My summer is so busy, I had my first grilled hamburger this past Monday. It was divine. I went all out. I buttered the bun and toasted it, added my favorite burger cheese and special sauce. It’s always about the cheese and the special sauce. 

I have been working so hard on opening my new shop that cooking for myself and my family has been the last thing on my mind. 

I’ve eaten enough peanut butter or tuna sandwiches over the last couple of months to last a lifetime. Blaa!

When I finally did have a moment to think about what I wanted, I craved a loaded burger and sunshine. I didn’t want any kind of burger. I wanted a burger I would remember, and I wanted to eat outside. 

I know burgers can be delicious on their own but adding the right sauce and the right cheese take burgers to the next level. For years, I would never take the time to make a special sauce until I realized how easy it is to make it. 

Burgers that are grilled or charbroiled can have a strong flavor. Adding a cheese that can stand up to the char broil is crucial.

So not only does this burger have a special sauce it also has a secret recipe for the cheese from all over the world called VAT17 from Deer Creek. 

This cheese is the culmination and effort to capture the best attributes of 17 different cheddar cheese from all over the world into one cheese. I’d say they’ve don’t it. Surprise! —This cheese has won numerous awards and is from a Wisconsin cheesemaker. 

VAT 17 is nutty, tangy, bold, complex. Perfect to stand up to a grilled burger. Pair with the special sauce and you’ll be the envy of every backyard BBQ. Don’t take my word for it, try it!


The Perfect Wisconsin Cheeseburger

Serves 4

1lb. best quality hamburger, divided into 4 patties

6 oz VAT 17 World Cheddar (found at specialty cheese shops), cut into slices

4 slices of cooked bacon

4 buns


And garlic salt


Preheat your grill to hot. 

Butter the buns and quickly grill for about 30 seconds, buttered side down on the grill; set aside. 

Grill the burgers to your likeness. After the first flip, cook for 3-4 minutes and add 2 slices of cheese to each burger. Grill for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Spread each bun with the special sauce. Place burger on the bottom of the bun. Top with bacon and more sauce, if needed. Serve immediately. 


Special Burger Sauce*

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tsp hot sauce like Tabasco 

1 tsp smokey paprika 

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp onion powder


*To make the special sauce, combined all the ingredients in a small bowl. Allow the spices to meld for a couple of hours in the refrigerator before serving. 


Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes by emailing her at

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