HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Grilled Cheese Sandwich ... fried or toasted?

As I understand it, your typical grilled cheese sandwich isn't really grilled in the traditional sense, but rather fried (i.e., spreading butter either on the bread itself or melting butter in a skillet and then frying each side of the sandwich).

But I actually like to have my grilled cheese sandwich toasted in a toaster oven sans butter. To me, it's a better way to taste the cheese and bread, without the distraction from the frying oil/butter.

How do you prefer your grilled cheese prepared?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I just bought a panini sandwich press today and it has made the most yummy grilled cheese sandwiches. And they are not greasy at all.

    1. My parents used to make open faced cheese sandwiches under the broiler. Bread was toasted on one side, turned over, topped with cheese and slice of bacon, and broiled till the cheese melted and bacon cooked (more or less).

      They also made the two sided sandwiches in a waffle iron with reversible grids. They normally buttered the outside. But with my panini grill, I usually leave the butter off (or just use a brief spray of oil), and have been just as happy with the result. White bread might benefit more from the butter than the multigrain stuff I usually use.


      2 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        That's the method I use - but only because in the US they don't seem to make ovens with eye-level grills which are the norm in the U.K. - also ideal for grilling kippers, sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms in the morning - Anyone else noticed that UK ovens have this feature as standard?

        1. re: paulj

          My dad used to mkae us the open faced cheese and bacon sandwiches, too. In the summertime, we used to love them with a slice of just picked garden tomato.

        2. Thickly sliced challah is a must. Grilled in a griller.

          1. My daughter likes it cooked in a skillet with butter, I like it sans butter/oil in a George Foreman Grill (a gift from my folks) - which makes for a nice, cheap panini-style press, btw. To each his own...

            1 Reply
            1. re: mechteach

              I do the Foreman grill and leave out the butter, too. The direct heat on the surface of the bread gives it nice caramelization that you don't get from the toaster oven.

            2. I like mine open faced broiled. First I toast the bread while heating the broiler in my oven. Then I lightly butter the bread on one side. Add thinly sliced tomato, freshly ground salt and pepper, and extra sharp cheddar on top. Then I broil until bubbly. Sometimes I omit the tomatoes when they're not in season.

              1. Several ways with pluses and minues.

                - Griddled (fried sounds so harsh) - pat of butter in pan, medium heat, toast in butter til golden brown, lift with spatula, another pat of butter, flip and repeat. I normally use a lid to flatten bread a little. BEST
                - Open faced, no toast - Growing up these were slice of bread, slice of cheese, into the toaster oven. We called them "Balloons" because the cheese would "puff" and then get browned by the top element. Underside of bread never toasted and it stuck to the roof of your mouth. BETTER
                - Toasted open faced - Toast the bread, then open face unde a broiler. Never eally like this way. NOT BAD
                - Fake grilled sandwich - Toast two slices of bread. Place a couple of slices of cheese and place in MV. BLAH

                15 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  I agree with your point system =P

                  1. re: jfood

                    I agree with this continuum . . . but there is a long space between griddled and the next best thing.

                    the butter on the outside creates that delicious crusty browness that is an essential part of a grilled cheese sammie.

                    1. re: orangewasabi

                      agree on the continuum, and a wide one at that.

                      someone mentioned mayo on the outside of the bread as a substitute for butter. I was going to try yesterday, but got sidetracked with Hazan.

                      Has onyone tried this mayo approach?

                      1. re: jfood

                        I use mayo. I like the results...the bread seems less oily/greasy compared to using butter. It's definitely worth a shot.

                        Also - do not attempt this with Miracle Whip. Very bad.

                        1. re: jzerocsk

                          MW has not crossed Jfood lips since 1975 when roommate sneaked it into the tuna fish sandwich. He was banned from the kitchen


                          1. re: jfood

                            I love it in some things, especially tuna salad/chicken salad/etc. I thought the flavor might go well with grilled cheese, especially using pasteurized process cheese, but the Miracle Whip decomposes into the foul chemicals that are delicately bonded together to make it what it is :-)

                        2. re: jfood

                          I use mayo as well. I think it definitely has a "healthier" taste than butter.

                          1. re: jfood

                            After reading the post about mayo, I made a grilled cheese w/bacon that night. Lo and behold, that was a really freakin' good sandwich! A friend who goes to CIA told me it's because mayo is a solid fat. It coats and cooks more evenly. The acidity of the vinegar goes away and all you're left with is perfect crunchiness. Wow. Yum. Hungry.

                            1. re: nicoleberry83

                              just curious, did you use real or low fat version mayo? Wish I had read this earlier, just had a grilled cheese - spread bread with butter and grill in fry pan, mmmmmmm...although in talking with a friend she said "I love GC, but it takes so long to make"...I was like huh...she said she grills both sides of each slice of bread and then grills the sandwich as a whole...never heard of this and no wonder it takes so long!

