Oh how we love you grilled cheese!
You’re the first thing we learned to cook. You’re the childhood lunch we remember fondly. (e.g. Grilled cheese and tomato soup casserole.) You’re the late-night snack that makes us happy. You’re the comfort food we need when we are stressed. Or you’re our gourmet outlet when we use artisan cheese and bread and add things like caramelized onions or even dark chocolate!
The perfect grilled cheese is a very personal thing. Traditional, International, Exploratory. So many options. While the ingredients may be an expression of our adventurousness or our state of mind, there are some key tips that can take your grilled cheese from good to great.
Great Grilled Cheese Tips
Toast your bread first. This isn’t required, but toasting your bread will help prevent the fillings from making your bread soggy and will help it develop the golden crust you are after.
Mayo instead of butter? The butter versus mayo debate can be a heated one among grilled cheese enthusiasts, but we personally believe the best grilled cheese is made with a THIN layer of mayo on the bread before grilling. It produces a crispier, less greasy sandwich.
Using butter? Slather up! You’re already indulging so now is no time to skimp. If you ignore our mayo advice, then be sure not to skimp on the butter. Melt it first in the microwave and then brush it on the bread. You’ll get that perfect browning over the entire slice.
Use melty cheese. Not all cheeses are created equal when it comes to grilled cheese. You want one that will melt. Now, that could be something traditional like Gruyere or Raclette, but it could also mean a mix of cheeses that includes a more complex washed rind cheese (the stinky ones) or even a brie (great with apple or pear slices or nutella).
You want to avoid hard, aged cheeses like Parmigiano or Pecorino, and dry, crumbly cheeses like goat or feta. These are great cheeses, but not ones that give you melty, yummy goodness.
Grate the cheese. The normal rule is don’t slice the cheese too thick or else it won’t melt. BUT, we take it one step further. Grate your cheese and it will melt more evenly and quickly. This is another great way to mix multiple cheeses into your sandwich. (Note: if you are using brie or a washed rind, don’t try to grate them.)
Jam on the inside. If you are adding a jam or a mustard, put them between the bread and the cheese.
Medium please. Don’t go beyond medium on the stove (and maybe even stay low-to-medium) to avoid burning the bread before the cheese is melted. Low and slow is your friend when it comes to grilled cheese. Hard to do, we know, once you have a hankering for a grilled cheese. But that patience pays off, trust us.
Salt and pepper too. We like to season the inside of the sandwich with kosher salt and black pepper.
Use your imagination! We consider a basic grilled cheese sandwich as a blank canvas. You can go as fancy or as comfort as you want. Add bacon, pesto, sautéed vegetables, jam, hot sauce, pickles…the possibilities are endless.
Want Some Inspiration?
There are endless directions you can take a grilled cheese sandwich. We encourage you to add your favorite tastes, but if you want some recommendations, here are some of our favorite resources and unique recipes (including a healthy one!).
- The Bloody Mary Grilled Cheese
- Healthy Tweaks for a Grilled Cheese
- Romantic Grilled Cheese (Brie. Chocolate. Strawberries)
- Dark Chocolate + Parmesan Grilled Cheese
- Grilled Cheese with Marinated Tomatoes
- Ruth Reichl’s Grilled Cheese is Genius, and Completely Out of Control
- The Art of the Perfect Grilled Cheese (Plus 20 Variations to Shake Things Up)