Welcome to grilled cheese 101! Read on to learn how to make a grilled cheese sandwich with a crisp, golden exterior and melty center every time.
If you’re wondering how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, Jack’s your guy. He makes one so often that we have a dedicated grilled cheese pan in our kitchen. It’s seen a million grilled cheese experiments in its day–mayo on the bread, or softened butter? American cheese or Swiss?–all of which have helped him work out what, in our opinion, is THE BEST grilled cheese recipe. It’s incredibly simple, but it yields an undeniably crave-able sandwich. This grilled cheese is crisp and golden on the outside and deliciously melty in the middle (see that cheese pull up there?!). Tomato soup for serving is optional, but highly recommended.
Grilled Cheese Recipe Ingredients
Ready to master this grilled cheese recipe? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Good bread – My preferred type of bread for this recipe is sourdough, because I love the tang it adds to the sandwich. I definitely recommend trying it out, but if you’re a grilled cheese purist, or if you don’t keep sourdough on hand, regular white bread will work here too.
- Mayonnaise – For the outside of the bread! It helps it cook up with a crisp, beautifully browned exterior.
- Dijon mustard – It’s not totally traditional, but it’s SO delicious, adding subtle tangy flavor.
- Butter – For the pan.
- And cheese, of course! I love to use a combo of two different cheeses to give the sandwich a richer taste. Wondering which ones are best? Keep reading!
What’s the best cheese for grilled cheese?
Ok, so honestly, you can make a great grilled cheese sandwich with any types of cheese that melt well, from mozzarella to havarti to Monterey Jack or pepper jack. BUT I have a few favorites, and I think they really set this recipe apart.
- Sharp cheddar – For me, it’s a grilled cheese essential! You just can’t beat its sharp, nutty flavor. It also melts beautifully. I like to combine it with one of the two cheeses below.
- Gruyère or raclette – Both of these cheeses are types of Alpine-style Swiss cheese. They’re unparalleled melters, and each is salty and nutty, with a bit of funk. Paired with the cheddar, they create a sandwich that has the gooey nostalgia of a classic grilled cheese, but with a tad extra complexity. Between the two, I couldn’t pick a favorite. Choose whichever is readily available at your grocery store!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich (My Best Tips!)
Here’s our easy method for how to make a grilled cheese sandwich:
- Spread mayo on the outside of the bread. Not butter! The mayo helps the bread brown insanely well in the skillet, creating a mouthwatering crunch when you bite into the sandwich. It also gives the sandwich a richer flavor. Spread the inside of one slice of bread with a layer of Dijon mustard.
- Add grated cheese. I find that grated cheese melts more evenly than a slice of cheese does. (Though of course, if you choose to use a softer type of cheese, such as brie, you’ll have to slice it.) Use enough to create a small mound of grated cheese over one slice of bread, generally 1 to 2 ounces of each type of cheese. Place the other slice of bread on top, mayo side out!
- Choose the right skillet. We like to use cast-iron because it creates gorgeous browning on the outside of the sandwich. In a pinch, nonstick works too!
- Go low and slow. I don’t raise my heat any higher than medium-low. If the pan gets too hot, the bread will burn before the cheese melts.
- Cover the pan. Add enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Then, add the sandwich, and COVER the skillet. The lid will trap steam in the pan, helping melt the cheese as the bread toasts. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Flip and cook, covered, on the second side.
- Adjust the heat as needed. Lower it if the bread is browning too quickly!
When the bread is browned on both sides and the sandwich is full of melty cheese, remove it from the pan. Slice (into triangles, please!), and serve!
We love this recipe as written, but if you’re itching to change it up, hey! You do you! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Change the cheese, obviously! Swap the Gruyere for fontina or gouda, use 100% cheddar, or sprinkle in some blue cheese for extra funk. Like I said above, any good melter goes!
- Add veggies. Tuck in a little sautéed spinach, caramelized onions, chopped steamed broccoli, roasted red peppers, or roasted tomatoes.
- Add fruit. For really gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, use a mix of Gruyere and brie cheese along with thinly sliced apples or a slather of fig jam.
- Pickles, please! Layer in pickled red onions, pickled radishes, or pickled jalapeños for a fun pop of flavor.
- Get saucy. Replace the mustard with a different sauce you love! Pesto, for example, is fantastic on a sandwich with mozzarella and provolone cheese.
Let me know what variations you try!
More Favorite Cheesy Recipes
If you loved learning how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, try one of these cheesy recipes next:
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Easy Enchiladas
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Stuffed Shells
- Caprese Salad
- Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes
- Grilled Halloumi Cheese
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- Dijon mustard
- 1 to 2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, depending on the size of your bread
- 1 to 2 ounces grated Gruyère or raclette cheese, depending on the size of your bread
- Butter, for the pan
- Place the bread slices on a cutting board and spread the top side with a thin layer of mayo. Flip one slice of bread and spread its other side with Dijon mustard. Layer the cheddar and Gruyère or Raclette cheeses on top of the mustard, then place the other slice of bread on top of the cheese, mayo side out.
- Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and melt enough butter in the bottom of the pan to coat it. Place the sandwich in the pan, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bottom slice of bread is golden brown and crisp. Flip, replace the lid, and cook until the other slice of bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low if the bread is getting too brown before the cheese is fully melted.
- Slice and serve.