Grilled Cheese Manifesto

I’ve been begging for a grilled cheese sandwich for a week now.  Have I gotten one?  Well, yeah.  Finally.  Seriously, you would think that I know enough people who cook that I could have gotten one in under a week.  Instead I just got to hear stories about people’s favorite ways to make grilled cheese.  So when I finally got to a place where I could make one, that I was forced to go for 5 different grilled cheese sandwiches.  And then I tossed in a couple more.


Chi-Lake Special in happy little grilled cheese pan.  

What is the perfect grilled cheese?  I say the perfect grilled cheese always has buttery (using real butter*) browned bread slices, melted cheese, and something acidic, generally mustard – totally non-negotiable. The rest is wide open as the heavens with cheeses and breads for stars.  (I really can’t help but get all poetic about melted cheese and bread.)  You are limited by your imagination alone.

And perhaps your cooking skills.  I still do a have a happy place in my culinary repertoire for grilled cheese sandwiches made from Velveeta and homepride wheat bread, yep, you guessed it, just like mom used to make.  Processed cheeses and pre-sliced bread does offer expediency and the ability for the cook to not  pay much attention to the ever important melting vs. browning times.  However, you do miss out on a myriad of potential flavors.  Really, all that’s necessary is to cook over medium heat and cover the pan so that harder cheeses will melt before the bread is burned.

So… breathe deep… think cheese.  Hmmm.  Lovely gooey melted cheese slowly seeping out between slices of bread.  It’s time to move beyond cheddar.  After you’re done limiting yourself – throw a party.  Have yourself a grilled cheese and wine party.  Mix, match and otherwise gorge yourself with a melted cheese and bread tasting.  Yum.

Here is my grilled pictorial.  Join the revolution.  Tell me your favorites.  Throw a party to find more favorites.  Viva the grilled cheese!

* There will be NO fake butter!  I don’t care that it’s not as spreadable cold, heat it up!


Farmer, Blue Cheese, Basil & Red Wine, Balsamic Vinegar Reduction**

Take 1 1/4 c red wine and 1/4 c balsamic vinegar and bring to just boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by at least half around 1/2 – 2/3 c.  Cool and store until needed.



Get yourself a rustic loaf of bread.  Slice it into thin to medium slices.  Roll some basil leaves together and slice 1/4 – 1/2″ slices.



Butter slices of bread top with slices of farmer cheese, sprinkle with blue cheese, basil and press down.  Add top slice of bread and press down again.  Cover pan and cook over medium heat, flip when bottom is browned.  Cover and cook until the other side is browned.



Drizzle with reduction sauce and enjoy.

** another variation is Drunken Goat Cheese, Sauteed Onion, Oregano with Port Reduction Sauce


Cheddar, Chevre & Salsa on Sourdough


Cheddar gets sliced, goat cheese gets crumbled.  

Salsa gets reduced.  Most salsas are a bit too thin to just ladle onto grilled cheese, so generally I’ll saute up some thickly sliced onion, cook that until tender, then throw in the salsa and simmer that until it gets thicker.



Butter one sides of thin(ish) sliced sourdough bread, put down 1/2 of the cheddar slices, press crumbled goat cheese into cheddar, ladle on some salsa, top with the rest of the cheddar and the other slice of bread.  

Cover pan and cook over medium heat, flip when bottom is browned.  Cover and cook until the other side is browned.



Cheddar & Romano on Caraway Rye with Mustard


Slice up some caraway rye bread.



Grate some romano cheese.



Butter bread one side, place butter side down in hot pan, cover with slices of cheddar and grating of romano.  Cover pan and cook over medium heat, flip when bottom is browned.  Cover and cook until the other side is browned.


Serve with mustard.



Gruyere with Bacon, Green Onions & Tobasco on Sourdough


Cook bacon until it reaches your desired doneness.  Remove from pan and pat the grease off.  Cut bread into thinish slices.  Brush one side of bread with bacon fat.  YES, that was, “brush one side of bread with bacon fat.”


