The Best Way to Make Grilled Cheese, With Tips From a Pro

The rich, gooey, sandwich is always a winner.

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There’s no better sandwich than a perfect grilled cheese. Truly. The crispness, the gooeyness, the overall satisfying richness of each bite… grilled cheese reigns supreme. It just needs to be made correctly. And it’s not hard! 

“The key to perfection is the timing of bread getting toasted to golden brown, and cheese melting into an ooey gooey texture match,” says Megumi Takahashi from the Kraft Heinz Culinary Team. Takahashi prefers an electric griddle because the temperature can be set, and to help grill multiple sandwiches all at once. Setting the griddle to 350 degrees for two minutes on each side is her trick, but a skillet works too. “If you’re using a cast-iron skillet, it’s best to preheat the skillet over medium-low heat so that the skillet is evenly heated without getting too hot. You don’t want to end up with burnt bread before cheese gets the chance to melt into perfection,” she says. Nonstick skillets work as well. 

To serve, you’ll want to cut your grilled cheese, for that beautiful cheese pull moment. Cut it into rectangles or triangles, or, if you're feeling creative, Takahashi suggests making bite size sticks, (perfect for kids or party bites) or cutting the sandwich into little cubes to use as croutons on tomato soup.

When it comes to grilled cheese, the options are endless. Here’s how to make it correctly:

How to Make Grilled Cheese

Start by getting all your ingredients ready. For each grilled cheese, you’ll need two slices of bread, at least 1 tablespoon of butter, and 2-4 slices of cheese (depending how gooey you like it). American, Cheddar, Swiss, muenster or Gouda all work well—feel free to mix and match your cheeses. Anything of medium consistency (not too hard, not too soft) will work well. 

  1. Over medium heat on the stove, preheat your cookware of choice—cast-iron skillets, stainless steel, and nonstick pans all work well. Note that the first two will result in a crisper bread. The skillet should be large enough to fit two slices of bread. 
  2. Melt butter in a preheated skillet. Add bread to coat in butter. Let toast for 1-2 minutes. If the bread has soaked up all the butter, add another pat (or a drizzle of olive oil). Flip the bread and add cheese on top of each slice. Some prefer using grated cheese, which melts faster. If that’s your preference, split ½ cup grated cheese of your choice between the two slices.
  3. Let the bread cook for 2 minutes. Flip one slice on top of the other to make a sandwich, cook for another minute. Flip and serve.

To riff on the classic grilled cheese, you can have fun with the base, using specialty bread, like cinnamon raisin, or even waffles. You can also add sweet, spicy, or savory flavors inside the sandwich by spreading jam, pesto, hot honey, mustard, or any of your favorite condiments straight onto one or both pieces of bread before adding your cheese. 

If you’re making a big batch of grilled cheeses, consider melting the butter and brushing it on the bread to expedite the process. Some people also like spreading mayonnaise on the outside of the bread for an extra crisp exterior.

Grilled Cheese Recipes 

Now that you know the grilled cheese basics, take a look at the below recipes for some delicious inspiration.

Parm-Crusted Grilled Cheese

Parm Grilled Cheese
Jennifer Causey

Adultify the humble grilled cheese sandwich with this recipe’s tweaks. Mustard adds tanginess, and Parmesan on the exterior layer of bread creates a satisfying, umami-laden crunch. Get the recipe

Broccoli-Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Broccoli Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Caitlin Bensel

Broccoli and Cheddar cheese is always the perfect duo, and why shouldn’t it be combined on grilled cheese? Frozen broccoli works well in these too, as does leftover broccoli, for a quick but still veggie-rich meal.

Muffaletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Muffaletta-Grilled Cheese Sandwiches With Romaine Salad

Fred Hardy

Pretty much any sandwich can be converted into a winning grilled cheese, and of course that goes for a muffaletta. Olives, cured meats, and provolone melt together well in this dinner-worthy grilled cheese.

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches With Chutney

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches With Chutney
Con Poulos

Grilled cheese is always a star, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be the main course. These make-ahead mini grilled cheeses are gooey, sweet, and the perfect size for appetizers at a dinner party.

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