                              1. re: geminigirl

                                huh? it's the quickest hot dinner I know of. Turn on stove, butter first slice of bread while heating pan, throw bread down, slice cheese and add to bread already frying... butter second slice of bread, top sandwich and flip.
                                I also like to use the toaster oven to do an open-face, no-butter version with sliced onion.This is a good use of crappy bagels. Both eaten with ketchup.

                                1. re: julesrules

                                  Ketchup? Jeez, I haven't had ketchup on a grilled cheese since I was a little kid at my neighborhood pool. We also put ketchup on the Elio's pizza slices. What were we thinking.

                                  I think griddling the grilled cheese is preferred. but occassionally I do feel like making an open face grilled cheese in the toaster. Almost always with american cheese and I let it get nice and bubbly and spotty brown before removing.

                                2. re: geminigirl

                                  I used real mayo. It takes so little to cover each side, so why go low-fat? :o)

                              2. re: jfood

                                i always spread mayo (hellman's) on the outsides and insides of the bread, then cook in a frying pan...yum

                                1. re: jfood

                                  I've used mayo, and it sorta works like a cross between oil and butter. Fairly neutral tasting, and leaves a nice crisp on the outside.

                                  And I never put Miracle Whip in the food - unless it's for someone I strongly dislike.

                              3. re: jfood

                                My school cafeteria made the open faced broiled cheddar cheese 'sandwiches' and served them with either tomato soup or chicken noodle...and they called them Cheese Dreams. They were amazing...all puffed up with a slightly crispy top to the cheese but oozy and creamy inside. I have no idea where they came up with the name though. They were almost always made on halves of cheap hamburger buns and seemed to happen most often the day after hamburger day. (hmmm...I wonder why)

                                But for standard grilled cheese, I have to go with griddled with a thin layer of mayo spread directly on the outside of the bread. (as discussed above) Makes the perfect golden crusty greasy goodness.

                              4. We had one of those appliances that can be either a waffle iron or sandwich grill, depending on which of the removable plates are inserted, and Mom always used that to make what we called "toasted cheese" sandwiches. Since the upper part of the device was fairly heavy, the sandwiches always came out squashed pretty flat. After years of looking I finally found one of these in an antique mall and used it several times, but eventually decided that my tastes have evolved and that I really do prefer my sandwiches cooked on an open griddle. I typically spread both slices with BLS and lay them onto the griddle, then cover each with slices of cheese, usually two different kinds (sharp cheddar and jalapeƱo jack is the favorite), and fry just until the cheese starts to melt. Then I flip one on top of the other and cook on one side and then the other until it's the right color. Sometimes I grill a slice of lunchmeat ham off to the side and then lay it onto one of the sandwich halves just before putting them together.

                                The open-face kind I do with tuna or salmon salad, and in several stages in the toaster oven: first toast the bread, then turn the oven control to Broil, spread toast with salad and heat that until it looks dry on top, then lay cheese over that and broil until the cheese is bubbling and running. Messy and delicious.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  I have one of those sandwich/waffle irons as well. It does make pretty darn good pressed sandwiches -- I just lightly butter both the grill plates and the bread so it gets crusty brown. I think it melts the cheese more evenly than an open griddle.

                                  1. In Kentucky.. and many parts of the south... we like grilled (or fried with a long "i")
                                    pimento cheese sandwichs..preferably made with Mrs. Grissom's pimento cheese.
                                    Ya all !

                                    1. grilled,

                                      cooking anything in or with butter makes it better.

                                      1. I'm a toaster-oven guy myself. The cheese (sharp cheddar, say) usually has as much fat/oil as I want.

                                        1. When I was a kid, I raved about my friend's father's grilled cheese sandwhiches. I couldn't understand why my mom wouldn't make them the same way. Turns out it was generic Wonderbread type bread, butter spread inside AND outside of the bread, then the cheese... It was probably fake "cheese food" too! None of which my mom would go for!

                                          Now we do either toasted cheese (usually when just making it for one or both kids) with cheese toasted on open face bread OR grilled cheese (when we do it on the griddle with butter). Our kids won't eat grilled cheese out though because neither of them will eat American cheese! Cheddar only.

                                          Hubby and I will add tomatoes in season or ham or bacon if there is some handy. A good Fall/Winter quick supper with some soup...homemade or Campbell's tomato!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: eamcd

                                            < Turns out it was generic Wonderbread type bread, butter spread inside AND outside of the bread, then the cheese... It was probably fake "cheese food" too! >

                                            My husband shows his love by making me this exact grilled cheese a couple times a year. Before he showed me about Texas Toast and Kraft cheese slices, I'd never had them. Gotta be real butter though.

