Standard patty melts—burger–grilled cheese hybrids, with caramelized onions and Swiss-style cheese on rye—are one of the glories of the American diner. With this recipe we respect tradition but lighten up a bit, subbing a moist, flavorful dark-meat turkey burger for the beef. Feel free to gild the lily by adding Thousand Island or Russian dressing to the bread before cooking. An accompanying pile of crispy french fries will take things all the way to the diner.

  • Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 
  • Active: 25 mins

Ingredients (11)

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 small yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground dark-meat turkey
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 slices rye bread
  • 8 slices Swiss-style cheese, preferably Gruyère or Comté


  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are evenly golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, chopped onion, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently combine. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into an even 1/2-inch-thick patty. Using your thumb, make a shallow indentation in the center of each patty (this helps them cook evenly). Transfer the patties to a plate and set aside.
  3. Set a grill pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, spray with cooking spray. Use a metal spatula to transfer the turkey patties to the pan and cook, undisturbed (don’t be tempted to press down with the spatula!), until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the patties and continue cooking until they’re cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F, about 6 minutes more.
  4. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on one side of each bread slice. Arrange the slices buttered-side down on a work surface. To each, add a slice of cheese, a turkey patty, a quarter of the caramelized onions, a second slice of cheese, and a second slice of bread, buttered-side up.
  5. Place a large two-burner griddle or large frying pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles and immediately disappears on the surface, about 3 minutes. Place 2 of the sandwiches on the grill or in the pan and cook until the bottom slices of cheese start to melt and the bread is golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown and all of the cheese has melted, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with the remaining 2 patty melts. Serve immediately.