Course Main course
Place of origin United States
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Ground beef patty, cheese and bread buns
Food energy
(per serving)
600-1500 kcal (-5680 kJ)
Cookbook: Cheeseburger 

A cheeseburger is a hamburger topped with cheese. Traditionally, the slice of cheese is placed on top of the meat patty, but the burger can include many variations in structure, ingredients, and composition. The term itself is a portmanteau of the words "cheese" and "hamburger." The cheese is usually added to the cooking hamburger patty shortly before the patty is completely cooked which allows the cheese to melt. Cheeseburgers are often served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, and occasionally bacon.

In fast food restaurants, the cheese used is typically processed cheese, but there are variations, such as cheddar, Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese, blue cheese and pepper jack. When cheese is added to a burger the nutritional value of the burger can be changed substantially. For example, a slice of Cheddar cheese can add 113[1] calories and 4.5 grams of saturated fat to a burger.[2] Other types and amounts of cheese would have varying effects, depending on their nutritional content.


  • History 1
  • Variations 2
    • Ingredients 2.1
    • Religious 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5


Adding cheese to hamburgers became popular in the late-1920s to mid-1930s, and there are several competing claims as to who created the first cheeseburger. Lionel Sternberger is reputed to have invented the cheeseburger in 1926 at the age of 16 when he was working as a fry cook at his father's Pasadena, California sandwich shop, "The Rite Spot," and "experimentally dropped a slab of American cheese on a sizzling hamburger."[3][4][5][6][7]

An early example of the cheeseburger appearing on a menu is a 1928 menu for the Los Angeles restaurant O'Dell's which listed a cheeseburger smothered with chili for 25 cents.[8][9] According to a report published by the independent public television station KCET, a person would have had the additional option to added spaghetti as an additional topping to their chili smothered cheeseburger for a total cost of 40 cents at this same eatery.[9][10]

Other restaurants say they invented the cheeseburger. For example, Kaelin's Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, said it invented the cheeseburger in 1934.[11] One year later, a trademark for the name "cheeseburger" was awarded to Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In in Denver, Colorado.[12] According to Steak 'n Shake archives, the restaurant's founder, Gus Belt, applied for a trademark on the word in the 1930s.[13][14][15]



The ingredients used to create cheeseburgers follow similar patterns found in the regional variations of hamburgers. Popular regional toppings include bacon, avocado or guacamole, sliced sautéed mushrooms or onions, cheese sauce and/or chili. Less common ingredients include egg, feta cheese, salsa, jalapeños and other kinds of chili peppers, anchovies, slices of ham, mustard, gyros meat, or bologna, horseradish, sauerkraut, pastrami or teriyaki-seasoned beef, tartar sauce, french fries, onion rings, potato chips, a pat of butter, pineapple and tofu.

A cheeseburger may have more than one hamburger patty and more than one slice of cheese. A stack of two patties is called a double cheeseburger; a triple cheeseburger has three, and a quadruple has four.[16][17] Some cheeseburgers are prepared with the cheese enclosed within the ground beef, rather than atop it.


Traditionally, the cheeseburger breaches the kosher laws (Hebrew: כַּשְׁרוּת‎; kashrut) observed by Judaism as it combines ground beef and cheese. Mixtures of milk and meat (Hebrew: בשר בחלב‎, basar bechalav, literally "meat in milk") are prohibited according to Jewish religious law (Hebrew: הלכה‎; halakha), following a verse in the Book of Exodus in which Jews are forbidden from "boiling a (kid) goat in its mother's milk".[18][19] This prohibition appears again in Deuteronomy.[20] This dietary law sparked controversy in Jerusalem when McDonald's began opening franchises there that sold cheeseburgers.[21] Since that time, McDonald's has opened both kosher and non-kosher restaurants in Israel.[22]

In an attempt to provide a "kosher cheeseburger", a kosher restaurant in New York City created a controversial cheeseburger variation which replaces cheese with soy cheese.[23]

See also

Famous specialty hamburgers served with cheese:


  1. ^ "Calorie count".  
  2. ^ "Nutrition Information for: Cheeseburger".  
  3. ^ "Lionel Clark Sternberg obituary".  
  4. ^ Harvey, Steve (27 March 1991). "Only in L.A.".  
  5. ^ Perry, Charles (9 June 2004). "It's an L.A. Thing; Our burgers are the best with good reason: We made them here first".  
  6. ^ Piasecki, Joe (13 January 2012). "Yes, it was invented in Pasadena! Probably. Tracing the cheeseburger from inception to Bob's Big Boy". Pasadena Sun. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Henerson, Evan (23 June 1999). "The Tale of the Cheeseburger".  
  8. ^ Grace, Roger M. (15 January 2004). "Old Menus Tell the History of Hamburgers in L.A.". Metropolitan News-Enterprise. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "O'Dell's Menu".  
  10. ^ Spiers, Katherine (18 September 2013). "Were Cheeseburgers Invented in Pasadena?".  
  11. ^ "Louisville Facts & Firsts -". City of Louisville, Kentucky. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2006. 
  12. ^ "History of the Cheeseburger". Retrieved 2 October 2008. 
  13. ^ Flick, Bill. "Flick Fact 2/20/2012 Monday".  
  14. ^ "Our 'Top 5 List' of little-known facts about Bloomington-Normal". Archived from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  15. ^   (July 7, 2004) 323 F. Supp.2d 983 (E.D. Mo. 2004)
  16. ^ Tice, Carol (28 January 2002). "In-N-Out Burgers: With an emphasis on quality, this fast feeder shows its rare appeal. (Regional Powerhouse Chains)".  
  17. ^ Hall, David (24 October 2006). "Society's fast food intake reeks". Daily Skiff. Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  18. ^ Exodus 34:26
  19. ^ Exodus 23:19
  20. ^ Deuteronomy 14:21
  21. ^ Bronner, Ethan (3 September 1995). "Big Mac under attack in Jerusalem As McDonald's rings up sales of nonkosher burgers, outcry on 'cultural identity' heard".  
  22. ^ "Will residents of Jerusalem get to bite a kosher Big Mac?". J. the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California Magazine. 21 December 2001. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  23. ^ Montefinise, Angela (2 March 2008). "'"Jews Have A 'Beef.  

Further reading

  • Henerson, Evan (23 June 1999). "The Tale of the Cheeseburger". San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Archived from the original on 12 April 2003.