15 Underrated Cheeses You Should Be Melting On Top Of Burgers This Summer

We think classics like cheddar, Swiss, and American cheeses get plenty of fanfare when it comes to what they can do to spruce up a humble burger. So ahead of grilling season this summer, we've rounded up a collection of some dark horse dairy that'll pump up your patties.

When it comes to choosing a cheese to layer up with, it's important to consider a few factors: the meat you're using (richer meats like beef can hold their own between two buns, but milder proteins like turkey might need a bolder hit of flavor), the other toppings and condiments present to spice up your burger, and how much meltability you're aiming for — if that first-bite cheese pull is important to you. In putting together this list, we've accounted for all of those data points and more.

Our favorite underrated cheeses for burgers are all unexpected options that bring their own special wow factor, whether that be a more nuanced flavor, a surprising texture, or working together with other unique toppings to create a unique, thematic burger (looking at you, Italian-themed burgers slathered with ricotta). Keep reading for the word on the curd.

Humboldt Fog

Burgers topped with blue cheese are definitely a thing, but we're taking that idea and giving it a gourmet twist with this first recommendation: the multi-award-winning Humboldt Fog. This bloomy rind, birthday cake-shaped cheese is handmade from pasteurized goat's milk in Northern California and is truly a special addition to any burger. It's fudgy on the tongue with a distinct vein of vegetable ash running through its center that offers a touch of earthiness within the overall tangy, herbaceous flavor profile. The runny center is sure to add some delightful unctuousness to your patty. Don't sleep on the rind, either; getting a sliver of the stuff onto your burger will ensure a welcome dose of pungency and deep flavor.

Of course, beef and blue cheese are a classic combination, but we prefer to let Humboldt Fog shine as the star of the burger with a more mild patty. It plays well with pork and turkey. And don't be afraid to get creative on the topping front with this cheese. This cheese balances sweet flavors well, so load up your burger with goodies like fig spread, walnuts, cranberry sauce, and even honey. A sweeter bun would be the perfect crowning touch.


Halloumi is so delicious and satisfying that it can stand alone on a sandwich in our opinion, but when placed atop a burger, it can offer a unique extra meatiness you don't quite get with a typical cheese. The textural effect is almost like stacking a portobello mushroom cap on top of your patty — offering another layer of rich texture to bite through. The key here is that halloumi has a very high melting point, so the slice will keep its structural integrity even when hot. The flavor is mild with a welcome kick of salt, and the texture is delightfully squeaky (this is a good thing).

Rather than melting it as you might a normal slice of cheese, halloumi can be lightly brushed with olive oil and pan-fried before becoming the crowning touch to your patty, or it can simply get tossed on the grill alongside your burger. We love the grill approach because it gives that extra smoky char that perfectly compliments the burger. Between the cheese and the patty, that's plenty of sustenance, so go lighter with the rest of your toppings. You can't go wrong with all manner of crunchy veggies, but a lightly grilled summer squash, briny olive tapenade, or handful of fresh herbs will elevate the experience. A squeeze of lemon is an essential finishing touch (skip the ketchup on this one).


If you can frequently be found passing plates at a tapas restaurant, then you're probably already familiar with the magic of Manchego. The hard cheese is a Spanish staple and, though you might be more used to it alongside a cube of quince jelly on a cheese board, it's just as at home on top of your burger. It's nutty and packs a punch of flavor without being too overwhelming (that means it'll bring out the flavor of your meat — not compete with it). A kiss of salt at the finish is the perfect final flavor note.

Since it's a sheep's milk cheese like halloumi (and thus has higher butterfat and protein levels), it's not going to melt in an ooey gooey way. Shave it thin on top of the patty to help it along if you'd like, or just embrace the extra bite of texture. We find it pairs just fine with a standard beef burger (especially when it's spiked with Spanish paprika — it's a life-changing burger ingredient), but it also pairs well with lamb and pork. Top it with peppery arugula, crunchy raw onion, and a spice drizzle like a chili crisp.


Thanks to French onion soup, we know beef and Gruyère are a perfect pair. And this philosophy extends to burgers, too. Gruyère is one of those cheeses that can truly blanket a burger, melting down around the edges in a delicious waterfall. It's in the Alpine cheese family but is typically passed up in favor of its close cousin Swiss when it comes to patty toppings. This cheese boasts much more nuance, though, opening with fruity and grassy notes that give way to a subtle nutty taste that lies beneath.