Put bread fat side down in pan over medium heat.  Add on cheese, green onions, bacon and splatter with tobasco.  Cover pan and cook, flipping when bottom is browned.  Cover and cook until the other side is browned.


Chi-Lake Cafe Special Grilled Cheese – American cheese, tomato, onion with mayo on wheat bread

You had to be sleeping with the cook to get this one, but it was totally worth the cost.  (He still has a really nice ass.)


Thinly slice tomato and onion.  Butter one side of each slice of bread.



Happy little Lodge cast iron grilled cheese pan.  It’s really more cute than functional, but it works well for regular slices of bread and like all of Lodge’s pans it browns things up really well.

Place bread, butter side down in pan.  Add on slices of cheese, tomato & onion.  Spread a bit of mayo on the other slice of bread and place it mayo side down on the sandwich.  Cook until bread is browned.  Flip and cook until the other side is brown and cheese is melted.



Serve with mustard.


A Triple Creme Cheese, Marscapone, Granny Smith Apple Slices & Honey on Brioche

Sorry, no pictures yet.

Slice brioche to whatever thickness you want, butter one side of each slice.  Slice apples very thinly.  Put bread butter-side down into pan, cover with slices of triple creme cheese, dot with marscapone, place apples on. Cook until bread is browned.  Flip and cook until the other side is brown and cheese is melted.

Drizzle with warmed honey or chocolate ganache.  (Yes, seriously, you can drizzle with chocolate ganache.)


85 thoughts on “Grilled Cheese Manifesto

  1. Love your selection of grilled cheesiness!

    I tend not to be able to resist the classic cheddar-tomato-onion-on-wholewheat combination myself, to which I add a pinch of cumin or some cumin seeds, and munch with some homemade pickles. Hungry now…

  2. Wow! How did you know grilled cheeses are my favorite. Great title, too. Who can pass up the the title “grilled cheese manifesto.” I’m off to stumble it….

  3. Chocolate – go for it. I highly recommend eating grilled cheese as often as you can.

    nadia – Yes! It is good.

    kat – sure, you know where I live. Just remember to bring the cheese.

    Spud – yes, yes, yes!

    sara – thanks!

    Me – Secretly it’s everybody’s favorite I think. Thanks!

  4. Just stumbled upon this site… a post about one of my all-time favorite foods. My favorite is aged cheddar, caramelized onions, thin granny smith apple slices, and a honey-balsamic reduction on sourdough. so so so good. My brother’s favorite way (homage to our Southwestern upbringing) is cheddar and pepper jack, salsa, bell peppers and avocado on wheat bread.

  5. I was so pleased to see that Gruyere made your list, as well as bacon drippings. My personal fav is a sharp cheddar with tomato slices. But instead of buttering the bread (hold your breath), I use mayo. Not that foul substitute salad dressing but real mayo. Really enjoyed the article, cover me, I’m going back for more.

  6. I am a lifelong admirer of the grilled cheese wonder, but not until your post has someone given it the glory this sandwich truly deserves so to that I say ‘BRAVO’! One of my all-time favorite combinations is sharp white cheddar, avocado, tomato, alfalfa sprouts with a touch of spicy dijon mustard on a nice jewish rye. YUM!

  7. I LOVE a good grilled cheese. My all time favorite is gilled ham, cheddar, and tomato (what my mom used to make in a fancy cast iron round sandwich maker), but I too love to experiment (cave aged gruyere and prosciutto anyone?). Great post!

  8. I am in love with your blog because of this one post. Seriously, you hooked me with your amazing grilled cheeses. This page is grilled cheese heaven. You kick ass.

  9. Oh my my my…those look wonderful. Secretly, I am partial to the Velveeta grilled cheese. My mom didn’t make them that way, but they just get so ooey gooey great. But I would shove Velveeta aside in a minute for your bleu cheese and basil with the balsamic reduction. Droool.

