My Own Private Cheeseburger

My Own Private Cheeseburger

If I found out the world was about to end, I’d calmly walk into the kitchen and make this cheeseburger. Then I’d eat it, and if there was still time, I’d make another. Then I’d eat that one. And if the world still hadn’t ended, I’d probably make another and take a nap.

My Own Private Cheeseburger
Serves 1
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  1. 3 ounces (86-88 grams) ground beef*
  2. 1 1/4 ounces (36-40 grams) grated cheddar cheese**
  3. 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1 hamburger bun or (soft) Kaiser roll
  6. 4-5 dill pickle slices or "chips"
  7. Mayo and mustard
  8. Oil shortening for frying…yeah what I said…frying***
  1. Get a nice big dutch oven and add enough oil or shortening to be two inches deep. Install your fry/candy thermometer to the side of the pot and crank the heat to medium high. Your thermal destination is 320 degrees F.
  2. Turn on your broiler and position rack in top position. This is a perfect time to use your toaster oven if you have one.
  3. Meanwhile, weigh out the meat portions for however many burgers you want to make. Roll into balls and set aside. Do not refrigerate.
  4. Grate the cheese. If you want 4 burgers, obviously you need 5 ounces total. Six would be 7 1/2, eight would be 10 ounces. Toss this cheese with the spices until all the powder has stuck to the cheese.
  5. Place a thin layer of mayo on the bottom of the buns. Place half the cheese mixture on top of this. Spread mustard on bun tops and place the rest of the cheese on this. You should have half the cheese on the bottoms (on mayo) and half on the tops (on mustard). Place these under the broiler so that the cheese will melt as you cook the burgers.
  6. When the oil hits 320 degrees F, place one of the meat balls on an upside-down sheet pan. Dip a wide metal grill spatula in the hot fat then use it to smash and spread the meat ball out into a 5 to 6-inch-wide disk. It will be irregular around the circumference and that's good as all those irregularities will become crunchy goodness. The meat will also shrink by a couple of inches.
  7. Gently scrape the patty/wafer off the pan with the spatula and gently drop into the fat. Cook one minute, no more, no less. You can cook up to three patties at a time, but watch the oil temp and don't let it drop to under 300 degrees F.
  8. Remove meat to a paper towel to drain briefly then place it on the bun bottom right away. Place the pickles on top, then the bun top. The goal: bread/mayo/cheese/meat/cheese/pickles/mustard/bread.
  9. Consume or wrap in foil and hold for up to half an hour.
  1. * Most look for a ground meat that's no more than 80 percent lean.
  2. ** I like to use a mixture of sharp and mild cheddar cheeses.
  3. ***Believe it or not, as long as you keep the oil between 300 and 325 degrees F, this will be the most un-greasy burger you've ever enjoyed.
Ingredients for Alton Brown's Cheeseburger Recipe



Add yours
  1. 2

    An absolutely amazing burger! Worried about it being greasy, but it so wasn’t! Very cheesy & delicious! Next time I’ll add my typical produce (lettuce & tomato).

  2. 3
    Joshua Lange

    Mr. AB, my wife and I made these from your recent cookbook, but modified them to be sliders. They were MOST delicious my friend!

  3. 4

    Sounds GREAT! Just cannot get beyond what to do with all that slightly used oil…especially when cooking for one. Would definitely make this for a crowd though! TY Alton!

  4. 8

    Best burger I EVER had was a deep fried cheeseburger, from a cart, waterfront Amsterdam, April 1976. No one believes me when I tell them that it wasn’t greasy. Perhaps they will now.

  5. 10

    Dear Mr. Brown,
    My husband requested hamburgers last night for dinner. Until now i have always felt like a hamburger failure. My bugers were always edible and ok but it was never anything that I would get excited about. After his request, I decided i needed to try something new. Like so many times before i said i wonder if alton brown has a recipie? Google coming to my aid, you surely did. We have tried several of your recipies before so i felt confident that it had to be better then what i have made before. I tested it first on myself and my mother in law. I was not disappointed. I felt like it was by far the best burger I had ever made and my mother in law agreed it was delicious. Later last night, I made it for my husband as he got home from work. He agreed it was the best I had made. He really liked it. 3 bites in he says to me ,”you know what would make this better…”
    Then i said , its perfect the way it is and Its Alton Browns favorite. I read him your blurb at the beginning of your post.

    He put ketchup on it anyway…

    Forever a fan,

    • 11

      “You know what would make this better?” I don’t think he was talking about the end of the world or a nap. That’s just a guy’s perspective.

