The key to a great grilled cheese sandwich is choosing the right ingredients and cooking them until golden brown. Learn how to make grilled cheese with a crispy outside and perfect melty inside. We're also sharing recipes for our favorite pair: creative grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup.

By Katlyn Moncada
Updated April 09, 2021
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Grilled cheese sandwiches have been a staple quick, satisfying meal for Americans since the Great Depression. Still today just thinking about that buttery bread packed with melty cheese is enough to make anyone's mouth water. But if you haven't tried making the classic comfort food before (or just want to step up your grilled cheese game), you're in the right place. Here we'll teach you how to make a grilled cheese that rivals any gourmet restaurant version you've tried. Once you learn the grilled cheese-making basics, there are plenty of fresh variations on taking the toasty sammie to the next level. And since grilled cheese is always better with soup, we'll also make sure you're equipped with some delicious homemade tomato soup recipes to dip your grilled cheese.

Get Our Basic Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

Step 1: Choose Your Cheese

A great grilled cheese sandwich starts with the cheese. Choose one or two cheeses (or more!) that's good for melting. Our favorites include American, brie, cheddar, Gouda, Havarti, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Muenster, provolone, smoked cheddar, Swiss, and white cheddar.

Step 2: Choose Your Bread

White, wheat, rye, pumpernickel—sliced bread is your base for making grilled cheese sandwiches. If you're slicing your bread, make it about ½-inch thick. Be sure to keep slices even and similar in size for even browning.

Step 3: Assemble the Sandwich

Since the process goes fast, prep the number of sandwiches you'll be making before you start the cooking process. For each sandwich, a slice of bread with desired cheese. Plan on one to two slices of cheese per sandwich. Top with another slice of bread. Spread or brush both sides of each sandwich with softened butter, mayonnaise, or oil.

Test Kitchen Tip: Try adding a slather of something on the remaining slice of bread for flavor and moisture. Mustard and mayonnaise are popular, though chutney, pesto, tapenade, cranberry sauce, apricot jam, and hummus are quality options as well.

Step 4: Cook the Grilled Cheese

To make grilled cheese on the stove, heat a large skillet ($25, Walmart) or griddle over medium heat. Add sandwich(es) to skillet and cook for about 2 minutes or until bottoms are golden. Flip and repeat until bottoms are golden and the cheese melts. (Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent overbrowning.)

Try Our Peach and Poblano Grilled Cheese Recipe

Upgrade Your Grilled Cheese with Add-Ons

Feel free to make your grilled cheese sandwich with a combination of cheeses along with a few add-ons from the fridge or pantry. Get creative with some of these ideas and include them in Step 3 above.

There you have it! It's a simple process, but once you know how to make grilled cheese, you'll be customizing the cheesy sandwich all sorts of different ways. For inspiration, check out some of our best grilled cheese recipes, including smashed peach and poblano (pictured above) and tomato-avocado. To complete your grilled cheese sandwich meal, serve it with the timeless pairing: tomato soup. Try our triple tomato soup or roasted tomato and poblano. To really celebrate the combo, this fresh tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons is an unbeatable recipe.

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