Perfect Patty Melts

a grilled patty melt with gooey cheese

Patty melts are the ultimate hot sandwich, with juicy smashed burgers layered with melty cheese and caramelized onions, all grilled up in crisp sourdough bread ~ if you haven’t had a patty melt since the 90s, you’re definitely due for a meet up with this diner style grilled burger sandwich.

patty melt sliced in half with knife

patty melts are the stuff dinner dreams are made of…

Heads up readers ~ the patty melt is one pretty perfect sandwich. Or is it a burger? Doesn’t really matter what you call it, this classic mid century invention is the bomb. It was invented in the 1950s by the LA restaurant chain Tiny Naylor’s. Tiny Naylor’s closed its doors in 1984, but the patty melt torch has been carried on by diners, chain restaurants, and coffee shops all over the country.

the difference between a burger and a patty melt

If you’re still confused: patty melts are basically a sleeker, grilled version of a burger, sandwiched between bread instead of a bun and grilled until crisp on the outside and all melty inside.

Patty melt sandwich, stacked

what makes a perfect patty melt?

Patty melts are famous because they’re the perfect combination of so many of our favorite things. What makes them perfect is showering respect and love on each and every ingredient (don’t worry, there aren’t many.)

  • the beef

~ it’s what puts the patty in patty melt and it’s pretty critical. Use 80/20 ground beef and season it well (onion and garlic powders go a long way.)

  • the onions

~ they’re lovingly caramelized, and yes, this takes time. Do it a day or two ahead if you need to.

  • the cheese

~ technically Swiss, I used baby Swiss because it has such a cute name. Remember, it’s called a patty melt, so make sure whatever cheese you use gets nice and gooey when hot.

  • the mayo

~ it gets no respect, even though it’s a classic French sauce made from whole ingredients. Use it proudly.

  • the butter

~ the butter does double duty, first teaming with the mayo to slather the outsides of the bread, and then in the pan to grill your patty.

  • the bread

~ make sure it’s strong enough to hold up under pressure. It’s got to soak up the juices from the burger and the onions and keep all those layers in line. Rye, and sourdough are especially good, but there’s no shame in plain white.

Halves of classic patty melt sandwich, stacked on a plate with cheese dripping

fry cook’s secrets to a perfect patty melt

  1. Caramelize those onions. It will take a good while (up to or over an hour) to truly caramelize onions, but you can do it ahead of time if you like. Tip: if you really don’t have the time, simply sauté the onions in a hot skillet until soft and browned. It’s a different flavor, but also delicious.
  2. Season your beef and make flat patties (think smash burgers), a little bigger than the size of your bread. This is because the meat will shrink as it cooks and you want it to fill out as much of your sandwich as possible. Tip: flatten your thin patty down with a spatula as it cooks so it doesn’t puff up.
  3. Schmear the outside of both slices of bread with a mixture of mayo and butter for flavor and golden crispiness.
  4. Layer up with cheese on top AND bottom, with patty and onions in the middle.
  5. Grill on medium so the inside has time to melt before the bread scorches. I like to cover my skillet with a lid to keep the heat in and get the melting action going.
  6. Have everybody line up around the stove with plates in hand, these melts grill up in a matter of minutes and you want to get ’em while they’re hot.

try my sheet pan method for these patty melts

  • Instead of grilling your melts on the stove top, place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and slide into a 400F oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty. No need to flip the sandwiches.
  • Place under the broiler briefly if you need more browning on the top of the melts.


patty melt sandwich on a plate

easy classic dinners we return to again and again

a grilled patty melt with gooey cheese

a grilled patty melt with gooey cheese
4.84 from 6 votes

Perfect Patty Melts

Patty melts are the ultimate hot sandwich, with juicy smashed burgers layered with melty cheese and caramelized onions, all grilled up in crisp sourdough bread.
Course Dinner Recipes
Cuisine American
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 4 patty melts
Calories 706kcal
Author Sue Moran


caramelized onions

  • 2 yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp` sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dry sherry for deglazing the pan (you can use water instead.)

patty melts

  • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef (you can use up to 1.25 lb)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp deydrated minced onion (optional but delicious)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 8 slices of sourdough, rye, or white bread
  • 8 thin slices cheese Swiss cheese (use extra to taste or to fit your bread)


