Sometimes only a grilled cheese sandwich will do. You know what I mean? Likewise, sometimes a grilled cheese sandwich is the only vegetarian option I can find.
I’ve been disappointed by some grilled cheese sandwiches in my life, so I set out to create my ultimate grilled cheese recipe. I aimed for a favorite grilled cheese sandwich that I could make any time the craving strikes. I wanted gourmet flavor without any complicated ingredients or methods. Grilled cheese now, or bust!
I should also confess that I want to be famous for my grilled cheese sandwiches someday. Not internet-famous, but neighborhood-famous as the mom who makes the best grilled cheese. I want my future children to brag about my grilled cheese sandwich skills. Is that too much to ask?
So, here we are, and here is my favorite grilled cheese recipe. It is truly epic, as far as I’m concerned. Keep on reading for my tips and tricks, because I have a few!
General Grilled Cheese Sandwich Tips
I’ve sampled a lot of the grilled cheese ideas out there (including mayo on the outside), and these are the ones that work for me.
1) Start with great bread.
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t use any bread that you have in your pantry already. If you have the option, however, I suggest buying some crusty whole grain or regular sourdough for maximally awesome flavor.
2) Top with high quality, sharp cheddar cheese.
Sharp cheddar has a lot of flavor, and that’s what we’re going for. When it comes to a grilled cheese, you really can’t go light on the cheese, or you’re going to be disappointed.
3) Don’t skimp on the butter.
You need enough butter to achieve the crackly-crisp, buttery, golden exterior that we all crave. If you always keep a stick of butter on the counter, you can simply spread the softened butter generously over the outside pieces of bread. If you don’t (I don’t), you can melt a pat of butter in the skillet before you add the bread.
4) Grate the cheese yourself.
Pre-shredded cheeses are lightly coated in starch so they don’t stick together, but the starch prevents your cheese from melting into gooey oblivion. We want gooey oblivion.
5) Cover your grilled cheese while it cooks.
This helps trap the heat, which ensures that your grilled cheese has time to melt all the way through without burning on the outside.
Watch How to Make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Bonus Tip
Finish your grilled cheese with a crispy, cheesy outer crust.
This is a trick that my grandmother Mimi used to pull off. Maybe you have encountered it at a restaurant and wondered how it works. It can be a little tricky, depending on how non-stick your pan is. If you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, it’s worth a shot.
Simply sprinkle some additional grated cheese over your buttery skillet, and flip the hot sandwich over on top of it. Listen, and once the cheese has stopped sizzling, wait a few more moments longer before flipping it back over. Ta da.
Non-stick skillet notes: I have always recommended using cast iron or stainless steel skillets when possible, since they’re non-toxic. When I worked on this post, I’d been testing out a non-stick “ceramic” skillet from Green Pan. While it was non-stick enough to successfully make these sandwiches, I’m no longer recommending this pan. See the section on ceramic non-stick pans over here.
How to Make My Favorite Grilled Cheese
Here’s how to turn a basic grilled cheese into a grown-up, gourmet grilled cheese. Take my basic methods (described above) and add a couple more ingredients. You will not believe how much of a difference they make! That said, if you’re serving a picky kid, you can leave these out.
Spread a light layer of Dijon mustard over your bread.
I mean, a really light layer over one slice of bread. Even if you don’t love mustard, this adds a little je ne said quoi to your sandwich. It’s a little salty and complex, and I think you’re going to love it.
Add green onion.
Alliums (the garlic and onion family) have the power to transform ho-hum recipes into totally irresistible. I always have green onions in my fridge, and adding some chopped raw green onion (green parts only) is an easy way to infuse your sandwich with major flavor.
That’s it! Ready to make the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had? They’re perfect for chilly or rainy days, and even better with a side of classic tomato soup.
Please let me know how these sandwiches turn out for you in the comments! I hope you love them as much as I do.
Craving more meatless sandwiches? Here are a few of my favorites:
- This roasted vegetable and balsamic grilled cheese sandwich puts these principles to work, but replaces some of the cheese with roasted veggies. You can’t go wrong here.
- This fresh hummus and pickled vegetable sandwich is absurdly tasty. The components are worth the effort, and you can make these sandwiches all week long.
- My broccoli pita sandwiches feature a fresh broccoli and chickpea salad stuffed into warmed pita slathered with mashed avocado.
Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 sandwich 1x
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
This gourmet grilled cheese sandwich recipe is so easy to make at home! Make it when the craving strikes, and it will become your new favorite. Recipe yields 1 sandwich; multiply as necessary. You can make two at once in large skillet, if you’re careful when you flip them.
- 2 large slices of whole grain sourdough, or your favorite crusty bread
- Enough Dijon mustard for a thin layer across one slice of bread (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
- 1 cup lightly packed (3 ounces) freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus a little more for sprinkling on the outside (optional)
- 2 teaspoons chopped green onion, green parts only
- Unsalted butter, for melting in the pan (about 2 teaspoons)
- Spread Dijon mustard lightly across one side of one slice of bread. You’re aiming for a very thin layer. Stir the green onion into the grated cheese, and set aside.
- Melt a pat of butter (about 1 teaspoon) in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat (or a large skillet, if you’re planning on making two sandwiches at once). Once melted, place the mustardy slice of bread into the skillet, with the mustard side facing up.
- Top the slice with the oniony cheese (aim for about a ¾-inch layer of cheese). Then place the remaining slice of bread on top. Cover the skillet with a lid, and cook for several minutes, or until the underside of the bread is golden.
- Remove the sandwich from the skillet with a spatula, and add another pat of butter to the skillet. Once melted, carefully flip the other side of the sandwich against the buttered pan. Cover and cook until the underside of the bread is nice and golden, and the cheese is all melted. If the bread is browning before the cheese has melted, dial down the heat as necessary.
- Optional, if you want a cheesy crust on the outside of the sandwich and you’re working with a truly non-stick skillet: Remove the nearly-finished sandwich with a spatula. Sprinkle a bit more grated cheese into the pan in a toast-sized shape, and flip the sandwich back over onto the cheese. Let it cook until you no longer hear any sizzle, and then a few seconds longer.
- Remove the sandwich with your spatula. Place it onto a cutting board and let it cool for a minute or two. Gently cut it in half down the middle using a serrated knife, and serve warm.
Thanks for the tips re the mustard on the outside, and the final coating of melted cheese. I will definitely be trying that out. I like to think my grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty terrific already, but I’m always game to kick things up a notch. BTW, I often make our grilled cheese with slices of whole onion and a few hot banana peppers in them. Definitely yum!
Thanks for your great blog. I always look forward to receiving it and have tried many of your great recipes.
You’re welcome Papelle!
This post really made me smile! I always wanted to be famous for a special food that I cooked “the best” in my family’s (and extended family’s) opinion lol so I can identify with that.
I have always been afraid of grilled cheese (so many calories!) but this one looks like it might be worth it and I love the idea of the green onions. I will give it a try for sure :)
Let me know what you think!
Everything bagel seasoning on the cheese.
That sounds like a good addition!
Kate, now you can always have soft, spreadable butter without it spoiling. I have used this butter keeper for years, all year round, and have given many to friends. It holds one stick of butter. Just change the water every 3 days and put it in the fridge if you will be away for a while.
Thanks for sharing, Marilyn!
Kate, if you get as lucky as I did, you just may have a kid who does not like comfort foods, including grilled cheese…
That’s crazy! I didn’t even know that was possible.
A kid that doesnt like a toasted cheese ? Wow. Thats not really a lucky thing..lol..Love a good tc sandwich with soup on a cold rainy day…stay healthy everyone
Than you, Jamie!
Tried this with the dijon and green onion. It was fabulous! Still a classic grilled cheese but with a big step up in flavour. Loved it!
I’m glad you loved it! Thanks for your review, Louise!
I seriously need to step up my grilled cheese game! I love the cheesy crust on the outside.
It’s delicious! Thanks, Janet.
Rony from https://easyquick.recipes
This recipe is my daughters favorite breakfast, and trust she is hard to please so thank you and look forward to try many more.
I’m happy to hear that, Rony!
I made this in a panini press and it was delicious
I’m happy you loved it, Lola!
We use alternately, Ezekiel sprouted bread, or marble rye from Giant Eagle because those breads are the best diabetic-friendly breads I can come up with. I sometimes sprinkle some freshly-grated parmesano reggiano on them because the intense nuttiness adds a delicious ZIP! Add a couple of sandwich-sliced Claussen pickles and some tomato soup: de-lightful! No spreads or onions for us either.
Thanks for sharing, Joni!
