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You may think you know how to make grilled cheese, and in some ways, yeah, you do. Take a couple slices of white bread, toss on two slices of American cheese, add butter to a skillet, cook, flip and eat it dunked in some tomato soup straight from the can. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that nostalgic, kid-friendly sandwich!
But, a simple, easy grilled cheese isn’t really a sandwich worth writing home about. Luckily, there’s a way to make a classic grilled cheese even better. And, you know, for good measure, there are also 10 wonderful ways to really kick your grilled cheese game up a notch.
There are three things you can do to take your basic grilled cheese to the next level. First, skip the Wonder Bread and use something a little heftier and a little nicer, like sliced sourdough. Second, slather a mix of butter and mayo on that bread — at the end of the day, mayo is just egg, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. These simple ingredients help to get the sandwich that perfect shade of golden brown while adding a slightly nutty flavor. Finally, use two shredded cheeses: American and cheddar. The cheddar adds some crowd-pleasing flavor to simple American cheese, and using shredded cheeses instead of slices leads to an even melt and cheese distribution. Cook your super sandwich on each side for 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat, and you’ll never go back to the old days.
While this recipe is pretty darn great, there are still ways to make your grilled cheese EVEN better...
If you want the easiest way to kick it up a notch, swap out that American cheese for something more spectacular. Using cheddar, Gruyere, brie, blue cheese, Swiss or provolone can change the flavor drastically while keeping things simple. Or, get fancy by combining a few cheeses, like our Panera copycat with fontina, Monterey Jack and white cheddar. Just build as normal with white bread, butter and mayo.
If you’re amping up your grilled cheese, it’s about time you amp up your tomato soup too — no more of that condensed canned stuff. This creamy tomato basil soup recipe uses aromatics to build flavor and heavy cream for a luxurious texture. Garnish with fresh basil for an extra herbaceous aroma and you're eating well.
Like peanut butter and banana and broccoli and cheddar, there’s just something about tomatoes and grilled cheese together. If you’re not a dipper but still want to dig into this dynamic duo, you can add roasted tomatoes into your grilled cheese with ease. Blister some cherry tomatoes in the oven, tuck them between sourdough and cheddar cheese and enjoy.
Bacon makes literally everything better, including an already great grilled cheese. Bacon pairs particularly well with melty cheddar or American cheese, but add it to any classically-prepared grilled cheese of your choice. If you want to go all out, you can even add a fried egg to your sandwich for a NYC-inspired BEC grilled cheese.
A caprese salad — that classic combination of mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and a touch of olive oil and balsamic — translates naturally to a grilled cheese. This combination gives a fresh, mature flavor to this nostalgic childhood meal.
One of the most underrated but necessary parts of a perfectly-curated cheese board is a bit of fruit (like a pears, grapes or figs) to balance out all of the salty, pungent cheeses. So channel that next time you make a grilled cheese by combining bold blue cheese with sweet, crisp Asian pears. A touch of hot pepper jelly helps complete that cheese board vibe.
One wouldn't normally describe a grilled cheese as earthy, but if you use brie and mushrooms, well, it will very much be both of those things. Sauteeing your mushrooms in balsamic vinegar also adds a nice sweetness to create a perfect balanced sandwich.
Who doesn’t love pizza? If you don’t want to go through the whole process of making pizza at home, take some pepperoni, mozzarella and pizza sauce and turn the whole thing into a kid-friendly grilled cheese. If you have leftover ingredients at the end of the day, turn all of that deliciousness into some pepperoni pinwheels.
Why just enjoy one classic childhood dinner when you can have two classic childhood dinners?! Oh yeah, we’re talking about swapping out American cheese for mac and cheese for the ultimate carb and cheese situation. You can make your own mac and cheese at home or you can really keep it classic by using a box of Kraft (and a little bacon for good measure).
It’s not grilled cheese without cheese, of course. And, sure, you can use one cheese or two cheeses or maybe even three cheeses. But those in the know use four cheeses for the ultimate sandwich. This loaded grilled cheese uses American, cheddar and Swiss cheeses in the sandwich, and the bread is crusted in Parmigiano-Reggiano for good measure to create that sweet, sweet crunchy coating known as frico. If that sounds like a lot of cheesy goodness, just wait until you see more of the best recipes for cheese lovers.
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