Juicy Lucy
Easy Eats

The Juicy Lucy

There are certain recipes that I just know I’ll get flak for when I post. These recipes tend to fall into two categories:

The first category is traditional or family recipes. Things like shrimp and grits can cause a firestorm because everybody thinks they have the ultimate way to make it and you’re in trouble if you make it any other way. It’s my experience that this is almost never true and there are usually different, delicious ways to make the same thing.

The second category is a little different and this Juicy Lucy Recipe falls squarely in that zone. It’s recipes that I want to adapt from popular restaurants. Sometimes (like in this case) I’ve never even been to the restaurant. If you think that’s going to stop me from trying to reproduce it you would be wrong.

After all, if you watch the Travel Channel or Food Network for more than 17 minutes, you’ll see a segment where they visit one of two classic Minneapolis institutions that make something called “The Juicy Lucy.”

Essentially, it’s a burger stuffed with cheese. Like… way stuffed with cheese. It’s so stuffed that the cheese sort of erupts out of the burger when you bite into it.

So, if you’ve been to Minneapolis and are a Juicy Lucy zealot, feel free to yell at me in the comments for doing something wrong. But, for everyone else, here’s how you make one helluva good burger.

Juicy Lucy

The Juicy Lucy

Just a moment please...

Yield
3 burgers
Prep Time
Total Time

My take on the famous Juicy Lucy burger, originating in Minneapolis. This is one seriously delicious burger!

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef (80/20 is best)
3 slices American or Velveeta cheese
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Olive oil
Burger buns
Red onions
Lettuce
Ketchup
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Helpful Equipment

Skillet

Directions

1) Split ground beef into three 6-ounce balls. Then split each of those balls in half to have 6 3-ounce balls. Smash each of those balls into flat patties.

2) Fold your cheese slices into quarters and stack each slice onto a 3-ounce patty. Cover it with another patty and seal it around the edges so the cheese is completely enclosed. Take your time to make sure the burgers are even and sealed well. Season each burger with salt and pepper and make a small indent in the center of each one.

3) To cook the burgers, add a small drizzle of olive oil to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for 5-6 minutes per side until they are cooked through. At the end of cooking, I recommend adding a drizzle of water and quickly covering the skillet with a lid or big bowl to steam the burgers quickly.

Serve the juicy lucys immediately on toasted buns with condiments.

Juicy Lucy Recipe

The Cheese Trick

There are three tricks to making this burger work, in my opinion.

The first trick is to use cheap cheese. You don’t want something fancy. Even cheddar is too fancy and won’t get properly melted. You want American cheese or Velveeta slices. Something that melts into a river. That’s what you want.

You need these things for the Juicy Lucy Recipe

You need these things.

The second trick is to make big burgers. 1/3 of a pound per burger is about the minimum that will work.

If you’re starting with a pound of beef, divide it into 6-ounce balls and then split each of those in half. Flatten them into patties and then stack your cheese on a half. You want to use a whole slice per burger. You might think you could fit more, but I found that this was the most I could fit without it erupting out while it was cooking.

Please don't use expensive cheese for this Juicy Lucy Recipe

Please don’t use expensive cheese.

Take your time covering the cheese with the other half of each burger. Really shape the patty well, working out any air that might be in there and also sealing it well around the edges. Then season each patty with salt and pepper and make a small indent in the center of each one.

Seasoned well! - Juicy Lucy Recipe

Seasoned well!

Cooking the Lucy

Cooking a juicy lucy is a little tricky. You can absolutely use a grill, but let me make the case for the skillet or griddle. If you make even a small mistake in your burger prep, then your cheese melts, it will leak out all over the place. If you are cooking on a grill, it’ll just spill between the grates. If you’re using a skillet, the cheese will actually sear and close up on the burger.

Think of it like cauterizing a burger wound.

The third trick on nailing this burger is heat control. You want to keep these on about medium heat. If you get them too hot, they will sear on the outside but not cook all the way through. Too low and you won’t get a sear.

Control your heat here - Juicy Lucy Recipe

Control your heat here.

The burgers are nice and thick and they will need to cook for 5-6 minutes per side. Patience is a virtue. Don’t mess with them too much or you run the risk of breaking through to the cheese.

The Steam Trick

To finish the cooking process and really make the cheese molten melted, I recommend adding some water to your pan and slapping on a lid or bowl. This will steam the burger, finishing the cooking process and also completely melting the cheese. Just 45-60 seconds will do the trick.

The steam trick - Juicy Lucy Recipe

The steam trick.

No need to top the burger with more cheese obviously so just serve it on a nicely toasted bun with your favorite toppings.

