Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger
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Juicy Lucy is a famous Cheeseburger hailing for Minneapolis. What separates this burger apart from the millions of other Cheeseburgers going around is that the Cheese is stuffed inside the ground Beef! Once bitten into, the gooey, molten cheese melts out making for a unique and fun dining experience! This recipe will recreate an Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger so you can all experience the wonders of this delicious Burger at home for yourself!

To add to the legendary status of this famed Burger is that its origin story is amazing. There is much debate within the Minneapolis community about who invented the Juicy Lucy, with two burger places claiming ownership. Separated by only a few miles in South Minneapolis, Matts Bar and the 5 – 8 Club in Minneapolis have been embroiled in a bitter feud that is ongoing to this day about the true origins of the Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger

It’s a fascinating story, and much has been written about it. Check out this article by the Star Tribune, a local Minneapolis news outlet which gives a great overview of the story

Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger ingredients
An Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger: Grilled Onions, Burger, and Pickles. That’s all you need!

What toppings are on an Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger (and which ones aren’t)

You may be surprised to know that the Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger has only a few components. The Juicy Lucy comprises of the Cheese Stuffed Burger (of course!), sliced Pickles, and Fried Onions. That is it! There is no Ketchup, Mustard, or any other sauces in the burger. The saucing all comes from the excessive amount of gooey American Cheese that pours out of the Burger

There is also no Lettuce or Tomato. Making it the purest form of Cheeseburger you can find. The simplicity of the ingredients in an Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger are by purpose. The focus for this dish is all about the beef and cheese. Nothing fancy is in there to get in the way, it’s all about meat and cheese!

With such few ingredients, every component needs to be perfect

There are four primary components to an Authentic Juicy Lucy; Beef, Cheese, Onions, and Bun. Ok five components if you include the sliced Pickles, but just pick up some good quality Bread and Butter Pickles that are perfect for Burgers and you can’t go wrong. It’s important that with such few components to the burger, each element is prepared well, and the right ingredients are using to achieve the best result possible

For an optimal Juicy Lucy burger, weight each individual burger into 6 oz. patties

Like all great burger recipes, you need to use Ground Beef with a high fat content. Anywhere between the 20% – 25% fat content will be ideal for a Juicy Lucy. All the flavor in this burger sits in the ground beef, so the higher the fat content, the more flavor it’ll bring to the party

It is important that each burger patty is the same size, because to encase the cheese inside the meat, you’ll literally need to mesh two burger patties together. So, if you can we recommend using kitchen scale to weigh out 2 x 6 oz. burger patties. Press them down with your hands to form a relatively thin burger. However, be sure to pack the ground beef in quite tightly as we don’t want any Cheese to have the ability to seep out of the Burger. You can just shape the Beef with your hands, no need to press it down using any tools

American Cheese in Juicy Lucy
Fold two slices of American Cheese into a diamond shape to fit into the center of the two Burger Patties

The only choice for the Cheese filling is American Cheese, of course!

Did you really think there would be any other result for the type of Cheese? This is a classic American burger after all, and the best cheese for burgers, hands down, is sliced American Cheese. The melting quality of American Cheese slices is second to none. The cheese never separates or becomes greasy, instead it turns into the most wonderful, gooey texture once melted

The slices of American Cheese make easy work of stuffing inside the burger patties too. Simply place a slice of American cheese on top of one of the shaped burger patties (once you’ve seasoned it with a little salt). Fold each of the four edges of the Cheese inward to compact it into the center of the burger, then repeat for a second slice

You can go with just one slice, but this is Juicy Lucy we’re talking about. You want that cheese to be melting out all over the place once bitten into, so two slices are the preferred amount of cheese

Juicy Lucy Burger ready for cooking
Once combined, your burger will look like this, and ready for the hot pan!

Add the second Beef Patty and encase it well to seal in the Cheese

This is the most important step in creating your homemade Juicy Lucy Burger. Season the second shaped Beef Patty and then place directly over the first one that you’ve layered the cheese onto. Then, pick it up and carefully start to press the two together. The best strategy is to move around the edges of the patties and push them together, almost like you’re crimping and Empanada or Ravioli

Once they’ve formed one large patty, press them both together to shape it a little bit flatter. It’ll naturally have a bit of a bump in the center because of the stuffed cheese. This is ok, but you don’t want the burgers to be too round when cooking. So, flatten them out a bit before they go on the grill

Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger Onions
These delicious Caramelized Onions give sweetness and texture to the Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger

Making the Caramelized Onions

For the best flavored Caramelized Onions, you want to use either Sweet, Yellow, or Spanish Onions. The Caramelized Onions need to be quite sweet, but there is also no need to add sugar. The natural sugars in the Onions will be more than sweet enough, you just need to extract that sweetness from them

Cut the Onions into long strands then add them to a saucepan over medium heat along with about 1 tbsp. of Butter and a generous amount of Salt. The Salt will help to break down the Onions and evaporate all that bitter liquid from them

Don’t overcook the Onions, so don’t have the heat too high. Medium to a low / medium is the ideal temperature. Let the Onions slowly tenderize while stirring occasionally. After about 30 – 40 minutes they will have turned a beautiful golden-brown color, ready for adding to the Juicy Lucy

You can make them in advance and simply leave the Onions in the pot while you’re preparing your burgers. It’s the easiest way to do things. Just re-heat the Onions in the pot for 1 minute once the burger is ready, and you’re set

Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger
Delicious gooey cheese melting out of a Juicy Lucy Burger is one of the best food images you will ever see!

