You will love this easy-to-follow Cast Iron Patty Melts recipe. This shortcut classic dish features gooey cheese, tangy sauce, and sweet and savory onions.
There’s just something about a gooey, cheesy, buttery patty melt that hits the spot some days. It’s comfort food to the max. Both my mom and my wife list a patty melt near the top of their favorites and for good reason. Buttery delicious sourdough bread (or rye, if that’s your thing) is topped with caramelized onions, a savory beef burger, two kinds of gooey melted cheese, and it’s dripping in a tangy sauce that is the perfect complement. Do I have your attention yet?
What is a patty melt?
A patty melt is a classic American sandwich that combines elements of a hamburger and a grilled cheese sandwich. It typically consists of a beef patty, caramelized onions, and cheese, all sandwiched between slices of grilled sourdough or rye bread.
The name “patty melt” comes from the hamburger patty and the melted cheese ingredients. First, the patty is cooked on a griddle or in a skillet until done. Then it is assembled with the desired ingredients and layering and returned to the griddle or skillet until the bread is nice and toasted.
Patty melts are usually served with a variety of condiments and sides, such as ketchup, special sauces, pickles, fries, or chips. You can most commonly find these delicious sandwiches in diners across the United States.
What makes a patty melt different than a burger?
The primary differences between a patty melt and a burger lie in the choice of bread, types of onions, the cooking method, and different sauces. Despite these distinctions, both are delicious and popular American dishes!
- Bread: Probably the most obvious difference is the type of bread used. In a traditional burger, a round hamburger bun is typically used. A patty melt typically calls for rye or sourdough bread.
- Onions: Patty melts are usually known for their use of caramelized onions. While I have heard of burgers with caramelized onions, it’s much more common to see raw onions on burgers.
- Cooking Method: A traditional burger is typically grilled, cooked on a stovetop, or prepared on a barbecue, and a patty melt is made by cooking the patty and caramelizing the onions separately first in a griddle or on a skillet. With the patty melt, the patty, onions, and other toppings are placed between two slices of bread with cheese and returned to the griddle or skillet for toasting. Burgers are usually left to assemble with raw ingredients and toppings by the individual who will be eating that particular burger.
- Sauce: While both a patty melt and a burger can be served with various condiments and sauces, the patty melt often features a special sauce or no sauce at all. A burger is most commonly topped with some arrangement of ketchup, mustard, and/or mayo.
What kind of burger should you use in a patty melt?
I think really any kind of beef patty will work. I typically go with a round or square cut patty of beff that is no heavier than 1/4 to 1/3 pound each.
But I have to confess something to you… I’ve been a little bit of a snob when it comes to frozen burgers. They just haven’t been my jam. But when my friends at Holten Meats sent me some of their Chop House Certified Angus and Angus Sirloin 1/3 Pound Steak Burgers, I immediately knew I had to give them a try in this patty melt recipe. And y’all… these changed my mind. Seriously. Outside of them being incredibly convenient, these packed some serious flavor. And, I’m not just saying that because they were sent to me!
The ingredients in the Angus Sirloin burgers I used in this particular recipe were just certified Angus beef, celery salt, black pepper, and rosemary extract. There’s a lot to be said about knowing exactly what’s in your food.
Now, my favorite way to cook burgers when I’m not firing up the grill is in a cast iron skillet. It gives the burgers that authentic flat top grill flavor. You know what I’m talking about – those greasy spoon diner burgers cooked up by a guy in a paper hat. You know where I’m going with this!
Sure, you can do it in another kind of skillet, but nothing beats cast iron for this one.
What is patty melt sauce made of?
Some will argue that a true patty melt doesn’t have a sauce. And, they can just keep on arguing. I’ll be over here with my fingers in my ears and my tongue sticking out. Okay, not really. Well, maybe… I just love the flavor and extra gooeyness a good sauce gives.
My version from this recipe features a combination of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, and black pepper. It’s tangy and absolutely delicious! Other common sauces found on patty melts are generally close to my concoction, but may also include mustard, pickles or pickle relish, hot sauce, or Worcestershire sauce. Sauce up and enjoy!
Cast Iron Patty Melt
- 2 large sweet onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 Chop House by Holten Angus Sirloin Steak Burgers
- 8 slices thick cut sourdough or rye bread
- 4 slices medium cheddar cheese
- 4 slices swiss cheese
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and soft – about 30 minutes.
- Make the sauce by combining the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, and black pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of butter then cook the burger patties according to the package instructions. Wipe the skillet clean.
- Assemble each sandwich by spreading the sauce on one side of all 8 slices of bread. Divide the onions between 4 slices of bread. Top each with a burger patty, one slice of each cheese, and then another slice of bread.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a skillet over medium-low heat. Swirl to coat the pan with the melted butter. Add the assembled sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown. Flip the sandwiches and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Move the sandwiches around to coat them in butter. Cook until golden brown. Serve immediately.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
This post is sponsored by my friends at Chop House (by Holten) Steak Burgers, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are all my own – just as always.