Patty Melt vs. Burger: Main Differences and How to Make Them at Home

Patty Melt vs Burger

Patty Melt vs. Burger: Main Differences and How to Make Them at Home

Imagine you’re heading to your local burger joint for lunch or dinner. What’s your go-to order? You might stick to what you know or venture out and try something new. If you’ve ever seen a patty melt on the menu, you may wonder about the difference between a patty melt and a burger. 

The main difference between a burger and a patty melt is the bread and toppings. Although burger is a broad term for a beef patty served on a bun with any variety of toppings, a patty melt is served on sliced bread. A traditional patty melt also includes Swiss cheese and caramelized onions.

Burgers come in all kinds of different forms, but if you’re looking for something a little different, a patty melt can be a great alternative. Keep reading to find out more about the difference between a burger and patty melt and how you can make both at home.

patty melt sandwich is a variant of the classic American cheeseburger using crispy bread, cheese, and tender onions closeup on the wooden board on the table. Horizontal
The standard patty melt comes on sliced bread with Swiss cheese, along with the signature flavor of caramelized onions.

©AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock.com

Patty Melt vs. Burger: What Is the Difference?

It’s no surprise that burgers are a popular food in America. In fact, according to most surveys, they are the number one fast food item, with pizza coming in as a close second. If you’ve ever seen a patty melt on a restaurant menu, you might wonder if it’s just a fancy way of saying burger.

Although both patty melts and burgers include a ground beef patty, a patty melt is actually different than your typical burger. While the standard way to serve a burger is on a bun, a patty melt is served on sliced bread. There are endless varieties of burgers, from bacon and avocado burgers to barbecue burgers. However, a burger is generally the umbrella term for a ground beef patty on a bun with your choice of toppings.

A patty melt, on the other hand, comes on sliced bread. The most common bread for patty melts is rye or marbled rye. There may be some variations on what the patty melt includes, but generally, it’s served with a patty, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onions.

What Is a Patty Melt?

When you’re craving a burger but want something slightly different than your typical cheeseburger, a patty melt is the way to go. A patty melt is always served on sliced sandwich bread instead of a bun. It’s traditionally served on rye or marbled rye, but some restaurants serve it on Texas toast, sourdough, and other types of bread. 

The toppings usually include Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and often, Thousand Island dressing as well. There isn’t one clear answer as to when the patty melt came on the scene. Most claim that a restaurant owner named Tiny Naylor created it in the 1940s. At the time, it was an alternative to the standard cheeseburger.

The patty melt has since become a hit in many restaurants. It’s delicious to order at your local burger joint and simple to make at home.

What Is a Burger?

A burger, short for hamburger, is a ground beef patty served on a bun. While the most popular variation is a cheeseburger, there are plenty of options and varieties out there. Many people choose the classic version with lettuce, tomatoes, and ketchup or mustard. 

The burger is the perfect food for lunch at your favorite restaurant or grilling up at home. Overall, burgers are the most popular fast food in America, with over 50 million sold each year.

Like the history of many popular dishes, the history of the hamburger isn’t exactly clear. However, the Library of Congress has claimed the credit goes to Louis Lassen. They say he was the first to sell scraps of ground beef on slices of bread so that people could eat on the go.

Nutritional Values of Patty Melt vs. Burger

Patty Melt vs Burger Nutritional Facts


How Do You Make a Patty Melt?

If you know how to make a burger, a patty melt isn’t much different from cooking the patties. Like a typical burger, you could choose to cook your burger patties on the grill or the stove, depending on what you have available.

The first part of making a patty melt is caramelizing the onions. Even though you could choose to leave the onions off, this is part of the signature flavor. Caramelizing onions involves cooking them in oil until brown, usually about 20-30 minutes.

Next up is the burger patties, which will cook relatively quickly since they’re thinner than most burgers. After seasoning and cooking your burger patties, it’s time to assemble your patty melt. 

