{Step-by-Step} Guide To Perfect Grilled Cheese

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by Mary Younkin

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04.08.2022


All the best tips on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich a.k.a. The Guide To Perfect Grilled Cheese!

How To Make Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Oh, how I love a warm grilled cheese sandwich. Paired with a cup of Tomato Soup, this is the perfect lunch for a chilly day. There’s nothing else like the crunch of toasted sourdough drenched in tomato soup.

The hot, melting sandwiches also pair well with Pizza Soup, Dill Pickle Soup, or Italian White Bean, Cabbage, and Sausage Soup.

In the summer, I often serve grilled cheese with some raw vegetables and ranch dip or a light salad. I had a sandwich for lunch along with the leftover Brussels Sprouts Salad a few days ago and I really enjoyed that combination too.

How To Make A Grilled Cheese

There are only a few things to remember when making perfect grilled cheese sandwiches.

  1. Be patient. The whole process only takes 5-6 minutes. Don’t cook at too high heat in an attempt to rush that or you might be left holding a sad blackened sandwich.
  2. Follow the steps below to choose the right blend of cheeses for YOU. Pretty much any cheese will work if you combine it correctly with another one. At least half the time these days, I just use the pre-shredded bag of cheese from the store when I’m in a hurry. (See the tip in the recipe card to find out how to make pre-shredded cheese melt perfectly!)
  3. Cheese the right bread. A sturdy bread will work more easily for crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside sandwiches. Sourdough is my go-to choice.
It only takes a few minutes to cook a perfect grilled cheese sandwich!

Cheese for Grilled Cheese

Let’s talk about cheese, cheese, and more cheese! Whether your preference is stretchy, gooey, creamy, crumbling, or smooth, there is a cheese perfect for you.

I tested a whole lot of cheeses a few years ago and I’m sharing the best cheeses for grilled cheese with you today.

  • Soft Cheeses – Brie, cream cheese
  • Semi-Soft Cheeses – fontina, Monterey Jack, brick
  • Hard Cheeses – Gruyere, Asiago, Parmesan, kasseri
  • Semi-Hard Cheeses – cheddar, gouda, Swiss
  • Crumbly Cheeses – blue, feta, gorgonzola
  • Pasta Filata (aka “stretched”) Cheeses – mozzarella, provolone  
Perfect Grilled Cheese

Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

The best cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches really just depends on your favorite cheeses. The soft and semi-soft cheeses work well in a sandwich when stacked with other ingredients, but when melted on their own, we found them to be a little too runny.

If you’re partial to the simple sandwich, you’ll want a firmer cheese to provide more texture. For instance, I love fontina, but it’s just a little too soft when melted on its own. When I combine fontina with a firmer cheese like cheddar, it becomes a perfectly oozing grilled cheese sandwich with the flavors I love and the texture I want.

Feta is another cheese that will melt best when paired with firmer cheese. Asiago and Parmesan have great flavor but take longer to melt and can be overpowering on their own. I mixed a little asiago with cheddar and gouda and it melted beautifully.

Last, but definitely not least, if you’re a fan of the sandwich you remember from childhood, there is nothing that will beat cheddar on sourdough for a grown-up version of that classic.

Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

I started our melting test by grating all the different cheeses. Once shredded, my family tasted them and we chose our favorites.

I tested how easily they’d melt by setting up trays like the one pictured above. Then we started grilling. I’m not going to lie, I’ve taken the shortcut method plenty of times and used store-bought shredded cheese.

Pre-shredded cheese works (and I’ll give you a tip for making it extra gooey) but it simply won’t compare with freshly grated cheeses.

Tomato Soup is a favorite pairing for grilled cheese

Best Bread for Grilled Cheese

In my not-so-humble opinion, the best bread for a classic grilled cheese is sourdough, hands down. Slightly soft sourdough bread will crisp up beautifully on the outside, giving just a hint of crunch while it stays chewy and soft on the inside.

There are a few exceptions though. If you want something a little different, rye bread, filled with caraway seeds and often swirled with pumpernickel too, is a terrific match for Swiss cheese with ham or corned beef – and you can add a bit of sauerkraut too for a Reuben-lover’s favorite grilled cheese.

Multigrain bread (with or without seeds and nuts) is another way to boost the flavor in your grilled cheese sandwich. Hearty multigrain bread is often what I use when I want to grill a roast beef and cheddar sandwich.

If you’re a fan of ham and cheese, you can make a simple version of the Croque Monsieur with some deli ham and a bit of Gruyere and Swiss cheese either on multigrain or sourdough bread.

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Servings: 1 serving

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  • Spread plenty of soft butter on the outside of both pieces of bread. Butter the first slice and drop it butter side down into a hot skillet over medium heat. (If your stove runs hot, start at medium-low.) Cover your slice of bread with shredded cheese. Be generous and use a bit more than you think you need. Top with the second slice of bread, butter side up.

  • COVER THE PAN WITH A LID. Yes, cover the pan. Let it cook undisturbed for at least a minute. Uncover and check to see if the bottom slice of bread has browned. Let cook until golden brown, usually about 3 minutes on medium heat.

  • Press down slightly on the top slice to help the cheese stick to both slices. Use a thin spatula to carefully flip the sandwich over. COVER WITH A LID once more.

  • If your cheeses aren’t melting as quickly or smoothly as you’d like (especially if you are using pre-shredded cheeses) add one teaspoon of water to the edge of the pan and quickly cover with the lid. This helps steam the cheese and it melts beautifully!

  • Check to see if the second slice of bread is golden brown. It should take about 3 minutes on medium heat. When it is ready, remove the sandwich to a plate and enjoy!

Calories: 387kcal · Carbohydrates: 27g · Protein: 15g · Fat: 25g · Saturated Fat: 14g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g · Monounsaturated Fat: 6g · Trans Fat: 1g · Cholesterol: 66mg · Sodium: 582mg · Potassium: 114mg · Fiber: 2g · Sugar: 4g · Vitamin A: 597IU · Vitamin C: 1mg · Calcium: 319mg · Iron: 2mg

{originally published 4/6/15 – recipe notes and photos updated 4/8/22}

How To Make Grilled Cheese



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