Cheese-Stuffed Burgers Recipe

Cheesy filling keeps the insides of these stuffed burgers decadently gooey, while the outsides have a smoke-kissed char—plus a grilling recipe roundup for Labor Day weekend and beyond
Cheese-Stuffed Burger

Photo Terry Brennan, food styling by Lara Miklasevics

Get fired up for Labor Day weekend. Whether you’re hosting a get-together or just want to step up your grilling game for the family, the technique of putting the cheese inside the burger rather than on top—also known as a Juicy Lucy—is brilliant and well worth adding to your grilling repertoire. In this recipe by chef and cookbook author Molly Stevens, which appeared in Real Food, the outsides of the burgers maintain their gorgeous smoke-kissed char while the filling keeps the insides decadently cheesy, gooey, and, yes, juicy, says Stevens. While the calendar turned over to September, we know there is plenty of grilling time ahead, too, so keep this recipe handy and scroll down for even more ideas.

Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

Makes 6 Servings

2 pounds ground beef, preferably 80% lean chuck
4 ounces cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into thick rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (see Cook’s Notes)

For the Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup finely chopped dill pickle
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon dill pickle juice (from pickle jar)
Few drops Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste

6 hamburger buns
Optional toppings: Sliced ripe tomato, lettuce, pickles

  1. Divide the beef into 12 equal portions (see Cook’s Notes), then shape each into a thin patty, about 4 inches across. Season the tops of all the patties with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide the cheese among half the patties, breaking up the cheese slices and piling them in the center of the patties so there is at least a ½-inch border. Top each cheese-topped patty with another flat patty. One by one, pick up each burger and pinch the edges to fully seal the cheese inside. Pat and shape each burger until smooth, round, and slightly flattened (about 1¼ inches thick). Season the outsides with salt and pepper. (The burgers can be stuffed, shaped, covered, and refrigerated for up to 8 hours before grilling.)
  3. Make the sauce: Combine the mayonnaise, pickles, ketchup, mustard, pickle juice, and hot sauce in a small bowl. Season with salt and more hot sauce to taste. (The sauce may be made ahead and covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
  4. Heat a grill to medium-hot. Brush the onion rounds with oil, and grill, turning as needed, until tender and browned, about 8 minutes. Set aside. Arrange the burgers on the grill and cook, flipping two to three times, until well seared on the outside and done to your liking, 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter to rest for a few minutes. Use this time to toast the buns on the grill (or toast in a toaster oven).
  5. Spread sauce on both sides of the buns. Top with the burgers and grilled onions, adding any optional toppings, and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
• To make equal-size burgers, first divide the ground beef into 6 evenly sized lumps and arrange them on a plate. Adjust by adding a little here and removing a little there, until all the lumps look the same size. Then, divide each in half to give you 12 portions. (Or use a kitchen scale to weigh out 6 burgers at 5.3 ounces each.)
• For seasoning the burgers, combine 4 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper in a little bowl to season the burgers without touching your salt and pepper containers while handling the meat. Toss out any salt and pepper leftover in the little bowl, and wash your hands.
•To judge doneness, resist cutting into the burgers, as the cheese can spurt out. A thin-gauge instant-read thermometer is your best bet; look for 130 to 135°F for medium-rare, and 140°F for medium.
• Branch out and try other cheeses such as Swiss or smoked Gouda, or seasoned cheese spreads like pimento cheese and Boursin for a center that’s extra gooey and good

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 700, Fat: 46g (Sat: 14g), Cholesterol: 135mg, Sodium: 920mg, Carb: 30g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 40g

Get a copy: There is still plenty of time for grilling and backyard get-togethers. Find more ideas in the summer issue of Real Food—complimentary copies are still available at local Lunds & Byerlys stores.

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.