We've officially declared this Grilled Cheese Week. Why? Mainly because we just really love grilled cheese. To celebrate, we're covering everything from top tips to leveled-up ingredients. Join us for toasty comfort and plenty of melty cheese.
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Is there anything better than a grilled cheese hot off the pan? Melty, gooey, crispy, crunchy, toasty … it’s got basically everything you could ever want in a meal or snack, and it’s simple to make, too. It’s why we’ve named this week our unofficial Grilled Cheese Week: for no other reason than we’re just big fans of grilled cheese, and we bet you are too.
Later this week, we’ll be diving into some more inspiring grilled cheese ideas to help you improve your game with better breads and spectacular spins. But first, we’re taking it back to the basics: How to make a really awesome grilled cheese sandwich. Because even though this is a simple, no-recipe sandwich, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new techniques to make it even better.
With a few quick tips, you can take your grilled cheese from good to great. Here’s how:
1) Cheese doesn’t just go between your bread: It’s great in the bread as well.
First of all, you’re choosing homemade bread, right? My fellow blogger PJ Hamel is a grilled cheese champ, and according to her, “Since you're using just three ingredients here, each one of them had better be darned good.” The best bread is the one you make at home, so start there.
To take things to the next level, max out on meltiness by using a cheesy bread for your sandwich. This Jalapeño-Cheddar Bread is studded with pockets of cheddar and slices of pickled jalapeño, creating the perfect balance between creamy richness and tangy acidity. It’s the ultimate complement to any grilled cheese sandwich. (Look out for more on this recipe later this week!)
2) Create perfect triangles with a square loaf.
As outlined on the recipe page, that cheesy Jalapeño-Cheddar Bread can be made in a standard 9” x 5” loaf pan or a 9” x 4” x 4” (Pullman) loaf pan. If you can, opt for the Pullman pan. Its straight sides create perfectly square slices, which lead to neat, even cuts of grilled cheese. We’re partial to triangles, but this makes for nice rectangles, too. (Ditto for any type of bread, not just the Jalapeño-Cheddar!)
3) Spread your bread with mayonnaise, not butter.
Many people coat the outside of their bread with butter to help it toast, but we prefer to use mayonnaise instead. It may sound a little odd, but it creates a wonderfully crisp sandwich with even color.
Here’s what PJ has to say on this: “Mayonnaise spreads easily, covering every square centimeter of bread. It also browns beautifully, and lends a depth of flavor that goes beyond simple butter.” Its slight tang is a wonderful companion to the richness of the melty cheese inside your sandwich. Don't be afraid of mayo: After all, it's only an emulsion of eggs and oil!
4) Toast the inside of the bread, too.
Don’t just slather that mayo onto the exterior of the bread: Swipe it on the inside as well, then toast both sides of the bread in the pan before adding your cheese and stacking the sandwich. This adds more flavor and crispiness, and it helps the cheese melt better too, since the inside of the sandwich is already toasty warm.
5) Maximize meltiness with a lid.
You’ve been there before: Your bread is dark and toasty, with a crisp exterior and deep color. A little bit longer, and it’ll be burned — time to pull that grilled cheese from the heat. Except once you do, disaster: The cheese isn’t fully melted!
Avoid this horror by popping a lid onto your pan while the grilled cheese cooks. The trapped heat will help melt the cheese more quickly than simple surface heat, ensuring it doesn’t lag behind the bread for an underdone sandwich.
A final bonus tip: Be patient. Making a grilled cheese is easy, but that doesn’t mean it comes together in a split second. Keep your heat low and slow, let that bread get perfectly crisp and the cheese completely (completely!) melted, and you’ll have an absolute winner of a sandwich.
What are your tips for making the best grilled cheese? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow along all week for more grilled cheese goodness on the blog, like this post: Take grilled cheese to the next level with these mouthwatering combos.
Cover photo by Rick Holbrook.