The Best Types Of Cheese To Use For A Classic Juicy Lucy

If you've never been to Minnesota, then you may be missing out on one of America's cheesiest burgers. We're of course talking about the mid-west favorite, Juicy Lucy. For those not in the know, the Juicy Lucy is a unique burger that features molten cheese held inside of its beef patty. It holds the distinction of being served with a warning label, warding customers from biting in too soon and accidentally burning their tongues. Since cheese is the main star of the burger, getting the right kind is essential to making a proper Juicy Lucy. Not just any kind of cheese will do. You need a cheese that will be extra gooey and melty.

The best cheese for a Juicy Lucy is American cheese. While it might not be the fanciest cheese on store shelves, American cheese is a soft and smooth cheese. It's fairly easy to melt as well. When melted, it becomes almost like liquid, which is a requirement if you want it oozing out of your beef patty with every bite. That's why American cheese stands above stringier cheeses like Mozzarella, which holds together when melted. Mozzarella wouldn't give your Juicy Lucy enough juice, so to speak. 

You should also choose American cheese if you want an authentic Juicy Lucy burger. Two restaurants claim ownership over the Juicy Lucy, which we will get to in a second — Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. While the 5-8 Club in Minneapolis has several cheese options to choose from, Matt's Bar fixes its burgers with just plain ol' American cheese.

Other cheeses to consider

While American cheese may be the tried and true star of the show, you can always sub in other cheeses if you're not the biggest fan of American, or if you're looking to put your own spin on the Juicy Lucy. Some people prefer blue cheese instead of American cheese due to its poignant flavor...making it a Juicy Blucy. If you prefer your burger a little spicier, you can use pepper jack cheese as well.

When selecting a cheese for a Juicy Lucy, you want to consider the melt potential of a cheese. Both the moisture and fat content of the cheese play a big part in how a cheese melts. You want cheeses with both a higher fat and moisture content since they're more likely to lose their form when heated. Likewise, you should go with a younger cheese since they melt better compared to older cheeses.

If you're looking for an alternative to American cheese, you can't go wrong with Fontina cheese as it has a milder flavor that won't overwhelm your burger. Likewise, it melts similarly to American and should provide a saucy center for your sandwich. Both Gruyere and Emmental cheeses would work, as well, if you're looking for a milder cheese to go with. However, if you want to add a little bit of flavor to your burger, consider a good Gouda. Gouda cheese has a smoky, earthy flavor that will pair well with the savoriness of the beef.

History behind the Juicy Lucy

As mentioned above, the Juicy Lucy is a Minnesota classic with the origin of the burger tracing to Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. Both establishments claim ownership over the sandwich, with supporters rallying behind alternate origin tales. It's safe to say that the establishments have a bit of a rivalry with Matt's Bar stating on its website, "Remember, if it's spelled correctly, you just might be eating a shameless ripoff!" Neither can agree on the naming of the burger either, with Matt's Bar spelling it as Jucy Lucy (no i included) and 5-8 Club as Juicy Lucy. 

As far as the origins of the sandwich go, Matt's Bar claims that owner Matt Bristol created the burger in 1954. On a slow day, the bar owner whipped up a burger that made a customer say, "Wow, that's one Juicy Lucy!" Alternatively, the 5-8 Club's origins on the sandwich are a bit vaguer with current owner Jill Skogheim claiming that the burger was created there in the 1950s. In 5-8 Club's recount, the exact creator is unknown, but it was definitely created at the establishment according to their side of history. 

The two establishments approach the burger differently. The 5-8 Club is much more experimental in its approach, offering different toppings as well as cheeses. Meanwhile, Matt's Bar prefers the traditional Jucy Lucy, so expect it filled with loads of American cheese.