This Cheddar, bacon, and apple grilled cheese sandwich is gonna bust you out of your boring sandwich rut with its inspired filling ingredients.
The power of great ingredients is never more apparent than when they’re used to elevate a taken-for-granted staple. Here’s a grilled cheese sandwich that may change the way you think about the category. It brings a balance of sweet, tart apple and smoky, crunchy bacon to the deceptively humble confines of a cheese sandwich.–Terrance Brennan
Cheddar and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 8 slices (6 oz) applewood-smoked bacon
- 6 ounces Cheddar cheese at room temperature (about 1 cup grated)
- 4 slices (from a medium to large loaf) country bread sliced 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick
- 1/4 Granny Smith apple peeled, cored, and sliced 1/16 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, turning it once after 10 minutes, until crisp, about 20 minutes total, depending on the thickness. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
- Divide half the cheese between 2 slices bread and then divide the apple slices between them. Place 4 slices cooked bacon on each sandwich, top with the remaining cheese, and sandwich with the remaining bread slices. Spread the outside of each sandwich with 1/2 tablespoon butter per slice of bread. (You can cover and refrigerate the sandwiches for an hour or so before heating them.)
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook until the sandwich is golden brown and the cheese has melted, 3 to 4 minutes per side, pressing down with a spatula to flatten the sandwiches. (If the bread looks golden and done but the cheese hasn’t completely melted, arrange the sandwiches in a single layer on a baking sheet and finish them in the still-warm oven.)
- Transfer the grilled cheese sandwiches to a cutting board and cut them in half or, if you prefer, into bite-size pieces (about 8 per sandwich). Arrange the grilled cheese on a plate or platter and serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Let me start by saying I consider myself a longtime grilled cheese connoisseur. You may think I’m kidding, but I am well known by friends, family, and my Instagram followers for elaborate and delicious grilled cheese concoctions…so I simply couldn’t pass up this recipe! Now to what you really want to hear: it was truly a stack of golden brown goodness, with just the right amount of crunch and ooze in each bite.
I knew this recipe would be good when I read how they layered the cheese twice! That is one of my commonly used tricks that I find really ups the eating experience! If you want a full tasting experience, I recommend trying multiple ages of Cheddar, either layered or one kind on each sandwich (so when you cut your bite sized pieces you can get the array of flavors each brings out). Take it from a self-proclaimed pro—this easy recipe will impress everyone from your loved ones to your biggest critics and get you your own grilled cheese reputation!
My bacon cooked for 25 minutes ’cause mama likes her bacon CRISPY! It complemented the gooey, cheesy goodness quite well!
I err on the more golden brown side with a slight char for the crispiest bread I can get without burning. This took me to about 4 minutes, 45 seconds on a gas burner. This was also optimal cheese melt without it becoming a hot melty mess on the pan.
I did not have to put the sandwich in the oven and honestly, I wouldn’t do that even if the cheese didn’t melt perfectly! I would definitely lean more towards simply turning down the heat and covering the pan rather than tossing them in the oven. I would also recommend flipping one more time to keep the bread crisped evenly!
This baby gave me 2 solid sandwiches, each 1 serving. (If my boyfriend had it his way, it would’ve been 1 serving. I suppose if you were making them for a party you could get away with smaller bites…but it’s so delicious that each guest would end up eating at least a half to a full sandwich anyways!
Use different types of Cheddar, either layered on each sandwich or one kind on each. Sharp versus medium versus mild can really alter the bite of the grilled cheese! With the apples, I preferred sharp or medium Cheddar to counteract the sweeter flavor in each mouthful!
What a nice little surprise to the typical grilled cheese sandwich! The shaved Granny Smith apple slices really cut through the richness of the Cheddar and applewood-smoked bacon so wonderfully.
I only used 2 bacon slices per sandwich rather than the noted 4 since my slices were pretty large after baking and I didn’t want the sandwich to be all about the bacon. With only 2 slices of bacon, the nice balance of the apple and Cheddar were able to shine through making this a new favorite. I’ll bet Gouda would also be a great cheese choice as well.
Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of my true go-to comfort foods. They just make me feel good/better/happy. Whatever I might need. This sandwich was no exception. The surprise ingredient, for me, was the slices of apple. I was very pleased with what that brought to the party. The apple cut through the richness of the cheese and butter and made for a welcome addition.
Another plus from making this recipe was the method of cooking the bacon. The timing was accurate, and after 10 minutes on one side, and then 10 more on the other side, we had perfectly crisp, perfectly cooked bacon. I look forward to using this technique to cook bacon in the future.
My only complaint would be that 1/4 of an apple, sliced so thinly, didn’t give us enough of a taste of apple. I peeled and sliced the rest of the apple and we ate it on the side as we ate our sandwiches.
Originally published April 24, 2020