  6. 13

    For bigger burgers I tinkered a bit and found 6 oz of meat flattened to the same diameter cooked between 2 to 2.5 minutes gives similar results just in a bigger package.

  7. 14

    I would never have thought to toss the seasonings with the cheese. I can’t wait to try this. I am not a fan of toasted breads though, so I am wondering if there is away to ensure the cheese still melts without toasting the buns too much…? regardless, when I tell the kids we are trying an AB recipe, they will cheer.

  8. 16

    I can not belive how many people out there get hung up on the pickles and cheese I guess so many of use have way to much time on there hands. Thank you Alton for the recipe.

  9. 17

    For all the recipe revisionists I think the title is My Own Private Cheeseburger. Thanks, Mr. AB, for sharing YOUR recipe. There are some folks who just can’t stand it if they can’t share their own opinions, too. For me, I can’t wait to try YOUR recipe.

  10. 18
    Mark M

    Very interesting recipe. Loved the crispy black/brown exterior of the burger, and no, it wasn’t at all greasy. As always, I made a few mistakes. Bun quality is critical; get the best available. And don’t pre-toast them; the crispiness of the burger is what should dominate the sandwich. And he’s right; don’t refrigerate. My burgers weren’t quite room temp, and a minute in the hot oil wasn’t enough. A couple other thoughts: Some thinly slice grilled onions wouldn’t be at all out of place. Buy inexpensive oil; ya’ll ain’t gonna re-use it. Fun snap, crackle, pop when the burgers go in, though!

    • 19

      I don’t desire anything described to me as a crisp burger, so I would have to skip this method. I want that sucker to be 100% tender. The ingredients are nice, though.

      • 20

        It’s only the thin edges around the outside the give you crispy bits. It’s a nice contrast to the tenderness of the rest of the burger.

      • 21

        Why would reply at all?? If you don’t like the recipe don’t eat it. No one is interested in your thoughts about a recipe you haven’t tried.

        Get over yourself

    • 23

      Any heavy-bottomed pan that’s deep enough to hold the oil and wide enough to let you get the patties in and out should work. If you have the storage space, though, I’d really recommend buying a dutch oven. They can be had for $40 and are seriously versatile.

  11. 24

    bread/mayo/cheese/meat/cheese/pickles/mustard/bread. Not to be a stickler, it this is not the order that the ingredients. According to the text, the pickles will be between the meat and the cheese on top. This: bread/mayo/cheese/meat/pickles/cheese/mustard/bread.

  12. 25

    Made these for dinner, loved them, might be the best burger i have ever had. I didn’t think it was greasy compared to other 80/20 burgers i have had. Compared to a turkey burger, yah this had more grease but this burger tastes good.

    One note: i used good quality cheese, the big national brands have alot more oil in them that when melted under a broiler might be mistaken as oil form the burger.

  13. 26

    made these tonight for my hubby and brother… They REALLY loved them. Sealed in the moisture! I’m veggie so used a portobello mushroom grilled. So good! The cheese with the spices is GENIUS!

    • 29

      Laurel, I made four of them tonight….I believe the 1/4 tsp is PER burger, so scale up accordingly. Good luck, they are definitely worth the time and energy! Really cool way to enjoy a hamburger.

  14. 35

    “bread/mayo/cheese/meat/cheese/pickles/mustard/bread” – I immediately thought of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. Now I need to go find a cheeseburger. Thanks, man.

  15. 36

    The only change I made was the addition of crispy bacon and a little kosher salt to the uncooked burger. I used 1/2 lb burgers and had to increase cook time to about 3 1/2 minutes but it was outstanding. I usually put ketchup on my burger for the taste but also to add a little moisture to a usually dry burger. Decided to run with it as written and glad I did. I may never grill a burger again.

  16. 38

    We used to have a small hamburger joint, served a buger very similar. There used to be a chain of burger places called Ferrells Hamburgers in the the southeast that we learned this method from. On a flat-top turn up left side on high, middle medium and right no heat. Butter bun place in middle, scoop the meat and smash on the board put on left side, move the bun to right, two teaspoons of finely chopped onions in the grease now running from the meat, flip the burger top with cheeze, pull the buns, dress with mayo, mustard, pickels, pull the burger, top with the now carmelized onion. Total time was about 2 minutes. The burger was juicy and crispy, sent my cholesteral through the roof but my mouth waters thinking about those burgers. AB sound like a great burger, can’t wait to give it a try.

