How To Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ever

Five great tips for mastering this cheesy masterpiece.

Lisa Cericola
The Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Photo: Hector Sanchez

It’s just bread, cheese, and butter, right? Wrong! There’s an art to making a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

1. Start with a Nonstick Skillet
Obviously, a skillet is your go-to pan when making a grilled cheese sandwich. A nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet is the best pan to use because it will brown the bread nicely, and allow you to flip the sandwich with ease. (Speaking of which, grab a wide spatula.)

2. Butter your Bread, Not the Pan
Instead of dropping a pat of butter into a hot skillet, butter the bread for more flavor and even browning. Generously spread one side of each bread slice with softened salted butter. Or, instead of butter, spread one side of each bread slice with mayonnaise. It will give your sandwich a slight tang and help it brown beautifully.

3. Choose your Cheese
An excellent grilled cheese strikes the right balance between crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. It’s important to choose a cheese that melts well, such as Cheddar, American, provolone, Swiss, mozzarella, or even brie. We also love pimiento cheese for a tangy alternative. If you want to make a sandwich with a non-melting cheese, like goat cheese or feta, add another melting cheese in the mix. Mozzarella has a mild flavor and pairs well with other cheeses.

4. Pile on Extra Ingredients (or Not)
Want to give your grilled cheese some personality? Layer on flavorful toppings to make your own custom sandwich. Don’t pile the ingredients too high because it will be hard to flip your sandwich. Flat items like deli meats, pickles and hot peppers, bacon, sliced fresh tomatoes, apples, and pears, and leafy greens are all good additions. Try our Grilled Cheese and Apple sandwich or a Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry Jam.

5. Brown on Both Sides
Cook your sandwich butter-side-down over medium heat, letting the sandwich brown for 3 to 4 minutes before flipping to the other side. Cook the other side 3 to 4 minutes more, or until golden brown. The goal is to not under- or over-cook your sandwich. You want bread that’s crunchy, golden brown on the outside and cheese that is melted and hot on the inside. The best way to achieve this is to simply pay attention. Use your spatula to peek at how each side is browning. If you don’t rush the process you’ll be rewarded with the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever tasted.