Gourmet Grilled Cheese: Three Twists On A Classic

Grilled cheese is a classic childhood staple, an ooey, gooey lunchtime delight beloved by kids and foodies alike. Whether it’s served with potato chips or a bowl of homemade tomato soup, it stands as a simple, no-frills masterpiece.

Grilled cheese – or “toasted cheese” as it’s known in some corners of the world – is also versatile, a sandwich waiting to be dressed up by creative chefs and home cooks. With the right combination of bread, cheese, and a few extra ingredients, you can transform these sandwiches from simple to gourmet.

The Bread

Bread is the foundation of your grilled cheese sandwich. White sliced bread has been the bread of choice because it provides a good seal and is a nostalgic reminder of Mom’s grilled cheese. She likely made her grilled cheese with two pieces of white Wonder Bread and a slice of Kraft American cheese.

However, times have changed, and so has the grilled cheese. Sourdough or hearty, country white breads are a nice twist on Wonder Bread. Make sure the bread isn’t sliced too thick because the cheese won’t melt. Switch up your sandwich by trying other styles of bread like Pullman, Ciabatta, multigrain, and pumpernickel.

The Cheese

Mom probably used individually wrapped, pre-packaged cheese singles back in the day. Now that you’re making the sandwich, you should use cheese with more complex flavor. To add an extra layer of complexity, use a combination of cheeses to create a deeper flavor profile. Choose one cheese for flavor, and the other to create texture.

American cheese, extra-sharp Cheddar, and mild, creamy Monterey Jack are great texture bases. You can up the ante and create a deeper flavor palette by using Edam, Gouda, Gruyere, or Manchego. For an added pop of flavor, sprinkle a little cheese on the outside of the bread before you toast it. It creates a delicious, super-crisp crust.

Yet, not every cheese makes the cut for your sandwich. Aged hard cheeses like Pecorino and crumbly cheeses such as goat or Stilton don’t melt well, creating a lumpy mess of a sandwich.

The Bells and Whistles 

Pickles, capers, cucumbers, jalapeños, mangoes, green apples, black bean hummus, Maine lobster… chefs layer all sorts of artisan ingredients into their signature grilled cheese to create a high-end specialty sandwich. British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has even been known to add a layer of leftover mashed potatoes to his grilled cheese. While grilled cheese purists may balk at such an outside-the-griddle ingredient, Oliver claims it’s “insanely good.”

In the end, however, it’s all about personal taste. Just make sure the bread you choose is hearty enough to stand up to the extra ingredients. While few will agree on what ingredients make a perfect gourmet grilled cheese, everyone agrees that a collapsed, soggy sandwich is an epic lunch fail.

Now grab the bread, slice the cheese, and fire up the stove. These three grilled cheese recipes take the childhood classic to a whole new level.

Click on the tabs below to see the different recipes.

Pear and Bacon Grilled Cheese
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
What is it about the sweet and salty flavor combination that we love so much? The contrast of flavors in this pear and bacon grilled cheese creates a mouthwatering combination that no one can resist. If ham and pineapple are your go-to pizza toppings, then you’ll love this savory grilled cheese upgrade.
Pear and Bacon Grilled Cheese
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
What is it about the sweet and salty flavor combination that we love so much? The contrast of flavors in this pear and bacon grilled cheese creates a mouthwatering combination that no one can resist. If ham and pineapple are your go-to pizza toppings, then you’ll love this savory grilled cheese upgrade.
Servings
1serving
Servings
1serving
Ingredients
  • 2 slices Bread
  • 2 slices Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tbsp Fig Jam
  • 2 slices bacon cooked
  • 1/4 Pear sliced thinly
Servings: serving
Units:
Ingredients
  • 2 slices Bread
  • 2 slices Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tbsp Fig Jam
  • 2 slices bacon cooked
  • 1/4 Pear sliced thinly
Servings: serving
Units:
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over low heat.
  2. Spread the fig jam on the bread. Layer the cheese, bacon, and pear slices on top.
  3. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until the cheese is melted.  
Share this Recipe
Grilled Ham and Cheese with Tapenade
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Grilled cheese may be an American classic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it an international twist. Ham and tapenade provide a Spanish flare, creating a lunch reminiscent of a square in Barcelona. Ham up your lunch with this tasty recipe.
Grilled Ham and Cheese with Tapenade
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Grilled cheese may be an American classic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it an international twist. Ham and tapenade provide a Spanish flare, creating a lunch reminiscent of a square in Barcelona. Ham up your lunch with this tasty recipe.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup Spanish Green Olives pitted and chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove minced
  • 1 tbsp Parsley minced
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Crushed Red Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 oz Gouda or Edam Cheese sliced
  • 3 oz Ham sliced thinly
  • Crusty Peasant Bread enough for four sandwiches
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup Spanish Green Olives pitted and chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove minced
  • 1 tbsp Parsley minced
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Crushed Red Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 oz Gouda or Edam Cheese sliced
  • 3 oz Ham sliced thinly
  • Crusty Peasant Bread enough for four sandwiches
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Combine olives, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and olive oil in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, creating tapenade. 
  2. Lightly brush four slices of bread with olive oil. Turn the bread over, spread tapenade, and top with cheese and ham.  
  3. Cook the sandwich over medium heat. Grill on each side for 5-6 minutes.
Share this Recipe
Basil Butternut Grilled Cheese
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Basil Butternut Grilled Cheese
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings
1serving
Servings
1serving
Ingredients
  • 2 slices Gluten Free Bread
  • 2 oz Dairy Free Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Roasted Butternut Squash pureed
  • 1/2 Tomato sliced thinly
  • Fresh Basil chopped (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
Servings: serving
Units:
Ingredients
  • 2 slices Gluten Free Bread
  • 2 oz Dairy Free Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Roasted Butternut Squash pureed
  • 1/2 Tomato sliced thinly
  • Fresh Basil chopped (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
Servings: serving
Units:
Instructions
  1. Combine pureed butternut squash, cheese, basil, salt, and pepper in a frying pan.
  2. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese begins to melt. Remove from the heat, and spoon the cheese and butternut squash mixture onto bread. Add sliced tomato and top with the other slice of bread.
  3. Wipe the frying pan clean, and add coconut oil. Toast sandwich on each side until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. 
Share this Recipe