The Secret to the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Is a $3 Trader Joe’s Staple

published Apr 12, 2023
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grilled cheese sandwich cut in half with tomato soup
Credit: Cory Fernandez

National Grilled Cheese Day (April 12) is just one more reason to stock up on soft sandwich bread and a multitude of cheeses. 

If you’re in the mood to celebrate the occasion with a grilled cheese sandwich, don’t just make a regular ol’ version. Consider stepping up your grilled cheese by adding a secret ingredient: Trader Joe’s pickle-flavored seasoning. Add it to softened butter and throw in a small spoonful of mayonnaise to the mixture if desired, then spread it all over the slices of bread. 

When you think about it, the combination makes perfect sense. Anyone who loves pickles will tell you that salty, cheddar cheese–adjacent ingredients pair incredibly well with tangy flavor. When making a grilled cheese with cheddar, adding in the pickle seasoning makes for the ultimate salty, briny, and multidimensional sandwich.

Credit: Cory Fernandez

How to Make a Pickle-Seasoned Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Start by purchasing Trader Joe’s beloved “Seasoning in a Pickle Seasoning Blend.” This particular product is quite popular and is usually in stock, although it may depend on your location. In a pinch, I’ve also found that the Trader Joe’s “Ranch Seasoning Blend” can be a good substitute, as it has lots of the same briny notes as the pickle seasoning.

While you may need larger measurements depending on how many sandwiches you plan on making, for one pickle-seasoned grilled cheese sandwich, you need 2 to 3 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, about 1/2 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s “Seasoning in a Pickle Seasoning Blend,” and 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise (optional). Mix all of these ingredients together in a small bowl.

Credit: Cory Fernandez

Spread the butter mixture evenly on two slices of bread, either on both sides or just the sides that will be touching the skillet directly. Prep the sandwich on a cutting board, adding 3 to 4 slices of cheddar cheese in between the slices of bread. Heat a skillet to medium and add two more tablespoons of butter. 

Credit: Cory Fernandez

Once the butter has melted, add the sandwich to the center of the hot skillet and let stand, 3 to 4 minutes. Press down slightly with a spatula, then check underneath the sandwich to make sure the bottom is browning to your liking. Carefully use the spatula to flip the sandwich and let stand for 3 to 4 more minutes. 

Credit: Cory Fernandez

Lastly, to make sure the cheese melts perfectly, add a lid to the top of the skillet for about 20 to 30 seconds at most — the steam will ensure super-melty cheese! Remove from the skillet and serve by itself or with a bowl of tomato soup, like I did.