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    Classic Patty Melt Recipe

    Published June 27, 2024. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This classic Patty Melt Recipe is jam-packed with caramelized onions, melted cheese, and a seared hamburger patty on tasty bread for the perfect sandwich. My family often asks for this over the classic cheeseburger because they like it so much.

     I don’t know about you, but I grew up eating lunch, meat, and sandwiches. While I’ve upped my game to more gourmet sandwiches, I still eat them often. I recommend trying my Croque Madame or Philly Cheesesteak to take your sandwich-making skills to the next level.

    patty melt sandwich onions


     

    Patty Melt

    Patty melt is an American sandwich consisting of a cooked, seasoned ground beef patty served with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese on toasted rye bread. It became popular in the late 1940s by Tiny Naylor, the owner of Biff’s Drive-Ins and Tiny Naylor Coffee Shop restaurants in California. The patty melt was first added to the menu at Tiny Naylor Coffee Shop as a beef patty between two slices of rye bread.

    There have since been variations made to the sandwich by using different pieces of bread, cheeses, and sauces. All, including the original, are very good and will depend on your desired flavor profiles. Outside of the time it takes to caramelize the onions, this quick-to-prepare sandwich makes for a great weeknight meal.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    patty melt ingredients
    • Beef – While any ground beef will work for this recipe, I prefer to use 80/20 lean-to-fat ground chuck. Try using my tasty homemade ground beef recipe.
    • Bread – The classic bread to use is Rye. Other common options to use are white bread or sourdough bread.
    • Cheese — Swiss cheese is the most traditional. However, you can also use American, cheddar, or fontina. You can use shreds or slices.
    • Onions – You can use a yellow, white, sweet, or red onion.
    • Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is used for the onions. You can also use balsamic, white wine, or white distilled vinegar.
    • Butter – I always use unsalted butter in my cooking and baking to control the sodium content.
    • Seasoning – I only use coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper when seasoning the burger patty.
    • Sauces – Some patty melt variations use Thousand Island Dressing, Russian Dressing, or plain prepared horseradish. Using any of these is optional but not necessarily traditional.

    How to Make a Patty Melt

    Add the butter to a rondeau or a large cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onions once the butter is melted, gently season with salt, and combine.

    cooking onions

    Cover and let the onions stand untouched for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and stir the onions for 1 to 2 minutes. They should start to turn light brown.

    adding a lid on pan

    Turn the heat to low-to-low medium and stir every 6 to 8 minutes for 30 to 35 minutes or until very dark brown. Deglaze with the vinegar, season with salt, and stir to combine. Cover and set them aside.

    caramelized onions

    Form the ground beef into 3 large patties and place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

    pressing a burger patty

    Slice the bread and shred the cheese.

    slice rye bread

    Heat a griddle or a large cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat, about 375° to 400°.

    turning the heat on a griddle

    Generously season the burgers on the top side with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

    seasoning a burger patty

    Drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil or unsalted butter into the griddle or pan.

    adding oil to a griddle

    Place the patties seasoning side down in the oil, and generously season the top side with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

    searing a burger patty

    Cook the burger for 3 minutes untouched and then flip them over.

    browned burger

    Once the burger is flipped, spread 2 teaspoons of softened unsalted butter on each side of the rye bread slices. Place the bread on the griddle or in the pan, cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted, then flip it over.

    toasting bread on a griddle with a burger

    Once flipped, sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded Swiss cheese on each bread slice and then top off with 1/3 of the caramelized onions.

    cheese and onions on toast

    Place on the burger patty and add the other toasted sliced rye.

    patty melt on a griddle

    Slice and serve. Try using different cheeses or sauces, as in my video below.

    patty melt with russian dressing on a griddle

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This patty melt is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking. However, if you keep the bread, cheese, cooked hamburger patty, and caramelized onions separate, you can make it up to two days ahead

    How to Store: It’s best to cover the cooked hamburger patty, cheese, bread, and caramelized onions separately. Cover it with plastic and keep it in the refrigerator for 3 days if it’s already assembled. This recipe will not freeze well.

