It’s National Grilled Cheese Month, and we’re here to celebrate.
There’s nothing like a crispy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside grilled cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food, no matter which way you slice it. In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month (and National Grilled Cheese Day on Friday, April 12th!), we’re bringing you new ways to step up your grilled cheese game—from grilling tips and cheese ideas to add-ons that kick up the flavor and texture of your sandwich.
Grilled Cheese, Please
There’s nothing wrong with that go-to cheese you keep in the fridge. But have you tried grilling nutty Gruyere? Mozzarella? Swiss? We asked our resident cheese monger for some of his favorites, and we must admit, they’re real grilled cheese game-changers.
Choosing Your Cheese
Gruyere: The sweet, nutty earthiness of Gruyere lends a rich flavor to grilled cheese. Just make sure you grate it rather than slicing it, as this is a firmer cheese.
Raclette: This Swiss cheese is aromatic with a mild, nutty flavor. It also melts effortlessly, making it a stellar choice for grilled cheese sandwiches.
Fresh Mozzarella: You can’t go wrong with velvety, fresh mozzarella paired with roasted or sundried tomatoes and pesto. The mild flavor of the mozzarella complements the robust flavors of these add-ons perfectly.
Mild Cheddar: It’s no secret that mild cheddar is a fan favorite when it comes to classic grilled cheese sandwiches. Keep in mind, not all cheddars are created equal. While we love aged cheddars, they’re not ideal for grilled sandwiches, since they’re firmer and don’t melt as well.
5 Tips for Making the Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Now that you’ve selected your cheese, it’s time to get grilling. Here are some of our go-to tips for an evenly grilled, perfectly crisp, totally intact grilled cheese sandwich.
Avoid holes. Choose bread that’s hole-free to avoid unwanted mess. Try classic sandwich bread, sourdough or a pullman loaf. The older the bread (as long as it’s still good), the better.
Spread your bread. Adding butter to your pan won’t ensure an evenly buttered, toasted slice, so slather both sides instead.
Go for mayo. Try smearing mayonnaise on the outside of your bread before grilling. It won’t burn as quickly as butter. Plus, the oil and egg in the mayo help create an even, golden sheen, resulting in a crunchy bite that’s not greasy.
Grill both sides. This ensures your sandwich will have more flavor and helps the cheese melt faster.
Patience is key. Keep your heat low and take your time—otherwise the bread may cook faster than the cheese can melt, resulting in a burned sandwich and no gooey cheese.
5 Ways to Upgrade Your Grilled Cheese
You can’t go wrong with the simple, classic combination of bread and cheese. If you’re craving something a little different, there are so many delicious ways to elevate your grilled cheese. Here are some of our favorites.
Caramelize those onions. Channel your favorite French onion soup by adding caramelized onions to your grilled cheese. Ham and/or bacon are also welcome.
Grab some greens. Sauté bok choy, spinach, kale or broccoli rabe (or any combination of greens) with toasted sesame oil and soy sauce or garlic.
Layer on the flavor. Add a couple swipes of a savory spread like chutney, pesto, olive tapenade or sun dried tomato spread to give your sandwich some depth.
Make it zesty. Sauerkraut, kimchi, coleslaw or any kind of pickle will lend a pleasant salty-sour-sweet crunch to your grilled cheese.
Sweeten it up. Sprinkle brown sugar or slather some chocolate hazelnut spread or fruit preserves on your sandwich for the perfect salty-sweet combo. Fresh fruits (sliced pear, strawberries, blackberries) are always a good idea. This recipe for Black Raspberry Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwich is one of our favorites.