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How to Take Your Grilled Cheese to the Next Level: Chef’s Tips To Ultimate Ooey-Gooey Goodness

Did someone say avocado? Oh yeah! How to choose the right cheese and bread + 4 delicious recipes

Asking “what’s the best kind of cheese?” is sort of like asking “what’s the cutest kind of puppy?” In our opinion, they’re all great! But when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches, some cheeses actually are better than others — especially if you’re craving the sandwich in all its melty glory. So what’s the best cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich? We asked chefs and food experts for their top picks. Keep reading to see how you can make the best grilled cheese ever, plus some creative recipes that bring this classic to the next level.

How to pick the right cheese

Cheese is the star of the show when making a grilled cheese sandwich. “And a great grilled cheese requires perfectly melted cheese,” says Spencer Evens, general manager for Cheesie’s Pub & Grub in Chicago. “That cheese, whatever you may choose to use, needs to be soft and gooey.”

As simple as that sounds, not all cheeses melt into the soft, golden texture that you crave in a grilled cheese sandwich. For example, semi-firm cheeses, like ricotta, feta, cotija and goat cheese, don’t melt due to their moisture, fat and acid content. As a general rule, the more moisture and fat a cheese contains, the better it will melt.

The best cheese for grilled cheese

The best cheese for grilled cheese is one that melts evenly into a soft consistency. Some types of cheeses strike the perfect balance of moisture, fat and acid, and therefore are marvelous melters. MacKenzie Smith, author of Grilled Cheese Social (Buy from Amazon, $26.95), says the top options are Havarti, Gouda, Muenster and low-moisture mozzarella.

That said, you’ll also never fail with the more classic options. “I like to use American cheese — since it’s a blended cheese, it melts evenly without separating,” says Woman’s World food director Julie Miltenberger. “And if I want something with more gourmet flair, I’ll use fontina and add sliced tomato and fresh basil.”

One important note: If you’re using shredded cheese for your sandwich, Smith advises shredding it yourself. That’s because bagged, pre-shredded cheese is coated in starch and doesn’t give a “cheesy pull” when cooked.

Bonus tips for the best grilled cheese

While cheese is the main character of a grilled cheese sandwich, the other elements — bread, toppings and even the way you prepare it — can elevate this comforting staple.


The best bread for grilled cheese is sturdy enough to withstand cooking and dense enough to provide the perfect contrast with the soft, melty cheese. “Start with a thick, hearty country white bread, which will support flavor-packed ingredients,” says Lisa Dowd, founder of Cheesy Street Grill in Massachusetts.


“Personally, I recommend trying avocado,” says Evens. “If it’s smashed up, the texture actually goes really well with the melted cheese and the crunch of the bread.” Consider the cheese you’re using when you pick additional toppings, too, suggests Smith. She recommends pairing candied bacon and sharp cheddar, Brie and jam or goat cheese and pesto. (Click through to see how cream cheese might even be your new favorite topping.)

Cooking method

“For me, the secret is to spread the outside of the bread slices with mayonnaise,” says Miltenberger. (Click through to see why Martha Stewart agrees that mayonnaise is the best best for making grilled cheese.) “The slices cook up crispy, not soggy — and I like to use a cast iron pan for even browning.” And stay vigilant, advises Evens. “Some bread/butter combinations are going to burn too quickly. I suggest not using high heat, and if you are using a frying pan, keep a lid over the sandwich before flipping.”

Gourmet grilled cheese recipes

While the basics — bread and cheese — are delicious, why not mix up the grilled cheese formula? Keep reading to check out some of our favorite creative variations on the classic grilled cheese sandwich.

Johnny Apple Cheese

Close up photo of a grilled cheese sandwich with apples and bacon.
bhofack2/Getty Images

Apples add a sweet crunch, which serve as the perfect foil to the salty bacon. (But really, what doesn’t bacon make better?)


  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • Butter or mayonnaise
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • Granny Smith apple slices
  • 3 strips cooked bacon


  1. Spread one side of each slide of bread with butter or mayonnaise; place in pan on medium heat, greased side down. 
  2. Place cheddar on bread so all of bread is covered, then top one slide of bread with apple slices so cheese and bread are completely covered. 
  3. Add bacon strips to other slice of bread and cheese. 
  4. Once cheese is melted, put slices together. Serves 1.

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwich with chicken and spinach stacked on a wooden table.
creacart/Getty Images

This recipe adds a spicy, satisfying kick to the classic staple.


  • ¼ cup blue cheese
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • ¼ cup blue cheese salad dressing
  • 1 Tbs. hot pepper sauce
  • 4 oz. deli-sliced roast chicken breast
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
  • 8 tsp. butter, at room temperature


  1. Combine blue cheese salad dressing and hot pepper sauce; spread over 4 bread slices. 
  2. Top with cheese, chicken and spinach, dividing evenly. 
  3. Top with remaining bread and spread butter over the outsides of sandwiches.
  4. Cook 5-7 minutes per side. 

Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese

Bacon, egg and cheese grilled sandwich.
Arx0nt/Getty Images

We like to use cinnamon-raisin bread for a surprising hint of sweetness, but you can swap in white bread if you prefer.


  • 8 American cheese slices
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 8 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
  • 4 scrambled eggs
  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • 8 tsp. Butter, room temperature


  1. Divide cheese, tomato, eggs and bacon among 4 bread slices. 
  2. Top with remaining bread and spread butter over the outsides of sandwiches.
  3. Cook 2-3 minutes per side. 

Five Cheese Bonanza

Closeup photo of toasted sandwich with melted cheese. Sandwich is on a white plate.
etorres69/Getty Images

Extra cheese means extra flavor, plus the addition of avocado brings up the creaminess factor!


  • 3 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter or mayonnaise
  • 2 slices Cheddar cheese
  • 1 slice mozzarella cheese
  • 1 slice pepper-Jack cheese
  • 1 slice provolone cheese
  • ¼ avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced


  1. Spread one side of each slice with butter or mayonnaise place in pan on medium heat, greased side down. 
  2. Cover all 3 slices with cheese. Once cheese is melted, put avocado on 2 slices and put sandwich together. Serves 1.

Looking for more delicious sandwich tips and recipes? Check out our stories below.

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Alton Brown’s Stovetop Trick For Cooking the Perfect Burger Is Pure Genius (and Makes Tasty Patties Without a Grill)

Smokehouse Chef’s Easy Secret To Your Best-Ever Fried Bologna Sandwich

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