Early on in life, the grilled cheese sandwich becomes a staple in every cheese lover’s diet. In many ways, it’s the cheese lover’s first introduction to cheese. It’s packed in school lunches (or served in the cafeteria), it’s a go-to comfort food for sick days, and it a sneaky way for parents to get their children to eat tomatoes.
Fortunately, a great grilled cheese isn’t just for kids. As adults we still get to enjoy melty cheese sandwiched between slices of toasted bread in as a comforting reminder of home in college dorms, as a quick but satisfying work lunch, and as a crowd-pleasing dinner at home. And not only do we get to keep enjoying grilled cheese sandwiches, but as our palates grow more sophisticated we can move beyond American cheese and white bread to combinations limited only by our imaginations and the ingredients available to us.
This leads to many fascinating grilled cheese recipes. With so many great ideas on how to spice up this old favorite, it can be hard to narrow options down to the ones you really want to try. We have tried our best to do that here, and have come up with what we consider to be the top 10 grilled cheese recipes.
10. The Original Grilled Cheese
Sometimes nothing can beat the original. Of all the recipes on this list, this is the most like the typical grilled cheese recipes we all know and love, just matured a little from the American cheese and Wonderbread version of childhood. With aged cheddar, hearty bread, and the addition of dill pickles, it’s a classic grilled cheese all grown up. Enjoy!
9. Mozzarella Panini with Apricot & Pickled Red Onion
Sweet and savory come together to create a grilled cheese that’s almost too pretty to eat. The tangy pickled onion and salty mozzarella balance out the sweetness of the apricot. Oh, and the bread? That’s sweet Spanish pan de orejon: apricot-almond cake. Go ahead, try it, you know you want to.
8. Lobster Grilled Cheese
Lobster is a delicacy, especially if you’re from New England. The addition of lobster can improve almost any dish: salad, mac ‘n’ cheese, ravioli, …and of course grilled cheese. Use a blend of cheeses, add a little bit of mayonnaise (which is the perfect pairing with any lobster dish), and some lemon juice, and you’ve turned a childhood favorite into a classy meal fit for the most refined palates. We’re fans of this grilled cheese by BS in the Kitchen.
7. Fried Chicken and Waffle Grilled Cheese
Southern food is all about deep-fried indulgence. And few things show that off better than this recipes. Take some battered, deep fried chicken; pair it with a buttered, sugary waffle; then add cheese, turn it into a sandwich, and fry the whole thing in butter AGAIN. Oh, and don’t forget to pour some syrup over the top. The sweetness of maple syrup contrasts the saltiness of the cheese and fried chicken in just the right way. You know you want it, so get the recipe at TasteSpotting.
6. Broiled Gruyère Sandwiches with Maple-Caramelized Apples
Apples are classic additions to the grilled cheese sandwich, and adding maple just brings out more of the natural sweetness in this autumn fruit. The nutty, salty Gruyère gets bubbly and brown and melty when broiled. It is a great brunch recipe, but these broiled, open-faced sandwiches can really be eaten at any time of day and still be wonderful.
5. Loaded Nacho Grilled Cheese
Considered the perfect “game day” grilled cheese recipe, this sandwich takes the classic elements of your favorite nacho platter with jalapeños, avocados, and black beans and puts them in grilled cheese form. We’re pretty sure this is the earthly equivalent of nectar and ambrosia. It’s quite spicy, salty, gooey, melty, and topped with sour cream and salsa. Don’t shy away from the mess – be bold, check out the recipe, and enjoy this bad boy the next time your favorite team is playing.
4. Barbecue Mac and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
This grilly combines three favorite foods: barbeque, mac ‘n’ cheese, and grilled cheese. How can you go wrong?! The barbecued beef adds a tangy sweetness that puts this recipe head and shoulders above other grilled cheese sandwiches that use mac ‘n’ cheese in them. Get in touch with your inner Nebraskan and try it.
3. Strawberry & Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese with Balsamic & Basil
This recipe is the food equivalent of power clashing. It combines sweet berries, salty cheese, tart balsamic, and aromatic basil. And you know why it works? Because this grilled cheese is confident. It knows it doesn’t match, and it’s proud. I’d be thrilled to look as glamorous as it does, but I’ll settle for basking in its reflected glory as I nosh on it.
2. Ice Cream and Cheddar Grilled Cheese
You thought adding strawberries and basil to a grilled cheese was crazy? Well, it’s not nearly as crazy as a grilled cheese stacked around a scoop of Vanilla Fleur de Sel ice cream. Based on a recipe by Chef Keith Schroeder of High Road Ice Cream in Atlanta, this hot and cold, melty grilled cheese makes for an indulgent snack or dessert.
1. The 100% Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Created by Nick Chapman of Dude Foods, our #1 grilled cheese sandwich uses cheese, cheese, and more cheese. Carr Valley Cheese’s Bread Cheese takes the place of traditional bread, while good ol’ American cheese is sandwiched into the middle. Bread cheese softens but doesn’t melt, meaning you can grill this sandwich up just as you would a regular grilled cheese. For a fun twist, try this with one of Carr Valley’s flavored bread cheeses, such as garlic or jalapeño. No matter what flavor you use, it’s hard to beat the over-the-top awesomeness of a 100% cheese grilled cheese sandwich.
Win an issue of culture magazine
What’s your ultimate grilled cheese? Share your answer in a comment below for a chance to win a free issue culture: the word on cheese! Post your answer by Thursday, October 9, 2014 for a chance to win. You must be located within the continental US to be eligible to win. Good luck!