    • 39
      Shannon F

      Ferrell’s in Hopkinsville and one in Cadiz Kentucky! They haven’t been the same since ole Mr. Ferrell and Red both passed 🙁 I grew up there with these. Memories of eating there with my Mom and Grandmama. They favored no cheese but with mustard and onion, a bag of chips, and an ice cold soda in a can! I miss it all so much so thank you for bringing back this beautiful memories me!

  17. 40

    I am just throwing in my two sense. I say no salt. Mr. Brown is very specific with the wording and instructions. I will follow the recipe exactly first and then, if necessary, add salt.

  18. 42
    Randy Watson

    Alton Brown is awesome and his recipes are damn good (I use his turkey recipe every Thanksgiving). If you don’t like his recipe that is your choice and it is fine. Remember though this is his career and he is probably way better than making food than the average Joe. Passing your negative opinions just to troll shows what little you have going on in your life.

  19. 43
    Greg M

    Too bad you ruined all that work with the addition of a yellow mustard!!! A good stone ground mustard or even a dijon would have been more appropriate.

  20. 46

    There is definitely a sprinkling of salt on the smashed burger patty and the table in the photo. I think it should go without saying in Alton’s world. We season our meat. Be careful, however. The pickles and the cheese bring their own saltiness to the party. Don’t overseason.

  21. 47

    Of course he used salt and seasoning. Do people really have to be told this? It’s 2015. Good Eats has been around since 1999. If you legitimately don’t understand the need for salt and seasoning in a hamburger, and need to be told to do so, there’s no help for you.

  22. 48

    Some of you are really lucky Mr. Brown is not replying. If you have EVER watched his shows, you know he may, in fact, hurt your feelings. It’s a cheeseburger. Add, subtract, follow the instructions to the letter. Whatever you do, make yourself happy. My husband is a vegetarian, I, in fact will be using a Morningstar Farms Veggie patty, without permission. Now say, thank you Alton Brown

    • 49

      Agreed… Alton can do no wrong even if sometimes his recipes are a little too exacting/complicated for us civilians. I’m loving this simply for the cook time and preparation of the patty.

  23. 50

    Your recipe never mentions salt, but the photo of the meat pattie and the ruler clearly show a dusting of some kind. Was that an oversight or could it be the beginnings of a conspiracy?

  24. 57

    All the people out there questioning the sequence of mustard and pickles are what’s wrong with the world today. Let it go people….it’s just two ingredients. Make the burger, eat the burger. It will still be delicious, even if, God forbid, the mayo ends up on top instead.

    • 60

      I couldn’t agree more. No better pickles for burgers than B&B pickles. Nowadays, you might even be able to find B&B relish at a local market or farmstand.

  25. 66

    One thing I learned as an oilfield welder building things from blueprints is that the picture is never to scale, so you don’t go by the picture. You go by the measurements.
    Who cares how the pickles made it under the cheese?

  26. 67
    Joe Kapp

    can’t wait to try. Except I will substitute my homemade Southern lime pickle “chips” for dill. Just a personal preference. Thanks for sharing AB.

  27. 69
    Mellissa Wilms

    Looks wonderful. I guess patties are not seasoned prior to smash because you are frying. Maybe season after like with french fries? Thanks for sharing with the masses!

  28. 75

    I’m not following the sequence on the cheese.

    In step 5 — Place a thin layer of mayo on the bottom of the buns. Place half the cheese mixture on top of this. Spread mustard on bun tops and place the rest of the cheese on this. You should have half the cheese on the bottoms (on mayo) and half on the tops (on mustard). Place these under the broiler so that the cheese will melt as you cook the burgers.

    And you add pickles later in Step 8, and say your final order you have — bread/mayo/cheese/meat/cheese/pickles/mustard/bread..

    Maybe i’m missing something but this is a bit out of sequence.

  29. 76

    Shouldn’t that be bread/mayo/cheese/meat/pickles/cheese/mustard/bread? If not, how do you get the pickles between the mustard and the cheese after you’ve melted the cheese?

  30. 77

    How do you get the pickles in between the cheese and the mustard on the top bun when the cheese has already melted to the top bun in the broiler?
    “Place the pickles on top, then the bun top. The goal: bread/mayo/cheese/meat/cheese/pickles/mustard/bread.” Wouldn’t this be bread/mayo/cheese/meat/PICKLES/cheese/mustard/bread? Your pictures show the pickles under the melted cheese. What kind of sorcery is this?

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