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5 Tips That Will Make You a Grilled Cheese Guru!

Half of a grilled cheese sandwich.
photominer/Shutterstock

You probably know how to make a grilled cheese, but we can take you from sandwich-sufficient to melted cheese magician in minutes! These aren’t your typical tips, but, then again, we’re not talking about a typical grilled cheese.

You’ve probably been making grilled cheese since you were a kid. You know the basics: bread, butter, and a pre-sliced piece of cheese. Add some heat and voilà—you’ve got melted yumminess! But it takes more than the basics to make the perfect grilled cheese.

If you’re ready to take your sandwich game up a notch, you need some tips that aren’t covered in Grilled Cheese 101. So, read on all ye grilled cheese novices and learn how to step-up your melted sandwich game in a few not-so-conventional ways.

Mayo, Even If You Think You Hate It

There are many self-professed mayo-haters out there. Something about the creamy white spread just rubs some people the wrong way. However, even if you can’t stand mayonnaise, you should use it on your grilled cheese. Mayonnaise is just an emulsion of eggs, oil, and lemon juice. The fat and proteins in it magically create a crust for your sandwich, while keeping the inside gooey. Plus, it has a higher smoke point than traditional butter, which makes cooking your sandwich that much easier.

If you really hate the taste of mayonnaise, mix it in a 1:1 ratio with butter. Then, spread it on the inside and outside of your bread. The mayonnaise increases the smoking temperature of the butter, which makes it easier to cook your sandwich.

You won’t really taste the mayonnaise in the final dish. Instead, you get a punch of buttery richness in every cheese-filled bite.

Add Some Tang

To truly excel at grilled cheese, you have to consider the balance of flavors. Great cooking means balancing fat and acids. That’s why the classic pairing of tomato soup (acidic) with grilled cheese (fat) works so well! Of course, it’s also a bit dull.

To jazz things up and make a pro-level grilled cheese, add something tangy. Anything from pickled onions to deseeded and drained tomatoes will do! Try melting some Monterey Jack with a few pickled jalapeños stuffed inside. If you prefer less spice, give roasted red peppers, alongside melted mozzarella a try!

Shred the Cheese

A pile of shredded cheddar cheese on a cutting board.
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

You don’t hear this one often. In fact, many recipes warn against it. However, when done correctly, shredded cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich is the way to go. Cheese shreds have a greater exposed surface area than their sliced counterparts. This means they melt faster and more evenly, which is key for an exceptional grilled cheese sandwich.

Of course, when you work with shreds, it can get a little messy. You’re likely to spill a few out of the sandwich and into the frying pan. The fried-on cheese can make for a more frustrating cleanup. Of course, when we think the mess-risk is worth it, that says a lot about the finished product.

The shreds really do produce a better sandwich—just try it!

Spice It Up

Almost every good recipe calls for appropriate seasoning. Whether it be oregano or basic black pepper, it’s rare to find a dish that doesn’t call for a pinch of one herb or another. Yet, almost no one seasons a grilled cheese.

Of course, cheese is already salty, so you won’t typically need any of that, but what about the rest of the spice drawer? Italian seasonings, chives, basil, tarragon, black pepper, and parsley all go well on a grilled cheese sandwich.

If you just add a sprinkle of any of the aforementioned herbs to the bread before you cook, the recipients of your grilled creation will be in awe. They’ll also probably wonder why they never thought to try it!

Try the Brick Method

No one tells you this, but a brick wrapped in foil is a highly valuable kitchen tool. It especially comes in handy if you want to master the grilled cheese. See, part of getting that perfectly toasted bread and melty middle is in the art of the smash. Smashing your sandwich creates more surface area to brown, which means more flavor and better texture.

However, smashing it with a spatula is annoying. You have to stand there, holding it down for a minute or two, which is uncomfortable at best, and burn-inducing at worst. So, plop a foil-wrapped brick on top of it, instead!

Yes, this does make your sandwich as flat and crispy as any panini. If that’s not your style, skip this tip. If, however, you enjoy your grilled cheese with a crispy-as-a-cracker outside and a melt-in-your-mouth center, this is the way to get it.

There’s no reason to settle for basic grilled cheese! Incorporate any of our more unconventional tips if you want to create a next-level sandwich. Whether you just add some spice or shred the cheese, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »

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