Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

published Apr 10, 2024

It's buttery, crispy, cheesy, and totally perfect.


Prep5 minutes

Cook6 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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There are hundreds of variations on grilled cheese, with everything from pimento grilled cheese to jalapeño popper grilled cheese to spinach-artichoke grilled cheese, and many more. But absolutely nothing beats a really good classic grilled cheese sandwich. I’m talking about a perfect golden-brown sandwich that’s buttery and crisp on the outside with just enough melted gooey cheese in every flavorful bite. It took a lot of testing, but I finally nailed the perfect grilled cheese. Make this sandwich once, and I guarantee it will be your new go-to. 

Why You’ll Love It

  • The crispy outside is like nothing you’ve tasted. The outside of the bread has the most unbelievably crispy bite, while the inside is still soft and tender — it’s totally the best of both worlds. After testing seven different methods, we learned that the secret to making the best grilled cheese sandwich is using a combo of butter and mayo on the bread. The butter adds flavor, while the mayo ensures even golden browning plus the most delicious crispy exterior. Mayo skeptics, I promise you won’t taste it!
  • Foolproof method. Making a grilled cheese sandwich isn’t rocket science. What makes this easy recipe stand out is the foolproof method. By using a combination of mayo and butter and covering the pan while cooking, you’re guaranteed a sandwich with perfectly golden bread and fully melted, gooey cheese at the center.
  • Big flavor. The recipe uses just the right amount of butter (bonus if you use salted butter) and a flavorful cheese that also tops the meltability charts, to make a totally delicious sandwich.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

Key Ingredients in a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • White sandwich bread. If you’re going for a classic sandwich, nothing beats a couple of slices of hearty white bread. Go for a bread that’s soft and tender, but sturdy enough that it won’t fall apart in the pan.
  • Butter. Unsalted or salted are both fair game — use whatever you have in the fridge. I personally love salted butter for grilled cheese sandwiches because it adds a touch more flavor.
  • Mayonnaise. Trust me on this one! You’ll spread just a little bit (only one teaspoon total) on each slice of bread and it gives the sandwich the most incredible delicate, crispy bite. You’ll never get that same crunch from butter alone. And again, you don’t taste the mayo.
  • Cheese. Take your pick between cheddar or American cheese. If using cheddar, skip the pre-shredded stuff (it contains additives that don’t lend it to melting as well). Use a block of cheese and grate it yourself.

How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  1. Grate the cheese. If using cheddar, grate the cheese on the large holes of a box grater.
  2. Add spread to the bread. Spread softened butter on one side of both slices of bread, then spread the mayonnaise over the butter.
  3. Assemble the sandwich. Top one slice of bread with sliced American or grated cheddar and top with the second slice of bread. Remember to keep the buttered sides on the outside.
  4. Cook the grilled cheese. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the bottom is golden. Flip and cook uncovered until the second side is golden and cheese is melted. 
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Kelli Foster

Helpful Swaps

  • Try other cheeses. American and cheddar are classic options, but there are a lot of other cheeses that make a really great grilled cheese sandwich — Gouda, havarti, and mozzarella are also great. You can even use a combination of cheeses. Just be sure to stick with a cheese that has good meltability.
  • Go beyond white bread. The main thing to keep in mind is sticking with bread that’s soft yet sturdy and no more than about 1/2-inch thick. Options like whole-wheat, rye, potato bread, and even a brioche loaf will work well.

Make-Ahead Tips 

A grilled cheese is best served right away. You want the gooey center! You can, however, get a head start by setting the butter at room temperature and grating the cheese. Both can be done up to a day in advance. If your bread is stored in the freezer, it’s also a smart idea to thaw it ahead of time. 

What to Serve with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Tester Notes

This was an excellent grilled cheese — quite honestly, the best one I’ve ever made at home. My husband and I kept going on about how good it was. While it is more work to do butter and mayo, the payoff is totally worth it. The sandwich was buttery, crisp, cheesy, and flavorful. I used sliced American cheese as requested (which is my fave cheese for grilled cheese) and it was delicious and well-balanced with the bread. —Kristina, March 2024

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

It's buttery, crispy, cheesy, and totally perfect.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 6 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 tablespoon

    unsalted or salted butter

  • 2 ounces

    sharp cheddar or sliced American cheese

  • 2

    slices hearty white sandwich bread

  • 1 teaspoon



  1. Place 1/2 tablespoon unsalted or salted butter on the counter and let sit at room temperature until softened. Alternatively, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave just until slightly softened and spreadable, 5 to 10 seconds. Meanwhile, grate 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater if needed (about 1/2 cup).

  2. Spread the butter onto one side of each of 2 slices white sandwich bread. Spread 1 teaspoon mayonnaise in an even layer over the buttered bread. Flip 1 slice of the bread over and top with the cheddar or 2 ounces sliced American cheese (2 to 3 slices) in an even layer. Top with the second slice of bread, buttered-side up.

  3. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Place the sandwich in the skillet. Cover and cook until the bottom is golden-brown and the cheese is partially melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook uncovered until the second side is golden-brown and the cheese is completely melted, 1 to 2 minutes more.