Food

9 Ways to Fancy Up Your Grilled Cheese

at a glance
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 serving
4 from 1 vote

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There is nothing more American than a grilled cheese sandwich. Gooey, melted cheese in between two perfectly toasted pieces of bread — you really can’t go wrong! We’re sharing our 9 favorite ways to fancy up your grilled cheese sandwich.

Top down view of two grilled cheese sandwiches cut diagonally in half on a metal sheet pan with shredded cheese sprinkled around the pan and a small wooden bowl of flaky sea salt in the corner.
Sliced grilled cheese sandwich on a piece of white parchment paper with slice of pickle.
Two grilled cheese sandwiches on a wooden cutting board with a jar of bacon jam, bowl of sauerkraut, and slices of bacon.
Two hands holding halves of a grilled cheese sandwich with cheese stretched between the two halves.
Stack of grilled cheese sandwiches.
Slices of grilled cheese sandwich with one bite removed on one slice.
Grilled cheese sandwiches in a cast iron grill pan.
Two hands stretching grilled cheese sandwich with cheese pull connecting the two halves.
Hand slicing grilled cheese breakfast sandwich on a wooden cutting board on a teal surface.

How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Making a grilled cheese sandwich is really easy. The fillings and bread are interchangeable, but the process stays the same.

  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Layer your cheese (and optional fillings) on the bread, then place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top of the cheese.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

9 Ways to Fancy your Grilled Cheese

Here are 9 of our favorite grilled cheese combinations. We crafted each of these recipes on gluten-free bread, which is generally smaller in size, so bear in mind that if you use a different or larger piece of bread, your amounts may vary.

Grilled Triple Cheese

This triple cheese grilled cheese sandwich puts a twist on the original by adding in a combination of three delicious cheeses and a crispy cheese crunch on the outside of the sandwich that forms by toasting the bread with butter AND a layer of cheese in the pan. Yum!

Top down view of two grilled cheese sandwiches cut diagonally in half on a metal sheet pan with shredded cheese sprinkled around the pan and a small wooden bowl of flaky sea salt in the corner.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of Swiss cheese

Instructions

Shredded cheese sprinkled in a black, cast iron pan.
Slice of bread on top of shredded cheese in a cast iron pan.
Hand sprinkling cheese on top of a slice of bread in a cast iron pan.
Buttered slice of bread on top of shredded cheese in a cast iron pan.
Shredded cheese on top of two slices of bread in cast iron pan.
Grilled cheese sandwich with grilled cheese crust on the outside of the sandwich.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – sprinkle ½ tablespoon of cheddar cheese in the pan, then place one slice of bread, butter side down, on top of the cheese in the skillet. Layer the remaining cheese (reserving a ½ tablespoon of the cheddar cheese for the other side of the bread) on the bread, then place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining ½ tablespoon of cheddar cheese on top.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Green Apple, Brie, and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese

The tangy green apple, creamy brie, and sweet fig jam make for a perfectly balanced bite of sweet and savory with a crunch!

Two grilled cheese sandwiches on a round plate sitting on a wooden cutting board with sliced apples and a spoon with fig jam.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 3 ounces of brie cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of fig jam
  • ¼ of a green apple, thinly sliced

Instructions

Hand holding spoon spreading fig jam on top of a slice of bread in a cast iron pan.
Hand layering sliced brie cheese on top of apples on a slice of bread in a cast iron pan.
Three slices of apples on top of fig jam on a slice of bread in a cast iron pan.
Slice of buttered bread on top of layered grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron pan.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Using a spoon or spatula, spread the fig jam on top of the bread. Layer your green apple, top with brie cheese, and place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top of the cheese.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Pesto, Turkey, and Provolone Grilled Cheese

This savory sandwich is super satisfying with garlicky pesto, turkey, and mildly tangy provolone.

Grilled cheese sandwich with grill marks in a cast iron grill pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 ounces of deli turkey
  • 1 slice of provolone cheese or 2 ounces of shredded provolone
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto

Instructions

Spoon spreading layer of pesto sauce on top of a slice of bread in a cast iron grill pan.
Turkey on top of a slice of bread in a cast iron grill pan.
Slice of cheese on top of a slice of bread in a cast iron grill pan.
Buttered bread on top of grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron grill pan.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Using a spoon or spatula, spread the pesto on top of the bread. Layer your turkey and provolone, then place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Prosciutto, Pickle, and Cream Cheese Grilled Cheese

Stay with us! I know this combination is unconventional, but it is SO delicious. The creaminess from the cream cheese pairs perfectly with the briny pickle and salty prosciutto. We hope you’ll give it a try!

