Chef Gaby Dalkin melts for the perfect cheesy burger combination, interview

Gaby Dalkin shares a new recipe using Tillamook Cheese
Gaby Dalkin shares a new recipe using Tillamook Cheese /

Summer and grilling go hand in hand. While some people might fill those grates with a plethora of food choices, the classic burger is often front and center. Given that grilling is the only cooking technique that imparts flavor into food, the skill of taming the flame comes through in every bite. During a recent conversation with Chef Gaby Dalkin, she explains why Tillamook Cheese takes her burger recipe to the next level.

For many people, a burger is not complete without cheese. Although people can debate whether a sharp cheddar is superior to a creamy Swiss, that cheese slice brings together all the other flavors in that bite.

While the cheese offers another layer of flavor, perfectly melted cheese makes that first taste even more satisfying. Although chefs can recommend cooking techniques to make that cheese get gooey, picking the right cheese is important.

During a recent conversation with Chef Gaby Dalkin, she revealed some of her grilling tips and which Tillamook cheese is her favorite choice. For anyone ready to light the grill this weekend, these ideas can make anyone feel like a grilling master.

Burgers and cheese are a classic food combination. While people might have their flavor preferences, that melting factor comes into play.

Gaby revealed, “One reason I am obsessed with Tillamook (besides it being the best cheese on earth) is that they don’t use cellulose when packaging their slices and shreds, and that is what inhibits cheese from melting beautifully. So, I say avoid cellulose and look for Tillamook always.”

Gaby Dalkin burger recipe for Tillamook Chese
Gaby Dalkin shares a new recipe using Tillamook Cheese /

With the melting factor checked off the list, pairing the cheese with the burger makes for a more satisfying eating experience. Putting those flavors in harmony is important.

Gaby recommended that “you want the cheese to shine in my opinion. Don’t give me a burger without cheese, (preferably Tillamook!), no matter what the meat is. You want a meat with a little bit of fat, nothing less than 15% fat. You want to use seasonings that really complement the cheese like onion powder and garlic powder. The meltability from the cheese will tame the spice a little bit. And if it’s up to me, you always stuff cheese in the burger AND put it on top.”

With the flavor balance in check, no one wants to have that burger fail. Putting aside the over-cooked aspect, the other fail is when the burger falls apart in your hand. Building the perfect burger starts before piling the condiments on the bun.

According to Gaby, she said, “when you form the burger, form a patty that is bigger than your bun because it will shrink when cooking. Go light on add-ins, so your meat really sticks together. If you want to add more things, do that as a topping. When grilling or using a stovetop, don’t flip it until the meat releases from the pan, otherwise your burger may fall apart. Don’t keep flipping it a bunch of times, let it do its thing.”

Tillamook Double Cheddar Bacon Burger
Double Cheddar Bacon Burger, featuring Tillamook Farmstyle Sharp Cheddar Slices, created by Chef and New York Times Bestselling Author Gaby Dalkin of “What’s Gaby Cooking” and Dan Pelosi, also known as “GrossyPelosi” and author of the highly anticipated debut cookbook “Let’s Eat.” /

That idea of letting the burger cook is key. Resisting the urge to flip, smash, or otherwise meddle with the meat is important to remember. Sometimes it is time to let the grill do its job.

Although those grilling flames can sometimes be intimidating, the grill is not just a man’s domain. That call to the flame can be answered by anyone and everyone. More importantly, that surface can cook almost anything.

As Gaby explained, “I think grilling doesn’t have to be a whole hog or many racks of ribs. A burger, a great piece of chicken, one rack of ribs – that’s where you start. Prep as much as you can in the kitchen, light the grill, show the men in your life you can grill just as well if not better! Grilling is really just like using the oven or the stove but its outside which just makes it more fun.”

Building on that idea of using the grill like any other cooking source, the food is not limited to burgers. Anything and everything can be cooked on a grill.

Speaking to some of her favorite food ideas on the grill, Gaby shared, “One of my fave things to do is grilling fruit like pineapple or peaches, which really ramps up the flavor. I love grilling veggies like grilled green beans and adding to a salad. They are superior to any other green bean in my opinion! You can truly grill just about anything. Yesterday I did a recipe on the flattop putting slices of Tillamook cheese on carnitas and letting the cheese get melty on the meat. Then I put it on a sandwich and it was BEYOND.”

Thinking outside of the box can bring even more enjoyment to that meal. Whether it is finding a new use for that slice of Tillamook cheese or exploring some new flavors, it is time to get cooking.