Thomas Keller’s Secret to the Best Grilled Cheese Starts with Brown Butter and Ends in the Oven

updated Jan 10, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

There’s really nothing quite as satisfying as a good grilled cheese sandwich. It has everything: cheese, bread, butter. I mean honestly, what more do you need? And no matter the bread or cheese(s!) you use, it is bound to taste delicious and comforting. 

Yet there is a way to take standard grilled cheese up a notch and make it even more incredible, and that’s by using chef Thomas Keller’s inspiring hacks that transform an already gooey, crisp grilled cheese into a masterpiece. His secret according to his recipe in Ad Hoc at Home? Instead of buttering the outside of the bread (which most people do!), Keller browns his butter in the pan first and then slides the sandwich into the pan so it soaks up all the butter. Mmmmm… butter. 

Cook the sandwich on one of its sides for a full minute and a half, then flip it onto the other side for 30 seconds. Then you add more butter (yes — that’s right) to the top of the sandwich, put it on top of a sheet pan, and place it in a 350°F oven. The sandwich will then properly toast and get all melty with the cheese and butter for 2-5 minutes. And that’s it — the BEST grilled cheese you’ll ever taste!

While this does sound incredible, it’s a little labor-intensive. I mean, you need to legit turn on the oven. So, if you’re feeling lazy or that craving is too unbearable to deal with for those extra minutes, you can try another method as outlined on Epicurious — baste it as you would a piece of steak. 

Use Keller’s directions until the oven comes into play. Then instead of using the oven, add a few tablespoons of butter (so you can scoop and spoon the amount over the sandwich) into the pan, tilt the pan so you can access, and baste the sandwich with the butter that has just melted into the sandwich for around 30 seconds. You will still get that golden crust and buttery, moist texture. Now, excuse me as I go order up a grilled cheese to my office!