The Best Cheeses for Burgers
Are you looking to make the best burgers in America—on YOUR grill? Find your own go-to cheeseburger recipe using a variety of cheeses for perfect gourmet burgers every time.
A hamburger—and especially a cheeseburger—is such classic American fare that thousands of restaurants large and small are devoted to the beloved burger. In fact, the entire burger category is a $40 billion industry! There’s even a National Cheeseburger Day every year on September 18. Sure, it’s fun to go out for a burger once in a while, but a cheeseburger is so easy to make at home that it pays to experiment with different cheese and condiment choices that will save you money and taste great because you made it.
Start with a Classic Cheese
The key to a great cheeseburger is, of course, the cheese! Skip the artificial American cheese slice and select a delicious, from-the-farm, real dairy cheese you can find at any grocery, online cheese store, or specialty food store across the country.
Starting with the classics, you can build a cheeseburger with Cheddar, Swiss or blue cheese.
One of the most popular cheeseburger helpers is Cheddar cheese, which gives a cheeseburger a nice “tang” with bold flavor. White or yellow Cheddar varieties range from mild to sharp (or aged). Typically, young (mild) Cheddars will melt the best. While super delicious, save the vintage sharp Cheddars aged four years or more for your fancy cheese and cracker plate.
Swiss cheese is another super melting cheese and tastes extra special when paired with bacon or sautéed mushrooms, as in the well-known Mushroom Swiss Burger. This nutty and buttery cheese has a very distinctive yet mellow taste, which makes it a great choice to add to a burger. Traditional Swiss, or Emmentaler, provides a stronger flavor profile than Baby Swiss, but as with Cheddars, you’re better off saving the top-shelf aged stuff for the cheese platter. Baby Swiss is aged for less time and has a milder, buttery flavor.
Whether you “stuff” a burger with blue cheese or melt it on top, this pleasantly pungent and extremely creamy cheese makes a cheeseburger truly decadent. Many upscale steak restaurants often feature blue cheese on their burgers along with high-end bacon (such as Nueske’s from Wisconsin) because the combined effect of both creates one of the richest hamburger tastes around. One classic is the “Black and Blue” burger, where the ground beef patty is blackened with Cajun seasoning and topped with crumbled blue cheese. A little bit will go a long way, so the amount of blue cheese you add to the burger should be based on how much you love it!
Get Creative with Burger Cheese Choices
With hundreds of cheeses to choose from, expand your cheeseburger choices to include some off-the-wall types of specialty cheeses. All of these cheeses taste wonderful simply melted on a basic cheeseburger…but to go the extra mile, the recipes below showcase the best these cheeses have to offer on juicy gourmet burgers.
A distinctive soft cow’s milk cheese developed in France, Brie cheese is often found on a cheese board, or served warmed wrapped in puff pastry for an elegant appetizer. However, a cheeseburger topped with melted Brie cheese is exceptional, especially in this Bacon Brie cheeseburger recipe from the food blogger at homemadehome.com.
A traditional Dutch cheese now made by many cheesemakers in the U.S., it’s no surprise that Gouda cheese is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. It’s creamy and mild and found in a red wax rind…and it makes a fabulous cheeseburger. Here Wisconsin Gouda is paired with a zesty chimichurri sauce in this recipe from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Also, try a smoked Gouda for a truly unique cheeseburger flavor!
Jack cheese is one of the best for melting, which makes it perfect for a gooey cheeseburger. Its mild flavor also makes it a willing partner for bold flavors, as in this recipe from Bobby Flay. Add Mexican or Italian seasonings to your ground beef and top with Jack cheese. If you like, up the flavor factor by using jalapeño, habanero, or pepperjack cheese.
Don’t be afraid to veer off the cow’s milk path in search of the ultimate cheeseburger. A soft goat’s milk cheese (chèvre) such as Montrachet adds a delightfully creamy tang to complement the seared beef. Or try a mixed-milk cheese combining goat, sheep and/or cow milk for added complexity. But if you’re using one of these fine cheeses, skip the ketchup and go gourmet by topping with caramelized onions or homemade onion jam.
The Best “Cheeseburger in Paradise”
Jimmy Buffett had a big hit with the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” from his 1978 album, Son of a Son of a Sailor. Buffett has said that he really did eat a cheeseburger in the Virgin Islands after having boat troubles and not eating well for days until they docked. In the song, Buffett sings that he’d like his burger “medium rare with Muenster…” Actually, Muenster cheese is very tasty melted over a grilled hamburger. Popular food blogger Shea Goldstein (Dixie Chik Cooks) created a simple Sriracha Muenster Burger because Muenster cheese is one of her favorites.
Check out our friends at The Tender Filet to learn how to cook the best burgers.
Some say that cheeseburgers are the ultimate comfort food. Anything with lots of melted cheese can be categorized as a comfort food in our book. A Pinterest search for “cheeseburger” turns up hundreds of cheese-laden photographs for unique recipes and copycat burgers from famous restaurants. There’s even one for Bacon Cheeseburger Eggrolls!
In your quest for the best burgers in America, don’t forget the cheese! A burger without cheese just isn’t as special!