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Patty Melt

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 10 min
  • Calories: 715
Patty Melt stack with grilled onions and swiss cheese

As diner sandwiches go, the melty, meaty, oniony perfection that is the patty melt reigns supreme—if you know, you know. And if you don’t know, well, welcome to the club.

Patty Melt, Please!

We love a good diner. From the swirly stools to the cozy red vinyl booths—they’ve got to be red—to the brisk service and familiar menu, they’re nostalgic and classic. Anywhere you go in this country, you can pretty much find a good old-fashioned diner, grab a seat, and feel at home. Usually, we don’t even need to see the menu. Patty melt, please! We were raised on these things. But now, when we crave a patty melt, we need it to be perfect. Sure, sometimes a diner nails it. But sometimes they don’t! That’s why, these days, our perfect patty melt is a homemade patty melt. This homemade patty melt, to be exact.

patty melt recipe on sourdough bread with beef patty, swiss cheese and caramelized onions

What Is a Patty Melt?

More cheeseburger than sandwich—or, is it more sandwich than burger? The patty melt defies categorization. All we can say for sure is that patty melts are delicious. Restaurant lore says that this beloved, beefy, crispy, melty sandwich—yeah, let’s just decide that it’s more sandwich than burger—originated at a diner in Los Angeles called Tiny Naylor’s sometime in the early 1950s. It quickly became a favorite at diners all across the country. Some have described a patty melt as the love child of burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, and that’s a pretty apt description. So, just how to you make a patty melt? Well, it all starts with...

ingredients for patty melt recipe. sour dough bread, ground beef onions, swiss cheese, mayonnaise, butter, seasoning

The Best Patty Melt Ingredients

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty! What's on a patty melt? Let us walk you through all the layers of awesome that make a patty melt so so so great:

  • Bread! You’ll fry the bread in a pan until it’s all crispy and toasty, just as you would if you were making a grilled cheese. Some patty melt recipes call for rye bread, but we prefer sourdough. If you’re crazy for rye bread, though, go ahead and use that.
  • Ground beef patty. The “patty” part of the patty melt is good, old-fashioned 80/20 ground beef. You’ll season it well, and then fry it in a pan until it’s wonderfully crisp and textural on the outside and juicy on the inside.
  • Cheese. The “melt” part of the patty melt! Swiss cheese is the classic patty melt cheese, though some people choose American for its gooey quality. You can play around with the kind of cheese if you really want to, but we’ll go on record saying that, when it comes to making a truly great patty melt, it’s Swiss or bust.
  • Caramelized onions. Arguably, the caramelized onions are the “melt” part of a patty melt, too. Yes, making caramelized onions takes about an hour. Yes, you can do it ahead of time. No, your sandwich does not deserve to be called a patty melt if you skip the onions.
ground beef, Onion powder, Garlic powder, Salt, pepper, Worcestershire in a bowl
4 ground beef patties seasoned with Onion powder, Garlic powder, Salt, pepper and Worcestershire

How to Make a Patty Melt

There’s nothing speedy about making a patty melt, but there’s also nothing complicated about it. Making a homemade patty melt is about achieving perfection—a nostalgic sandwich like this is about reaching back into your memory banks to recreate a gustatory experience from long ago. That patty melt you always ordered at the diner near your grandparents house, or the one you got that one time on your birthday. For many of us, these kinds of nostalgic foods are a bit of a disappointment when we finally order them in a restaurant or diner. Because really, what could possibly live up to an ideal that’s had years, even decades, to get built up in our mind? A diner patty melt might let you down, but a homemade one—this patty melt recipe in particular—well, it just might measure up. So set aside a little time, and cook up some Platonic ideal patty melt perfection. Here’s how:

  1. Caramelize some onions. You can do this a day or two ahead of time, if need be.
  2. Season your beef, then form it into 1/4 pound patties.
  3. Cook your beef! In a hot pan, until it’s cooked to your preferred level of doneness.
  4. Slather your bread with a mixture of softened butter and mayo. Yep, that’s right. Mayo and butter, BOTH. Take no prisoners. Accept no substitutions.
  5. Build your patty melts. The order is as follows: slathered bread slice, cheese slice, beef patty, caramelized onions, second cheese slice, slathered, butter-side-up bread slice.
  6. Griddle your patty melts! Cook them over medium low heat—if your pan is too hot, the bread will burn before the cheese melts.
  7. Eat your patty melts!
caramelized onions in a pan
patty melt hamburger patties in a pan
open face homemade patty melt in a pan
two toasted patty melt sandwiches in a pan

Tools You’ll Need

More Toasty, Melty Sandwich Recipes To Try

patty melt recipe on sourdough bread with beef patty, swiss cheese and caramelized onions

A Perfect Patty Melt Recipe

Not to brag, but we really feel like this is perfection. Try the recipe, and let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Patty Melt

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 10 min
  • Calories: 715

Ingredients

  • 8 Slices sourdough bread
  • 4 tbsp Butter, softened
  • 4 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Salt, divided
  • 1/4 Pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 8 Slices swiss cheese

Caramelized Onions

  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 Yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Salt, to taste

Method

Caramelized Onions

  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium non-stick skillet set over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and satué until golden and caramelized, stirring every once in a while, not too often. This will take between 45-60 minutes. If you like your caramelized onions on the sweeter side, add 1-2 tsp brown sugar. Add salt to taste. If your onions are browning too quickly, turn the heat to medium low and add water to deglaze the pan 1 tablespoon at a time until they stop burning and start to caramelize again.

Patty Melt

  1. In a small bowl mix the softened butter and mayonnaise together until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and Worcestershire. Form the meat mixture into 4 patties roughly the same shape of your slice of bread but a little bigger than the bread (they will shrink down when cooked and fit the bread perfectly) and sprinkle with remaining salt.
  3. Wipe out the pan used for the caramelized onions, or grab a second pan and heat it over medium heat. Cook the beef patties on both sides until no longer pink in the middle.
  4. Butter each piece of sourdough with 1 tablespoon of the butter/mayonnaise mixture.
  5. Wipe out the pan again and place it back over the heat on medium-low. Place 1 slice of Swiss cheese on each piece of bread (on the dry side, not the buttered side). Top each piece of cheese with a beef patty. Divide the onions between the sandwiches and top with a 2nd cheese slice.. Top each sandwich with the remaining bread slices butter side up.
  6. Cook until golden brown and crisp, and until the cheese is melted. Carefully flip each sandwich over and repeat the cooking until golden brown and crips step. Remove from the pan and slice in half. Serve immediately.