You know you want it. Maybe you don't let yourself have a grilled cheese sandwich often, or maybe it's not sophisticated enough for your cultured palate. (sniff, sniff) But oh, the combination of crunchy, buttery, and umami flavor oozing from within is enough to break the will of any disciple of denial. At its most alluring, the strands of gold connect your mouth to the sandwich with its gleaming strings of fatty, melted dairy. If not for the children, do it for your country. April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Day in 2017.
Everyone else is doing it anyway. Americans eat a whopping 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches per year, according to the NPD Group Inc., a consumer research firm. The math is simple: Bread plus cheese plus heat equals perfection (times 10). Watch our video of How to Make Grilled Cheese. And if you have a cheesy friend — don't we all? — check our guide to buying cheese gifts, and our Guide to Entertaining with Cheese.
But you can dress it up further, beyond bread, butter, and cheese. In Albany, New York, the grilled cheese cafe Capitol Melts creates childhood favorites as well as twists on the classic – like the one with red pepper, pesto, and spinach and another with Buffalo wing flavors. Get more of your fix of ooey-gooey comfort from our multi-use Grilled Cheese page and take this quiz: What Melted Cheese Is This?.
Grilled cheese is the great diplomat of snacks: It pleases everyone (with the exception of the no-dairy and no-wheat contingents). Here are 10 variations on a theme, with a few liberties taken, all warm, gooey, crisp, and satisfying. Try one (or two, or three) of our favorite grilled cheese recipes:
This may seem like a strange pairing for a toasted sandwich, but try it. The grapes get a soaking in grappa to boost the fruit’s floral qualities, and the Taleggio’s melty-ness contrasts fabulously against the crunch of the whole wheat bread. Get our Grape and Taleggio Grilled Cheese recipe.
2. Roasted Beet and Chèvre
The combo of roasted beets and chèvre is normally found in French salads topped with vinaigrette, but it’s even tastier as a sandwich. To mimic the flavors of the classic café salad, the roasted beets are dipped in vinegar before being sandwiched. Get our Roasted Beet and Chèvre Grilled Cheese recipe.
3. Sweet Hot Mustard and Jarlsberg
The ballpark classic of soft pretzels with mustard, and a favorite quick bite of Jarlsberg and hard pretzels, turned into a great grilled sandwich. It combines homemade pretzel rolls and mustard, and it’s worth the extra effort. Get our Sweet Hot Mustard and Jarlsberg Grilled Cheese recipe.
4. Sun-Dried Tomato, Parsley, and Manchego
Here we chopped up everything to ensure the flavors blended as thoroughly as possible. The punches of intense tomato, herby parsley, and nutty cheese make for a tasty snack. Get our Sun-Dried Tomato, Parsley, and Manchego Grilled Cheese recipe.
5. Apple and Aged Cheddar
Apples and cheese are a classic snack that improves with the application of heat. Our version puts apple and aged cheddar between slices of walnut bread for a nutty, sweet taste. Get our Apple and Aged Cheddar Grilled Cheese recipe.
6. Asian Pear and Gouda
The apple-and-cheese combination got us thinking about other crispy-fruity-cheesy matches. We came up with Asian pear and Gouda, which has quickly become a Chowhound favorite. Get our Asian Pear and Gouda Grilled Cheese recipe.
7. Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam Panino
This Italian version of grilled cheese has it all. And "it" means this sweet-salty take that’s a real crowd-pleaser. Get our Mozzarella, Prosciutto, and Fig Jam Panino recipe.
8. Black Forest Ham, Caramelized Onions, and Cambozola Grilled Cheese
Ham and cheese is a timeless combination. It only gets tastier when you toast it up in this sandwich with onions. Get our Black Forest Ham, Caramelized Onions, and Cambozola Grilled Cheese recipe.
9. Sautéed Jalapeño and Aged Jack
A makeshift spiced Jack takes shape here. Sautéing the jalapeños mellows their heat and brings out their vegetal taste, while the Jack gives a rich flavor. Get our Sautéed Jalapeño and Aged Jack Grilled Cheese recipe.
10. Banana and Fromage Blanc
We whipped this one up for the sweet tooths among us. Fromage blanc and diced banana are mixed with vanilla then slathered on cinnamon toast for a sandwich that’s just as good for dessert as it is for breakfast. Get our Banana and Fromage Blanc Grilled Cheese recipe.