Juicy Lucy on the bun.

Perfecto!

Be sure to warn your guests before they bite in because the cheese is hot and could maybe burn you if you weren’t ready for it!

Man is it messy and good though.

Juicy Lucy Recipe copycat via Macheesmo

CHOMP.

There you have it!

The next time you are making some Lucies, make them Juicies!

22 comments on “The Juicy Lucy

  1. I’m from Minneapolis and have had my share of Lucys from Matt’s and the 510. Your recipe is sort of a blending of the two. Well done by the way. Matt’s uses a bit less meat and less cheese. 1/4 lb burger and one slice folded in quarters. 510 goes bigger but tends to over cooks the meat, drying it out. This is a happy medium and I will give it a go. I especially like the steam trick.

    1. I reread your recipe and realize you also used a single slice per burger. Also thinking matt’s uses 1/3 pound burgers as well. This is not a happy medium but a pretty authentic matt’s Jucy Lucy.

  2. Hi Nick! I’ve had really good results making something similar with a stuffing combination of American cheese, cream cheese, and finely chopped jalapenos. The cheeses get pretty molten-y, and the peppers add a nice kick.

  3. Looks great! We’re visiting Minneapolis in like 2 weeks so I’ll let you know how Matt’s is…where’d you get your buns? They look so classic and good.

    1. I think I got those from Whole Foods… they are just the standard brand. I like to toast them though before using them. :)

  4. The best places in the Twin Cities are: Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club (Minneapolis), and Blue Door Pub and The Nook (St. Paul). All a little different, all good!

    I’ve had success making one of the patties slightly larger than the other. Put the cheese on the big patty, and use the excess meat to kind-of wrap around and seal the smaller one. Seems to seal it more securely.

    Also, try Blue Cheese and a little minced garlic in the middle – it’s super good!

  5. Nick, this looks so God damn delicious… can’t wait to cook a couple of those Juicy Lucys!!!

    By the way, I just started following/stalking your blog in pretty much every social network available. Don’t freak out, I’m harmless!

  6. Also a Mpls girl and this definitely is a Matt’s camp Juicy Luicy (which is a great thing). I’m loving the cream cheese and Jalepenos addition; will definitely try that one. I love to make these at home and your instructions will make for great ones.

  7. My grandmother, possibly the least hip person to ever walk this earth, (though one of the kindest and funniest) used to make these for me in the 1960s. The only difference was that instead of serving them on a bun, they were simmered in some sort of tomato sauce and thus served open-face. Haven’t had one in 40 years, so it’s high time. Thanks! Also, congratulations on the Food Fight win!

    1. Whoa! Sounds like she was way ahead of her time! That’s a very “paleo” way to serve these suckers. Thanks for the congrats. :)

  8. When I just saw the picture, I totally thought, whoa, cool. How do you put an over easy egg inside a cooked burger…only to realize it’s cheese, which is a hard enough trick on its own ;o).

  9. Another one of your Minnesota readers here to chime in….

    Minneapolis can have all the credit for originating classic Jucys at Matt’s or the 5-8, but the best Lucys to eat these days are over here in Saint Paul. If you ask my friends, the Nook is where its at for a classic Lucy. Its not expensive, but the ingredients are better quality. I also give credit to the Blue Door for having creative Lucys, the Bluecy (Blue Cheese and Garlic) and the Luau (Mozz, topped with pineapple), heck that place even puts peanut butter on one of their burgers.

    I’m a Saint Paul girl, and I’m biased, but I also like the fact that at the Saint Paul joints have amazing black bean burgers and are happy to customize (friend or raw onions are always offered at the Nook). That way, a vegetarian like me can go out with her Jucy loving friends and enjoy the experience. Just ask Guy Fieri, “the Nook is off the hook!”

    1. p.s. Nick, your Lucy looks decent. I think its funny that you think you’ll get flak. Haven’t you heard of Minnesota nice? We aren’t going to say it to your face, though we are clearly all going to tell you which Jucy Lucy is the best Jucy Lucy!

  10. One night I was terrible hungry for a Juicy Lucy from Matt’s, but by the time I got through via phone, the grill was closed. Of course I had to google the recipe, make a 2 a.m. stop at Cub on my way home , then make myself a burger even though I was out of beer.
    Since then I’ve added the following for an absolutely sublime “wrap”:
    1/2 of a St Paul Flatbread wrap (on Robert Street, call ahead since they sometimes run out)
    Garlic dip from the Holy Land Deli
    sauteed mushrooms if you have any on hand.
    one Juicy Lucy burger

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