For the hamburger bun, you have a few options

The bun choice can come down to personal preference. Using a standard old hamburger bun is the classic approach for an Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger. They’ll hold the burger well and won’t break up as you eat it. For this reason, we also recommend Milk Buns or Potato Rolls. Both are good choices

Please avoid Brioche Buns, however. They tend to crumble after a few bites, especially when you’re using them for a burger with this much cheese in it. Stick with the standard Hamburger, Potato, or Milk Buns for the best result

These are thicker Burgers than most, so the cooking will take a little longer than usual

Because you’re jamming two burger patties together and stuffing it with cheese – you’ve got a lot of burger to cook. We recommend using a heavy based pan such as a Cast Iron Skillet for the best cook. Get that pan smoking hot and then give the Burgers a good 5 minutes on one side

Flip them over then we recommend covering the Burgers. You can use a lid (if it’s big enough), or try getting a separate frying pan, inverting it, and placing it over the top of the Burgers. This method will capture all the steam and speed up the cooking process

You want the burgers to be cooked to a medium cook. So, the internal temperature will be around 120 – 130F. The best bet is to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. No need to rest them either! Place them straight onto the Bun (which has also been lightly fried in the pan for a bit of color and texture), add your toppings and it’ll be ready to eat!

Juicy Lucy with Lettuce and Tomato
There are no rules in cooking, if you want to add Lettuce and Tomato to your burger then go right ahead!

An Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger doesn’t come with any Ketchup, Lettuce, or Tomato

To keep the burger 100% authentic, no Ketchup, or any other sauce is used in the Juicy Lucy. The theory is the immense cheesiness of the burger will be saucy enough. It is also a classic Cheeseburger, so no Lettuce, Tomato, or any other fruit of veg is added. It’s simply Burger, Cheese, and Pickles. The classic way!

Now this recipe is for an Authentic Juicy Lucy, however we’re not here to stop you from adding whatever you like to the burger. In fact, we tried adding Ketchup and Yellow Mustard to the dish and honestly, it tasted way better. You get that sugary sweetness that you come to expect with a Cheeseburger!

We even tried Lettuce and Tomato too. Turned out ok, but the burger was starting to move pretty far away from being a Juicy Lucy, and we were headed into In N Out Smash Burger territory (not that that’s a bad thing at all)!

However you enjoy your Juicy Lucy, we guarantee you will enjoy it! So, make the authentic one, and try adding a few ingredients to a second burger to see what you prefer!

Recipe Details

Servings

2 people (makes 2 burgers)

Prep time

10 minutes

Cooking time

40 minutes

Total time

50 minutes

Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. of Ground Beef (20% – 25% fat content)
  • 2 Hamburger Buns (use Standard, Milk, or Potato Buns)
  • 1 Yellow Onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 slices of American Cheese
  • 2 Burger Buns
  • ½ cup of Sliced Bread and Butter Pickles
  • 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Add the Butter to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the slices of Onions and ½ tsp. of Salt. Cook slowly while stirring occasionally for 30 – 40 minutes until tender, sweet, and golden-brown. Once cooked, set aside
  2. Divide the Ground Beef into 6 balls weighing approximately 6 oz. each. Compact them with your hands, then press them to create thin, flat burger patties. Season on both sides then place on a flat surface
  3. Add a slice of American Cheese into the center of two of the patties. Fold the corners over so that they form a diamond shape, and all fit well inside the Burger. Add a second slice of cheese and repeat the folding process
  4. Place the remaining two patties on top of the cheese patties. Pick them up with your hands and push together the two pieces, making sure that the edges are tightly pressed together to encase the cheese. Once combined, press lightly together to slightly flatten out the burgers
  5. Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan such as a Cast Iron over medium / high heat. Cut your Burger Buns in half and toast the insides on the pan for about 2 minutes to char slightly (be careful not to burn). Set aside

Pan Fry the Juicy Lucy

  1. Add the Oil to the pan until hot, then carefully place the two Juicy Lucy patties onto the center of the pan. Press down lightly with a spatula to help more surface area contact the pan. Don’t press down too much however, as you want to ensure the two patties stay connected
  2. Cook for 5 minutes on one side, then flip and cover the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. You can cover with a lid or the inside of another frying pan. Just try to cover the patties as much as possible to help them cook all the way through
  3. Once the internal temperature of the burgers are between 120 – 130F, remove from the pan and begin to assemble the Juicy Lucy

The proper way to assemble an Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger

  1. Place 4 – 5 Pickles on the bottom of the Bun, then place the Juicy Lucy Burger on top of the pickles. Top with a generous spoonful of Caramelized Onions, then finish with the top of the Burger
  2. Serve immediately as is, or with a side of French fries

Recipe Notes

  • The traditional Juicy Lucy is not served with any Ketchup or Mustard. You can, however, add some if you like. It’s totally up to you

Thanks for checking out our recipe for the famous Authentic Juicy Lucy Burger. If you’ve made this delicious dish let us know in the comments below how it went!

If you’ve a hankering for more fast-food style recipes well you’re in for a treat. We’ve got plenty of them on our website, include these favorites of ours:

Happy Cooking!

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