Grilled cheese is a taste of heaven. With a crisp, golden-brown crust and a molten, gooey center, it’s a simple treat that always makes your mouth water. Even a “just okay” cheese sandwich still satisfies – but life’s too short to settle for anything less than divine. So, do you want to learn how to make grilled cheese as the food gods intended? Follow these 10 commandments to make a golden creation that’s out of this world.
How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese
This sandwich may be simple, but a lot of technique goes into making it right. Here are a few tips you should master. Recommended by the pros!
1. Start with great sandwich bread.
At its core, this sandwich has only two main components: bread and cheese. Naturally, you’ll want both to shine. The first task is to find good bread.
White sandwich bread is a classic. You can count on it to develop an evenly brown, crispy crust that keeps the cheese secure. It also has a bit of sweetness to it that kids love. But for more dimension, go for a tangy sourdough. Or for an extra indulgent spin, it’s buttery brioche all the way.
2. Find the right combination of cheeses.
This sandwich requires melted cheese, so go for options that can deliver that ooey-gooey finish. American cheese squares, like white bread, are the classic choice that never fails. But shredded young cheddar and mozzarella also work – both are buttery, mild, and not too salty.
If you like the flavor of hard, aged cheeses (Parmesan or pecorino?), combine them with a melty variety to still get the right consistency.
3. Add complementary ingredients.
Choose ingredients that enhance the cheese without stealing the spotlight. Remember, it’s your main character. Fresh produce like tomatoes, apples, and basil add complexity without overwhelming the sandwich. They also make it a little more nutritious.
Deli meats make the dish more filling, but if you want a flavor boost, try Lady’s Choice Ham Spread. It has ham bits, pimientos, and pickle relish that can zhuzh up your sandwich without too much fuss.
4. Use enough fat on the bread and skillet.
By now, you must have already tried the mayo trick to achieve the perfect crust. As American chef and food writer Alison Roman puts it, “To ensure golden (not burned) toastiness, the exterior of the sandwich should be [slick] with mayo.”
Everyone who swears by this technique credits its effectiveness to the browning power of oil and egg yolks in mayo. Roman also recommends buttering your pan – double the fat, double the magic.
5. Go low and slow.
One of the best things about making a grilled sandwich is how much control you get in the process. You’re working on the stove instead of dealing with an oven that could get too hot, too fast. Now, you’ll want to keep your pan at medium-low heat. That’s the sweet spot – any hotter and your bread could burn before the cheese properly melts. Add butter or oil, then your sandwich. Flip when you get enough browning and add more fat to the pan for the other side.
6. Brown the bread on both sides.
Serious Eats founding editor Adam Kuban griddles his bread on both sides – a method that delivers better-tasting sandwiches. Slather them with mayo, let one side crisp up in a buttered pan, then flip so the browned sides face up. Add cheese and seal with the other bread slice. This approach could get messy, but it’s worth getting mayo all over your fingers.
7. Press down with a spatula.
This tip will help you toast your bread evenly from corner to corner. Take your spatula (nonstick if you have it!) and lightly press down while the bread sizzles in the pan. Alison Roman shares that this “[encourages] bread and cheese to meld together,” but you don’t want to be “overzealous” lest you come out with a sad, deflated sandwich.
8. Slice in half before serving.
Any sandwich cut diagonally just tastes better – and if you’ve ever eaten your sandwich this way, you’d swear it’s true. There’s something to it: cutting in half ensures an optimal bread-to-filling ratio, so you never get too much of either in a single bite.
9. Make it a complete meal with side dishes.
For many Filipinos, a sandwich is a snack, not a meal, especially if you have a large appetite. Adding a side dish or two is an easy solution that makes the eating experience more dynamic. Pair your cheesy sandwich with a creamy tomato soup, aka its ultimate partner. Add potato chips for crunch or a garden salad for something fresh, light, and nutritious.
10. Always serve it hot.
No one wants soggy bread and rubbery cheese! Don’t ruin all your hard work by waiting too long before serving your sandwich. Take it straight from the pan to your plate. Bite into it while it’s still hot and crispy on the outside and ooey-gooey on the inside.
And that’s how you make a heavenly grilled cheese every time. Follow these ten simple tips, and you’ll always have a restaurant-quality sandwich to enjoy. The best part? You made it yourself!
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