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Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipes
An Original Grilled Cheese Sandwich?
Grilled cheese sandwiches-a classic comfort food if ever there was one, and so easy to make; just slap some cheese between two pieces of bread and throw it in the pan with some butter, right?
While it's true that the grilled cheese sandwich is probably second in popularity only to peanut butter and jelly in the annals of food Americana, the availability of gourmet and artisan cheeses and breads have spawned a variety of grilled cheese sandwich choices abundant enough for a buffet.
Because this food staple is so common and beloved, I was forced to scale back the choices for this article to a scant few favorites. The sky truly is the limit with this versatile sandwich, and friendly contests like the Grilled Cheese Invitational bring out unheard of gastronomic creations.
The Grilled Cheese Invitational Contest
- The Grilled Cheese Invitational
The original, the biggest, the best, the cheesiest, the Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational.
Essentials of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Getting the Bread Right
-Like pairing wine with food, pairing bread with cheese and any other ingredients can enhance the overall flavor of the sandwich. Should you use plain white Wonder Bread? Thick and hearty whole grain? Sliced or from a loaf? The choice depends on what type of cheese you are using and what, if any, additional ingredients are put in the sandwich.
Use these tips to select your bread:
-Don't limit your choices
There is nothing wrong with white bread, from a grilled cheese perspective, but it doesn't always fit or stand up under pressure. Try challa, hawaiian sweet bread, sourdough, artisan breads, heavy thickly speckled grain breads, texas toast, etc. You want to achieve a balance between bread and cheese, neither should overwhelm the other; a harmony if you will.
-Fit the bread to the theme of the sandwich.
White breads and sweet breads will marry well with gorgonzola, mild cheddar, and dare I say it, mascarpone. This goes for added ingredients such as apple butter or other sweet stuff. If you are using swiss cheese or gouda, a heartier bread with more complex flavors such as 7 grain, rye or pumpernickel will complement the slightly sour flavor of this cheese. On the other hand, there are no hard and fast rules. Remember, work towards harmonious flavors.
-Toast the bread on both sides
Cheese tends to stick to untoasted bread (in a bad way,) so start the bread first, then flip it and add the cheese and other ingredients. To avoid burning the bread, have the cheese at room temperature to shorten the melting time. If the ingredients need additional time together, skip the pan or the grill and use the oven.
On the Grill or in a Pan
The easiest, fastest and most versatile method of making grilled cheese is on a hot pan, preferably cast iron (but I'm biased.) However, a grill works just as well. To grill your grilled cheese, follow these tips:
- Grease the grill. Use some olive or vegetable oil and rub the grill down to prevent sticking.
- Keep the heat low. Keep the sandwich away from direct flame; unless you like burned grilled cheese, then keep it right on top of some blazing licks.
- Keep it close to you and do not leave it unattended. Do not stick the grilled cheese in the back behind some chicken and roasting vegetables. It cooks quick so be prepared.
- Try adding some smoke to the fire for an added flavor layer in your sandwich. Mesquite, applewood and hickory are all good choices.
Choose your Butter, or Oil
Butter tastes great, but what if you want a healthier option? Olive oil, safflower oil and vegetable oil will still yield tasty results, but use them sparingly. A little goes a long way. If you are looking for an extra mystery flavor, consider using peanut oil or adding a drop or two of sesame oil. This can add just the right touch to a lemongrass grilled cheese on sourdough or a pineapple teriyaki on sweet bread.
Butter tastes great, but using healthy fats is better for you and may be better for the sandwich. Use your discretion and stay true to the grilled cheese.
With these tips in mind, here are some tasty recipes to get started on. Please take the time to rate them, otherwise, bad stuff gets passed on and good stuff doesn't get the credit it deserves...
Rosemary Apple Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Rosemary Apple Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 2 slices of a mild flavored white bread; e.g. buttermilk, potato, a soft sourdough or French.
- One teaspoon butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon apple butter
- One teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 slices of Muenster cheese
Preparing the Sandwich
- Spread butter over one side of each bread slice and spread apple butter on the other sides. Distribute the rosemary leaves over the apple butter-coated side of the bread.
- Add the Muenster slices, top with the other bread, butter side up.
- Heat your skillet over medium heat. When hot, grill the sandwich on each side until the edges of the cheese can be seen melting. Usually 2-3 minutes each side. Be ready to turn the heat down or take the pan off the heat to avoid burning the bread.
- *Remove sandwich immediately if bread is getting too dark and the sandwich is not done. Place in a warm oven until ready.
This recipe adapted from:
Spicy Hummus & Green Chile Grilled Cheese
A Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwich
What is better than spicy peppers and cheese? How about melting it down between two slices of buttered bread and calling it a grilled cheese sandwich? If you like peppers and you like cheese, give this recipe a taste:
- 2 Slices of favorite bread. Soft wheat is recommended. Leave the hearty stuff out of this one.
