Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger Recipe

Looking for something new to shake up your backyard barbecue spread? The Juicy Lucy isn't your average cheeseburger: The cheese is ingeniously nestled inside the burger patty instead of resting on top, leading to a deliciously gooey core that oozes with each bite. A proud invention of the Twin Cities, its exact origin is disputed between two South Minneapolis bars, Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club, each claiming to be the birthplace of this cheesy delight.

Recipe developer Taylor Murray's rendition takes this Minnesotan favorite to another level, grilling both the burger and onions together to combine their flavors into a harmonious symphony of smoky, savory, and sweet notes. Coupled with the fresh crunch of lettuce, the sweetness of ripe tomato, and the satisfying crisp of a lightly toasted bun, this burger is a welcome addition to any grill. Use the toppings described in the recipe, or feel free to swap them out for your favorites!

Gather the ingredients for these Juicy Lucy burgers

There's no need to get especially fancy when making burgers at home, which is why this recipe sticks to the basics. The star, ground beef chuck, is rich in flavor and juiciness and can be found at your local butcher or grocery store. A generous pinch of kosher salt enhances the beef's natural flavors, while American cheese, known for its superior melting qualities, offers a creamy balance to the robustness of the beef and creates the iconic gooey center that defines a Juicy Lucy. This recipe could also be done with other types of cheese, like cheddar or pepper jack, if you prefer.

For a sweet and smoky contrast, grilled onions add complexity to the taste profile. "Yellow onions have a natural sweetness that makes them the perfect choice for this application, though white or red will work in a pinch," says Murray. The hamburger bun needs to be sturdy enough to hold the juicy ensemble — you can find an assortment of buns at your local bakery or supermarket bread aisle. Lastly, crisp lettuce and ripe tomatoes add a refreshing crunch and splash of color.

Season and portion the beef

Start by preheating your grill. The goal is to reach a medium-high heat, which is typically around 375-450 F. This temperature range ensures that the exterior of the burger gets nicely seared, creating a tasty crust while also allowing the inside to cook through, Murray says. Depending on your grill, this preheating process could take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. If you're using a charcoal grill, you'll want your coals to be covered with white ash. If you're using a gas grill, simply adjust the temperature setting to medium-high and allow it to warm up.

Meanwhile, start preparing your ground beef chuck. The term "lightly mix" is important here, as over-mixing the meat can lead to tough burgers. You want to mix just enough to incorporate the kosher salt evenly throughout the meat.

After seasoning with salt, it's time to divide the meat into 4 equal patties, which should be a bit wider than the buns since they will shrink a bit as they cook. "Remember, these aren't your typical patties — they need to be thin enough to accommodate the cheese slice in between them and still maintain a good meat-to-cheese ratio," Murray tells us.

Stuff the patties with cheese

To stuff the patties, start by folding the slices of American cheese into smaller squares (about 1 ½ inches on each side) that will fit snugly inside the meat patties. This small size allows the cheese to melt evenly and thoroughly, without spilling out too early during the grilling process.

Place the cheese squares onto 2 of the patties, then place the other 2 patties on top of those, sandwiching them together to create 2 large patties. Be sure to pinch the edges together to seal the patties shut — a critical step to prevent the cheese from leaking out on the grill — and form them into thick burger shapes with an indentation in the center. (That last step maintains their shape).

Grill the burgers and onions (and buns!)

To prevent food from sticking to the grill, it's essential to brush the grates with a bit of vegetable oil, which will ensure a smooth cooking and flipping process for your burgers. You can spread the oil on with a grill brush or paper towel (just be sure to use tongs).

Now, carefully place the patties and onions onto the hot, oiled grill. Grilling the onions enhances their natural sugars and adds a sweet and smoky flavor that complements the rich, savory beef. Plus, this step highlights the versatility of grilling, as it allows you to cook both the main component and the side at the same time, infusing both with a delightful charred flavor.

After about 5 minutes, the first side of the burgers and onions should be nicely seared. Using a spatula, carefully flip them to allow the other side to cook. For a medium burger, grill the other side for another 4-5 minutes. If you prefer your burger well done, leave it on for a few more minutes. (Keep in mind that cooking times can vary depending on the thickness of your burger and the heat of your grill, so these timings are guidelines.)

When they're done, the onions should be softened, caramelized, and slightly charred. Before you turn off the grill, don't forget to toast the buns!

Assemble the burgers

Now it's time to assemble the burgers. Start by laying a crisp lettuce leaf on the bottom half of your toasted bun, followed by thick slices of tomato for a slightly acidic element that balances out the rich meat and cheese. 

Using a spatula, gently transfer the burger from the grill to the bun, on top of the tomato. Be careful during this step, as the cheese inside the burger will be very hot, and any rough handling could cause it to burst out. Once the burger is in place, top it with your grilled onions. Finally, add any additional toppings you prefer. This could be anything from pickles for a tangy crunch to a dollop of your favorite sauce for extra flavor. Remember, the beauty of a burger is in its customization, so feel free to experiment with flavors and textures that you enjoy. 

With everything assembled, place the top half of the bun onto your burger, press down slightly to secure all of the components together, and give the patties a couple of minutes to cool down before digging in — that cheese is hot!

Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger Recipe
5 from 42 ratings
With cheese stuffed inside the patties, rather than on top, these burgers are the epitome of juicy perfection.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Finished Juicy Lucy burger
Total time: 25 minutes
  • 16 ounces ground beef chuck
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing onto the grill
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 hamburger buns
  • Butter, for buns
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 2 thick tomato slices
  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and brush the grates with a bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Meanwhile, season the ground beef with kosher salt and mix gently to combine.
  3. Divide the beef into 4 equal balls, then flatten each ball into thin patties.
  4. Fold each slice of cheese in half, then in half again, so they form small squares roughly 1 ½ inches wide. Place the cheese squares onto 2 of the patties, then place the other 2 patties on top of those, sandwiching them together to create 2 larger patties. Pinch the edges shut tightly to prevent leakage, then form the patties into thick burger shapes with an indentation in the center to help them keep their shape while cooking.
  5. Place the prepared patties and onion slices onto the grill. Allow both to cook for 5 minutes on the first side.
  6. Flip the burgers and onion slices over. Grill the burgers for another 4-5 minutes for a medium burger, or longer for well done. The onions should be turned occasionally and grilled until they are softened and slightly charred, then removed from the grates.
  7. When the burgers and onions are almost done, butter the buns and place them cut-side down on the grill. Toast them lightly until they are golden and slightly crisp, then remove from the grill.
  8. Assemble the burgers by placing a lettuce leaf on the bottom bun, followed by a tomato slice. Carefully transfer the patty on top of the tomato, then top with the grilled onions and any additional toppings you prefer.
  9. Place the top bun on and press lightly. Let the burger rest for a couple of minutes before serving to allow the cheese inside the patties to cool slightly.
Calories per Serving 609
Total Fat 27.7 g
Saturated Fat 11.3 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 168.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 32.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
Total Sugars 7.1 g
Sodium 952.6 mg
Protein 58.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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