A patty melt with fries (photo © Spread & Co. | Austin).
 This patty melt at Spread & Co. in Austin, Texas places the beef patty on thick brioche, with pimento cheese caramelized onions and pickles, plus a “secret sauce” (photo © Spread & Co.).
 This recipe uses swirled marble rye bread and adds Dijon mustard (photo © Land O’ Lakes).
 A vegan patty melt made with the Impossible Burger (photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).
February 7th is National Patty Melt Day. A patty melt is a type of melt sandwich. A melt sandwich is one that has a filling plus melted cheese; otherwise stated, it’s a grilled cheese sandwich with added ingredients. The sandwich is grilled or fried until the cheese is melted. It is served warm. A melt may be served as a traditional sandwich or an open-face sandwich.
There are different varieties of melt sandwiches:
Tuna melt is a common melt sandwich. The filling is tuna, with or without mayonnaise (i.e., flaked tuna from the can or tuna salad).
Ham melt is another popular form.
Patty melt is a hybrid of hamburger and grilled cheese sandwiches. A ground beef patty (hamburger) is topped with Swiss or other cheese—akin to a cheeseburger but served between two slices of griddled (griddle-toasted) bread instead of a hamburger bun.
The patty melt bread is traditionally rye or marbled rye, though sourdough or Texas toast are sometimes used in some regions, including the southern U.S. Creative chefs use anything from brioche and focaccia to whole grain bread.
The cheese layer of the patty melt is topped with caramelized onions.
Patties. Modern patty melts can be made with any type of burger—tuna burger, turkey burger, vegetarian or vegan burger (photo #4), etc. They can be grilled on a panini press. Modern additions include sides of lettuce, tomato, and pickles. We’ve spotted a patty melt that layers arugula atop the caramelized onions.
Cheese. Swiss cheese can be replaced by Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyère, or other semihard variety (the different types of cheese).
Sides. The sandwich can be served with coleslaw and French fries or hash browns.
Spread. While the bread does not typically have a spread (butter, mayo, etc.), some variations slather the inside of the bread with Thousand Island dressing. Dijon or whole-grain mustard are also options. We’ve even seen versions with barbecue sauce on the sandwich, one venue with the French béchamel sauce, and hot chile aïoli on the side.
Grilling. With any melt, after the ingredients are assembled the entire sandwich is grilled to fully melt the cheese.
THE UPDATED PATTY MELT
What’s the difference between a grilled cheese and a melt?
With a melt, the cheese is an auxiliary ingredient to the main item: chicken, ham, grilled vegetables, ground meat patty, roast beef, tuna, turkey, vegetarian patty.
Both grilled cheese sandwiches and melts are made on grilled bread, using a frying pan, griddle, or panini press. Grilling toasts the bread while simultaneously melting the cheese.
What’s the difference between a cheeseburger and a patty melt?
The patty melt is served on grilled, buttered bread instead of a roll. The cheese is always topped with caramelized onions.
THE HISTORY OF THE PATTY MELT
According to Eater Los Angeles, the patty melt was created in 1932 by Tiny Naylor, a Los Angeles restaurateur with a coffee shop in Hollywood that evolved into a restaurant chain.
Some sources say the patty melt appeared in the 1940s, while others date it from 1930 to 1959.
Tiny Naylor’s served the patty melt as an alternative to the standard cheeseburger (and it’s more labor-intensive, by the way).
Even if Naylor did not invent the patty melt, food writers agree that Naylor and his family helped popularize the sandwich in their respective restaurants, Tiny Naylor’s and Du-par’s [source].
> The different types of sandwiches.
> The history of sandwiches.