- 1 large Poblano or Anaheim chile, **roasted, chopped and peeled. (*For extra heat, sprinkle some chopped jalapenos, serranos or habaneros onto the melted cheese.)
- 2 slices jalapeno, habanero or standard pepper jack cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons butter (*optional-add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce to butter, whip it up and spread on bread for an extra kick.)
Have all ingredients at room temperature; have peppers roasted, peeled and chopped
- Spread butter in pre-heated pan (medium heat is sufficient)
- Lay bread down and toast until lightly browned
- Spread butter on untoasted side of each slice of bread, lay untoasted side down
- Layer cheese and peppers on toasted side and cover with bread
- Reduce heat to low and flip when one side is toasted
- Sandwich is done when cheese is melted.
- Place in oven to continue melting cheese if bread begins to overcook
**To roast peppers quickly and easily, hold them over an open flame with tongs or a fork. Blacken the skin on all sides. When this is finished, set aside in a paper or plastic bag, (paper towels is also okay.) After a few minutes, use your fingers to pull off the outer skin. Slice, remove seeds and chop to preferred size.
A Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich
While the classic American grilled cheese sandwich may conjure up images of Kraft singles processed cheese and thin white sandwich bread, this food genre has evolved so much that the 'classic' is hard to pin down. Here is my personal favorite classic. A simple but delicious sandwich with simple ingredients.
Black Forest Ham and Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Spicy Hummus
- 2 slices hearty, dark whole grain bread
- Sliced sharp cheddar (enough to generously cover bread)
- Thinly sliced black forest ham
- Spicy hummus
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Lightly oil or spread thin layer of butter on pan (just a touch)
- Cook sliced ham in pan until just crisped and/or brown
- Remove ham and set aside; melt butter in pan
- Spread hummus on one side of both bread slices; place uncovered sides down in pan
- Add ham and cheese slices, top off with a slice of the bread and cook evenly, being careful not to burn bread.
- When cheese is melting at the edges, the sandwich is done
Gouda, Maple Bacon, Baby Spinach, Whole Grain Mustard on Rustic Bread
If you are only going to try one sandwich from the bunch here, this sandwich is a good choice.
Here is how you make a maple bacon, gouda, baby spinach, whole grain mustard grilled cheese sandwich on rustic bread.
- 1 Demi baguette or sandwich sized sourdough roll
- Slice Gouda cheese, enough to generously cover bread
- 2-3 slices of thick maple bacon (2 if thick cut, 3 if not; or to taste)
- Your favorite whole grain mustard (no French's on this one)
- Fresh, rinsed baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Have all ingredients ready; cheese at room temp., spinach still cool and fresh, etc.
- Heat a heavy skillet to medium and grease with 1/2 tblspn butter
- Slice roll evenly, spread butter inside, place face down in hot pan. Toast until light golden brown
- Flip bread and spread on mustard if desired
- Layer sliced Gouda and bacon on top
- Cover with top of roll. Continue cooking until cheese begins to melt, flipping sandwich and pressing down one time
- Cover with lid (turn pan heat off) or place in warm oven for additional melting.
- Remove top, layer spinach leaves over bacon and melted cheese, top and serve!
Rate this sandwich!
Hawaiian Bread Grilled Cheese
- Two King's Hawaiian bread rolls (or as many as you need)
- Sliced sharp Tillamook cheddar
- Grated Gouda (makes a good bed for the pineapple)
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- Finely chopped pineapple
- Warm an oven to 225 degrees fahrenheit
- Have the cheeses at room temperaturea and all ingredients prepared
- Heat your pan to medium heat
- Melt and gently spread half the butter over the pan
- Separate rolls in half, heat inside down briefly and spread butter on both rolls inside. Lay back into pan until inside is slightly golden
- Flip over and remove from pan. Add cheddar, gouda and pineapple. Top with other side of bread and place back in the pan. Heat until cheese begins to melt.
*If bread is cooking to fast, remove and place on foil or cookie sheet in warmed oven
**Be sure the pan still has enough butter to coat outside of bread.
Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onion
- 2 slices of sourdough bread
- 2 slices of sharp cheddar, enough to cover bread
- 1/2-1 small/medium onion (depending on how much you want on the sandwich and how large the onion,) sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Have all ingredients ready, cheese and butter preferaby at room temperature
- Heat your pan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter
- Add onions and sugar and mix
- When onions have softened and begun to caramelize, remove from pan
- Spread butter on one side of bread slices and place in the pan, butter side down. Flip when beginning to brown.
- Add cheese and onions and top with remaining bread. Flip sandwich immediately and cook until cheese begins to melt
- Cut in half and serve
Hopefully these recipes have inspired some creativity in grilled cheese fans everywhere. Start building your own favorite classics today. You will never look at grilled cheese sandwiches the same way again!