DIVAS ON A DIME: Diner classic made easily at home

By Patti Diamond

Patty melt with caramelized onions. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

Here’s a classic comfort food that makes everyone happy. It’s a staple on diner menus across the country: the Patty Melt. Picture a burger patty slathered with caramelized onions, oozing with melted Swiss cheese on buttered, grilled rye bread. Delectable, right? Well, we can make it at home, and it doesn’t cost any more to make than a plain ol’ hamburger. Come to Mama!

Should you choose, this recipe lends itself to stretching a buck by adding a little filler to the ground beef. A general rule of adding filler is one cup filler per pound of uncooked hamburger. Typical fillers include breadcrumbs, oatmeal, cooked vegetables, beans or lentils.

For this recipe, if you choose to add filler, I recommend choosing cooked lentils. They add vitamins, fiber and extra protein, bringing a nice meaty texture while reducing the amount of fat per serving. If you add 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils to the recipe below, you’ll have six (six-ounce) patties rather than four. I see tomorrow’s lunch happening.




Yield: 4 (6-ounce patty) servings


1 1/2 pounds (85/15) hamburger

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon butter, plus more softened butter for schmearing

8 slices Swiss cheese

8 slices rye, marble rye or sourdough bread

1 cup caramelized onions (recipe below)


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the hamburger, salt, pepper and Worcestershire. (If you’re adding lentils, now’s the time.)
  2. Divide the mixture into 4 (or 6) portions and form them into patties that are a little bigger than your bread. Sprinkle each side with a little kosher salt to help make a nice crusty sear on the patties.
  3. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add a pat of butter and cook the burger patties for 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. To assemble the sandwiches, schmear the “outsides” of the bread with butter, place in the skillet butter side down. Add a slice of cheese, a burger patty, some of the onions, another slice of cheese and top with another slice of bread that’s been buttered on the “outside.” When the bottom slice of bread is golden brown and delicious, carefully flip the whole thing over and grill the other side. Mmmmmmm. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
  5. Keep the diner vibe going by serving this with French fries and coleslaw or a dill pickle.




Yield: 1 cup  Time: 30-45 minutes


1 large yellow onion, about a pound

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper


  1. Slice that big ol’ onion in half, then into half rings. Make these as thick or thin as you wish. The thinner they are, the faster they cook, but thicker slices come out sweeter.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet on medium heat, melt the butter and oil together. Add the onion and turn to coat; sprinkle with a pinch of sugar to help speed up caramelization. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-45 minutes or until delectably soft and golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Now, if I’m going to take the time to caramelize onions, I make at least a triple batch. They’re great on EVERYTHING from burgers, sandwiches, steak, chicken and pork to salads, soups, pizza, casseroles and omelets — you name it! Keep some in the fridge or freezer to instantly upgrade practically everything you eat.

The next time you buy ground beef, get out of the hamburger rut! Back away from the burger! Make this instead.


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


© 2022 King Features Synd., Inc.

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