    How to Reheat: Place the desired number of patty melts on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake them in the oven at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until warm. If you kept the main components of the dish separate, follow the reheating procedures in the recipe.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • It’s best to season the burger right before cooking it. Do not pre-season it.
    • Do not overwork the burger patties, as they can become tough. Instead of rolling them into a ball and pressing them, I recommend gently pressing a handful of ground meat into patties.
    • Once the patties are made, press the center down slightly to prevent the patty from popping up in the middle as it cooks.
    • It’s good to keep the ground beef in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before handling it so it doesn’t heat up and get overly sticky.
    • Feel free to use a non-stick skillet to make the sandwich as well.
    • You may need to move the bread in the pan or the griddle to brown it evenly.  
    • Depending on the size of your pan or griddle, you’ll most likely need to do this in batches.

    More Sandwich Recipes

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    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Classic Patty Melt Recipe

    5 from 2 votes
    This Patty Melt Recipe is jam-packed with caramelized onions, cheese, and a seared hamburger patty on tasty bread for the perfect sandwich.
    Servings: 3
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour

    Ingredients 

    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 peeled and thinly sliced large yellow onions
    • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • 3 teaspoons avoado oil
    • 1 pound 80/20 ground chuck
    • 6 ounces shredded swiss cheese
    • 6 thick slices of rye bread
    • coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the butter to a rondeau or a large cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add in the onions, gently season with salt, and mix to combine.
    • Cover and let the onions stand untouched for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid, and stir the onions for 1 to 2 minutes. They should start to turn light brown.
    • Turn the heat to low-to-low medium and stir every 6 to 8 minutes for the next 30 to 35 minutes or until very dark brown. Deglaze with the vinegar, season with salt, and stir to combine. Cover and set them aside.
    • Form the ground beef into 3 large patties and place them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
    • Slice the bread and shred the cheese.
    • Heat a griddle or a large cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat, about 375° to 400°.
    • Generously season the burgers on the top side with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
    • Drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil or unsalted butter onto the griddle or pan.
    • Place the patties seasoning side down onto the oil and then generously season the top side with coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
    • Cook the burger for 3 minutes untouched and then flip them over.
    • Once the burger is flipped, spread 2 teaspoons of softened unsalted butter on each side of the rye bread slices.
    • Place the bread onto the griddle or in the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted and flip it over.
    • Once flipped sprinkle on 1/3 of the shredded Swiss cheese on each bread slice and then top off with 1/3 of the caramelized onions.
    • Place on the burger patty and, add the other toasted sliced rye on top.
    • Slice and serve. Try using different cheeses or sauces like I did in my video below.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This patty melt is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s done cooking. However, if you keep the bread, cheese, cooked hamburger patty, and caramelized onions separate, you can make it up to two days ahead.
    How to Store: It’s best to cover the cooked hamburger patty, cheese, bread, and caramelized onions separately. Cover it with plastic and keep it in the refrigerator for 3 days if assembled. This recipe will not freeze well.
    How to Reheat: Place the desired number of patty melts on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake them in the oven at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until warm. If you kept the main components of the dish separate, follow the reheating procedures in the recipe.
    It’s best to season the burger right before cooking it. Do not pre-season it.
    Do not overwork the burger patties, as they can become tough. Instead of rolling them into a ball and pressing them, I recommend gently pressing a handful of ground meat into patties.
    Once the patties are made, press the center down slightly to prevent the patty from popping up in the middle as it cooks.
    It’s good to keep the ground beef in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before handling it so it doesn’t heat up and get overly sticky.
    Feel free to use a non-stick skillet to make the sandwich as well.
    You may need to move the bread in the pan or the griddle to brown it evenly.  
    Depending on the size of your pan or griddle, you’ll most likely need to do this in batches.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 849kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 42gFat: 71gSaturated Fat: 34gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 210mgSodium: 224mgPotassium: 567mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1.055IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 556mgIron: 3mg
    Course: lunch, Main Course
    Cuisine: American