THE BLOG
09/24/2014 12:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

You Can Has Cheezburger: A Guide to Potential Cheeses and What Toppings to Pair Them With

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by Matt Duckor

Cheeseburgers, man.

We could eat them every day for the rest of our lives barring the serious health concerns that go along with that. The mere suggestion of the idea that there's a National Cheeseburger Day is preposterous (yes, even more so than the rest of the many hilariously bad food holidays).

Yes, we've already laid down the ten burger commandments. Sure, our friends at Bon Appétit have concocted a pretty damn great "deluxe" burger.

But, the question remains: Can one really stick to just one type of cheese with just one combination of toppings?

Answer: Absolutely not.

In our minds, nearly any cheese is acceptable on a burger.

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The cheeseburger at Husk in Charleston, SC [Photo: Matt Duckor]

While we've just endorsed and thereby given you the freedom to use any cheese you well please on your burger, there are guidelines to follow when pairing toppings with different cheese. What follows are a set of ideas:

(A quick note about quality: Obviously, you don't want to go raid the cheese cart at your local four-starred white tablecloth joint, but you don't want to be using processed singles either. Find the Goldilocks compromise.)

American: This is the golden standard for the classic American hamburger. Everyone from In-N-Out to chefs like Husk's Sean Brock look to American cheese for its supreme meltability. If you're looking for a cheese to go with an archetypal burger topped with crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, bread and butter pickles, and raw onions you can go ahead and look no further.

Cheddar: There's pretty much only one topping to go on a cheddar burger--bacon. It doesn't matter if you're getting the standard stuff from the supermarket, opting for the thick-cut variety from a place like Nueske's, or tossing a slab of fatty pork belly on your burger, you should not be pairing it with anything besides cheddar.

Monterey Jack: The meltability is strong with this one. You'll often see this semi-hard cheese on South Western-style burgers topped with green chilies and other exotic ingredients.

SEE MORE: Pizza to Try Before You Die

Blue: If you're not a fan of blue cheese outside of the burger realm, chances are you're not going love to it on a burger either. But if you do want to take the funky plunge, take a cue from April Bloomfield's excellent Spotted Pig burger and skip all toppings--the heft of beef and stink of blue cheese will be enough to handle.

Provolone: You'll often see this relatively mild cheese paired with lettuce, onion, and oven-dried tomato. And you should totally substitute raw tomatoes for their more flavor-concentrated cousin. But we also like to top our provolone burgers with sauteéd mushrooms for a bit of earthy goodness.

Fancy Cheeses (gruyère,comté, brie, taleggio, fontina): We love thinking outside the box with something a bit higher-end. Any of the cheeses recommended above, we'd opt for a heaping pile of caramelized onions to add sweetness and counteract a bit of the funk.

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