Of course, this smooth curd pairs aptly with onions of all kinds, especially smoky grilled ones or those slowly caramelized in butter. But if you're looking to break up the richness of the cheese and bring out some of those aforementioned sweet and fruity overtones, opt for pickled onions for a vinegary pop. We'd dare to say that, though it's relatively uncommon, its flavor will have universal appeal, so don't be afraid to break it out at your upcoming backyard barbecue.


If you're someone who has bypassed Comté cheese during your visit to the local cheesemonger in favor of the heavyweights of the French cheese world, you're missing out. It boasts a truly unique bite that shouldn't go unnoticed, with a range of textures that makes each wedge unique — some of which boast a suppleness not always found in a hard cheese — and a lovely nutty aroma. It's a pale buttery yellow in color and has a quite special roasted, toasted flavor that plays well with its fruity sweet notes.

When adding Comté to a burger, choose a younger wheel (aged around four months) for an easier melting experience, and a more aged version if you're aiming for a fluffy pile of cheese instead of a melty blanket. Regardless, some coarse grating will probably do you well. Lean into the French flavors and add a swipe of good Dijon, and that's all you'll really need to let this special cheese shine.


Though delicious, funky, and grassy Taleggio might not always be the first wedge to be dunked into with a cracker when sitting on a packed cheese board, it's incredibly distinctive. It's bold on the nose, but gentle on the palate, with a mild flavor that begins with a tang and finishes as fruity and fresh as the lush northern Italian countryside from which it hails.

The texture is soft and spreadable, so it's also a good melting cheese, which is why you might find Taleggio more in recipes for cheesy soups or polenta dishes than as a burger topping. Since the texture is so buttery smooth, take cues from those recipes and consider going the cheese sauce route over simply melting a slice atop your patty. Liquified, the cheese gives elegance and an unctuousness to your burger. In our experience, the cheese can be slippery once melted, so take advantage of the bun's dry texture and slather it there rather than on a patty slick with juice. Layer it up with some fresh veg to balance out the richness, perhaps a bright tomato as a nod to the cheese's Italian roots.

Fresh fior di latte mozzarella

If you're thinking of topping your burger with mozzarella, your first instinct might be to opt for the standard slices of the stuff. Fresh fior di latte mozzarella, though, should be the version you go for to really spruce up your burger. You might be wondering why we're recommending fior di latte specifically and not the beloved mozzarella di bufala, which is known for being more flavor-forward. It's because the milder profile of fior di latte (which is made with lower-fat cow's milk instead of buffalo's milk), brings out the subtle sweetness in meat without overpowering it or competing with it.

Besides the luxurious creaminess and satisfying stretch that is so signature to fresh mozzarella, what makes this such a special addition is the way that it melts. When it gets hit with heat, it forms a velvety coating atop the patty and doesn't get runny or uneven. It just wraps the burger in a hug.


A brie burger isn't for the faint of heart. It's a scrumptious, unctuous moment of decadence between two buns. This richness is why it's not the first wedge we reach for come cookout time, but we say lean into the luxurious quality of the cheese by stacking up a decadent burger to match it. The soft center will envelop everything it touches when hit with a little heat while leaving a sliver of a bloomy rind border offering a little textural nuance and extra earthiness.

We love a brie burger smothered in a melange of buttery mushrooms and onions, with a sprinkle of fresh parsley for color. And as far as a bun goes, brioche would be a natural choice given its decadent density, but perhaps you can opt for a wide baguette sliced width-wise to give it more of a French twist — we think either would pair wonderfully.


No one probably thinks of ricotta cheese for burgers when it's made such a great name for itself as a cannoli filling and crowning dollop on pasta dishes. The silky curds are delicate and mild but offer an unbeatable creaminess when spread across some bread (or burger buns, in this case). It's rich without being heavy and that helps it go far in terms of versatility.

Ricotta serves as a gentle counterpoint when paired with deeper, richer tastes, like heavy meats and bold fruits like figs, so you can imagine it's a great option if you're looking to lighten up a thick beef patty. But it also plays well with meats like turkey for a less dense bite. Skip the lettuce on this one and opt for aromatic fresh basil leaves instead, with a few sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers layered below for acidity. Or if you're interested in exploring a classic ricotta savory pairing, layer it up with a little salty prosciutto to take it to the next level.

