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The Scientific Solution to the Perfect Grilled Cheese

Here’s an embarrassing confession: I’ve always made grilled cheese in a toaster oven. Every time I try on a stovetop, something goes wrong. The cheese doesn’t melt, the bread doesn’t crisp—there’s always something. Making a good grilled cheese can be challenging.

“Nothing is worse than when you get a panini-type sandwich, and the top side is really crispy, but the bottom is cold and mushy. It’s a problem that plagues America,” Daniel Benjamin, owner of Raleigh, N.C., restaurant and patisserie lucettegrace, said in a recent interview with Indy Week. For Benjamin, cooking on a low flame is the best defense against a soggy sandwich. To end the days of too-mushy or not-melted-enough grilled cheese disasters, I’ve turned to some of our favorite cooking mags for other expert opinions by chefs who-like Benjamin-have perfected the craft of the grilled cheese.

Before you even get started on your grilled cheese, Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt says the pan should be thoroughly buttered. The bread can’t be too thick or have any air bubbles for cheese to escape from. Another Serious Eats suggestion comes from Adam Kuban: cook each slice on both sides. To get the best, buttery taste and help your cheese melt, let both slices turn golden on one side, then flip them and add cheese to the grilled side before putting the sandwich together and crisping the outer side. Make sure you keep your meal moving. Flip it, press it down with the spatula, and slide it around in the pan to ensure a nice, even color throughout.

Bon Appétit claims that a thin layer of mayonnaise is the secret to a “a golden, delectable crunch.” They also recommend four slices of American or Cheddar cheese.

While a melting cheese is necessary, López-Alt says you can always add a non-melting cheese for flavor, such as mozzarella with feta or Fontina with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Before serving, Bon Appétit confirms that the sandwich should be sliced diagonally. There are many reasons why this is the case, as Buzzfeed explains, such as bite variation and optimal position for a longer gooey stretch of cheese between the slices when you pull them apart, which really is one of the most desirable parts of any grilled cheese.

Sarah Cummings

Sarah Cummings is a native New Yorker braving the Boston winters to study Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. In her spare time, she can often be found rock climbing, cuddling the neighborhood cats, or integrating goat cheese into her every meal.