The Hamburger Fatty Melt

For those of you coming directly to this recipe from other sites, here's the backstory of the Hamburger Fatty Melt.

Update: So many of you asked for bacon on this thing that we just had to oblige. Here is the Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt. [10/13/2008]

Photograph by Robyn Lee

It's a hamburger whose bun is TWO GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES!

This is pretty straightforward, and you probably don't need the recipe below now that you've seen the photo and grasped the concept. But if you want details from my trial-and-error session with this thing, have at it:


Bread: To maintain proper beef-to-bun ratio, it's important to use Pepperidge Farm's Very Thin white bread.

Cheese: American cheese melts perfectly for burgers and even more so for the grilled cheese sandwiches here. Kraft's Deli Deluxe line trumps its regular American singles. For ultra cheesiness, use two slices for each sandwich.

Tomato: A grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup is a classic pairing. Pay a nod to this duo by topping your burger with a slice of ripe tomato--or better yet, by layering a thin slice of tomato directly into the sandwiches between the cheese slices.

Patty Size: I experimented with two different size patties--6 ounce and 4-ounce. Given the thinness of the sandwich buns, the 4-ounce patty yielded the better beef-to-bun ratio. But I wouldn't fault you for going with 6-ounce patties, either; just buy enough meat and cook it about 4 minutes to a side.

Equipment: I used an electric griddle to prepare these, and it was big enough to handle two grilled cheese sandwiches and two burger patties at a time. The electric griddle was perfect for the grilled cheese but not quite hot enough to put a good sear on the burger. I'd recommend using a good cast-iron pan or griddle for the burgers and a separate pan for the grilled cheese.

Timing: If using two pans, start your patties about the same time you start the grilled cheese. FYI: The bread is so thin that the cheese melts quickly, so be prepared to flip sandwiches and remove from pan earlier than you might normally do.

BACON!: So many of you asked for bacon on this thing that we just had to oblige. Here is the Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt. [10/13/2008]

The Hamburger Fatty Melt

About This Recipe

This recipe appears in: Idaho Statesman Ganks My Fatty Melt Recipe


  • 1 pound ground beef *
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 Very Thin Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (recipe here)
  • 4 medium-thick or 8 thin tomato slices (optional but recommended)


  1. 1

    Divide beef into 4 equal parts. Shape into square patties slightly larger than the grilled cheese sandwiches that will serve as buns. (Use a slice of the Pepperidge Farm Very Thin bread as a template if you're uncomfortable eyeballing this.) Create an indentation in the centers of the patties;this will help maintain even thickness, as the center typically swells up when cooking.

  2. 2

    Preheat a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottom pan to medium-high. Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, prepare the Very Thin Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

  3. 3

    Salt and pepper both sides of burger patties liberally. Throw those suckers in the cast-iron pan, cooking them in batches of two if your pan isn't big enough to hold them all at once. Cook about 3 minutes per side for medium. Remove patties from pan and let rest a couple minutes.

  4. 4

    Slice tomatoes thinly and 1 slice directly into each Very Thin Grilled Cheese Sandwich.)

  5. 5

    * I'm not specifying a type here. Burger experts, feel free to use your tried-and-true mixture. For those of you who need hand-holding, I'd go with a good 80-percent lean variety—it has enough fat to stay juicy but not so much that it will shrink.


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