  10. Rachel – Nice! and thank you!

    Andrea – I love moms with gadgets to make fancy sandwiches. Excellent!

    sgfoodlover, Maya, Joie – Thanks!

    heather – Happy to do it.

    HungryinSW – You are very welcome.

  11. my personal favorite is one i replicate from my favorite restaurant. aged cheddar with thin slices of crisp apple. its amazing in fall.

  12. Pingback: Yup…cheese. « Kraftworkin

  13. Don’t forget the horseradish! Even Velveeta on Wonder Bread is vastly improved by spreading just a bit of horseradish on the inside prior to grilling!

    Every grilled cheese sandwich is better with horseradish.

  14. Joan – yes, it really is all about the bread and cheese, and the love of bread and cheese. Thanks!

    bunnygotblog – Thanks!

    jadoremonet – Yum! Thanks for sharing that one.

    Lauren, marafaye – Thanks!

    toni – yum, and you’re welcome.

    Max – no it’s not a cheese toasie! They are anemic paled comparisons to the real thing!

    jehingr – horseradish – hm I’m going to have to try that.

    Seth – you’re welcome!

    beverlyz – it really is.

    adventurefood – agreed.

  15. thin sliced ham (the best you can find or make), homemade pimento cheese, a bit of dijon on the ham side. Grill until the pimento cheese melts.


    Sauteed Mexican chorizo, onions and green stuffed olives mixed with grated cotija cheese, topped with Oaxacan, Asadero, or Chihuahua cheese. Grilled on bolillo rolls or sliced french bread.

  16. i love chocolate anything and i love grilled cheese–done right.
    you have created masterpieces here.
    who was the lucky person that got to share in all these?
    simply perfect.

  17. Pingback: States Of Cheese

  18. Hell. Looks like you’ve got toastin’ down to a t! T for ‘toastie’ that is! And the photography is just stunning. Gorge Foreman will have to clean his keyboard if he stumbles on this one!

  19. You’re right Mrs.Marv and I apologise, at time of press I was angry with the world and grilled cheese was footing the bill. I do believe in cheese and bread, especially when heated. Hast thou ventured unto the realms of Branston? There you’ll find a worthy suitor for the sandwiched cheese of embered flame 😉

  20. Nice ideas…but pertaining to the beginning explanation of the “perfect” grilled cheese. I’ve had probably over a million grilled cheeses from San Fran to Moscow and I don’t think mustard has ever been in the equation…or at least certainly not “non-negotiable” But whatever.

  21. My personal favourite grilled cheese of all time: dill havarti on a light rye. I like to add a bit of ham, but it’s entirely optional.

  22. Holy frijoles!! Talk about some serious food porn!I wish I were the lucky gent who got the exclusive sandwich.Try pepper havarti with avacado and bleu cheese on a dense cracked wheat.

  23. i wish you could add mine! its whole grain bread, buttered and sprinkled with garlic salt. cheese: muenster & pepper jack. cook pieces of bread & cheese separately. meanwhile, you need 3 eggs, bits of extra cheese and whatever you like in omelets. Don’t make an omelet though, make sort of scrambled eggs with two of the eggs and with whatever ingredients you want (i enjoy mushrooms, onions, and sprouts). Usually, it cooks quickly so once the bread & cheese are almost done, then start the eggs. Slip the bread on a plate and pile the eggs onto each piece and squish together to make the sandwich. Then, cook a quick sunny side up egg and place it on top of the sandwich, and cut it so the yolk spills everywhere. and your done! its incredibly delicious. if you forget the scrambled eggs, its easier and faster and delicious as well.

  24. Fermat – Nice! I’m going to have to try those.

    dawn – Marv did/does. And, yes, he does not know how lucky he is.

    Cheese me – Thank you.

    Max – No prob – and Branston where? I’m happy for a new suitor.

