Bacon Grease Is The Savory Secret To Elevating Grilled Cheese

At first glance, the grilled cheese seems like a humble sandwich, but many know better. Grilled cheese is effortlessly cool. It rarely tries too hard and almost always delivers. It's also a sandwich that offers a lot of room to experiment in. Between choosing different types of bread and picking the right cheese, this is a classic dish with many permutations and yet, seemingly, not much room for improvement.

But what if just a little something could really send that basic grilled cheese to another level? It's nothing too out there, but what if we told you this little something is a bit of bacon grease, which will make all the difference? While there may be an ongoing debate over whether to use butter or mayonnaise on your sandwich, the real MVP may just be bacon grease. It'll take your grilled cheese to the next level while also making use of that leftover grease from breakfast.

What's so great about bacon grease?

Bacon grease can be seen as an annoyance in the kitchen, especially when it comes to how to store or dispose of it. Many prefer to store bacon grease, because it has such great utility in the kitchen. That's especially true when it comes to an elevated grilled cheese. Bacon grease that has cooled and hardened is perfect for this, because it's easier to spread. In general, bacon grease also has a relatively high heat tolerance, which means it won't easily burn on the pan.

Instead of using butter or mayo, spread a layer of bacon grease on the outside of your bread before placing it in the skillet. In addition to giving your sandwich a perfectly golden outer crust, you'll get a little bit of savory smokiness from the bacon. This trick is especially good if you don't have the time or supplies to go all out for a bacon-filled grilled cheese. You'll get the same satisfying, salty crunch when you use the grease on your sandwich, and that fat won't go to waste.

The many ways to infuse your sandwich with bacon

Bacon fat isn't the only way to bring that savory flavor to your next lunchtime sandwich. Of course, you could always just add a layer of crispy bacon straight to the sandwich, but it's worth exploring other ways of maximizing flavor. Bacon jam offers another way to incorporate that savory favorite, and it's got a strong following among chefs.

Talking to Forbes, Pete Deruvo — executive chef at Francesca's Restaurants in Chicago — shared their approach, explaining, "I'll add in balsamic bacon jam, caramelized onions, and sundried tomatoes. It elevates your typical grilled cheese into an excellent dining experience." You don't have to go all in with the onions and tomatoes, though; simply including the jam itself will bring your sandwich to the next level. Richie Farina, executive chef at Adorn Restaurant (also in Chicago) shares similar views, explaining that they, too, like to add bacon jam to grilled cheese.

Bacon and grilled cheese are a duo for the ages. Bacon can be incorporated into grilled cheese in myriad ways, and it's a great tool for making a sandwich that's delicious both inside and out.