Traditionally, the bread is toasted or grilled. You can do this by assembling the sandwich and grilling the whole thing like a grilled cheese, or you can choose to toast or grill the bread beforehand. The standard patty melt includes Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onions.

Home made hamburger with lettuce and cheese
Grilling your own burgers is a simple way to enjoy this delicious meal at home.


How Do You Make a Burger?

If you’re a fan of burgers, you likely have an idea of how to make one at home, or you might even have your own delicious recipe. If you’ve ever wondered why they’re called hamburgers, the name comes from the town of Hamburg, Germany, where a similar dish made of minced beef was created.

Making a burger at home is pretty simple, and you can cook it on the stovetop or grill it outdoors. If you don’t have access to a grill, a burger can be equally delicious when you cook it on the stove. The best ground beef to use is one that’s 80% lean. Be sure to season your beef before forming it into patties.

You might enjoy your burgers medium rare, medium, or well-done. Some people have strong opinions about the proper way to eat a burger, but it’s really based on your preferences. It will take about 7-10 minutes to grill each patty, depending on how well done you want them to be.

If you’re adding cheese, you can place it on top of your patties at the last minute to allow it to melt. Once you’ve cooked your burger patties, you’re ready to assemble your burger with all your toppings.

Where Can You Order a Patty Melt?

No matter where you go in America, you’ll likely see a burger on most restaurant menus. You may wonder if patty melts are as common.

The first recipe for the patty melt was supposedly created in Southern California, but the popularity of this meal certainly doesn’t stop there. If you look up patty melts near me, you’ll likely find a place near you that serves them, at least in most major cities. Most major chain restaurants will also have patty melts on their menu, as well as other burgers.

Is a Patty Melt a Burger or a Sandwich?

Considering burgers traditionally come on a bun, you might also wonder if a patty melt is a burger or a sandwich. The answer to this isn’t entirely clear. Many have claimed that a patty melt is a sandwich, not a burger because it’s on sandwich bread instead of a bun. Others claim that it’s a burger because it has ground beef patties.

If you were to stick to the technical definition, it’s most accurate to say that a patty melt is a sandwich with beef patties.

Which One Should You Order: Patty Melt vs. Burger

When you’re eating at a local restaurant or burger joint, it’s likely that burgers and patty melts will be on the menu. Burgers come in a variety of forms with numerous toppings to choose from. Nowadays, people put everything from fried eggs to onion rings on their burgers, but you can’t go wrong with a classic cheeseburger.

If you’re looking for something different, a patty melt is a variation of the classic burger, served on sandwich bread with Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. Whether you choose a patty melt or a burger for your next meal, it’s bound to be delicious.

It's no secret that burgers are incredibly popular, not just for barbecues. However, patty melts are a favorite for many people, as well. While they may have similar meat, they're pretty different. Let's recap the differences between the two:

  • Burgers generally have popular toppings such as lettuce, tomato, and onion. On the other hand, patty melts generally have Swiss cheese and caramelized onions.
  • While patty melts are served on sliced bread, burgers are served on a bun.
  • With its popularity, burgers come in many variations, whereas patty melts are somewhat limited.

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Southwest Bacon Burger

Southwest Bacon Burger

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  • Author: Moms Who Think



1 (1 pound) package ground sirloin patties (4 patties)
2 teaspoons salt-free southwest sweet and spicy seasoning
¼ cup nonfat mayonnaise
¼ cup chunky salsa
2 tablespoons bacon bits
4 lettuce leaves
4 (2 ounce) hamburger buns with sesame seeds
4 thin slices sweet onion
4 slices tomato


1. Rub both sides of sirloin patties with barbecue rub.

2. Place patties on grill over medium-hot coals; grill, covered, 6 minutes on each side or until done.

3. While meat cooks, combine mayonnaise, salsa, and bacon bits.

4. Place lettuce leaves on bottom halves of buns; place patties on lettuce. Top with onion, tomato, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture, and remaining bun halves.

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