Burger buns need not apply when it comes to making patty melts. A reuben-esque sandwich that swaps in a burger in place of pastrami, layered with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, patty melts are part sandwich, part burger, and 100 percent delicious.
Bread matters here. You can use any sliced bread in a pinch, but traditional patty melts are made with rye bread—with or without caraway seeds is up to you. It might feel fussy toasting the bread before assembling and grilling them, but the toasted interior ensures it doesn’t become a soggy mess. We’ll let you in a secret shortcut, though. Use the bagel setting on your toaster, and it’ll toast just one side of the bread, cutting a few minutes of prep, and allowing you to dig into these juicy patty melts even faster.
Swiss is the classic cheese used for patty melts, but the wonderful thing about making them at home is you can choose whatever cheese you love most. Cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, and even American cheese will all deliver the same gooey, melted goodness you expect when biting into a patty melt.
The caramelized onions are an easy make-ahead part of this recipe. They can be prepared up to 5 days in advance, and stored in a covered container in the fridge. A quick heat in the microwave is all you’ll need before assembling and cooking the patty melts. Our pro-tip: make extra caramelized onions—they’re a great addition to all your grilling recipes this summer, plus you’ll be one step closer to make patty melts any time you want to fulfill your cravings.
- 1 stick/8 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
- 8 slices rye bread
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
Gather the ingredients.
Set aside 2 tablespoons of butter to soften while you proceed with the recipe.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, then stir to coat with butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden and very tender, about 10 minutes. If necessary, add water 1 tablespoon at a time to prevent the onions from sticking to the pan.
Use the reserved softened butter to butter both sides of each slice of bread. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add the bread and cook until toasted underneath, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, toasted side-up. Reserve skillet to cook the burgers.
Meanwhile, shape the beef into four 5-inch round patties. Season with salt and pepper.
In reserved skillet, cook burgers until browned and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Top each slice of toasted bread with a slice of cheese. Place one patty over cheese, then top with some of the onions. Put the remaining bread, cheese-side down, over the onions to form a sandwich.
In the same skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the sandwiches and cook (in batches if necessary) about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Flip once and repeat. Serve immediately.