5 Grilled Cheese Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Sandwich

published Apr 12, 2023
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air fryer grilled cheese cut in half on a plate
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

It’s hard not to love grilled cheese. Between the golden, crisp, buttery bread and the gooey, cheesy filling, adoring this sandwich is easy. It’s also simple to make, although sometimes it can come out as a mediocre sandwich. You take a bite and think what you’ve just made is  … just okay

Grilled cheese may seem basic, but there are few mistakes you could be making. 

Next time you’re making the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich, here are a few mistakes to avoid.

1. Not using the right cheese.

There’s a whole world of cheese out there, and not all varieties work for this sandwich. Avoid using fresh cheeses like feta, and aged cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino. These types don’t melt well and won’t give you that oozy stretch that makes this a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Follow this tip: Stick to varieties that melt, like American, Gruyère, Comté, Swiss, Fontina, cheddar, and any of the Jack cheeses. Don’t be afraid to use more than one kind! 

2. Slicing your cheese too thickly. 

You may think putting plenty of cheese in your sandwich works wonders, but it actually won’t necessarily make for a great one. 

Follow this tip: Slicing the cheese too thickly will make it impossible to melt all the way through, so it’s best to slice your cheese thinly or grate it for more even melting. For average slices of bread, you want somewhere around 1/3 cup of cheese per sandwich. 

3. Firing up the heat too high. 

Making a grilled cheese sandwich requires patience. Without it, you will easily burn your bread with melted cheese inside, or turn it into toasty bread and not-quite-melted cheese. 

Follow this tip: Keep the heat in the medium to medium-low range and adjust it as you cook, ensuring the bread toasts as the cheese melts. This is important if you pre-toast, as you don’t want to burn the bread before the cheese is fully cooked.  

4. Not greasing up your bread. 

A crucial part of a grilled cheese sandwich is coating your bread with some fat in the form of butter, mayo, or a bit of both so you can get a crispy, toasted exterior. 

Follow this tip: You can spread it on the outside of the bread before placing it in the pan, or melt it in the pan as long as there’s plenty on both sides. 

Follow this tip: If you want a richer flavor, butter bread on both sides — inside and out. Adding a thin layer of mayonnaise works even better. It helps brown the bread easily and adds just a hint of tanginess, which cuts some of the richness of the classic bread and cheese. 

5. Choosing the wrong type of bread. 

The bread is the foundation of your sandwich. A simple white bread is what often is used, but there are also other varieties that can take your grilled cheese to a whole new level. 

Follow this tip: If you’re bored with the usual classic white bread, you can take things up a notch and use whole-wheat and whole-grain varieties, like rye or pumpernickel. Or go for some sourdough bread. Stale bread is also perfect for grilled cheese, as the heat will bring it back to life.