Okay, this grilled cheese with your tomato soup recipe was absolutely amazing!! My fiancé said the grilled cheese was the best he’s ever had, period! I can’t believe how much a bit of dijon mustard and green onion adds- it takes standard grilled cheese to a whole new level. And while I initially kind of doubted your recommendation to grate our own sharp cheddar instead of buying pre-shredded, I did and you were RIGHT! I don’t want to mess with it because it was such melty perfection, so I’ll be doing that from here on out. I know better than to doubt you; there’s always a valid reason for your extra steps :) Thanks so much for sharing!
I’m so glad you both loved it! Grating it yourself makes all the difference. Thanks for your review, Jen!
Nicholas James Foley
I don’t know how you made such a simple thing so much butter, but mustard on the outside and green onions on the inside were so money. Coupled it with your tomato soup recipe, which also makes such a simple thing so much better, white beans, who would have known? I also added Broccoli for a little protein/health boost. You’re a genius Kate, thanks always for your ingenious, healthy, and easy recipe.
This was so delicious! I had no idea I’d been missing Dijon mustard on my grilled cheeses my whole life! Thanks for adding some extra taste to a classic favorite.
Paul in Sacramento
I can’t believe I have been making plain, boring grilled cheese sandwiches for so long! This recipe is easy and so delicious. I loved the Dijon mustard and crusty cheese on the outside. I used a French batard bread that worked great with this along with the sharp cheddar and a slice of Havarti I had hanging out in the fridge. Unfortunately, I forgot the green onion (must of been the martini I was sipping on while making this!) but this was still the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever made.
Not sure if this is the appropriate place to ask this question but I’ll go ahead and ask anyway! We will be in Kansas City in a couple of weeks and I was wondering if you would like to recommend a couple of restaurants where we could find some good vegetarian food?
I’m so glad you found this recipe, Paul! Martini and grilled cheese, I love it! Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some recommendations!
Very nice but Dijon mustard too bland for a Brit. I used good old Colemans English Mustard. Packs a punch.
Great, Dave! I appreciate your review.
Can we use any different types of cheese? It’s looking yumm. Thank you Kathryne for such a wonderful recipe.
Sure! I love this with cheddar, but you can if you like.
Thank you Kate for the great recipe! I made this today and paired it with Trader Joe’s Autumn Squash soup… delicious! I love all your recipes, they always turn out amazing! Where is cook book # 2!?
I was really tired after a long day of class today. Had a long lecture followed by a nerve-racking presentation. When I got home to make dinner, I completely messed up the new pasta recipe I was trying. I scrolled through your site as quickly as I could & made my partner & I these for dinner instead with some canned soup. Absolutely delicious which I knew they would be! I love what the Dijon mustard added – never would’ve thought of it on my own!
At first glance I thought those were chives instead of green onions in the sandwich. I think when the chives are up in the garden next summer I will try using them with grilled cheese, I never would have thought of it without seeing this.
It’s delicious! Fresh grown would be amazing.
Best grill cheese ive ever had’ Can’t wait to make this for my teenage kid’s, they both going to love this.
I love the sandwich but I am not sure I would endorse ceramic nanoparticle non-stick pans.
Hey again Dennis, ironically, I listened to a podcast yesterday that provided further details about Green Pan (more than I could find out from the manufacturer), and I’m no longer recommending it. Thanks for being on the look-out. :)
I LOVE your rendition of grilled cheese. In lieu of using green onions, I used a cranberry cheddar cheese, grated with finely minced red onions and honey mustard, all generously Placed on sourdough bread. Thanks for your creative inspiration!
Thank you for sharing! That sounds delicious, Susan.
Thanks for the recipe. 100% trying it out. <3
Let me know what you think, Jayde!
This is the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. Your a genius! We had this with your tomato soup recipe, also delicious. Many of my favorite dishes are from your amazing recipes. Thanks for all your hard work figuring out so many incredible recipes!
This post really made me smile! I always like to cook grilled sandwich and I have brought grilled sandwich maker from spinning grillers especially for making sandwich. I like putting garlic and pepper in with the butter on my grilled cheeses. Sauces are probably fine. Putting ketchup on it sounds disgusting, but I will reluctantly concede that it is still indeed a grilled cheese sandwich.
I notice the recipe calls for the dijon side of the bread placed in the pan dijon side up. A lot of commenters have said they put the dijon side on the outside – so, facing down.. does it matter? I mean, either way, its getting eaten with that flavor, but I’m wondering if it being on the outside or inside of the sandwich might make a difference (ie to the way the cheese melts with it or something)?
