Tuesday, August 10, 2021

All The Way Burger ala Melvin's

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I enjoy so many burgers in various configurations, but my hands-down favorite burger is the ATW burger from Melvin's in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. I've posted about this one before, but this time I made it on a griddle.

All The Way Burger ala Melvin's or Cookout Style Burger
All-the-Way means the burger comes with coleslaw, chili, diced onions, and yellow mustard.

Melvin's Hamburgers & Hotdogs - Elizabethtown NC

When I was a wee lad and would visit my grandparents' farm, one of the highlights of my trip would be the day we went to town to get a sack of burgers from "the pool hall" (Melvin's is located where the pool hall used to be). 

The line would always be out the back door, but it moved quickly, even for a hungry 9-year-old. This is a typical lunchtime.
Credit: TripAdvisor

The line moves so fast because the menu is limited. Photo Credit: ZMenu

I always got my Melvin's ATW or All-The-Way, which is 
  • chili 
  • creamy coleslaw, 
  • diced onions, and 
  • yellow mustard. 
I've seen this referred to as "Carolina style." The fast-food chain, Cookout offers this as "Cookout Style."

When you get a Melvin's, it comes wrapped in a plain white paper. When you unwrap it, the slaw, chili, mustard, and onions have gotten all mixed together into one big flavor party. Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

Here is how I made my pretend Melvin's at home.

The Burger Patty

I know that back in the late '70s or early '80s, the local grocery store (Red & White?) custom ground the beef for Melvin's, and rumor has it that they ground bread with the meat. That makes sense if you consider the French technique of using a panade with ground meats.  

If I'm grinding my meat, I will grind in a slice of bread for every pound. If not, I get the freshest ground chuck that I can buy, which I did for these burgers.

I weigh the ground chuck into 6-ounce portions, which is bigger than a Melvin's.

Ballistic burger press
Then I use a Ballistic Burger Smasher (out of stock for a while now) to form the patties.

Cooking burgers on the Big Green Egg using a griddle
My grill set up is a large Big Green Egg outfitted with an Adjustable Rig (Ceramic Grill Store). I put an old griddle plate from another grill across the support bars, and it's a perfect fit. I preheat the grill to 450-500°f and then put the cast iron griddle plate in there 5 minutes before cooking.

Making a Melvin's burger on the Big Green Egg
I cook the first side until the surface has a nice crust, about 2 minutes. I then flip it over and Immediately season the burger with an SPG rub (any salt, pepper, garlic combo). Today I used my blend of finely ground green peppercorns, dried garlic, dried shallot, and Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt. Then I cook it until the second side has crusted, about another 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Perfect burger to bun ratio going on there.

Now it is time for the toppings.


I use the chili sauce recipe from my first book, The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook. Meathead also has an excellent recipe on AmazingRibs.com

Whatever you use, you want a finely ground or smooth chili, not a chunky chili loaded with beans. 

I used about 2-3 tablespoons of coleslaw and the same amount of chili.


For an All-The Way burger, you want a creamy, southern-style slaw. I just whipped one up on the spot. I didn't measure, but it was close to this.



  • 1 bag slaw mix
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup Duke's mayonnaise
  • 1-ounce rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed


  1. Mix everything but the slaw mix together and pour over the slaw mix. 
  2. Toss to coat. Best if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Onions and Mustard

No dijon here; you want to use plain yellow mustard.  Don't be shy either; use more mustard than you think you need. I would guess about one tablespoon.

Melvin's uses a moderate amount of diced onion, while Cookout uses an entire cross-section slice of onion, so you get a mouthful of onion with every bite. I prefer Melvin's method. But when I want a drive-through burger, we're usually headed to Cookout!

The Results

This burger was the best. The creamy, crispy slaw offsets the spicy chili and onion. The mustard is also a prominent flavor. The best is when all of those flavors get mixed together, and you get that full-on taste; it is mouthwateringly mesmerizing! It's a bit of an "elbow dripper," so have plenty of napkins!

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