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The Double Cheeseburger

May 4, 2017

Let it not be said that my opinions cannot be swayed by evidence.

Yes, I know in the past couple of days I may have made some outrageous claims about burgers. But you’ll notice that in every case, there are people out there who are on my side. Now, I’m not saying we’re in the majority. Clearly we’re not.

Who wants to be in the majority? Well, I mean besides politicians.

The majority, or at least the plurality of people, enjoy big chain restaurants. That’s why those soulless eateries dot the culinary landscape of this country like some kind of pox. And if anything, it’s spreading.

I’m happy to be among the minority that knows better. Not to say I don’t enjoy a guilty trip to McDonald’s every now and again. In fact, I just got a note that my friends at the Golden Arches are sending me another package of goodies, including some kind of device that turns french fries into a fork.

God help us all.

So here’s another outrageous burger claim for you to chew on. And I say outrageous because I myself, not too long ago, felt that the very notion of a cheeseburger was fundamentally wrong. However, what I’ve come to realize is that the double cheeseburger is the best kind of burger you can possibly get.

Let’s break that down, and let’s start with a bit of history.

Not too long ago, I considered even the basic cheeseburger an act of violence against the noble hamburger. It started from a place of love for the Joe’s Hamburger Sandwich, which clearly requires no further additions to shine. But it ended with the fact that most burger cheese is crap.

That was back in the dark ages when I still held a grudge against American cheese slices for a variety of reasons, not least of which was that I didn’t consider it to actually be cheese.

Then came molecular gastronomy. And then came Modernist Cuisine at Home. And that’s when I realized that American cheese was just simply a brilliant way for using science to transform cheese into perfectly creamy and meltable slices. It was a culinary reawakening of sorts which cleared the way for a deep love of the pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich.

Although I was never able to develop a taste for saltpepperketchup on pork roll.

Now that American cheese was no longer reviled, foods that contained it were back in the consideration set. This set the stage for a fateful trip to In-N-Out Burger where I had the best double-double animal style of my adult life.

I don’t know if it was the long absence in between visits to In-N-Out, or maybe it was a level of emotional maturity, or perhaps the increased attentiveness of being on vacation. But whatever it was, the cheese layer between the two beef patties was life-changing.

Much like the greasy cheesesteak at Pat’s, where whiz commingles with beef grease to form a beefy cheesy sauce that’s neither just liquified fat nor industrialized cheese product from a can, but some kind of magical combination of the two, the slice of cheese in between the two In-N-Out burger patties had transformed into a strata of decadent deliciousness.

That’s the stuff, right there. That’s the real secret sauce.

No other burger besides the double cheeseburger can offer up that oozy, creamy, salty, and beefy sauce that forms of its own accord when two hot and juicy beef patties make a slice of American cheese melt into their collected fat and juices.

Hot damn, that’s good stuff.

There is a bonus feature as well to the double cheeseburger, and that’s an increase of actual burger surface area. And that’s critical when a burger is seared on a hot griddle to produce the delicious Maillard reaction.

Sure. A double cheeseburger is less likely to be able to give you a juicy, medium rare, pink all the way through, fresh and tender experience of ground beef. And that is indeed a tradeoff. There are certainly some times when I prefer a nice thick rare burger.

But when push comes to shove, these days I’m totally a double cheeseburger kind of guy.

And if I were living high on the hog, I would totally get that bad boy with bacon, for added fat, smokiness, and crispness. Fried onions also have a role here too for a little bit of contrasting sweetness, but also to add to the depth of flavor. Sauteed mushrooms wouldn’t be unwelcome either, but I might leave those off for the sake of simplicity.

There are lots of ways to build a great burger. This is just one of mine. Regardless, the double cheeseburger holds a special place in my heart.


It’s unclear if hamburger week will continue tomorrow. Yes, I have more burger thoughts to share, but there is other news coming down the pike too.

If you like having these discussions about burgers, I encourage you to come out with me and other readers of the FLB on Saturday for the Tour de Burger, where we can vigorously debate all these issues and more while we eat our way across the Capital Region in search of the best seasonal burger stand.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2017 10:21 am

    In general I prefer a single cheeseburger because it’s a better balance of meat and condiments. I have had many animal-style In-N-Outs but never a double cheeseburger so never experienced the cheese in the middle. Now, of course, I will have to try it.

    But if you like this so much, have you experimented with asking other chains to put the cheese between the two patties instead of on top? I’m sure Five Guys, which is full custom, would be happy to do it.

  2. -R. permalink
    May 4, 2017 1:06 pm

    My go-to order at McDonald’s is always two double-cheeseburgers. They’re perfectly, disgustingly delightful. Ironically, no matter how hard one tries to duplicate it at home, you can never capture that taste.

  3. OCtG permalink
    May 4, 2017 6:18 pm

    More anti-ketchup propaganda.
    Once again, our views diverge on the topic of ketchup.
    I’m appreciative of your kind words towards the beloved Pork Roll, but I take issue with your continued objection towards “saltpepperketchup”.
    Perhaps our polar views on ketchup are summarized in our respective blog mastheads; “I know what is good”, and “What makes you smile?”…
    I stand smiling, behind my low-brow support of the HFCS laden condiment.
    At least I think we can agree to never spell it “catsup”.

  4. May 4, 2017 6:58 pm

    Ah, you ex-Californian’s and your blind devotion to In-N-Out and its crappy fries, unsecret menu, and animal food.

    Of course, a double cheeseburger is the way to go. That’s why Five Guys calls their doubles “Cheeseburger,” and their singles “Little Cheeseburger.” The menu gently nudges you to order a double. Your natural inclination is to order a Cheeseburger and skip the little one.

    Five Guys gets it.

    • May 5, 2017 10:30 am

      Steve, the Profusser and a couple of hench-people once met me at ALB at 1 am to collect a dac biet bahn mi I had brought them from San Francisco. I will be happy to do the same for you with an In-N-Out. Even after 8 hours on the plane, I predict it will beat your pudding-soft Five Guys Cheeseburger.

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