Pimento cheese

Pimento cheese isn't a cheese in a traditional sense, it's a cheese spread that's a staple in Southern appetizer spreads made from mayo, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and pimentos, of course, amongst other mixings and fixings. So while you won't be melting it on your patty, your burger will definitely benefit from a slather of the stuff, and you'll probably not need too many other toppings given how much is packed into each knife swipe.

You can let it stand alone as the only cheese between the two buns, or you can pair it with a more traditional slice-y, melty-y cheese, like cheddar or pepper Jack. But if you do go the extra cheese route, it's wise to make sure the meat you're using in your burger can handle the extra flavor (you might want to skip the white meat chicken or turkey on this one). Any burger topped with this will definitely be popping with personality, so go for some flavorful additions like smokey strips of bacon or even some slices of jalapeño peppers.

Cheese Whiz

We know Cheese Whiz gets a lot of flack, despite its status as an integral aspect of the Philly cheese steak sandwich (Swiss fans, sorry, but we order our cheesesteak Whiz wit, not Whiz witout). But sometimes, a gooey shellac of orange cheese from a can really just hits the spot. It has a subtle smoky flavor and leans a little sweeter on the flavor spectrum than, say, a gooey nacho cheese.

There is even a burger joint in San Francisco that celebrates the stuff, so, really, do not sleep on it. Classic burger toppings work well here, like a fistful of shredded lettuce and a couple of juicy tomato rounds. But, you can also go with the Philly cheesesteak-inspired avenue and top a few thinly smashed patties with a frizzle of fried onions. Or opt for some thick onion rings or grilled onions for a stunning stack.


Goat cheese has been the sweetheart of salads and scrambled eggs for quite some time. And news flash: It's just as at home on a patty. It's creamy, tart, tangy, and is the perfect amount of crumbly or smooth and spreadable, depending on how aged the wheel you purchase is.

We love a silky chèvre in particular spread across a burger bun, especially when it's mixed up with herbs like parsley and rosemary for extra freshness and flavor. It also pairs well with mushrooms and onions, an homage to its French country origins. Note: Chèvre is a blanket term for cheese made from goat's milk, but some kinds are fastened with a protected designation of origin label that confirms its roots in France and the special production techniques used to craft it. If you're feeling fancy, go for the PDO-stamped wheel. Otherwise, any goat cheese will work to upgrade your burger.


Mild, nutty French muenster cheese is a superstar when it comes to adding delicious melty goodness to your burger, though it is typically popular on the grilled cheese front. The semi-soft cheese is mostly produced in Wisconsin but it has roots in France and Germany. Made from pasteurized cow's milk, the cheese's buttery, nutty flavor deepens the more time it's left to age and definitely packs more nuance than a typical slice of American — if it makes its way into your grilling spread.

As far as its role atop a burger, it can be layered in slices (we recommend multiple) or grated into a fluffy pile for more freeform melting. Either way, this stuff is going to be the star of the show and the glue that holds the sandwich together. Mushrooms are a lovely companion to this orange-winded cheese, as is mustard (in French-German fashion, of course).

Oaxaca cheese

Stretchy, stringy Oaxaca cheese hails from the eponymous state in southwestern Mexico, and we think that it makes the most delightful tangle of dairy when squished between a patty and a bun. It's thought that it was inspired by the Italians when some came to the region in the '50s, but it turns out that the origins of the cheese deviate greatly.

It is mozzarella-like in its mild flavor and melts well without being too runny or oily, which we love. It also finishes with the perfect kiss of brine that offers just enough salt. A popular cheese for stuffing quesadillas, it's no surprise that this cheese should be your go-to when assembling a Mexican-inspired burger, whether your base is a taco-seasoned beef burger or a black bean patty. Add crunchy onions, pico de gallo, a layer of refried beans, and a generous scoop of guac, and you'll be golden.

Cheese curds

Canadians and Midwesterners know about the squeaky, delicious magic that is the cheese curd, so definitely consider them when you're throwing together the shopping list for your summer cookout. You might be wondering: What exactly are cheese curds? They're basically a middle stage of the cheese-making process; they get strained from the liquid whey and typically would then be formed into blocks to solidify as they age. However, the curds can be snacked on right away and don't have to reach their final form as a solid block of cheese.

Obviously, the most famous use of cheese curds is paired with a generous glob of gravy and layered atop thick-cut fries for Canadian poutine. Feel free to lean into that inspiration when it comes to accessorizing your burger. You can even layer a few fries inside along with some crunchy fried onions or shallots for a savory crunch.