                                            There's nothing quite like it. yum-yum-good

                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                              Also it has to be salted butter, not sweet.

                                              Do anyone remember a bread in the 60'ss called "round" bread, both the name and the shape. probably made by Tastee or Wonder or Nabisco. It was baked in a half cylinder pan so the bottom was round and then as it bake the top also rounded to achieve a round bread.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                I remember this -- it made me happy because in those days I ate a lot of bologna sandwiches and the shape was perfect.

                                          2. My vote goes to sandwich press (butter on the outside). With tomato soup.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: 2m8ohed

                                              Absolutely with tomato soup. Made with milk, of course, with lots of pepper, a bit of grated cheese and croutons on top.

                                            2. Personally, I make a distinction between "grilled" and "toasted" cheese sandwiches. Grilled being as you say, fried, "toasted" being your version, broiled briefly. Apart from the extra fat from all the butter (lower fat "grilled cheese" being an abomination), it's just a lot easier and I usually eat these as a snack or the ultimate "quick supper." Clean up is also more or less non-existent since I keep a sheet of alum foil in the broiler that gets changed only when it starts getting gross and I just slap the toast with sliced cheese right on that... I save "grilled cheese" for diners and whatnot, or if I"m making several at once so the clean-up isn't that big a deal, relative to the meal.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: MikeG

                                                Yes, I was going to say that. There are grilled cheese sandwiches and there are toasted cheese sandwiches. I prefer toasted but they both have their charm.

                                              2. I like both. Depends. Another option for open-faced: griddle the bottom, when partly toasted run the pan under the broiler (bread will continue to toast on the bottom).

                                                1. I hate to be the one to say this but, grilled cheese sandwiches are grilled. Hellooo!!
                                                  Sorry, I couldn't resist it.

                                                  1. Grilled, grilled, grilled. I understand the health reasons for toasting and sandwich pressing and often do them to eliminate calories/fat. however, if I'm going for taste only, griddled with BUTTER is #1. Grilled cheese was probably first made on a flat-top grill/griddle, hence the name.

                                                    1. I love them all but a favorite of mine is a cuban grilled cheese. Garlic butter is spread on the interior of Cuban bread and a white cheese (Panela or Asadero) is used. Thin sliced tomato is added and then it is pressed. God it's good!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: sunsuze

                                                        There is nothing on that sandwich that is not to like! Never thought to try with garlic butter. Thanks for the tip.

                                                        1. re: sunsuze

                                                          Oh yeah love a pan tostada. Even more, love it with queso!

                                                        2. I prefer brushing the bread with EVOO and grilling the cheese.

                                                          Also like to cut tomatoes and RAW onions VERY THINLY and place in teh middle of teh sandwich so that they become "suspended" in the cheese.

                                                          1. I prefer the butter-in-the-pan approach, but sitting at the counter at Taylor's Refresher in San Francisco the other day I saw an approach I had not seen before: Take one piece of bread, put the cheese on top, put it in a commercial steamer for about 30 seconds (like the kind you see at taquerias). Meanwhile, take another slice of bread, wipe with butter, place on griddle. Remove the steamed bread/cheese, smack it down on the bread on the griddle (now nicely toasted), wipe the steamed top with butter, then flip over to toast the steamed top.

                                                            1. Grilled, in a skillet, with butter -- absolutely. Dry toasted? -- No, thank you.

                                                              1. I usually broil mine--less trouble. But thanks to this thread I fried one today. YUM. Much better.

                                                                1. My best friends Mom growing up would make grilled cheese. A slice of American cheese in b/twn two pieces of white bread, microwaved.
                                                                  I never liked eating over at her house.

                                                                  1. We make grilled cheese sandwiches with velveeta cheese, tomato slices and fried in LOTS of butter. Life doesn't get much better. I know the velveeta cheese sounds gross and it's not really cheese, but it tastes delicious in grilled cheese sandwiches.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Kaisgraham

                                                                      I'm sure the thought of Velveeta will turn many a Hound off, but you're right... it is a DELICIOUS guilty pleasure (the only suitable use being for grilled cheese). That being said, I haven't actually had it in over a decade... usually use sliced cheddar or swiss nowadays, but I may just need to go buy some....

                                                                      1. re: allegro805

                                                                        Nothing melts better on a burger than a slice of velveeta....

                                                                        1. re: bolivianita

                                                                          I love Velveeta but ever since I found out how it's made, thanks to a friend at Kraft, I can't eat it. :(
                                                                          Ignorance is bliss.

                                                                          1. re: marmite

                                                                            Thats been my issue with a lot of things, they were great until I read the label or found out how it was made. My most recent dissapointment being fig newtons, strawberry flavor. The first ing. was high fructose corn syrup.
                                                                            So I bought some fig newmans which, well just aren't the same.

