How do you make the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich? You need the right kind of bread, the right outer spread and, most importantly, the right combination of cheeses. We’ve got all the must-have info right here and man, are you ever in for a treat!
Typically when I make a grilled cheese sandwich I just use one kind of cheese. That’s out of convenience though, not because it’s the best way to do things. When I’m not in a hurry, and when I have an abundance of cheese in my fridge (like after we’ve had a party and there was a cheese tray on the loose), I go in with a combination of cheeses.
Creating a Cheese Combination
Why use a combination of cheeses in a grilled cheese sandwich? Because different cheeses have different virtues. Getting a good blend of those virtues into one perfect sandwich is the goal. I like to use three kinds of cheese in my perfect sandwich. You don’t need very much of each one, just a bit. Together, you’ll have plenty of cheese and the blend of flavors and textures will be perfect.
So, we’re going in with three cheeses. Which three cheeses should it be?
#1: Something Creamy
You definitely want to include a rich creamy cheese in your sandwich. This cheese doesn’t have to get stringy as it melts. Its job is just to be buttery and rich. You can use a bit of Brie for this but the easiest thing is to spread the bread with cream cheese (the inside parts of the bread, not the outsides that are going to hit the grill. See more on this below). If you’re into some processed cheese flavor in your grilled cheese, you can lay on a cheese spread like Cheez Whiz or use a processed cheese slice.
#2: Something Stringy
You really really need those wisps of stringy melted cheese to arch out of a good grilled cheese sandwich so make sure to include a cheese that melts in a stringy way. Your processed cheese slice does this, as does mozzarella and provolone. Monterey Jack and Cheddar also get a bit of stringiness going on when melted.
#3: Something Flavorful
Now, depending on what you chose in the above two categories, you might not need much here. But a little bit of extra cheese flavor will take your sandwich to that ultimate level we’re aiming for. What should you look for here? A powerful cheese. You can choose a cheese that has power all from itself, like a strong blue, if you’re into that, or a smoked gouda. Or you can try a cheese that has flavor added to it, like a pepper jack or a Havarti with dill. Whatever you choose, don’t put too much. You don’t want to overpower the sandwich, just give it that tiny bit of extra oomph.
There you have it. The breakdown of the perfect cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches.
Bread for Grilled Cheese
What else do you need to know? What kind of bread to use on a grilled cheese sandwich, of course.
I know that a lot of people go with the Wonderbread style for classic comfort food grilled cheese (see that kind of American cheese on sandwich white bread here). But if you’re going with the three-cheese combo above, you’ve already strayed from that style of sandwich and you need to go with something a tiny bit better. Ideally, something with a bit of crunch to the crust and lots of air in the middle. The goal is a crunchy layer outside with a very soft pillow-y layer of bread between that crust and the cheese.
I like to get a loaf from the bakery section of the grocery store, a loaf that has been put into a perforated bag so that the crust hasn’t softened. An Italian bread or sour dough work perfectly.
You’re going to hand-slice the bread so that it’s on the medium-to-thick side. Or ask the bakery if they have a thick-slice setting for slicing their bread. Some do.
Getting the Perfect Crust
As to that crust on the outside of your sandwich, how to attain that? We had heard that using mayonnaise instead of butter was the secret. We weren’t sure so we did a butter-versus-mayo taste test over here. The results were a bit mixed but clearly the better texture came from the mayonnaise. In your quest for the ultimate grilled cheese, you should try it at least once.
There you have it. The perfect grilled cheese. The recipe is below. Enjoy!
- 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise (or use softened butter)
- 2 slices of white crusty bakery bread (hand-sliced medium-thick, sour dough or Italian bread)
- 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 oz. smoked gouda cheese, sliced
- Spread mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread. Flip them over. Spread both with cream cheese. Onto one slice, sprinkle the Monterey Jack. Top with slices of gouda and then invert the other bread onto it such that the cream cheese is against the gouda.
- Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Put sandwich in skillet. Use a spatula to check underneath ever minute or so to make sure the toast isn’t browning too quickly. You need it to take a few minutes so that the cheese has time to melt. Cook until underside is toasted, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwich over and cook until underside is toasted and cheese is very melted, 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer sandwich to cutting board and cut on the diagonal.