Here's Why Your Grilled Cheese Is Soggy

Grilled cheese is one of the first stovetop dishes many of us learn how to make, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. There are plenty of things that can go wrong — or, at the very least, be improved upon — whether you're a fledgling home cook or a seasoned pro. And just like the deluge of cooking tips that all claim to provide the crispiest fried chicken or the creamiest mashed potatoes, the internet's arsenal of "the best grilled cheese secrets" can present some conflicting information. 

Melt your butter in the pan instead of buttering your bread, says J. Kenji López-Alt. Do away with the butter and slather your slices in mayonnaise, says Alison Roman. Spread your slices with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, says Ina Garten. Which is the correct path? In short, there is no one right route to take on your grilled cheese commute because everyone's tastes are a little different. But something we can all agree on is that soggy bread has the power to cancel out the deliciousness of your homemade toasty sandwich, no matter what type of delectable fromage you use. Here's a little trick to ensure perfect crispy bread that will hold up to copious amounts of cheese and other fillings.

Pre-toasted bread can handle more fillings

If you consistently end up with bread that gives way too easily to the hot, juicy fillings inside your grilled cheese, you might try giving your slices a quick minute in the toaster before letting them hit the skillet. A Blue Apron guide to (you guessed it) the best grilled cheese sandwich says that a little basking time in the toaster "will help your bread develop the golden edges and luscious crisp" that we all know and crave. 

Just be sure your pre-toast doesn't go too far, lest you burn your bread in the skillet while your cheese is melting. Speaking of the best cheeses for grilled cheese, we suggest good old Kraft singles for the most glorious cheese pull. The emulsifying ingredients in the processed American cheese product prevent it from separating when heated, per HowStuffWorks, making for a cohesive yet gooey bite. 

Not-so-secret secrets

As we said, there's no shortage of recipes that allege to yield the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich — a sandwich so platonically ideal and thoroughly tested that it promises to cure not only our hunger but also maybe our deepest wounds. We contain multitudes and tend to employ different grilled cheese methods pretty much every time we have a craving for one, so we find it fun and useful to collect all sorts of tips and tricks from these so-called superlative recipes. 

Chef Alissa Fitzgerald shared her grilled cheese secrets with Insider last month, which include offsetting the richness of the sandwich by adding spicy and/or pickled ingredients. She uses pickled shallots and harissa, but we'd be just as quick to toss in some kimchi, as Ali Slagle does in a New York Times recipe. Fitzgerald also suggests choosing a crusty bread with a "tight crumb" to safeguard against that aforementioned soggy issue, but we also like Eric Kim's recipe that uses pillowy milk bread. In the end, it's pretty hard to go wrong with bread and cheese, so find what speaks to you.