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What Is a Patty Melt?

Updated on October 24, 2017
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Writing Nag is the pseudonym for blogger Patricia Biro. She writes about home, finance, creative writing and anything and everything vintage

Best Patty Melts Ever

How do I judge a diner? How well do they make the grilled sandwich classics? Grilled cheese, Reuben's and of course Patty Melts!

What is a patty melt?

Simply speaking a patty melt is a classic grilled diner sandwich that consists of a thin patty of ground beef and melted cheese (traditionally Swiss but Cheddar or American cheeses are great too!) with grilled caramelized onions and toasted bread.

In my opinion, the best patty melts include a lean, thin patty of ground beef, plenty of caramelized onions, lots of melted cheese and perfectly grilled marble rye bread.

A patty melt sandwich should be toasty, melty and juicy. The rye bread should crunch when you bite into it!

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Patty Melt Recipe

Makes Two Patty Melts

8 ounces ground beef (I like chuck for flavor)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter

Caramelized Onions*

4 slices Marble Rye bread or your favorite rye

4 slices Swiss cheese

2-4 tablespoons softened butter or 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (some people think a sandwich grilled with mayonnaise has better flavor and browning)

Form the ground chuck into two thin patties and season with salt and pepper; (try to make them the same size and shape of the rye bread.)

Preheat a cast iron grill pan to medium-high heat.

Cook the burgers in olive oil or butter until well cooked on both sides. At the last minute reheat your caramelized onions to warm them throughout. Set the cooked patties and the onions aside, cover with foil and wipe down the grill pan.

Assemble your Patty Melts! Rye bread, cheese, caramelized onion, cooked patty, cheese and Rye Bread. Butter or spread mayonnaise on both sides of your sandwich.

Grill each sandwich until golden brown on each side, make sure the cheese is thoroughly melted! Slice the Patty Melt on the bias and serve with pickle spears, condiments and potato chips.

*Caramelized Onions

These should be made ahead of time so when you're ready to compose your Patty Melt the onions can just be reheated on the hot grill.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium hot skillet, add two thinly sliced onions. Cook over low heat until onions slowly release their natural sugars and caramelize. Don't rush this process or stir the onions before the caramelization occurs. This could take anywhere from 20-40 minutes.

Patty Melt Sauce

Make it spicy!

Traditionally a patty melt sandwich is served with ketchup on the side but some patty melt lovers like Thousand Island dressing or mustard served on the side.

Try this Spicy Thousand Island Dressing Recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon sambal oelek (hot chile paste)

2 tablespoons Wickles (pickle relish)

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped green olives with pimientos

Whisk all ingredients together.

Cooking a patty melt

As with most recipes cooking temperature will make or break your Best Ever patty melt.

The grill should be hot enough to toast the rye bread but not too hot as to burn the buttered bread. I like using a cast iron griddle for cooking all of my melty cheese sandwiches.

Watch the temperature when you are cooking grilled sandwiches if the pan or grill is too high the bread will toast before the filling will warm and melt.

Some other diner favorites?

There are definitely some favorite diner sandwiches that you will find all over America. Some traditional diner sandwiches include:

Grilled Cheese and Tomato


Hot Ham & Cheese

Tuna Melt

Meatloaf Sandwich

What do all of these diner classics have in common? Comfort food that feature good simple ingredients expertly cooked with familiar favorites.

Do you have a favorite patty melt sandwich recipe?

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      julieannbrady 4 years ago

      I am "nuts" about patty melts! And, yes, it is a test sandwich that I will order to determine if that diner knows how to do it. I don't like the rye bread to be soggy. I also prefer a spicy dressing with lots of onions. Tasty french fries on the side and lots of napkins!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Patty melts are my favorite way to have a hamburger! The rye bread makes it special :)

    • kevkev227 lm profile image

      kevkev227 lm 5 years ago

      I love these, but never think to make them at home...maybe I should give it a try :)