    Bill – you are so missing out – but I do stress that it’s more of a contrasting flavor be it acid, tart or something else

    hooza – alrighty then

    Eric – nice

    rrrick – excellent! My kind of man!

    ianwins – awesome! I’ll have to try that.

    muddywaters – Woo hoo! Welcome to the revolution.

    Renee – wow! that was alot. I’ll try that.

  25. Anyone who had a problem spreading butter onto a grilled cheese sandwich was wasting their time. Put the butter in the pan (if it burns, your pan is too hot). Place the bread on the butter. It doesn’t even have to be completely melted; it will spread out under the bread. Top the bread… That’s right, assemble the sandwich in the pan.

    To turn: Lift sandwich with spatula, hold. Re-butter pan with other hand (you have two, no need to waste them). Flip sandwich onto new butter. Most efficient way to make grilled cheese for a whole mess of people, guaranteed.

    I have hosted several grilled cheese and wine parties already. Catering is the easiest! With $50 I buy 9 kinds of cheese, 4 kinds of bread, and a few bottles of decent wine. I let my guests bring their own sandwich ideas! I get to try more grilled cheese that way.

  26. Like everyone else, I adore cheese sandwiches. My current fave is french bread, provolone and tomatoes. Brush bread with olive oil instead of butter. Serve with olives.

    There is something to be said for the what my husband calls The Ultimate White Trash grilled cheese made with “government cheese”. If you’re like, employed and don’t have access to the real stuff, Velveeta will do. Instead of butter, use mayo thinly spread on white bread. To be clear, the mayo side goes on the skillet. Grill low and slow and serve with dill pickles.

  27. I always thought there was only one type of grilled cheese sandwich…maybe two (with or without tomatoes)… What a mistake! This post has been an eye-opener! Thank you!

  28. i have never in my life seen something that has made me so hungry, so incredibly quick. it is as if i need to print this out, leave work NOW, go home, and make all of them………… printing now. out!

  29. My favorite grilled cheese: Caraway rye, buttered on the grilling sides. Slices of cooper sharp cheese. Medium thin slices of red onion. Grill, and serve with plain old ketchup.

  30. You inspired me; today for dinner I made a grilled baby swiss and feta sandwich. I sprinkled the buttery side with garlic salt and oregano before I started cooking, and I added tomato, onion, italian dressing, and fresh basil to the hot, gooey final product. Yummy!

  31. Grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food. I was brought up with open grilled cheese sandwiches, on thick bakery bread, topped with cheddar, swiss, and occasionally mozzarella, with garlic salt and nutmeg sprinkled on. Broil it for just a few minutes, and you have yourself cheesy gooey goodness. Gotta start branching out with the cheeses though!

  32. Iva – You’re welcome!

    db – Thank you!

    js – that’s the whole reason I had to make so many!

    jacki – yum!

    Liz – very nice.

    Harry – Thanks!

    Patricia – I totally agree. And yes, if you haven’t you do!

    melissa – Try it sometime. I have gotten many a strange look in truck stops with dunking my grilled cheese in mustard, but it makes me happy.

  33. Pingback: New Ideas for Grilled Cheese - The WebZappr

  34. I love this post- a grilled cheese can be so much more than plastic-wrapped slices on white. My favorites- open faced Jewish rye with swiss, broiled until bubbly and spread with mayo, and the irish grilled cheese – shredded Dubliner mixed with scallions and cream cheese, spread between slices of rustic bread,dipped in beaten egg and grilled!

  35. YUM. I’m always a fan of grilled sandwiches, especially those starring cheese!

    My favorite is to mix grated smoked cheddar with chopped broccoli and mayonnaise, spread it between to slices of sprouted grain bread, butter the outsides then grill.


  36. I’m going to have to agree with Andrea 100%. I love ham and tomato on my grilled cheese. The salty taste of the ham with the tang of the tomato and the smooth touch of cheddar…deliciously simple. Sometimes I use American “cheese” and this is the ONLY thing I will use it for because I hate American cheese. I’m not sure if it’s because I just hate the taste or if it’s because it’s not really a cheese and as a cheese lover I don’t like anything parading around as cheese when it is clearly not worthy =) I never get too fancy with the bread though. I love a good white bread or sourdough.

