Alvin Cailan's Crispy Trick For Perfect Cheeseburgers

Chef Alvin Cailan — known for founding Eggslut, as well as for his book "Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream" — is not only the host of First We Feast's "The Burger Show," but he is also the head chef of the restaurant chain Umami Burger. In other words, Cailan is arguably an expert on all burgers, including cheeseburgers. If you're familiar with Cailan's work, then you probably know about his crispy cheeseburger — it's similar to a traditional cheeseburger, except the cheese is made to be super crispy and crunchy instead of melting onto the patty. Usually, he also makes it as a smash burger instead of using a thicker patty. 

During an appearance on the "Rachael Ray Show," Cailan made his crispy cheeseburger for Ray and explained the steps involved in the process. Most notably, Cailan cooks the cheese right on the grill — getting it crispy before transferring it to the top of the burger — showing that the preparation of the cheese is just as important as the burger patty.

But beyond that, there is another specific trick that is necessary for the perfect crispy cheeseburger, which Cailan shared with Tasting Table during an exclusive interview: Shred the cheese yourself. Why? "Pre-shredded cheese has an additive to it that will make your cheese gummy when it hits the griddle. It's corn starch or something that they put on there," the chef told us. "[So] number one: Shred your own cheese."

Your shredded cheese needs attention

During his conversation with Tasting Table, Alvin Cailan also elaborated on how to make that perfect crispy cheeseburger beyond the very important step of shredding your own cheese. Really, it just comes down to keeping an eye on that cheese when it's on the griddle.

"You can't walk away and forget about it," Cailan said. "You have to keep watching it because it's definitely one of those short window items that you can burn quickly." In that way, it's similar to bacon, he explained, which can also easily burn up if you're not watching closely.

The fact that you have to pay such close attention reflects one major perk of the delicious meal: It barely takes any time at all to make. During his appearance on the "Rachael Ray Show," Cailan emphasized the convenience of the short cook time, saying, "We're pretty much done — that took no time at all!" To add all the finishing touches to the burger, Cailan suggests a good sauce, pickles, red onions, and of course, a crispy bun.