Sliced grilled cheese on a white piece of parchment paper with a jar of pickles and two slices of pickle next to it on a wooden cutting board.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • ¼ cup of cream cheese
  • 2 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 dill pickle slice or 4-5 dill pickle coins

Instructions

Hands holding a slice of bread and spoon spreading cream cheese on top of the bread in a cast iron skillet.
Hand placing slice of prosciutto on top of pickles on a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Two slices of pickle on top of cream cheese on a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of buttered bread on top of prosciutto, pickle, and cream cheese sandwich in a cast iron pan.
  1. Heat the pan – heat the skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, in the skillet. Using a spoon or spatula, spread half of the cream cheese on the bread. Layer the dill pickle and prosciutto, then spread the remaining cream cheese on the unbuttered side of the second piece of bread. Place the second slice of bread on top of the prosciutto and pickle with the buttered side up.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Gruyere, Caramelized Onions, Sage, and Ham Grilled Cheese

This sandwich is salty, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous all in one delicious bite.

Two grilled cheese sandwiches on a white piece of parchment paper with ham, sage leaves, and cheese in the background.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 ounces of deli ham
  • 2 ounces of gruyere
  • 2 tablespoons of caramelized onions
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh sage

Instructions

Slice of bread with shredded cheese in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of bread with shredded cheese, caramelized onions, and sage on top in a cast iron skillet.
Ham on top of a piece of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Cheese on top of ham on a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of buttered bread on top of a grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet.
Grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Add a sprinkle of cheese on top of the bread, then layer the ham, caramelized onions, and sage, and top with the remaining cheese. Place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

To caramelize your onions: Heat a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Cut a yellow or sweet onion in half, then slice thinly. Add the onions to a skillet with a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to combine. Add 1 teaspoon of salt after 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the onions reach a deep brown, caramel color, approximately 30 minutes.

Caprese Grilled Cheese

We took the classic Caprese salad and turned it into a grilled cheese for the meltiest, stringiest, freshest result. The cheese pull on this one is a grilled cheese lover’s dream!

Two grilled cheese sandwiches on a brown piece of parchment paper with sliced tomato and basil leaves.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella or 2 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 1 slice of tomato
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves

Instructions

Slice of bread with mozzarella on top in a cast iron skillet.
Basil leaves on top of a slice of tomato and mozzarella on a piece of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of tomato layered on top of mozzarella on a piece of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Mozzarella cheese on top of basil leaves and other filling on a piece of bread in a cast iron skillet.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Layer a slice of mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaves, then top with another slice of mozzarella. Place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Bleu Cheese Bacon Jam Grilled Cheese

This sandwich really speaks for itself. It’s sharp, sweet, salty, and 100% delicious! It very well may be our favorite of the bunch.

Grilled cheese sandwich on a wooden cutting board with a red and white striped linen and slices of bacon.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon jam
  • ¼ cup of bleu cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons of gruyere cheese

Instructions

Knife spreading bacon jam on a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Blue cheese and shredded cheese on top of bacon jam and a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Shredded cheese on top of bacon jam on a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Buttered bread on top of shredded cheese and another slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the bacon jam over the bread, then top with the bleu cheese crumbles and gruyere cheese. Top with the second slice of bread buttered side up on top.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

To make your own bacon jam, add 1 pack of cooked bacon, 5 pitted dates, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and ¼ teaspoon of salt into a food processor and process until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-4 weeks.

Reuben-Inspired Grilled Cheese

We love a good Reuben, and what better way to elevate this favorite than by making it a hot sandwich with melty cheese?! Try it with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard for some extra tang.

Stack of grilled cheese sandwiches with corned beef and cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 ounces of sliced corned beef
  • 1 tablespoon of sauerkraut
  • ¼ cup of shredded Swiss cheese

Instructions

Slice of bread with Swiss cheese on top in a cast iron skillet.
Layer of sauerkraut on top of corned beef on a slice of bread in a cast iron pan.
Hand layering corned beef on a slice of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Two slices of Swiss cheese on top of corned beef on a slice of bread in a cast iron pan.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Butter the bread – take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Assemble – place one slice of bread, butter side down, into the skillet on the stove. Layer the shredded Swiss cheese, corned beef, and sauerkraut, then top with the second slice of bread buttered side up on top.
  4. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Egg-in-a-Hole, Bacon, and Cheese Grilled Cheese

This is a fun spin on the classic breakfast sandwich that can be enjoyed by all!

Egg-in-a-hole grilled cheese sandwich on a wooden cutting board with a carton of eggs, pile of bacon, cup of iced coffee in the background on a teal surface.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of your bread of choice
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

Hand holding a spoon cutting out a circle in a slice of bread on a wooden cutting board.
Slice of bread with hole in middle with an egg cracked in the hole in a cast iron skillet with melted butter.
Slice of bread with egg cooked in the middle of the piece of bread in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of bread with shredded cheese and bacon on top in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of buttered bread on top of bread and fillings in a cast iron skillet.
Slice of bread with egg cooked in the middle in a cast iron pan.
  1. Heat the pan – heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  2. Prep the bread – cut a hole in one slice of the bread and butter one side of the second slice of bread.
  3. Cook the egg – add one tablespoon of butter to the skillet, then place the slice of bread with the hole cut in it into the skillet. Carefully crack the egg inside of the hole and let it cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the bottom of the egg has set.
  4. Assemble – flip the bread with the egg over in the skillet, then top with the shredded cheese and bacon. Place the second slice of bread on top with the buttered side up.
  5. Cook – cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Ingredient Modifications for Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

