Ah, grilled cheese! That scrumptious, ooey-gooey sandwich that takes us all back to childhood. Grilled cheese sandwiches frequently poll as one of the nation’s top comfort foods. They can be as simple as white bread with a couple Kraft singles in between, or as complex as artisanal bread with gourmet cheeses, fruit spreads, and protein options.
Regardless of how you like your grilled cheese (and admit it, you really like your grilled cheese!), you now have an excuse to eat it! Not that you needed an excuse…
April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!
To help you celebrate because this is definitely a holiday worth celebrating, I am going to give you a few tips to make grilled cheese prep easier, more fun, and more delicious!
*Host a grilled cheese party: Twice in the last year, I’ve hosted grilled cheese parties. The way I set it up is to provide the guests with a card for each of them to fill out. It may offer different types of breads, cheeses, spreads, and meats for them to choose from.
*Provide options: To make your grilled cheese celebration more personalized, allow your family (AKA party guests) to customize their sandwiches with a variety of topping choices. Yeah, the go-to is usually cheddar cheese or American singles, but be adventurous! Allow everyone to try cheese samples before making their selections. You can even provide a rating card! Provide options like gouda, goat cheese, pimento, fontina, mozzarella, and brie.
And don’t just stick to cheese. Fruit spreads taste amazing on grilled cheese sandwiches. Just think about all the times you see those fancy fruit and cheese trays! Try offering things like fig preserves, mango spread, blackberry jam, or guacamole. (Yes, I realize guacamole isn’t a fruit, but it can be spread on your sandwich.)
And if you’re anything like my carnivore husband, everything is better with a little meat. Think about adding a little bacon, ham, prosciutto, pepperoni, or chicken salad on your sandwich.
Once everyone has turned in their orders (make sure they include their names!), I move on to the prep.
*Cook lots at once: If you are planning a grilled cheese party, it helps to have a way to make lots of sandwiches at once. The trick to multiple sandwiches quickly is the oven. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet and arrange your first layer of bread. (It sometimes helps to write names on the parchment with a permanent marker if sandwiches are going to have different fillings.) Fill your sandwiches and top with the second slice of bread.
Now here’s the trick. To make sandwiches cook more evenly on both sides, place another sheet of parchment over the sandwiches and cover with a second baking sheet. This allows the heat to disperse more evenly. You can even spray the parchment with butter spray or wipe the bread with melted butter beforehand to give it a more “grilled” taste and appearance.
*Be creative: Think of this as yourself as an artist, and this sandwich can be your cheesy masterpiece. And like with any artwork, if it doesn’t turn out the way you intended, just try again. And hey, that means more grilled cheese!
Now, if you’re in a grilled cheese rut and unsure how to proceed, I’m going to give you a few of my favorites to try:
- Brie, green apple, and bacon. Now brie can be a little tough to spread in its typical rinded form, so I recommend getting Crème de Brie if you are mostly planning on using it in grilled cheese sandwiches. This sandwich was hands-down one of the favorites at my first grilled cheese party.
- Pepperjack, green apple, mango jam, and brie. Yes, more green apples and brie, but trust me, they pair beautifully together and go well with so many things. The pepperjack adds a little kick that the sweetness of the mango jam works well with.
- Cheddar and pepperoni. A pretty simple, classic sandwich option for your pickier eaters.
- Gouda, prosciutto, and blackberry jam. This sandwich is salty, sweet, and all kinds of yum!
- Pimento, goat cheese, and bacon. This is my current favorite. Goat cheese alone doesn’t melt well, but with the gooeyness of the pimento, it sinks right in. After trying this one, you may never go back to anything else!
- And let’s not forget our dessert grilled cheese! Mascarpone, fig jam, and goat cheese. Here, the goat cheese keeps the sandwich from being too sweet. Other dessert grilled cheeses could include cream cheese, hazelnut spread, blueberry jam, banana slices, cookie spread, marshmallows, or sprinkles. Be sure to top it off with a dusting of powdered sugar! I’ve heard that you can even make your grilled cheese sandwich between halves of a donut! (If anyone has actually tried that, please let me know how it was.)
Finally, I know I mentioned using the oven, but you can always stick to the tried and true stovetop for making your sandwiches. Just be careful. I’m known for getting distracted and the term “Burnt to Perfection” is used around my house a lot…
Other ways of cooking your muenster masterpiece, your camembert creation, your cheese de resistance… ok, I’ll stop… include the toaster oven (perfect for when you are making just one, but again, mind the burning) and the waffle iron. If you have never used your waffle iron for grilled cheese, I definitely recommend trying it at least once!
Alright, I’m sufficiently hungry now. My house might not be waiting until April 12 to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day!