Last Updated on June 30, 2022
There’s no burger quite like the Juicy Lucy. It’s a cheeseburger with a catch: the cheese is on the inside. A hidden pocket of gooey, gushing American cheese helps keep the meat tender, while leaving the top of the griddled brown patty wide open for toppings such as ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions.
The story behind this inside-out burger is appropriately juicy, a long-running battle between two Minneapolis bars, Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club, each claiming to have created the burger sometime in the 1950s. There are only superficial differences between those they continue to serve to this day. At 5-8, it’s spelled Juicy Lucy; the club’s motto is “If it’s spelled right, it’s done right.” Over at Matt’s, it’s a Jucy Lucy, and their fighting-words tagline is “Remember, if it is spelled correctly, you are eating a shameless rip-off!”
No matter who had the brilliant idea first, the Juicy/Jucy Lucy is now an icon, an unforgettable (and easy-to-make) creation guaranteed to wow at your next cookout.
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices American cheese
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 potato buns or hamburger buns
- Use your hands to mix the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Form 8 patties, each about 4 inches wide and ¼-inch thick.
- Cut each slice of cheese into 4 equal sized squares and stack each set of 4 pieces on top of each other. Place a stack of cheese on 4 patties. Cover these patties with the remaining patties, sealing the cheese inside by pinching the edges with your fingers and smoothing out the shape of the burger with your hands.
- Heat the oil in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Cook the burger until it’s brown and griddled on the underside and doesn’t stick to the pan much, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip it and repeat on the other side.
- Let the burgers rest for a couple of minutes before eating, because the hot cheese could scald your mouth. Serve on buns with your choice of condiments, such as caramelized onions, pickles, iceberg lettuce, ketchup, and mustard.
Nevin Martell is a D.C.-area based food and travel writer, parenting essayist, recipe developer, and photographer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, Fortune, Travel + Leisure, and many other publications. His eight books include Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America's Favorite Rural Bakery and The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink, It’s So Good: 100 Real Food Recipes for Kids. Find him on Instagram @nevinmartell, on Twitter @nevinmartell, and online at nevinmartell.com.