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Food & Recipes

Make the Best-Ever Patty Melt at Home — Chef’s Trick for Cheesy, Meaty Goodness Better Than Any Diner

Plus, easy ideas for customizing this classic for next-level deliciousness

A cross between grilled cheese and a burger — what’s not to love about a patty melt? The classic sandwich is a meal in itself thanks to its toasty, cheesy and meaty flavors. Luckily, you don’t have to head to a diner next time you have a hankering, as we’ve cracked the code for making a delicious patty melt right at home. And it’s so easy! Even better: We’re sharing a chef’s hack for nailing perfectly round burgers that cook up perfectly. Just keep reading for tips and flavor ideas to make your ultimate patty melt.

The ingredients in a classic patty melt

A traditional patty melt consists of a burger patty, melted Swiss cheese and caramelized onions sandwiched between two slices of rye bread. The bread is what really differentiates this sandwich from a cheeseburger — the sliced rye toasts better than a regular burger bun, giving your patty melt a deliciously crunchy exterior.

The origins of the sandwich

Restaurateur William “Tiny” Naylor is credited with inventing this meaty, oniony sandwich. Originally created to combine his two favorite sandwiches into one, the patty melt debuted at his California fast food chain, Biffs Drive-Ins, in the late 1940s, where it quickly became a customer favorite.

Other fast food restaurants and diners caught onto the patty melt craze, eventually making their own versions of it. Some use Texas toast instead of rye bread, while others add sliced bacon for more saltiness. Thatgoes to show that this sandwich can be customized to your liking — especially when you make it from scratch.

How to shape evenly sized burger patties

The key to a delicious patty melt is a burger that cooks evenly and crisps up nicely in the pan. The trick that makes this easy? Recipe developer Justin Chapple uses two round lids to shape the burgers so they’re all the same size. (He opts for clean plastic lids from takeout containers, but any set of lids work fine.)

Follow these steps to shape multiple even-sized burger patties in under 5 minutes:

  1. Take 1 lb. of meat and divide it into 4 equal portions.
  2. Place 1 portion of the meat on top of 1 lid and cover it with the second lid.
  3. Gently press the lids together and give it a couple of turns.
  4. Once the meat has spread out and resembles a patty, transfer it to a plate.
  5. Repeat this process with the remaining portions of meat.

A mouthwatering patty melt recipe

Chef Dagan Lynn, executive chef at the company Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner, shares his Classic Beef Patty Melt recipe that’s packed with rich, buttery flavors. Dare we say, this yummy homemade sandwich gives the diner version a run for its money!

Classic Beef Patty Melt 

A sliced patty melt served on a plate


  • 1 lb. ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce 
  • ½ tsp. pepper 
  • ¼ tsp. salt 
  • 2 Tbs. salted or unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 cup white onion, diced 
  • 4 slices rye bread, cut diagonally in half 
  • 4 slices American cheese 
  • 4 slices thinly sliced Swiss cheese 
  • Olive or vegetable oil


  • Total time: 40 minutes 
  • YIeld: 4 servings
  1. Heat heavy large cast iron skillet, nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Dribble in enough oil to thinly coat surface.
  2. In medium bowl, combine ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into 4 (½-inch-thick) patties. 
  3. Once oil is heated, place patties in skillet. Cook 10 to 12 minutes until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center of patty registers 140°F to 145°F for medium, turning occasionally. Remove from skillet; keep warm. 
  4. Melt 1 Tbs. butter in same skillet. Add onion; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and very tender, stirring often. Remove onions from skillet; keep warm. 
  5. Spread remaining 1 Tbs. butter on one side of each bread slice half. Place 2 bread halves, buttered-side down, in skillet. Layer each with 1 slice American cheese, 1 burger and 1 slice Swiss cheese; ¼ of onion mixture. Top halves with bread slices, buttered-side up.
  6. Weight down sandwiches with heavy pan; cook 1 to 3 minutes on each side or until bread is golden brown, turning sandwiches once. Repeat process with remaining ingredients.
  7. Serve warm.

5 flavor upgrades for a homemade patty melt

To add even more flavor into your batch of patty melts, try these easy ideas:

1. Swap ground beef for turkey.

For a lighter and less greasy patty melt, use lean ground turkey in place of beef.

2. Sauté the onions with bell peppers and mushrooms.

Cooking the onions alongside chopped mushrooms and bell peppers creates a more robust veggie mix within the patty melt.

3. Opt for other kinds of sliced cheeses.

If you’re not a fan of American or Swiss cheese, replace it with sliced provolone, Monterey Jack or low-moisture mozzarella as they melt just as well for a gooey interior.

4. Layer 2 patties onto the sandwich for a double patty melt.

As a nod to double cheeseburgers, place two patties onto your patty melt if you’re craving an extra meaty and filling sandwich.

5. Serve the sandwich with a side of plain or flavored mayonnaise.

A little side of mayo served with the sandwich adds a buttery flavor to each bite. You can use plain mayo or mix the condiment with hot sauce, dried herbs or minced garlic to taste.

For more recipes to satisfy your savory cravings, read the stories below:

Guaranteed Juicy Meatloaf Every Time — Here’s the Easy Step That Most Folks Skip

What’s Better Than A Grilled Cheese Sandwich? One That’s Dipped in a Light Batter and Fried, Italian-Style — Delizioso!

Smokehouse Chef’s Easy Secret To Your Best-Ever Fried Bologna Sandwich

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