  • First start the onions. Add the onions, olive oil, salt and sugar to a heavy pot or skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring often. They will first lose their moisture, and then slowly start to turn a golden. If they start to brown right away, you've got your heat too high. Use a splash of dry sherry to deglaze the pan and scrape up any browning that has accumulated on the pan. Set aside.
    caramelized onions in a pot
  • While the onions are cooking, mix the ground beef with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, and dried onion, if using. Mix with your fingers until everything is well combined, but don't wover work the meat or it can get tough.
    Spices and ground beef for patty melt burgers
  • Divide the meat mixture into four equal parts.
    Dividing meat mixture in 4 parts for patties.
  • Roll the meat into a rough ball shape, then flatten into thin smashed burgers a little bigger than the size of your bread slices. Don't worry about being perfect here, just approximate. Note: you want the patties to be a little larger than your bread because they will shrink as they cook.
    Flat beef patties for patty melts
  • Mash together the softened butter and mayo until smooth (it's ok if it's a little lumpy.)
    mashed butter and mayo
  • Spread the mixture on one side of each piece of bread.
    spreading a butter/mayo mixture on bread
  • Heat a skillet on medium high and add a pat of butter. Fry the burgers, working in batches if necessary, until they're browned and just done through. These will not take long to cook. Note: I like to flatten the patties as they cook with my spatula to make sure they don't puff up.
  • Place 1 slice of cheese on the unbuttered side of four slices of bread.
    cheese on bread for patty melt
  • Place the cooked burger on top of the cheese.
    burger patty on top of cheese
  • Add a layer of caramelized onions to the burger and spread them out across the whole sandwich.
    caramelized onions on top of burger patty
  • Top that with another slice of cheese.
    topping patty melt with 2 more slices of Swiss cheese
  • Add your top slices of bread, butter side up.
    Finished patty melt sandwich prepped and ready to grill
  • Heat a dry skillet over medium heat until hot but not super hot. Grill the patty melts until golden on the outside and melty inside, flipping once. The aim is to give the cheese enough time to melt while the bread is toasting. Note: I will sometimes cover the skillet after flipping to contain the heat.
    grilling a patty melt sandwich
  • Slice in half and serve asap.
    a grilled patty melt with gooey cheese

Cook's notes

to cut calories in patty melts

  • use lean ground beef
  • use thin sliced bread
  • spread the outside of the bread with a thin layer of  mayo instead of the thick layer of mayo and butter
  • use low fat cheese


Calories: 706kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 1720mg | Potassium: 472mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 362IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 4mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

A close up of a sliced patty melt

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Joan L.
    December 12, 2021 at 8:08 am

    5 stars
    These sound similar to how I actually make mine. However, I like the addition of the seasonings in the burger patties & the addition of the mayo to the softened butter. I will be adding that to mine for sure. I do grill the burger patties separately from the bread. I butter, both sides of the bread & grill both sides of the bread in a separate dry pan. Then, I place the cheese on top of each patty before they are done cooking, cover the pan until the cheese melts. Then, assemble the sandwiches. By grilling both sides of the bread, this really gets the bread slices good & crispy & holds up to the weight of the burger patties. I of course use a good bakery-style bread (usually Rye or Marble Rye) from the bakery department & not the bread aisle. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Reply
    Lynn Brant
    February 22, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    5 stars
    Making these babies tomorrow!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 22, 2021 at 6:32 pm


      • Reply
        February 22, 2021 at 9:23 pm

        Missed opportunity… Thin layer of mayo on both sides of each slice of bread. Cook both sides until golden brown, provolone on inside of both, onions and burger in the middle. A tiny dollop of Dijon on the plate to dip bites in. Heaven!

  • Reply
    Gary Palmer
    February 22, 2021 at 9:00 am

    4 stars
    Flattening the burgers as they cook may squeeze out some juice. If you make the patties with a middle indentation it will solve this. Love your site!

  • Reply
    Kim C
    February 22, 2021 at 7:26 am

    5 stars
    Dying, just dying here. You have made me totally crave a delicious patty melt! Thanks for the reminder of this classic sandwich! It looks soooooooooo good!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 22, 2021 at 7:32 am

      they’re pretty crave-worthy, that’s for sure!

  • Reply
    Marilyn Davenport
    February 22, 2021 at 6:25 am

    5 stars
    Oh Boy, this sandwich is sooooo good!

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