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I’ve been a chef for years. Here are my 4 tips for making the perfect grilled cheese.

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  • As a chef, I’ve learned the best tricks to make the perfect grilled-cheese sandwich every time.
  • The bread you choose is very important because it gives the cheese a place to melt into.
  • Try adding pickled ingredients like sauerkraut or spicy ones like harissa to add flavor.

Grilled cheese is nostalgic comfort food at its finest. Nothing satisfies like thick slices of toasty bread with a layer of melty cheese slipping down the sides.

In the US, early forms of the classic sandwich were typically served open-faced — made easier by the inventions of pre-sliced bread and cheese singles. But there are versions of toasted cheese sandwiches across the world.

There are no hard and fast rules, just pick your favorite bread and cheese. But after working as a chef for 15 years, I have some tips and tricks for making the perfect grilled cheese

The bread you choose is the first important step

sourdough bread toasted about a plain slice of sourdough bread

The cheese has a place to melt into with a bread like sourdough.

Alissa Fitzgerald


I prefer a crusty bread with flavor, texture, and a tight crumb. That way, the cheese has a sturdy place to melt into and I can layer it with abandon.

A rye sourdough is a great option.

Pro tip: If you can’t eat a whole loaf at one time, slice, bag, and freeze the rest. Those slices can be pulled from the freezer and toasted at your leisure.

Pick a melty cheese for the best results 

comté cheese above a toasted slice of sourdough bread

I like to use Comté cheese, which is often used to make fondue.

Alissa Fitzgerald


There are almost too many choices when it comes to cheese. But as far as I’m concerned, the one with the most bang for your buck is Comté, a cow-milk variety from the French Alps.

Similar to Gruyere, it’s known for its semi-firm consistency and melts like a dream.

If you’ve ever heard of raclette (a popular Swiss cheese that’s heated and scrapped over potatoes), Comté is a close cousin and is traditionally made into fondue.

That melty quality is the perfect backdrop for building a great grilled cheese. 

I like to spread butter on the inside of my bread and mayonnaise on the outside

mayo being spread on a slice of sourdough bread

Mayonnaise is perfect for that crispy, toasty exterior.

Alissa Fitzgerald


I’ve learned that some of the best grilled-cheese crusts are made by using mayo instead of butter on the outside of the bread. 

Mayo is mostly emulsified oil, which makes for a perfectly toasty exterior. 

Adding butter to the inside also rounds out the flavor, especially if you’re adding extra ingredients. 

If you’re looking to elevate the sandwich even more, pickled and spicy ingredients work great

placing pickled shallots on a buttered slice of bread

Adding pickled ingredients marries well with the creamy cheese.

Alissa Fitzgerald


I added pickled shallots and Moroccan harissa — a roasted-pepper chile paste — to my sandwich, which married perfectly with the creamy Comté and sourdough bread.

You can also try adding pickled red onions, jalapeños, sliced dill pickles, or even sauerkraut. The sky’s the limit.

completed grilled cheese

With these tips, you’ll have the perfect grilled cheese.

Alissa Fitzgerald


Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of good bread
  • 1/8 to 1/4 pound of Comté, or similar melty cheese
  • 1 tablespoon pickled shallots
  • 1 teaspoon Moroccan harissa, or similar spicy condiment
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Butter to taste

Instructions:

  1. Spread a thin layer of butter on the inside of both pieces of bread.
  2. Layer the harissa on one piece of bread and top it with slices of cheese. 
  3. On the other slice of bread, lay out the pickled shallots before bringing the slices together (the butter helps everything stay in place).
  4. Spread mayo on the outside of the top slice of bread. 
  5. Heat a pan over medium-low and gently place the bread into the pan. Cover for two to four minutes, checking occasionally.
  6. When the bread is toasted and the cheese starts to melt, gently flip the grilled cheese over. Lower the heat and cover for another four to six minutes, checking occasionally.
  7. Remove the sandwich from the pan when cheese is uniformly melted and both sides are nicely toasted.
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