What’s the Best Cheese for Making Grilled Cheese? We Asked 9 Experts.

published Apr 12, 2023
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Grilled Cheese
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Is there a perfect grilled cheese sandwich? Yes, of course there is. But what that cheesy-carby combo looks like on your plate will vary depending on who you are, the time of day, or maybe even what you have on hand in your kitchen. (Sometimes the best grilled cheese is the one that requires zero trips to the grocery store.)

In the name of preparedness and reaching melty perfection, I asked Certified Cheese Professionals at Whole Foods Markets around the country to share the cheeses they’re using in their own grilled cheeses. Some go all-in with a single type of cheese, while others like to mix things up with two and three different cheeses (and spreads and stuffings) for a more layered bite. 

Take a look and consider copying a few from this list for your next shopping trip. Your future grilled cheese-chomping self will be grateful.

Credit: Courtesy of Cowgirl Creamery

1. Wagon Wheel

“My go-to grilled cheese is Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel, kimchi, and Kewpie mayonnaise. Kimchi adds a spicy, acidic element, which cuts through the richness of the cheese, brightens it up, and adds a nice crunch. Wagon Wheel melts perfectly and complements the kimchi with vegetal notes of its own. The Kewpie mayo is tangy and extra eggy, which makes for a wonderful crust!” — Lauren Vance, Whole Foods Market Oakland, CA store

Find it in stores: Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel

2. Havarti and Gouda Slices

“I like to use two good melting cheeses for the base of my grilled cheese, and Havarti paired with sliced young Gouda work really well together. They have good flavor, are easy to work with, and cook at about the same rate, so you don’t run into issues with the bread browning too quickly before the inside of the sandwich is melted. (I like to use multi-grain bread like Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed and mayonnaise instead of butter on the outside to get it nice and crisp.) In the summer, I add thin-sliced tomatoes from the garden and maybe some red onion.” — Andy Piersol, Midwest Regional Team, Chicago, IL 

3. Hika Bay Cheese and an Herby Bellavitano

“The Hika Bay cheese is super melty and creamy, and the Bellavitano adds sharpness, sweetness, and the flavor of the herbs. Both cheeses are exclusive to Whole Foods, and I like pairing them with Divina roasted tomatoes from the Mediterranean bar. Between the herbs on the cheese and the herbs on the tomatoes, it ends up tasting like a pizza sandwich!” — Stephanie Leone, Whole Foods Market Jacksonville Beach, FL store 

Credit: David Madison / Getty Images

4. Gjetost

“This is not your typical grilled cheese; I love Ski Queen Gjetost paired with green apple on walnut levain bread. The caramel apple flavor and gooey cheese richness make this an unexpected winner.” — Nicholas Crosetti, Whole Foods Market Kansas City, MO store (It’s also amazing with oatmeal cookies.)

Buy: Ski Queen Gjetøst, $24 for 8.8 ounces at Amazon

5. Cheddar, Fresh Mozzarella, and Whitney

“I call this the Vermont combo! This combo of Vermont cheeses has the right balance of texture and flavor. The fresh mozzarella and Whitney are ‘melters’ and give the grilled cheese the right stretchiness and ooey-gooey yum of a classic grilled cheese. (Side note: Jasper Hill Farm Whitney won Best in Show at the 2022 American Cheese Society Competition.) The Clothbound Cheddar and Whitney bring earthy and rich sharpness that make for an extra-special bite. I use crusty sourdough bread with smokey North Country Smokehouse thick-cut bacon.” — Bill Pare, North Atlantic Regional Team, Marlborough, MA

Buy: Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and Jasper Hill Farm Whitney, $14.99 for 6 ounces at Jasper Hill Farm; Maplebrook Farm Fresh Mozzarella (find it in stores)

6. Provolone Slices and Bleu Cheese

“Leaning on a milder base cheese like provolone (or muenster or mozzarella) gives your grilled cheese a melty base, but also lets the stronger or more complex cheese really sing. I also like adding a few Divina roasted tomatoes while rubbing down the inner sides of the bread (with the tomatoes to add even more flavor), plus a small scoop of caramelized onions or onion jam for a sweet counterpoint.” — Mike Coffey, Mid-Atlantic Regional Team, Rockville, MD

Buy: Organic Valley Provolone Cheese Slices, $6.49 for 6 ounces and Livradois Bleu D’auvergne (find it in stores)

Credit: barmalini / Getty Images

7. Comté Cheese

“My go-to grilled cheese combo is a cheese plus a jam or preserve of some kind. Comté and apricot jam is one of my favorites! Other combos I love include Red Dragon with Bacon jam, Fontina with Pear Mostarda, or Three Chili Pepper Gouda with Hatch Pepper preserves. I highly recommend a grilled cheese flight so everyone can try a little of everything.” — Christina Sper, Whole Foods Market Columbus, OH store

Buy: Jean Charles Arnaud Comté, $24.99 per pound at Amazon

8. Stilton and Gruyère

“Pair these two cheeses with prosciutto di Parma and fig spread and you won’t regret it. This is based on one of the most delicious hors d’oeuvres ever, combining both sweet and salty into a perfect sandwich. Make sure to layer the two cheeses onto separate sides of the sandwich with a crisped piece of prosciutto di Parma and thin layer of fig jam down the middle. I also use mayonnaise instead of butter, harnessing the power of both oil and egg yolks. Pairs perfectly with an Alsatian Riesling or Gewürtztraminer.”

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen; Design: Kitchn

9. Alpine-Style Cheese

“Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an Alpine-style cheese that brings a rich, salty flavor and great meltability to a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s a unique cheese that changes season to season, giving a fun twist to the sandwich over time — and the quality, driven by Uplands perfectionism, makes it an eternally decadent treat in each iteration! I love to feather grate the cheese and add it between two buttered pieces of rustic sourdough.” — Avalon Zanoni, Mountain Pacific Regional Team, Seattle, WA

What cheeses do you use when making grilled cheese? Tell us about it in the comments below.