Classic Patty Melt

The ultimate comfort food!  A classic patty melt is a cross between a burger and a sandwich.  Ground beef, topped with sweet, caramelized onions, cheese, and thousand island dressing, placed between slices of soft, sourdough bread and grilled to perfection.

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A classic patty melt of grilled sourdough bread, ground beef patty, caramelized onion, and cheese on a white plate

I think I have eaten a patty melt in almost every state.  Originally served in the 1940s, the patty melt was a classic diner meal.  And since I am obsessed with old diners, it stands to reason that I am compelled to order one in every diner that I visit.  I have yet to find a patty melt that I didn’t love.


This ultimate comfort food is also ridiculously easy to make.  It literally has 5 steps. Yep, you heard me…5 steps.

  1.  Caramelize the onions
  2. Mix the raw ground beef and form into patties
  3. Cook the patties
  4. Assemble the sandwich with onions, meat, cheese, thousand island dressing, and sourdough bread that’s buttered on the outside
  5. Grill the sourdough until it is crispy and golden

Yes.  It is just that easy.


Yes, but you don’t want to compromise the comforting taste and texture of the sandwich.

  • Sourdough, rye, pumpernickel, white, or wheat bread all work really well in this recipe.  It is simply a matter of taste.
  • Let’s talk cheese.  Personally, I like the gooey, melty texture and taste of good old fashioned American cheese.  But, swiss, cheddar, provolone, or gouda would all be delicious in this sandwich.  
  • The onions are something that can’t be swapped for anything else.  They are what makes a patty melt something special. However, if you are feeling creative, try using a mixture of different onions for a bit of variation.  Try a Vidalia or Texas sweet onion, a yellow onion, white onion and maybe a shallot for a touch of garlic flavor. The has a great video/article on how to carmelize onions.

A classic patty melt of grilled sourdough bread, ground beef patty, caramelized onion, and cheese on a white plate

Need a little more comfort?  Try these delicious and comforting recipes:

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The ultimate comfort food, this classic patty melt satisfies even the pickiest eater. Juicy ground beef, sweet caramelized onions, cheese, and buttery, grilled bread makes for the perfect weeknight dinner option.



For the caramelized onions:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the patty melts

  • 1 pound freshly ground chuck, (80/20)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thick slices deli-counter American cheese
  • 8 thick slices sourdough bread
  • ½ cup thousand island dressing
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided


  1. In a large skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with the melted butter. Stir in the sugar. Cover and allow to steam for 10 – 12 minutes.
  2. After 12 minutes, remove the cover and stir the onions. Lower the heat to low and allow the onions to carmelize until completely golden brown – about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion powder, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt, and pepper until just combined. Don’t overmix the meat or they will be tough.
  4. Shape the meat into 4 rectangular shaped patties. The patties should be roughly the same shape and size of the bread. Allow them to stay at room temperature while you preheat your skillet or grill.
  5. Preheat the grill, grill pan, or griddle to high heat.
  6. Add the burger patties and cook until a crust forms on the bottom. You will know when this has happened when you can easily flip the burger because it has released from the bottom of the pan.
  7. Flip and cool another 2 minutes on the other side for another 2 -3 minutes. Remove from pan to a plate to rest.
  8. To assemble the patty melt, spread both sides of sourdough bread with thousand island dressing. Add a beef patty, 2 slices of American cheese and ¼ of the carmelized onions.
  9. Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt a half tablespoon of butter for each sandwich.
  10. Carefully slide a sandwich into the hot skillet and grill until golden brown and slightly crispy – about 3 minutes. Flip and grill the other side for another 3 minutes.
  11. Remove the sandwich from the pan to a plate.
  12. Slice the sandwich down the middle and serve with additional thousand island dressing, if desired
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes


  • Serving Size: Serves 4
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