For the longest time, I didn’t understand what the fuss was about patty melts. Weren’t they just cheeseburgers with a funky new name? Such ignorance could only come from someone that’s never experienced their glory.
Let’s get it straight: A patty melt IS a cheeseburger, but with distinct, important differences that set it apart from the other sandwiches.
Patty melts use toasted and thoroughly buttered bread, ideally rye, instead of a fluffy bun. This gives them a more satisfying bite, with a resounding crunch as you shatter that crisp outer layer that’s been lacquered to a shiny brown finish. More crucial is the addition of caramelized onions that add worlds of rich savory flavor, almost outshining the protein itself. This is the key to a perfect patty melt.
My slightly controversial take is on the build. Contrary to popular belief, I think it’s best with the cheese on the bottom slice of bread, beneath the patty, placing the caramelized onions on top. This ensures that it’s properly melted and helps glue the whole assembly together. The caramelized onions have the most bold flavor, so they go on top, to hit your tongue at the end of the bite, allowing the other flavors to shine first. It’s a beautiful harmony of tastes that accentuate each other throughout the eating experience. That’s what elevates simple ingredients into unforgettable meals.
- Season each layer thoroughly. Salt and pepper the patty and the onions; make sure each component is worth eating on its own AND plays well with others.
- Vegan butter works great for crisping up the bread, but for next level flavor, try spreading a thin layer of vegan mayo on top instead.
- Make the patties THICC, with two c’s, to get that perfect sear on the outside and pink interior (if you’re using a meat-like substance such as Impossible or Beyond Meat). The same principal applies to more vegetable-based patties but without the beefy results.
What do you prefer: Cheeseburgers or patty melts? If you’re still in team cheeseburger, just give this approach a try. I bet I can win you over to the patty melt side.