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The Ultimate Detailed Tips for Making the Best Grilled Cheese Ever

Food

Fri, April 05

We all know the grilled cheese sandwich as one of the most popular, delicious, universal, and simple sandwiches. A grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. It is so simple, it really only requires three ingredients: bread, butter, and cheese…and a place to grill it.

One would think it is impossible to mess it up, right? However, believe it or not, there is such a thing as sub-par grilled cheese. So how do you master the art of making the perfect, mouthwatering grilled cheese? And what makes these sandwiches so special?

History

Bread and cheese have been a part of the human menu for centuries, but finding the origin story of this beloved sandwich has been elusive. An open-faced grilled cheese became popular during the Great Depression in the United States and then took its iconic, modern sandwich form around the 1950s. However, it did not gain popularity until the 1960s, after diners had already become commonplace.

Since then, Americans have created so many versions of grilled cheese it’s impossible to count. Nowadays you can find a wide variety of meats and vegetables in a grilled cheese, and a popular lunch meal is a half sandwich with a bowl of soup.

Meanwhile, many other countries around the world have their own histories developing unique versions of grilled cheese. France’s sandwich, a Croque Monsieur made with gruyère and ham, was developed in the early 1900s. Later, they added a fried egg on top and called it a Croque Madame. The French prefer to serve their grilled cheese with a side salad.

The English version is called a cheese toastie and is essentially the same sandwich as the American version, except for minor differences in cooking style and cheeses used.

Italy makes panini-style sandwiches which often include cheese. The caprese panini most closely resembles the grilled cheese, with heaps of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.

In Mexico and other Latin American countries, a quesadilla is a similar ‘sandwich’ as well, but with a tortilla and shredded cheese in place of bread and sliced cheese.

Image Credit: The Castlebar from Pexels

Making The Sandwich

So let’s make a grilled cheese sandwich. This is pretty simple and easy to make, and each chef can add their own twist to it. After a lot of trial and error, here is my recipe for a delicious grilled cheese:

1. Butter Two Pieces of Bread

I like to use sourdough, or sometimes challah for a thicker sandwich (other common breads are rye and wheat). I typically use SmartBalance, a butter alternative that is easier to spread, but you can also leave your butter out on the counter for a bit beforehand so it is easier to spread than when it is cold. Take the buttered sides and put them together, resting one plain side down on your plate. This leaves the other plain side up.

2. Place The Cheese

Place your cheese on the top of the two pieces of bread - the one plain side that is facing upward. I use a big mix of cheeses and layer them. The reason for each of these cheeses is different.

Some cheeses, like Jarlsberg, gouda, and parmesan, are added for flavor, whereas cheddar, muenster, and provolone are better for melting. The only cheeses I would try to avoid are feta, goat, ricotta, and other soft cheeses. Other than that, you can add whatever cheeses you would like, as it is a matter of personal taste, but the list below is what I use:

  1. 1 layer of cheddar
  2. 1 layer of muenster
  3. 1 layer of provolone
  4. 1 layer of Jarlsberg
  5. Grated Parmesan on top

Image Credit: Lucy Egan

3. Time to Grill!

Heat a frying pan on the stove. Take the top piece of bread from your tower and place it in the pan. This means that the butter side is now face down in the pan, and the plain side with cheese piled on top is open and ready for you to take the other piece of bread and place it on top, the plain side facing the cheese and butter side up.

So you will now have the two buttered sides of both pieces of bread on the outside — one lying in the pan and one facing up. When you flip your sandwich they will switch positions. Put a cover on the pan so that heat is trapped inside, which makes sure that the cheese melts at the same time as the bread gets nice and toasted and a bit crispy. Once you start to hear sizzling, use your spatula to check the bottom and see if it has reached your desired toast level. If so, flip the sandwich, carefully but quickly, to keep it all together. The second side often toasts more quickly because the pan is already hot, so remember to regularly check the bottom to see if it’s toasted. Make sure not to wait too long before you check it or it will burn.

Image Credit: Lucy Egan

4. Enjoy Your Meal!

Take the sandwich off the heat and prepare to eat it.

Image Credit: Lucy Egan

A grilled cheese is a great, quick, and easy sandwich to make, whether alone or as a side dish. It pairs excellently with tomato soup, salad, french fries, and more. Further, the sandwich itself is versatile and customizable, so make it your own and enjoy it anytime!

Lucy Egan

Writer since Mar, 2024 · 2 published articles

Lucy Egan is a freshman at San Domenico School in Marin County, California. She is interested in animal conservation and enjoys playing tennis, traveling, baking, scuba diving, and reading.

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