Open-Face Cheeseburger Sub Recipe

Suzanne Lehrer

This recipe is a tribute the most popular food item in my whole (one-street) New Hampshire college town: the C & A's cheeseburger sub. An open-face version is a little more, shall we say, elegant, as it can be eaten with a knife and fork. Serve with a toppings bar alongside with all of your favorite: pickles, mustard, ketchup, jalapenos.

Caramelized onions are mixed into the meat for extra sweetness and depth of flavor. Sharper cheese works best here to contrast the meat.

Recipe Details

Open-Face Cheeseburger Sub Recipe

Active 15 mins
Total 75 mins
Serves 8 to 12 servings


  • 1 loaf ciabatta
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced, crushed into a paste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar, sliced or shredded
  • Pickles, for serving
  • Mustard, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Slice ciabatta in half lengthwise and horizontally to create 4 quarters. Slice each quarter in half crosswise to create 8 equal pieces. Heat garlic in oil over medium heat 5 minutes. Spread garlic and oil over each bread piece; wrap loaf in foil and bake 10 minutes. Unwrap and bake 5 minutes longer. Preheat the broiler to high heat.

  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet. Add onions, pinch salt, large pinch sugar and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 30 minutes.

  3. Mix together beef, caramelized onions, ketchup, Worcestershire, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper and egg until thoroughly combined. Spread meat mixture into bread slices. Broil until completely cooked through, and meat has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes. In the last few minutes, top with cheese and let melt. Serve with toppings and condiments alongside.