When it comes to creating the ultimate grilled cheese, it’s all about hitting the trifecta: perfect cheese to bread ratio, a crispy, crunchy exterior, and a gooey, melty center. Everyone has an opinion on how to accomplish this not so easy task. In an effort to stay neutral (or as neutral as we can), we’ve scoured the Internet to find some tips, techniques, and suggestions that you can use to construct YOUR favorite grilled cheese.
First and foremost, we must talk about the delivery vessel: bread. According to Food & Wine, the answer may not be so simple. Each of the breads they list translate to a particular style of grilled cheese. If you’re wanting something that is more forgiving, go with the Italian ciabatta. Craving the classic? Try Pullman bread, an upgraded version of our childhood staple Wonder Bread. Or, if you’re feeling like something totally different and transportable, go for an English muffin. Serious Eats suggests avoiding bread that is “too perforated with air bubbles or sliced too thick.”
Long story short, you need to pick a superior-quality bread in order to create a great sandwich.
When it comes to cheese, can you really go wrong? Unfortunately, yes. Hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino just don’t melt; fresh cheeses like goat or queso fresco have the same problem. So, then what?
Thrillist writers wanted to conquer this same question and shared an article last year detailing “The 9 Best Cheeses for Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.” Contrary to our opinion (and that of others), their list includes goat and feta, two cheeses we typically do not suggest. Havarti, Swiss, and Muenster get high marks; not a typical choice, but they all melt beautifully. If sticking to more conventional options, cheddar, Provolone, and Pepper Jack, the spicy variation on Monterey Jack, add robust flavors that can conquer non-traditional ingredients. The overall first place winner on their list: American. When you go with this cheese, “you think of that creamy, processed cheese getting all ooey-gooey.” Enough said.
When it comes to quantity of cheese, use the Today Show’s method. For average slices of bread, use approximately 1/3 cup of cheese per sandwich. If you’re not peeling off the plastic of Kraft singles, they suggest grating your cheese to produce the best melt.
An Extra Step
For most of us, after layering our bread with slices of cheese, we head for the butter. But, not so fast. The editor of Serious Eats suggests one additional step – pre-toast. By doing this, you achieve the perfect browning while giving the cheese extra heat for melting. Plus, who doesn’t love extra flavor, i.e. fat!
Mayo vs. Butter
Now, when it comes to toasting there are varying opinions. Some say that mayo is the best choice because it produces a crisper crust while others are butter purists. Rather than arguing either side, we say use both. Butter provides the flavors, while the mayonnaise’s spreadable consistency allows for even distribution. According to this New York Times recipe, we hit the nail on the head!
The Cooking Method
The pan method is always a sure thing, but if you’re wanting to adventure out or cooking for a crowd, that can mean a lot of work. Instead, try the oven method. Using your choice of bread, cheese, and spread, create your sandwiches and lay them on a cookie sheet. Top with a pre-heated cookie sheet to create a make-shift panini press and place it in the oven. In the amount of time it would take to cook one or two sandwiches, you’ll have six ready to go. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy!