There are over 670 different types of cheese. When it comes to a burger, cheese is my favorite part. Of course, I am the sort who thinks just about everything can be improved significantly with the addition of a large quantity of cheese. Everyone has their own tastes though.
When it comes to hamburgers, some prefer theirs without cheese at all, this article will only interest those who share that opinion if they are trying to understand the minds of cheeseburger fanatics like myself. In my mind the crowning glory of a burger is the cheese and not the bun.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered though. What type of cheese is best? What toppings will most compliment my cheese selection? Perhaps most importantly, how much cheese? With such delicate topics, absolutes are few but guidelines and general rules of thumb are plenty.
If you are hosting a party for several then it may be best to offer several cheese options, unless you are going with a themed party then I suggest cutting options down to one or two cheeses perfectly paired with your theme. To save a potential headache I am going to address typical cheeses available in any grocery store.
The classic American burger is characterized by American cheese (as the name suggests) or cheddar cheese, common toppings include lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and a variety of condiments.
Swiss cheese is probably the next most popular cheese for a cheeseburger. It pairs wonderfully with sautéed veggies especially: mushrooms, onions(also caramelized), peppers, and spinach.
Provolone/Provel are another good choice and they seem to go particularly well mixed with other cheeses or grilled vegetables such as onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
Blue cheese adds a zesty kick and pairs excellently with caramelized onions, bacon, and sautéed mushrooms.
The taste/appeal of each of these cheeses in a bit more detail:
American cheese, available in those neat little plastic wrapped slices and in more robust varieties deli sliced. American cheese is great for cheeseburger kids, traditionalists, and kids at heart. This mild and creamy cheese takes burgers to a comfort-food level for many and is a staple or B-B-Qs across the nation.
Cheddar cheese offers a still creamy but more tangy kick for cheese lovers. It still pairs well with the most traditional of burger toppings but adds a level of gourmet flair. Cheddar cheese comes in white or yellow options and ranges from mild to extra sharp. Don’t be afraid to try the extra sharp, it packs a lot more flavor in a smaller portion which can save on calories and kick the flavor up a notch at the same time. Even better, cheddar pairs well with several of the meat choices for hamburgers, including turkey.
Exceptionally creamy and mild Swiss is a natural with sautéed veggies because it goes well with the earthy flavor they impart. It is available in an Americanized form which is more mild to much more in depth varieties such as gruyere which is available at the deli counter.
Provolone is an Italian cheese with a smoky flavor making it pair perfectly with grilled veggies. It has the buttery creamy flavors of mozzarella but adds more robust tangy depth, it is aged and the length of the aging determines the strength of the flavor.
Provel cheese is a mixture of the three above cheeses cheddar, provolone, and Swiss cheese further enriching and enhancing the flavors of all three in a unique way. This cheese can be difficult to find in some areas but also imparts a natural smokiness like the provolone does.
Few cheeses inspire love and hate as well as blue cheese. It has its devoted fans and its wildly opposed critics. It offers a tangy salty/sweet flavor its fans adore and a little goes a long way. It can be served as crumbles or melted on with the toppings by steaming the burger for a minute under cover, after adding the cheese crumbles.
Whatever your cheese pick or picks it is good to experiment a bit mix and match a few! For themed parties find cheese with elements of the theme worked in. For a Luau theme try cheddar with undertones of pineapple in it or for a fiesta try cheeses with peppers in them for a spicy and festive option!