5 Brilliant Grilled Cheese Hacks to Elevate Your Sandwich Game, According to Experts

Toasty bread and melty cheese are already delicious, but there are plenty of ways to upgrade the kid-favorite sandwich. Learn some truly innovative ways to take grilled cheese sandwiches from basic to masterpiece.

One of my favorite childhood meals was a bowl of my mom's vegetable soup paired with a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with melty American cheese. The combination is still a go-to comfort food meal for me, but my love for food (especially cheese) ventured out to different types of cheeses and variations on the toasty sandwich. A basic grilled cheese is simply bread, cheese, with the spread of your choice (butter, mayo, or ghee) on the outside to get it nice and crispy on a stove top or griddle. Since April is National Grilled Cheese Month, I sought advice from some professional chefs and experts in the cheese industry for new ideas on how to make grilled cheese at home better than ever. Let me tell you, I found some great stuff. Here are some amazing grilled cheese hacks that will totally change your sandwich game.

1. Direct-Melt the Cheese

Luke Zahm, James Beard-nominated chef, owner of Driftless Cafe, and TV host of Wisconsin Foodie found there's much more beyond the butter vs. mayo vs. ghee on grilled cheese debate (though for the record, he prefers butter). "I begin the melting process by adding the cheese to the griddle on its own, then adding the buttered bread, then adding the cheese that's melted to the toasted bread," he says. "It allows that beautiful cheese to melt into that gooey molten deliciousness of culinary excellence." Zahm uses a professional griddle to melt the cheese, but he says home cooks can easily achieve this method using an indoor grill such as the George Foreman Grill ($20, Walmart).

2. Change Up the Ingredients

Changing up the flavor profile is also one of Zahm's favorite grilled cheese hacks. He encourages you to get "funky with it" and try adding jalapeño jelly, apple butter, or even sliced grapes to your sandwich. You can even spread your favorite jam or jelly spread on top of the toasted bread. "It allows for some of the complexity of the cheese to shine through by counterpointing with acid and sugar," he says.

3. Use Your Air Fryer

If you've heard of the, "What's a video that lives in your head rent-free?" trend on TikTok, this Instagram video by cookbook author and celebrity chef Carla Hall is mine. It's a simple grilled cheese sandwich of what appears to be shredded cheddar, sliced Muenster, and pesto. The celebrity chef is team mayonnaise and slathers the bread with the condiment instead of butter before toasting the grilled cheese to perfection in the air fryer ($89, Walmart) for 10 minutes.

4. Add Flavor to the Butter or Oil

Before adding your butter or oil, try infusing it with flavorful ingredients such as garlic or herbs. The team of chefs at Violife did this with garlic and both plant-based butter and olive oil for their vegan grilled cheese sandwich. (Yes, you can enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches that are dairy-free and plant-based, too.) "Adding a clove of garlic to the pan infuses the plant butter with great flavor. The end result is a delicious garlic bread-style grilled cheese," says Lydia Yeakel, corporate executive chef at Upfield.

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Bonfire grilling cheeses develop a char on the outside and get melty on the inside without making a mess. Courtesy of Champignon North America

5. Grill the Cheese (Literally)

Cheeses such as halloumi or Bonfire Soft Ripened Grilling Cheese have a high melting point and are literally grilled (or baked) to achieve a crisp exterior and warm, creamy center. Cooking cheese on the grill adds another dimension of flavor to create a truly decadent "grilled cheese." It's delicious served on bread, but the pros at Champignon North America recommend serving it over salad or with grilled vegetables for a healthy and modern twist on the traditional grilled cheese. So if you're looking for a grilled cheese without carbs or gluten, this method is about to become your new best friend.

Craving a sandwich yet? Keep your toasty sandwich menu strong by trying out one of our favorite grilled cheese recipes. Or keep things healthier with a quick sandwich recipe for your next work lunch.

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