Hi Jen! I’d be afraid that the mustard might burn against the pan if spread against the outside of the bread. I found one commenter who suggested they used it on the outside and it turned out well, so I may be wrong. Let me know if you try it!
This was really good. Shall share on my insta (@petty_ellis_creates). Kinda “gourmet” grilled cheese. Had it with your Classic Tomato Soup recipe. gave it 4 simply because it revealed my partner indeed cannot STAND mustard. I guess as I don’t really eat foods like a grilled cheese that much I realized there’s something about that basic version that hits.
On another note, back home in NYC came across your blog and used it on occasion. Now that I’m quaratined in the UK w/ my partner it’s one of my go-to’s to keep things fresh. Thank you & be safe.
I’m sorry to hear this wasn’t a 5 star, but I appreciate the honest feedback! Thanks so much for taking the time to review.
Hi Kate. Long time fan of your site and simply wanted to say, as a pretty good novice cook in the kitchen, that I truly enjoy your site and your recipes. This grilled cheese sandwich was superb and I never would have thought of the addition of the Dijon mustard which made a HUGE difference in the overall taste. Keep ‘em coming and thank you for all the great recipes
I am from the UK & tested this on my husband when he asked for a toasted cheese sandwich.
We were blown away at how fabulous this is . Thank you!
I’m happy it was such a hit, Susie! Thank you for your review.
Love this recipe. I can’t go back to my old grilled cheese. This one is so much more flavorful. I do not place cheese on the top. Also, I do not place a lid on skillet cause that made it entirely too hot and unsafe. One more thing, I use natural (white) sharp cheddar (block NOT pre grated) and it is so yummy!
This was so good! Sometimes I get cravings for grilled cheese, and I always end up disappointed. So this time I decided to search out a recipe that would give it a bit more flavor. This is exactly what I was looking for. Had it with some dill pickles on the side = perfection.
Breakfast? Grilled cheese for breakfast?…
Loved this sandwich! I only had pre-grated cheese, but they were still really really good. Love the dijon mustard and green onions. Nice touch! I think I will include a slice of fresh tomato next time. I didn’t do that today, because I made fresh tomato soup on the side – what a satisfying lunch!!
I’ve been eating this for lunch all week (half a sandwich) with your classic tomato soup…OMG both are sooo good! Your soup is the BEST I’ve ever had. I love your recipes on your blog and your book! Keep them coming because we cook at least two items from the book and/or blog every single week. This week between my husband and I we made 5 of your recipes
This is such a great recipe! We started having grilled cheese almost every day! I tell all my friends about it and I hope you’re famous for it someday!
My tips for anyone making it. 1) Buy a decent block of sharp cheddar. Brands like Kroger are noticeably greasier and also tend to melt off the bread. 2) I buttered the outside of the bread as well as a little bit in the pan. I noticed only buttering the pan was actually leading to a lot more butter being used and my bread coming out over-saturated. 3) Instead of mixing the green onions and chees I just lay down the green onions first and then stack the cheese literally as high as I can get it. Don’t worry about the exact cheese measurements. It’ll be different every time since the bread will always be a different size.
Thank you for sharing your tips, Eric!
Hi Kate (and Cookie), I’m a little confused – your instructions say Dijon face up so the mustard ends up on the inside of the bread doesn’t it? Just wondering because a few comments I read say mustard on the outside…Will be making grilled cheese tonight!
Love your website and recipes!
Hi! You want the mustard on the inside of the sandwich. I hope that helps!
This was the best grilled cheese I’ve had in some time, and the cheese crust worked perfectly on my cast iron pan! Thanks for all these amazing tips.
I’m happy you think so, Chelsey. Thank you for your review.
I made Kate’s Classic Tomato Soup last night and figured I would try this Grilled Cheese recipe too. The mustard and green onions add such wonderful flavor. I did half sharp cheddar and half gruyere on rustic sourdough. An INCREDIBLE comfort food meal! I am craving it again this morning.
Thank you, Dave! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it.
Wowza! This recipe is really, really good. Best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. I didn’t even have sourdough – I can only imagine how great the sandwich will be when I do. Another “must keep” Cookie And Kate recipe, thank you so much for posting.
Wonderful, Debbie! I’m glad you love this recipe.
I was a little skeptical that these would that could but they do were. The mustard and the green onions in the cheese so amazing. The cheese on the outside worked so well. I also made your healthier tomato soup to go with and it was perfect. Even my picky eater commented on how good it was
I’m glad you loved it, Dawn! I appreciate you review.