When it comes to comfort food, it doesn’t get much better than grilled cheese. You’ve got gooey, creamy middle plus crispy golden bread—it’s the best combo since peanut butter than jelly (well, I’d go so far to say even better). Of course the basics, like white bread and American cheese, do just fine for this sandwich, but to really transform this classic into the best version of itself, you’ll need something a little extra.
That’s where Taste of Home food stylist and grilled cheese aficionado Josh Rink comes in. Sure, the old way of doing grilled cheese is fine if you’re feeding kids, but for those of us with a more sophisticated palette, Josh shows us that you can really transform this comfort food staple into something special (pssst… get some of our favorite comfort food recipes here).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons finely shredded manchego cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 4 ounces brie cheese, rind removed
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack
- 1/2 cup shredded gruyere
Makes 4 sandwiches.
Step 1: Choosing ingredients
Old way: White bread + American cheese
Our way: Sourdough + five cheeses
RMS 222725; Best Ever Grilled Cheese; Manchego; Brie; Gruyere; Monterey Jack; Sharp White Cheddar
To make this sandwich the absolute best grilled cheese you’ve ever tasted, you’re going to have to rely on more than a single cheese. Josh recommends a combination of five cheeses for this recipe:
- Sharp white cheddar
- Monterey jack
The sharp cheddar is a staple in many sandwiches; in this lineup, it helps provide a bit of tanginess. To balance the cheddar, Josh recommends Monterey jack. Its mellow flavor is a lot like mozzarella, plus it gives the sandwich that “much-desired stringy, cheese-pull effect many of us look forward to when eating a grilled cheese sandwich,” Josh says. Brie will also give some great gooey meltiness, too. Round out your cheese blend with gruyere, which is a bit nutty in flavor, and manchego which provides saltiness and gives you those crispy cheese bits on the outer edge of the sandwich.
While the cheese is the star of the show, you can’t forget the supporting cast. For this grilled cheese, Josh recommends grabbing a loaf of sourdough. A good crusty bread like this will stand up to all the gooeyness going on inside the sandwich, plus it pairs well with the creamy cheese. And the robust flavor of this bread is a good choice, according to Josh: “It won’t get lost when paired with the cheeses.” If you prefer a softer bread for your grilled cheese, you can always use challah or brioche for a more grown-up take.
Want a few bonus points? Make the sourdough yourself—we’ll show you how.
Step 2: Spread
Old way: Plain butter
Our way: Way more than just butter
When it comes to grilled cheese, most of us are used to buttering the bread and slipping a few slices of cheese in before grilling. Taking this recipe to new heights, though, requires just a bit more work. To make the ultimate grilled cheese, mix together three tablespoons of butter, three tablespoons mayonnaise, three tablespoons shredded manchego (or parmesan is OK too) and a touch of onion powder. This will be the spread for the outside of your sandwich—definitely fancier than plain butter! (If you’re looking for a good butter, though, check out the ones we prefer.)
The addition of mayonnaise might seem odd here, but it will really help give your grilled cheese that crisp exterior and give you exceptional browning. And that tiny bit of manchego will help give you some crispy cheese flavor on the outside.
Step 3: Assembly
Old way: Fill + grill
Our way: Grill + fill + grill again
To put this all together, you’ll want to start by buttering one side of each of your slices of bread with the remaining butter. Toast this bread, butter side down on a large skillet (a cast iron one works great!) or electric griddle over medium-low heat until golden brown. Now, this might seem like a lot of extra work, but Josh says this will make a big difference when it comes to the crispiness of the sandwich.
While the slices cool slightly, toss together your shredded cheddar, Monterey jack and gruyere. Then sprinkle this mixture over the toasted side of the bread along with a few slices of brie. You can go ahead and top with another layer of your cheddar mix and then top with the remaining bread slice (toasted side in). Then you’ll want to spread your butter-mayonnaise on the outside of each sandwich. Toast these on medium-low heat—this will help get that great melt inside while not overcooking the outside—until golden brown. This should take about five minutes per side. Once complete, serve right away to take advantage of all that stringy, cheesy goodness. These go great, of course, alongside a homemade tomato soup.
Test Kitchen tip: If you’re planning on making these sandwiches for a party, Josh explains that you can assemble them ahead of time and pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. Then you can cook them on a griddle and keep them warm in the oven—200ºF on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
Make it Your Own
If you really want to impress your guests, Josh says “add fun and unexpected items, like thinly sliced pear and prosciutto or bacon jam and oven-dried tomatoes.” You can snag that bacon jam recipe right here!
Now, clean up your cast iron skillet, grab all the cheese you can handle and get grilling these amazing sandwiches! With that extra crunch, extra creaminess and extra everything, I guarantee you won’t go back to plain white bread and American cheese anytime soon!