5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Grilled Cheese

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The grilled cheese sandwich is a classic. Perfectly melted and oozy cheese, sandwiched between two golden, crisp, buttery slices of bread — it’s simple, comforting, and utterly timeless. It’s one of the first things we learn to cook, and one we carry with us through the years.

But as basic as this sandwich is, there are a few hang-ups that could stand between you and the grilled cheese of your dreams. Don’t let it happen to you.

1. Not using enough fat to coat the bread.

Part of what makes this sandwich so wonderful is the buttery crisp and crunch that comes from toasted bread. When not enough butter or mayo is used to coat the bread, it comes out dry and can toast unevenly.

→ Follow this tip: We like using butter and melting it in the pan, but you can use butter, mayonnaise, or a combination of the two. Either melt it in the pan or spread it on the bread — it all works. The important thing is that you use enough fat to completely coat both slices of bread.

2. Adding too much cheese.

I know, right — is there really such a thing? But yes, when it comes to grilled cheese, there is such a thing as too much cheese. And when it happens, your sandwich goes from being delightfully melty with little oozes of cheese, to unevenly cooked cheese spilling out the sides of the bread in greasy gobs. It’s not appetizing or enjoyable.

→ Follow this tip: This classic sandwich is all about finding just the right balance of toasty bread and melted cheese. Stick with a generous 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of cheese, and you’ll be on your way to grilled cheese perfection.

3. Slicing the cheese too thick.

When sliced too thick, the cheese simply won’t cook all the way through, which means you won’t get that oozy, melty goodness you have your heart set on.

→ Follow this tip: Thinly sliced cheese is a good start, but there’s still a better method: grated cheese. It melts more evenly and quickly than slices, and you’re guaranteed to have just the right balance of toasted bread and melted cheese.

4. Using cheese that doesn’t melt well.

When it comes to the grilled cheese sandwich, not all cheese is created equal. Some varieties were practically made for grilled cheese, while others don’t quite work for this sandwich. Avoid using hard, aged cheeses — like Parmesan or Pecorino — or dry, crumbly cheeses — like goat or feta. While delicious on their own, they don’t melt well and won’t give you the oozy cheese that makes this sandwich.

→ Follow this tip: Use a cheese with good melting qualities, like American, Swiss, Monterey Jack, cheddar, or fontina.

5. Cooking with the heat too high.

It might be hard to accept, but a good grilled cheese requires patience. So resist turning the dial to high heat; it won’t cook your sandwich faster. Instead you’ll end up with burnt bread outside and unmelted, undercooked cheese inside.

→ Follow this tip: Low and slow is the secret to a perfectly cooked grilled cheese sandwich. Keep the stovetop dial set between low and medium heat for an even and well-cooked sandwich.

What are your best tips for making a killer grilled cheese sandwich?