A Minnesota original, these Juicy Lucy Burgers are stuffed with pepper jack cheese and pan-fried for an indulgent, tasty dinner! Our version of this inside-out cheeseburger is a twist on the classic with pepperjack cheese and crispy fried onions.
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When we did our big American road trip through 13 states, we made sure to stop in Minneapolis to get the original Jucy Lucy burger from Matt's Bar. I wanted to know what it was like for when I finally got around to making foods that Minnesota is famous for as part of my American Eats series where I make iconic foods from each state, one state at a time. Anytime we travel someplace new, I try to do my research ahead of time so I know what to eat and where to eat it.
We could have gone to the 5-8 Club, another Minneapolis restaurant that also claims to have invented the Juicy Lucy in the 1950's. The big difference between the two joints (besides the spelling - Matt's Bar omits the "i" in the word juicy) is that Matt's Bar only uses American cheese while the 5-8 club has four cheese options including American, bleu, pepper jack (like my version!), and Swiss. The 5-8 Club also has a burger called the Saucy Sally where their secret sauce is cooked on the inside.
Why this Recipe Works
- Extra juicy burgers. It's in the name for a reason. As the cheese core melts, it has the effect of keeping the meat on the inside of the burger extra juicy.
- It's okay to add toppings. Condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayo along with pickles, onions, and lettuce can be added, just like any other burger.
- Fried, not grilled. You could grill your Juicy Lucy if you wanted to, but for authenticity's sake we're cooking these on a skillet inside.
What is a Juicy Lucy burger?
A Juicy Lucy burger is basically an inside out cheeseburger where an Angus beef patty is stuffed with cheese, then cooked on a hot griddle until the meat is done and the cheese is melted inside. They are big and sizzling (we burned our mouths on the molten core of cheese with our first bite) but surprisingly tender for being such a dense burger. Although if I'm being completely honest, we were underwhelmed by the flavor of the original. Probably because we aren't fans of American cheese.
Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club are only 3 miles apart, so it's hard to say which one truly deserves the title of the inventor of the Juicy Lucy. And we only had time to try one of the two, so next time we are in Minneapolis we are going to try the 5-8 Club and see which burger actually tastes better.
This is a quick overview of some of the important ingredients you'll need for this recipe. Specific measurements and full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe card below.
- Ground beef: We like a lean ground beef like 80/20 or 85/15 for the best flavor.
- Cheese: While we think these taste best with pepper jack cheese, really any cheese that melts well would work.
- Seasonings: We added some Worcestershire sauce and steak seasoning for even more flavor.
- Fixings: You'll also need some good quality hamburger buns, crispy fried onion strings, and arugula for our version. Dill pickles, thick slices of tomato, and aioli are more great topping ideas.
How to Make Juicy Lucy Burgers
Here is a quick overview with step-by-step images to help you visualize the process. Scroll down to the recipe card or use the "jump to recipe" button at the top of the post for printable, detailed instructions. Here is the basic approach:
- Season the meat: Add the meat to a large bowl with the steak seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Use your hands to gently mix everything together evenly, but try not to overwork the meat.
- Shape the patties: Divide the meat into 6 even portions, then divide each of those again into two halves. Flatten out both sections into fairly thin, large patties.
- Add the cheese: To make it a Juicy Lucy, pile the cheese onto the bottom patty, then top with another patty and seal the edges, enclosing the meat so it doesn't leak out while the burger cooks. That's how you get the single patty with a molten cheese core. Repeat until you have 6 formed patties.
- Season & cook: Season the outside of the burgers with salt and pepper. Add a little olive oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, then cook the burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side until a nice crust has formed and the burgers are cooked through. The center of the burgers should reach 140 degrees F on a digital meat thermometer when tested.
- Rest, then assemble: Let the burgers rest for a few minutes, then assemble with buns, arugula, and crispy onion strings along with other desired toppings before serving. Just be careful with that first bite because the cheese can be hot!
Yes, you can assemble the Juicy Lucy burger patties up to 2 days ahead of time and store them in the fridge until ready to cook. You can even freeze the patties and store them for 2-3 months that way. Just thaw, then cook.
The lore behind the catchy name is that a customer Matt's Bar ordered a burger with cheese cooked in the middle. When he bit into it, he exclaimed "that's one Juicy Lucy!" and the name stuck.
- Add aioli. This is a great chance to up the flavor game of your burgers by adding an amazing aioli. Garlic aioli and pesto aioli are two of our favorites with these burgers.
- Work in batches. Unless you have a large griddle, you probably won't be able to cook more than 2 or 3 burgers at a time.
More Burger Recipes
- Burgers 101: How to Grill Burgers
- Juicy Grilled Turkey Burgers
- Grilled Poblano Pepper Southwest Burgers
- All-American Hamburger
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Juicy Lucy Burgers
- 2 pounds lean ground beef (we like 80/20 or 85/15)
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon steak seasoning
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 3 cups shredded pepperjack cheese
- 2 Tablespoons oil, for cooking
- 6 hamburger buns
- Crispy fried onions
- In a bowl gently mix together the ground beef, steak seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Split the meat mixture into 6 pieces.
- Take one piece of the meat and split it into 2 pieces. Shape both pieces into thin flat rounds that are about the size of your buns or a little bigger.
- Place about ¼ cup of shredded pepper jack cheese on top of one of the round patties. Carefully lift up the other patty, use a spatula if needed to avoid ripping any holes, and lay it on top of the cheese.
- Thoroughly pinch the edges together to ensure none of the cheese will melt out. Carefully pat the burger down a bit so that it is flat and not mounded. Gently press a small indent into the middle of the top of the patty, this will help to keep the patty flat while cooking.
- Very lightly season both sides of the patties with salt and pepper.
- Repeat steps 3-6 until all of the patties have been shaped.
- Heat a pan with 2 Tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
- Cook 1-2 patties at a time (depending on the size of your pan). Cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. You can use an instant read thermometer, the center of the burgers should be 140°F.
- Once the patties are cooked, place onto your favorite hamburger bun and top with fresh arugula and crispy fried onions.
- Serve immediately, or keep warm in a warm oven until ready to serve. Take caution when biting into the burgers as the cheese may be hot!
- Make-ahead: You can assemble the Juicy Lucy burger patties up to 2 days ahead of time and store them in the fridge until ready to cook. You can even freeze the patties and store them for 2-3 months that way. Just thaw, then cook.
- Storage: Leftover burgers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days and reheated in the microwave or air fryer.