The 5 Very Best Types of Bread for a Grilled Cheese

published Apr 12, 2024
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overhead shot of a grilled cheese sandwich cut diagonally, with a cheese pull.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

A grilled cheese sandwich is the epitome of comfort food. It’s super simple to make and endlessly customizable. You can opt for a simple classic, add a few slices of tomato, or go open-faced. You can turn it into breakfast by adding eggs, or transform one into dinner with sloppy Joe filling or vegetables like zucchini or spinach and artichokes. And the cheese choices are never-ending — just about any cheese can find a home in the right grilled cheese.

However you like yours, it’s important to remember that bread choice is as important as the cheese and other fillings. The right bread can make or break your sandwich, so we’ve rounded up our favorite varieties to make a great sandwich — no matter what your perfect version is.

Quick Overview

So, What Is the Best Bread for Grilled Cheese?

For the ideal grilled cheese, look for bread with a soft-but-hearty texture with even slices of medium thickness (about 1/4 inch). Hearty sandwich bread, sourdough, brioche, and rye all work very well. Avoid rolls and loaves with large holes in the interior.

Tips for Selecting the Best Bread for Grilled Cheese

  • Opt for sliced bread. Even slices mean your grilled cheese will cook evenly. No one wants unmelted pockets of cheese in their sandwich. If your bread choice isn’t pre-sliced, take extra care to slice it evenly — and not too thickly! — yourself.
  • Choose a loaf with a uniform texture. Bread with an open crumb or holes in the interior can allow melted cheese to leak out of the sandwich when cooking.
  • Avoid rolls. When making a grilled cheese, the interior of the bread should make contact with the pan so it can get nice and crispy. The interior is more porous than the crust, making it ideal for soaking up the flavors of melted butter and/or mayo slathered on the outside of the sandwich. A roll is all crust on the exterior — not the best choice for a grilled cheese.

Sandwich Bread

If you’re going for a classic grilled cheese sandwich, look no further than a loaf of sandwich bread. Pre-sliced bread is a great option because the uniform thickness helps ensure even heat distribution through the sandwich when cooking. Sandwich bread tends to be soft and light, which is perfect for a grilled cheese. Don’t limit yourself to white bread — whole-wheat, multigrain, oatmeal, and potato bread all make great grilled cheeses. Just be sure to opt for one with a bit of a heartier texture; you don’t want the bread to completely flatten out when pressed down in the pan. 

Sourdough

Sourdough bread is a great choice to add a little tang to your grilled cheese. The slightly sharp flavor of sourdough is a great contrast to the richness of the cheese and butter in the sandwich. Look for a loaf with a uniform texture, as the large holes in a rustic loaf may allow melty cheese to leak out.

Brioche

Buttery brioche makes a great grilled cheese sandwich. The texture is soft, but sturdy enough to hold up during pan-frying. Brioche is an enriched bread that includes ingredients like eggs and sugar. That means it browns more quickly than other breads, so keep an eye on it, as you may need to cook your grilled cheese over a lower heat to avoid burning the exterior. Look for loaves of brioche that can be sliced, rather than rolls, which don’t make great grilled cheeses.

Rye

Another option to add extra flavor to a grilled cheese is rye bread, which gets its flavor from rye berries and the addition of caraway seeds. Light rye is made with rye flour, while dark rye uses both rye flour and additional ingredients like molasses. Whether you choose light rye, dark rye, or opt for both with a loaf of marbled rye, you can’t go wrong. Rye is a great complement to mild cheeses like Swiss, Gruyère, or Gouda.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

A bit of an unorthodox choice, but if you’re looking for a mix of sweet and savory in your next grilled cheese, look no further than cinnamon raisin bread. We like to contrast the sweetness of the bread with savory heavy hitters like bacon and Muenster cheese, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and experiment with your own flavor combinations.