Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This classic grilled cheese sandwich, just like what mom made or you got at the corner diner, is just as cheesy and comforting as it was when you were six years old. Nothing but gooey melted cheese between slices of buttery toasted bread.

A classic grilled cheese sandwich--buttered grilled bread and oozing Cheddar cheese

Yes, you do need a recipe for a classic grilled cheese sandwich. Because when you’re going for comfort, you need the amount of butter on bread to be just right so you achieve crisp perfection rather than a soggy mess. And you need the heat to be just so or else you’ll end up with those blackened crusts that your mom tried to hide by scraping them off with a knife over the sink. (Who was she trying to fool?! Sigh.) Try our method for achieving grilled cheese perfection. It’s pretty simple while also being pretty specific. What results is the same ooey, gooey goodness that brought you tremendous comfort as a six year old, which sometimes still works when you’re a 46 year old. Although when you do want to feel a little more adult, we have options for that, too, so see the Variations below.–Renee Schettler

How to make this classic grilled cheese sandwich more adult

There are endless variations on the classic grilled cheese sandwich. You can indulge your curiosity, your craving, or whatever you happen to have on hand by playing with different types of bread and cheese, of course. Or take it beyond that. Some things to slip into your sandwich include a smear of mayonnaise, a couple tomato slices, thinly shaved turkey or ham, even leftover pulled pork or tuna salad. Less common but no less worthy additions include a squirt of Sriracha, pickles, perfectly cooked bacon, sliced avocado, caramelized onions, sliced apple, shaved truffle, shredded short ribs, and, well, we could go on. Got things to add to the list? Sometimes the more outlandish the idea, the more sigh-inducing the resulting sandwich.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 1 sandwich
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Heat a skillet over medium–low heat. Generously smear half the butter on 1 side of 1 slice of bread. Place the slice, buttered side down, in the skillet. Place the sliced cheese on top of the bread. Smear the remaining butter on one side of the second slice of bread and place on top of the cheese, buttered side up.

After a couple of minutes, when the bottom slice is nicely browned, slide a wide spatula underneath and, gently holding the sandwich together with your free hand, turn it over. Continue cooking until the second side is golden brown and the cheese starts oozing out the sides. (If your bread is looking browned before the cheese starts to ooze, the heat is too high. Turn it down a little) This ought to take 5 to 7 minutes total. 

Transfer the grilled cheese to a cutting board and let it cool just a few moments, enough so that you don’t have to yank your fingers away and puff on them when you go to hold the sandwich. Slice it in half, on a diagonal if desired. Then make it disappear. Originally published December 19, 2018.

Tester tip: If you’re making more than a single grilled cheese sandwich, you’ll probably need to nudge down the heat a touch for the second and third and fourth ones as the longer the skillet rests on the burner, the more residual heat builds up and the more likely it will be that the bread will easily get a little too blackened.
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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a tried-and-true classic grilled cheese sandwich that everyone should have in their repertoire. The recipe spells out the steps exactly.

I've learned from my kids that you have to use a sufficient amount of butter to make a delicious grilled cheese. The 1 tablespoon per side is perfect and allows the bread to turn out crisp and evenly browned. We like to use provolone cheese that is thinly sliced to ensure even melting before the bread gets too brown.

When making multiple batches of sandwiches, I find that the longer the pan is heating the lower the heat needs to be to keep from over-browning the bread before melting the cheese. Timing was accurate for later batches but my first sandwich took about 7 minutes to cook. Subsequent sandwiches cooked more quickly once the pan was evenly heated. The cheese definitely oozed by the end. Yummy! We made several sandwiches at home then several on our boat, all turned out equally well. (The only difference I noted was with my induction stove at home, the bread only browns well on the part of the pan that is in contact with the magnetic part of the stove. A bigger pan doesn't work well in this case because it leaves unbrowned sections if the sandwiches aren’t rotated.)

Perfect in the summer with watermelon and in the winter with tomato soup!

This recipe makes an excellent classic grilled cheese sandwich. I used Italian semolina sandwich bread and grated Cheddar cheese. I like to grate the cheese when I make a grilled cheese sandwich. It seems easier to distribute in between the bread slices and it seems to melt faster and more evenly than cheese slices.

The one adjustment I would make is to use a little less butter. Two tablespoons per sandwich is a lot of butter. The advantage of that much butter is that it gives the bread a wonderful buttery flavor and the bread will definitely not stick to the pan. And although the bread will nicely absorb much of the butter, I found quite of bit of butter pooled the pan after I removed the sandwich.

I added some sliced tomatoes which are a nice addition and help to balance the richness of the cheese and the butter. It’s important to keep the heat to medium-low so that the bread will brown nicely and not burn while the cheese has a chance to melt.

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Comments

  1. This is a delicious classic grilled cheese sandwich that delivers every time. I’ve found that the key to a crisp, uniformly golden crust is low heat. I start the sandwich in a cold pan so that the bread browns slowly while the cheese melts. Most recently I made this adding a thinly sliced apple sprinkled with a pinch of thyme and drizzled with maple syrup, caramelized onions and crumbled blue cheese. I also sprinkled the buttered side of the bread with cinnamon sugar. The crust was incredible.

  2. I’ve made grilled cheese sandwiches with this recipe multiple times in the past and have enjoyed two gussied up versions this week. It started with a loaf of Shokupan I spotted from one of my favorite bakeries at the farmers market. Pre-sliced thickly, I asked its best use. When the answer was grilled cheese, I headed straight to the market’s cheesemonger for a recommendation and left with two options. From the official variations section, I made the first with an aged Wisconsin Swiss + thinly sliced heirloom tomato + sliced avocado, accompanied by an autumn version of minestrone soup. A smear of mustard would have been a welcome addition to the sandwich. With the second cheese, I made a Morel Mushroom and Leek Jack + morel conserva. The Shokupan, or Japanese Milk Bread is perfect, and I can’t wait to go back to the classic cheddar with this bread, since I still have a couple of slices left. Note that with these thick slices, the total cooking time was a full 8 minutes to get the cheese to melty perfection and the bread to a perfect shade of golden brown.

    1. Elsa, my mouth is watering as I read your descriptions of these sandwiches. They sound absolutely incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us.

  3. I use mayo on the outside. And sometimes mustard! Dungeness crab with American cheese is to die for.

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