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How To Make Grilled Cheese

grilled cheese with four cheeses and hearty bread for perfect lunch

I grew up eating grilled cheese sandwiches that consisted of a single slice of American cheese “product”—you know the ones, individually wrapped in plastic—yeah those; melted between two pieces of white bread.

It doesn’t get much more simple than that, and that comfort food was delicious alongside a bowl of tomato soup straight out of the can. I think those fond memories are mostly because I didn’t know any better.

Today, I’m talking not only about how to make grilled cheese, but how to make the most incredible grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever eaten. This grilled cheese recipe uses three, ok technically four, different cheeses and a hefty dollop of maple bacon onion jam making it gourmet level. Definitely not the type of grilled cheese I grew up eating.

What might be more important than this recipe, is the technique I use to make grilled cheese. You’ve probably seen these made by buttering one side of each slice of bread.

I butter both sides of the bread, more on that later. You may have also seen this classic sandwich made with a thick slice of bread, think Texas toast style. I don’t recommend that either and we’ll get into why in the Tips section.

sandwich ready to serve on a cutting board

What Cheese Is Best For Grilled Cheese?

This is part personal preference and part general guidance. From a personal preference perspective, you may prefer provolone or Swiss cheese to Gruyère, for example.

If that’s the case, by all means switch them out. If you like things a little more spicy you might switch one of the cheeses for some pepper jack; again that’s personal preference. The cheeses used here are simply my favorites, and they play nicely together.

For a general guideline I would tell you to choose cheeses with high moisture content, like the ones I use. Other cheeses like blue cheese or Monterey jack are also terrific.

That said, I don’t recommend the harder cheeses with lower moisture content. Those cheeses don’t melt as well, so keep those for your charcuterie board.

Finally, as much as I like extra sharp cheddar, I find it gets too oily when melted so I stick with mild cheddar.

Can I Use Mayonnaise To Make Grilled Cheese?

That hack gathered a ton of attention on the internet some years back. The answer is yes, you can use mayo instead of butter. It offers some benefits while providing a tangy profile to the sandwich. Personally, I prefer butter. Another way to take your sandwich to the next level is to add a few slices of meat, like my amazing smoked tri-tip.

cheese melting in a sandwich that's been grilled and pressed

Tips For Making The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Pan: I prefer an old school cast iron skillet, but these can be done on a griddle surface, in a non-stick pan, or even in a stainless steel pan. The key here is to not get the cooking surface scorching hot. You want to keep it at a medium heat or you risk burning the bread before the cheese melts.

The Bread: While we’re talking about the bread burning before the cheese melts, that risk is also present when you use really thick bread. Add to that the cheese-to-bread ratio is off, and I find it best to use a hearty bread sliced to about 1/2″ thick.

On the topic of bread, toast BOTH sides. This serves two purposes. First, it prevents the bread from getting soggy from the liquids in the cheeses as they melt. Second, adding the cheese to a hot toasted surface helps it to start melting faster.

The Butter: Unless butter has been sitting at room temperature for several hours, it’s hard to spread. If you’ve ever tried to spread cold butter on bread, you know it’s a pain in the backside. So, melt the butter in the pan, and add the bread to it. So much easier this way.

The Press: Use a burger press or weighted object to ensure maximum surface area of the bread comes into contact with the cooking surface.

Grilled Cheese Recipe

Serves: 1 | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
2 slices hearty bread, Italian or sourdough, sliced ½” thick
1 slice American cheese
½ cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 slice mild cheddar cheese
1½ tbsp maple bacon onion jam
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided

Ingredients include cheddar, American, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses, maple bacon onion jam, bread and butter

How To Make Grilled Cheese

Step 1: Place pan over medium heat, and allow it to come up to temperature for 2-3 minutes.

Step 2: Add one tablespoon of butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add both pieces of bread to the melted butter and allow them to get golden brown, about three minutes. Remove them from the pan and place them on a work surface, toasted side up.

TIP: Sliding the bread around the pan to soak up all the better produces the best crust.
lightly toast one side of the bread in melted butter

Step 3: Add the slice of American cheese to one piece of bread. Evenly spread the jam on the cheese and top with the Gruyère and cheddar cheese. Then, place the other piece of bread on the sandwich, toasted side against the cheese.

Left picture, spread the jam on the cheese.
Right picture, add the Gruyère

Step 4: Add a half tablespoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Then add half of the Parmesan cheese to the melted butter.

melt butter and shredded Parmesan cheese

Step 5: Place the sandwich directly on top of the butter and cheese, then place the burger press on top of the sandwich and allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes or until lightly crispy and golden brown.

 grilled cheese sandwich in skillet

Step 6: Remove the sandwich from the pan. Add the remaining butter to the pan and let it melt, then add the remaining Parmesan cheese to the melted butter. Flip the sandwich and place it on the melted butter and cheese, previously browned side up. Place the burger press back on the sandwich for an additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Cheese melting between two slices of bread in a skillet

Step 7: Remove sandwich, slice in half, and serve.

grilled cheese sandwiches ready to serve

grilled cheese with four cheeses and hearty bread for perfect lunch

How to Make Grilled Cheese

5 from 25 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 slices hearty bread, Italian or sourdough sliced ½″ thick
  • 1 slice American cheese
  • ½ cup Gruyère cheese shredded
  • 1 slice mild cheddar cheese
  • tbsp maple bacon onion jam
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese shredded and divided

Instructions

  • Place pan over medium heat, and allow it to come up to temperature for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add one tablespoon of butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add both pieces of bread to the melted butter and allow them to get golden brown, about three minutes. Remove them from the pan and place them on a work surface, toasted side up.
  • Add the slice of American cheese to one piece of bread. Evenly spread the jam on the cheese and top with the Gruyère and cheddar cheese. Then place the other piece of bread on the sandwich, toasted side against the cheese.
  • Add a half tablespoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Then add half of the Parmesan cheese to the melted butter.
  • Place the sandwich directly on top of the butter and cheese, then place the burger press on top of the sandwich and allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes or until lightly crispy and golden brown.
  • Remove the sandwich from the pan. Add the remaining butter to the pan and let it melt, then add the remaining Parmesan cheese to the melted butter. Flip the sandwich and place it on the melted butter and cheese, previously browned side up. Place the burger press back on the sandwich for an additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove sandwich, slice in half, and serve.

Notes

I grew up eating grilled cheese sandwiches that consisted of a single slice of American cheese “product”—you know the ones, individually wrapped in plastic—yeah those; melted between two pieces of white bread. It doesn’t get much more simple than that, and that comfort food was delicious alongside a bowl of tomato soup straight out of the can. I think those fond memories are mostly because I didn’t know any better.

Tried This Recipe?

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