Consider the humble cheeseburger. At times we forget how vital a component it is for taking a good burger to a great burger. The slightly warmed slab of dairy goodness helps keep your stack together and lock in flavours, plus, it looks hella sexy. It’s so good vegans had to make one too so they don’t miss out.
Minus the odd burger on holiday leaving you with food poisoning, you can never go wrong with the American classic. Now, with so much variety in your dairy toppings, how do you figure out which is best for your juicy patty? Two cheese experts (yes, that’s a real job, not sure how you find yourself on that career path though) have ranked what they think are the best toppings for your patties.
Andrew Marcelli, co-owner of Marcelli Formaggi and Julia Birnbaum, from the famous Murray’s Cheese in New York City offer their expertise on the topic. There’s actually a nice range of easily accessible cheeses that cater to all your cheesy preferences, so listen up.
Marcelli starts by saying, “the qualities for the best cheese for a burger are a combination of flavor and moisture. If it’s something really dry, it won’t melt too well on top of the burger. You want a cheese that naturally melts when you apply heat to it”.
The best cheeses for your burger are as follows.
Gruyere is one of the key ingredients in fondue, so it’s designed for melting. On top of that, contrast the savory flavors with the sweetness of some caramelized onions and you’ve got a delicious stack going.
2. Smoked Gouda
Gouda cheeseburgers are perfect for the fall says, Julia Birnbaum. “It’s a great way to bring back the smoky flavors you miss when that grill is tucked away for the colder months.”
Cheddar may be a classic option but it’s not perfect. “The fat in your block or slice separates itself from the cheese when heat is applied,” says Marcelli. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it, God no. Marcelli has provided a simple solution to the problem, suggesting you “grate your cheese before adding it to the burger”.
Feta goes really well with lamb burgers. “This is what’s fun about a burger, Marcelli says. “You can use alternative meats and play around with the toppings”. Add some thyme or rosemary and you have a real fusion of British and Greek cuisines.
5. Pepper Jack Cheese
I am still yet to try Pepper Jack Cheese and it’s still relatively young. Julia Birnbaum says “it will melt nicely, and the pepper flakes will bring that spicey sass that any good burger needs.”
“When I make burgers with pepper jack, I like to lean into those spicy vibes and top them off with pickled jalapenos”, I would also suggest adding cracked peppercorns into your raw meat as an alternative compliment.
Both Julia and Marcelli highly recommend mozzarella for its stretchy texture, but if you really want to impress your guests (and treat yourself), try a dollop of burrata. The Italian cheese/cream hybrid gives your bite a softer, ricotta-like texture, which is perfect for those spicy burgers that need a little cooling balance.
7. Blue Cheese
“Blue is a great option for cheeseburgering, since the creamier versions like Gorgonzola Dolce will melt delightfully, as well as bring some funky flavor into the mix”, Birnbaum said. Funky, in my opinion, is one of the best kind of flavors for burgers, I love blue cheese *starts quoting Migos lyrics*.
8. Swiss Cheese
“Artisanal Swiss cheeses have a complex flavor and a lot of moisture that helps it melt really well,” Marcelli said. He recommends going with real Alpine Lace Swiss cheese, instead of the processed stuff you’ll find at the supermarket though.
9. American Cheese
Good old processed, American cheese. There something about that plasticky but sticky-but-addictive texture. “While it may not be the realest deal out there, it sure will melt nicely atop that burger,” said Birnbaum said. A cheese this mild presents an excellent pairing opportunity! try melting your American cheese with grilled onions, a fried egg, or even another cheese!”
There we have it guys, the ultimate cheeseburger guide. Remember to stay away from Manchego or Parmigiano and make sure you’re tucking into American and blue cheese. Also make sure your fries/onion ring sides have good condiments and don’t forget that ice cold milkshake.