    Grilled cheese gripe: when people use the butter (usually margarine..yuck!) on the INSIDE. Somewhere along the line someone told them the butter was to hold the cheese on the bread. They actually believe it and now they put the bare bread on the pan and let the butter melt on the cheese. It’s such a travesty. Not as bad as my ex boyfriend’s grilled cheese: White bread, American cheese, margarine (on the inside!)…he toasts the bread in the toaster, puts the margarine and cheese on the inside and then microwaves it. That should have been a clue. =)

  37. I wish my mom made me some of the fancy grilled cheese sandwiches growing up rather than the ordinary one! They look so good, I am going to have to make these asap! Thank you very much for spoiling my diet plans =)

  38. Your photos make me cry for grilled cheese! Wonderful post, and inspiring. I happen to love black olives on my grilled cheese, but I may have to try some different stuff soon!


    Your entry made me so hungry. Unfortunately I read it at first at 4AM so I put off my grilled cheese craving for a while. I made myself a simple American on white and then I saw that I had sourdough and extra sharp cheddar in the house!

    The extra sharp cheddar on sourdough has to be one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve EVER eaten!

  40. MMMmmmm I want to try every one of these! Wow, some really great ideas.

    My current favorite (besides the classic of course) is a very sharp white cheddar with thinly sliced fresh pear and crispy bacon. Sounds weird to some, but it is oh-so-good.

  41. I love the recipes you posted! I will be trying them soon. Thank you. Here is my favorite grilled cheese that always has my friends raving for more:

    The 4-cheese Italian Grilled Cheese:
    2 large slices Italian bread, buttered and sprinkled with garlic salt and a little dried rosemary(all on the outside). Put the following between the slices of bread in this order: 1 oz freshly grated provolone, 2-4 slices of tomato, 1 oz freshly grated mozzarella, 2-4 oz hot capicola (preferably chopped and just previously warmed in a skillet), 1/2 oz grated Asiago and 1/2 oz grated Romano. Cook until bread is browned; flip and cook until other side is browned.

  42. aidian – agreed!

    Deborah, FoodRenegade – YUM!

    Emily – Totally with you on the inside buttering, it’s no good.

    Chantix – You’re welcome!

    Curt – Thank you!

    Alex – you’re welcome and agreed, cheddar + sour dough = yum.

    Kelly – very nice. And you’re clearly not my sister Kelly with that combo!

    Antonio – Sounds excellent.

    Rebecca – Thank you!

    Ingrid – I hope you mean evil in the best way possible.

    tammy – sorry about that! (You can always start again tomorrow.)

    Antony – sounds like a good plan.

    Marilyn – I completely agree.

  43. My favorite is, I grab a small mixer usually a kitchen aid and put goat cheese and cream cheese, the juice from marinating sun dried tomatoes, touch of grainy mustard, honey and whip in together until it is smooth and spreadable. That is the base for the sandwhich and then it varies but my favorite is provolone and smoked gouda. Butter the sides (with real butter of course) and cook to perfection.

  44. These all look great. I prefer to grill my Granny Smith apples outside of the sandwich then put them back in with some artisan-cured bacon, a good whollop of triple-creme brie and a slather of dijon mustard. Delicious!

  45. I made an awesome grilled cheese with Romano cheese and tabbouleh. Adds a new twist, not sure if that is the right cheese however. It was what I had at the time.

  46. Umm… I’ll have what she’s having! 😉 Actually my current favourite grilled cheese is brie, bacon and cranberry sauce. But this orgy of a post has me thinking I may have to try some new combos…

  47. I love all the varations, although I have to admit, when it comes down to cravings I usually find myself wanting something really pure and simple – good white bread, yummy melty cheddar, fresh tomatoes.

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