A great grilled cheese sandwich really is the perfect union. Think about it: Cheese and bread are natural partners, even before they’re pressed together and fried until golden brown in pure wedded bliss. (Heck, even a subpar panino is better than none at all.)
We’re here to spread the love and help you up your grilled cheese game. Start with the basics: Smear the outside of your bread with room-temperature butter and shred your cheese (between two and three ounces per sandwich) for even melting. Then layer the shreds with fillings—use between one and three tablespoons of each spread, a slice or two of meat, and a light sprinkle of vegetables to avoid overcrowding—and cook your creation low and slow until it’s crispy (not burned) on the outside and gooey on the inside.
From there it’s all about experimentation. Want to tuck in some fruit? Do it. Tempted to sub in focaccia or a roll for plain bread? Don’t hold back. Fancy a dessert grilled cheese? Us too. We’ll also take one for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after last call on Saturday night—as you’ll see in the recipes ahead, the best time for grilled cheese is, well, anytime.
Fire up the griddle for the most important meal of the day
The French Toasted
Brioche bread + mascarpone + raspberry jam + French toast + batter + powdered sugar
This creamy sandwich (get the full recipe here) takes a dip in slightly sweet batter before it hits the grill. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar for an indulgent morning meal.
Pressed with refried beans, a fried egg, cotija crumbles, and the holy trinity of avocado, cilantro, and salsa, this slightly-spicy creation could be your new go-to.
Green Mountain Griddler
This combo has Vermont state pride in spades: hearty bread plus two sharp local cheeses, rounded out with smoky bacon and a smear of maple cream.
Eggs Bennie to Go
English muffin + fontina + poached or fried egg + chives + hollandaise sauce
All the components of a Benedict in a portable little package. Fontina is a good bet for superior stretch, and lemony hollandaise is de rigueur for dipping.
Lunch or Dinner
Something to carry you through the afternoon—or kick off your evening.
Sourdough bread + Gruyère + braised beef + caramelized onion + apple chutney
A combination of quintessentially fall flavors, with the savory factor dialed waaaay up. Use a light hand with the fillings, as this sandwich is easily overstuffed.
Pullman bread + American
Sometimes you just need to leave a good thing alone. The classic grilled cheese—butter, white bread, and American slices—is oh-so-melty and full of childhood memories. Enjoy it with a cup of tomato soup (get the recipe here), and save experimentation for another day.
Sourdough bread + young Manchego + fig jam + Jamón Serrano
Musky-sweet and salty with a smoky layer of jamón, this tapas-inspired sandwich is crafted with young Manchego for a quality melting experience.
Focaccia + mozzarella + Grana Padano + pesto + red sauce + fresh basil
Red sauce, pesto (get the recipe here), and mozz? It’s pizza in sandwich form, so basically a dream come true.
Sweet and a little over the top, just as it should be.
Cinnamon bread + ricotta + ganache
Yes, really. Mix cinnamon and sugar into softened butter and spread on the outside of a ricotta sandwich made with cinnamon-swirl bread. Whip up homemade ganache for dipping (get the recipe here), and you’re in business.
The Goat & Cake
Pound cake + chèvre + lemon curd
Who says you need bread to make a killer grilled cheese? Dense but fluffy pound cake (get the recipe here), layered with lemon curd and citrusy chèvre, is light, creamy, and decadent all at once.
Cheese Plate Classic
We wondered how the components of our favorite cheese plate would taste when stacked and melted between pieces of nutty bread. The verdict? Pretty terrific.
Nutella Delivery System
Brioche bread + Camembert + Nutella + pears
You know you want it: Nutella and slivers of ripe pear, tucked between brioche with slices of oozing Camembert.
After the beer comes the cheese.
Dude, there’s this cheese called Juustoleipä, and it’s made from fresh curds, and people use it like bread. Behold the brainstorm that led us to this over-the-top invention—just be sure to use a generous smear of honey to cut the salt.
The Sandwich of Brotherly Love
Potato bread + provolone + steak and onions
Craving a cheesesteak? Make your own! Cook up some steak and onions (get the recipe here), and tuck ’em between slabs of sturdy bread with provolone. It’ll go toe-to-toe with any hoagie from Philly.
Hot Popper Panino
Pullman bread + Crescenza di bufala + pickled hot peppers + bacon + panko
This concoction is definitely made for last call. Crank up the heat with pickled hot peppers (get the recipe here), and mix the butter with panko for a little extra exterior crunch.
The Alpine Bender
Sourdough + raclette + French fries + pickles
French fries, plus one of the world’s best melters? You might as well crack open another brew to wash it down.
Photographed by Andrew Purcell; styled by Carrie Purcell