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Patty melt

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Patty melt
Patty melt sliced to show layers of fried onions, cheese, and beef patty
Place of originUnited States
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsSeeded rye bread, hamburger patty, grilled onions, North American-style Swiss cheese
VariationsSourdough bread, Texas toast, Thousand Island dressing, American cheese

A patty melt is an American grilled sandwich consisting of a ground beef patty topped with melted cheese and caramelized onions between two slices of griddled seeded-rye bread.

Description and ingredients[edit]

The patty melt is variously described as a variant of the traditional American cheeseburger, topped with fried onions and served on sliced bread instead of a traditional bun, or as a variant of a grilled cheese that includes a hamburger patty and fried onions.[1][2][3]

The sandwich consists of a ground beef patty topped with melted cheese (traditionally Swiss cheese) and usually with caramelized onions between two slices of griddled bread (typically caraway-seeded rye or marbled rye, though sourdough or Texas toast are sometimes substituted in some regions, including the Southern U.S.)[1][4] It is typically made without condiments or garnishes.[5]

Like a grilled cheese, the patty melt maintains its structural integrity when eaten, as all ingredients are grilled at the same time and assembled while still hot, which melds the grilled bread, hamburger patty, cheese, and onions into a single unit that doesn't fall apart while being eaten.[1]

History and origins[edit]

Sandwiches calling for hamburger patties to be placed into two slices of bread, rather that into a bun, date to the mid-1800s and were referred to as hamburger sandwiches.[6] It is unclear when the patty melt was invented, but it was most likely the mid-20th century, either during the Great Depression or the postwar economic boom. Several culinary writers have suggested that Los Angeles restaurateur Tiny Naylor may have invented the patty melt sometime between 1930 and 1959, depending on the source;[7][8][9] it was on the menu at Tiny Naylor's in the early 1950s.[10] Even if Naylor did not invent the sandwich, it is agreed that he and his family helped popularize the sandwich in their restaurants and in restaurants where they worked, which included Tiny Naylor's, Du-par's, and Wolfgang Puck's Granita.[11]


According to New York Times food writer Pete Wells in 2024, the sandwich is "virtually unknown" outside of the United States; Wells theorizes that the amount of space on a flattop grill required to grill onions, patty, and bread at the same time has restricted its appeal outside of typical short-order restaurants.[1] It is typically on the menu of diners, coffee shops, and lunch counters, but in the early 2020s it started to appear on some upscale menus.[1]

Home cooking[edit]

Home cooks typically make patty melts in a cast-iron skillet in steps by separately grilling the patties, caramelizing the onions, assembling the sandwich, and then grilling it as for a grilled cheese sandwich.[10][6] Gentleman's Quarterly called it "the great indoor burger".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Wells, Pete (30 January 2024). "The Patty Melt Is Tired of Hearing About Your Favorite Burger". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 3 February 2024. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  2. ^ Kesh, Jonathan (8 November 2023). "What's The Difference Between A Burger And A Patty Melt?". The Daily Meal. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  3. ^ Friedman, Stephanie (16 March 2023). "Is There A Difference Between A Patty Melt And A Burger?". Tasting Table. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  4. ^ Lebovitz, David (8 August 2013). "Patty Melt". David Lebovitz. Archived from the original on 10 August 2022. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  5. ^ Copeland, Sarah (24 September 2019). "Deconstructing the Perfect Patty Melt". Saveur. Archived from the original on 3 October 2023. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  6. ^ a b c Nosowitz, Dan (28 June 2018). "Skip the Burger, Eat the Patty Melt". GQ. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  7. ^ Lurie, Joshua (22 February 2017). "11 Awesome Patty Melts For Your Next Comfort Food Fix: It's good to switch things up once in a while". Eater LA. Archived from the original on 28 March 2023. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  8. ^ Duane, Daniel (4 February 2016). "Better Than a Burger: In Praise of the Patty Melt". Men's Journal. Archived from the original on 3 May 2023. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  9. ^ Inamine, Elyse (15 June 2017). "The Patty Melt Is Getting Its Moment". Food & Wine. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  10. ^ a b Cook's Country: The Best Diner Food. PBS. 23 January 2024. Event occurs at 1:00.
  11. ^ Sifton, Sam (1 September 2016). "The Crispy Decadence of the Patty Melt". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.