Dish of the Week: Swiss Patty Melt

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re looking into one of the best burger variations around: The Swiss Patty Melt.

In case you’ve been seriously under-burgered most of your life, a Swiss patty melt is a type of hamburger consisting of a beef patty, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese between two buttered and grilled slices of bread (usually rye, though sourdough can also be used). It’s as if a burger and a grilled cheese sandwich got together and made the most wonderfully greasy and decadent baby ever.

There are some places that make the melt using one slice of bread with a patty and melted cheese on top, but we think that’s nonsense. You need two slices to achieve the ultimate crusty and buttery crisp sandwich.

Since we’re likely to see some more rain this summer, the patty melt is the perfect way to satiate those grilled burger cravings. That’s because you can make the whole thing in a skillet. Just make sure you have lots and lots of butter.

This recipe, adapted from Serious Eats, is a patty melt in its most classic form. Feel free to add in anything you like. May we suggest pickled jalapeños? We are in Houston, after all.

Swiss Patty Melt

makes 2 melts
6 tbsp butter
4 slices rye bread
8 slices Swiss cheese, torn into large pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound freshly ground chuck, formed into two 4-ounce patties, roughly the size and shape of 1 slice bread
1 large onion, split in half, sliced thin from pole to pole (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup water


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until foaming. Add two slices bread and swirl around pan using hand or spatula. Cook, swirling occasionally until pale golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to cutting board cooked-side up. Add half the Swiss cheese evenly between slices, layering them in the center and leaving a 1/4-inch gap around the edges. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 slices (if you have a seriously large skillet, you can do this all in one step).

Season hamburger patties on both sides with salt and pepper. Return skillet to heat to high and melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet until light brown. Swirl to coat bottom of skillet and add both burger patties. Cook without moving until dark brown crust forms on first side, about 1 1/2 minutes, reducing heat to medium if butter begins to burn or smoke excessively. Flip burgers using spatula and cook on second side without moving until crust develops, 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Transfer burger patties to plate and reduce heat to medium. Add onions, 1 tablespoon butter, and 2 tablespoons water to skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet until water evaporates and onions start to fry and leave brown residue on bottom of pan. Add another two tablespoons water and continue to cook. Repeat two more times until water is used up and onions are soft and deep golden brown. Add collected juices from meat plate to onions and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Onions should be moist, but not dripping.

Divide onion mixture (and any other additional toppings) evenly between two toast slices. Add burger patties to the other two and close sandwiches.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet. Return to medium heat and cook until butter melts. Sprinkle with salt. Swirl to coat pan and add sandwiches. Cook, swirling sandwiches around pan frequently until deep golden brown on bottom, about 5 minutes. Remove sandwiches from skillet, melt remaining tablespoon butter in pan and sprinkle with salt. Return sandwiches to skillet and cook, swirling frequently until second side is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano