These grilled cheeses aren’t going to be like the Wonder Bread and Kraft singles you first learned how to make as a kid — they are better — and they will help you rethink just how good a grilled cheese can taste.
From no-brainer additions, like bacon, pesto, and artisanal cheeses, to unconventional twists, like mango, jam, and maple syrup, these grilled cheeses play on our palates with sweet, salty, tangy, and even umami taste-bud triggers.
Of course, a strong foundation of grilled cheese skills will go a long way in making these jazzed-up versions taste their best, which is why we have assembled a crash course in grilled-cheese making, so you can make the perfect grilled cheese, like our Ultimate Grilled Cheese recipe here.
There are a couple important things to consider before we start: the bread and the cheese(s). Nothing melts like American cheese, which may explain why it is a longstanding favorite for cheeseburgers and grilled cheeses, but its bland, sometimes rubbery taste leaves a lot to be desired. Here, we’ve combined American cheese with sharp Cheddar for the perfect pairing of cheesy flavor and gooey American cheese.
A spread of equal parts mayonnaise and softened butter on both sides of the bread, for flavor and perfectly browned bread, will do the trick. Then, heat your skillet, add a half tablespoon of vegetable oil, and place both pieces of bread in the pan. Top each piece with half of the cheese, and allow to brown for a minute or two. Then, stack the bread together (cheeses in the middle, of course), and butter the edges of the bread lightly with the butter/mayonnaise spread. Continue to brown for another minute or two. Once the cheese is melted, remove the sandwich from your skillet, slice in half, and serve.
For some sweet, salty, and other ways to jazz up this classic sandwich, check out our round up of 12 grilled cheese sandwiches with a little more than cheese between the bread.
Mix things up by adding blue cheese, sliced apples, and fig jam to your grilled cheese sandwich. — Emily Jacobs
Sweet, savory, and tangy, this balsamic grilled cheese with fresh strawberries is a delicious twist on a grilled cheese sandwich.
South Water Kitchen
Fresh pear, blueberry jam, and creamy Brie make this grilled cheese standout in a crowd.
Marinate your tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil for two hours before grilling between sourdough bread for a delicious Italian-accented grilled cheese.
Pesto makes everything better, so spread a generous dollop on this grilled cheese sandwich that's crusted with Parmesan and filled with Gruyère. — Haley Willard
Go Go Squeez
Toss shredded Cheddar with pickle juice, pimentos, mayonnaise, and a dash of hot sauce before grilling between two pieces of soft bread. The result is tangy, crunchy, and delicious.
A grilled cheese for that moment when you can't decide whether you want sweet or savory. Creamy, tangy chèvre with mild Cheddar play opposite sweet honey and fig preserves for an explosion of flavor that will make you forget about plain grilled cheese. There are no amounts listed because it's totally up to you, depending how sweet or cheesy you want it. — Dana Kimmelman