There are endless options for changing up your grilled cheese sandwiches. In addition to the 9 ways we shared, here are some other ideas of how you can fancy up your own grilled cheese:

  • Add protein – anything from deli meats (turkey, ham, pastrami, prosciutto, salami) to grilled or shredded meats (steak, chicken, pork) add additional protein to your sandwich.
  • Add a spread – from sweet (jam, ketchup, and honey) to savory (mustard, thousand island dressing, pesto), you have so many options for additional flavor. A chutney, pepper jelly, or bacon jam are fun ways to combine the sweet and savory aspects.
  • Use mayonnaise – replace the butter with mayonnaise. There are some grilled cheese purists who believe this is the only way to grilled cheese!
  • Add a pickled component – pickles, sauerkraut, jalapeños, and coleslaw are great ways to add acidity to a rich sandwich.
  • Use a different cheese – while an American cheese single is as classic as it gets for a grilled cheese sandwich, there are so many delicious cheeses just waiting for their time to shine melted between two toasty pieces of bread. Swiss and gruyere give a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Provolone and mozzarella are super stringy and milder in taste. Bleu cheese will add a sharp and salty note, while brie is rich and buttery in flavor. Then you also have Havarti, Monterey Jack, and all of the other cheddars. The options are endless, and you really can’t go wrong!

Tips & Tricks for the Best Grilled Cheese

  • Shred your cheese – buy a block of cheese and shred it so that it melts easier when cooking. Pre-shredded cheese is often coated in an anti-caking agent, so we recommend starting with a block of cheese for the meltiest, stringiest result.
  • Cook over medium-low heat – this ensures that your bread has the time it needs to toast and the cheese has the time it needs to melt without overcooking the bread.
  • Press down – for a panini-style sandwich and the most even cook, use a sturdy lid or another heavy object to press down on the sandwich while cooking.
  • Make them in the oven – cooking for a crowd? Oven-bake your grilled cheese sandwiches on a sheet pan at 350°F for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Q How long should I cook grilled cheese on each side?
A

Each stovetop will be a little different, but over medium heat, you’ll cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes on each side until the bread is golden brown and toasted.

Q What’s the best bread for a gourmet grilled cheese?
A

Just like ingredients, there are plenty of options for bread when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches. Our go-to for gluten free bread is Canyon Bakehouse. They have several different types of GF bread, including Ancient Grain, Country White, and Hawaiian Sweet Bread. Sourdough, brioche, ciabatta, focaccia, and baguettes are fun, non-traditional options that develop a great crust and texture for your sandwich.

There is no more classic combination than a traditional grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of creamy tomato soup. Some of our other favorite soup combos to enjoy alongside include minestrone, Thai-inspired carrot soup, and creamy chicken tortilla soup. If you like a sandwich and salad combo, this spinach salad with spicy lemon dressing or Brussel sprouts salad with apple cider vinaigrette adds some extra brightness.

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Basic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

By: Melissa Guevara
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Servings: 1 serving
This classic grilled cheese recipe is delicious on its own or as a base to fancy up any grilled cheese.

Ingredients  

  • 2 slices bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon butter softened
  • 1 slice cheese

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet on the stove over medium to medium-low heat.
  • Take two slices of bread and butter one side of each slice of bread.
  • Place one slice of bread, butter side down, in the skillet on the stove. Layer the cheese (and optional additional fillings) on the bread, then place the second slice of bread buttered side up on top of the cheese.
  • Cook your sandwich for 5-7 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes on the other side until golden brown.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Meet the Author
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Melissa Guevara

Melissa spends the bulk of her time writing, managing our content calendar, and lending a hand in recipe shoots. She values time spent exploring outdoors with her family and baking all things sourdough.⁠
Get to know Melissa

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  1. Rachel says

    Rachel —  08/26/2022 At 09:06

    Love these. FYI: you left the sage out of the ingredients and directions for the caramelized onion and sage option!

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  08/26/2022 At 10:00

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Rachel! We have updated the article to include the sage. -Team FF

  2. Jessi says

    Jessi —  08/26/2022 At 09:27

    These recipes looks delicious. I have one question regarding the bacon and Bleu cheese sandwich: in the picture there appears to be a second cheese on the sandwich, what did you use?

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  08/26/2022 At 10:01

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Jessi! It was definitely missing the additional gruyere cheese. We’ve updated the article to include the second cheese. Enjoy! -Team FF

  3. Jessi says

    Jessi —  08/26/2022 At 09:29

    4 stars
    Recipes look delicious! Quick question regarding the bacon and Bleu cheese sandwich, in the pictures there appears to be a second cheese. What is the cheese?

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