at a time. Remove the onions from the pan and raise the heat to medium-high.
- Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Place them butter-side-down in the pan and toast until crisp & golden. Remove and place them toast-side-up and turn off the heat. Place Swiss on half of them and American on the other half.
- Divide the beef in two and flatten them each into the shape of the bread, making sure each patty is larger than the slice (they'll shrink a fair bit in the pan). Don't overwork the meat, just enough to mould it to shape. Generously season the top side with salt & pepper.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in the pan over medium-high heat then add the patties seasoned-side-down. Season the top, then leave to fry for a couple of mins, or until they build up a crust on the bottom. Flip them over and cook until you build a crust on the second side and they're just about cooked through. Remove them from the pan and turn off the heat.
- Spread all 4 slices with sauce, then stack two of them with the patty and onions. Add the second slice on top to create two sandwiches (both with half American and half Swiss cheese).
- Add the sandwiches to the pan and toast both sides over medium heat until deep golden & crisp on the outside, with the cheese starting to melt in the centre. You can use the leftover burger fat to do this, or clean out the pan and spread both sides of the sandwiches with butter.
- Remove, slice each sandwich in half then tuck in and enjoy!
Quick 1 min demo!
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