                                                                            1. re: bolivianita

                                                                              Agreed- real authentic Fig Newtons might be my most longstanding favorite cookie. I don't mind Fig Newmans but I never feel like I could eat a whole row like I want to with the regulars (that's probably good though). I guess the sense of eating healthy (healthier?) replaces the nostalgia.

                                                                    2. Buttermilk bread with mayo on the inside and butter on the outside. Two Monterrey jack cheese, genoa salami, thin sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper on the tomatoes. Yummy.

                                                                      1. I like them all ways-grilled,pan fried (esp. swiss,bacon and tomato),and under the broiler-most any cheese-my Mom made the best with velveeta and pan fried on top of stove--incredibly cheesy and had a grilled taste--the only time I ever ate velveeta-

                                                                        1. 2 slices 12-grain bread
                                                                          Grey P mustard spread on both slices
                                                                          Four squares of Jarlsberg swiss cheese
                                                                          2 large slices of juicy red tomato
                                                                          Place open faced in the toaster oven broiler setting for 2 mins
                                                                          slap <bg> together and you've got one delicious sandwich

                                                                          sometimes I'll place a handful of sprouts between the slices for some crunch.

                                                                          oh man...i'd gotta go make that now!

                                                                          1. , I'm new to this board, so hello all....but, I didn't see this suggestion...

                                                                            a thick piece of crusty bread with grated gruyere on top. Then, brush both sides liberally with olive oil in a nonstick pan.

                                                                            Since I don't have a panini press or one of those fancy sandwich machines, I put a cast iron skillet or some other kind of heavy cookware on top while it cooks. Nothing like it with a homeade tomato soup.


                                                                            1. My friend insisted I buy a Foreman grill, which is totally inadequate for everything except melted cheese sandwiches, but it is great for that, so I've held onto it and make these once a month or so. Use very flavorful cheddar, good sour-dough country white bread, honey mustard, roasted tomatoes and/or crisp bacon, butter both exterior sides with butter and voila. Also good with tuna salad and cheese.

                                                                              Otherwise, use a saute pan and cook them open face in a tbsp or so of butter, then close them together.

                                                                              1. How about both? I like to dry "fry" in a hot skillet. Otherwise, it can be too buttery.


                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                  "Too buttery"? That's the point for many, I believe.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                    I know, but I like it to taste more of cheese than butter.


                                                                                2. Grilled means put on the griddle grill, as in a typical American diner; hence it means being put on a flat hot surface with fat (either on the surface or, preferably, on the bread).

                                                                                  1. THE ULTIMATE "GRILLED" CHEESE SANDWICH (Thanks to my friend Chris for this one):

                                                                                    You know how the "burnt" part of the cheese is the best part of the grilled cheese sandwich - what if the entire cheese part of the sandwich could be chewy, crispy, burnty like that?

                                                                                    1. Take your cheese and cook in non-stick skillet until melted (do not add oil, butter, etc.). Keep it cooking until it's golden brown and delicious (still melty or not, as you prefer) on one side or both. Remove cheese to plate.
                                                                                    2. A lot of oil will be in the pan. Wipe out most of the oil left behind (ooh, does that make it low-fat?) and toast two slices of No-Knead Bread (any variety) on one or both sides.
                                                                                    3. Slather dijon mustard on toast and put toasty cheese inside sandwich.
                                                                                    4. Add lettuce or greens, if you like (to assuage your guilt at having such a cheese-fest). Sometimes for total decadence, we add avocado.

                                                                                    This is the ultimate sandwich - if your No-Knead bread is fresh, don't even bother with the toasting step, just slather on dijon and apply cheese.

                                                                                    (Having a Homer Simpson drool moment just thinking about it...)

                                                                                    1. I toast both pieces of hearty sprouted bread in the toaster, layer with good cheese, tomatoes and black pepper, then nuke in the micro - just enough to melt the cheese. No butter needed. Tasty! This is especially handy do to at work, as our only culinary appliances are a toaster and microwave. People look at me funny for doing this, but I look at them funny for eating crap from the vending machine.

                                                                                      1. best grilled cheese ever -- not your typical american version but just as good...

                                                                                        this is best with a chewy artisan style bread with holes but works great with sourdough or my personal favorite, Flaxseed sandwich cut.

                                                                                        you put some extra virgin olive oil in a pan (just a little bit) with a pinch of fresh black pepper and kosher salt. Then you put the pieces of bread in the pan, moving them around to soak in the oil. Then I add a few slices of Havarti Cheese (so melty and delicious!) and cook as you would any grilled cheese.

                                                                                        done right it's got a good toast on the outside to be crunchy without being buttery or oily, with a nice zing from the salt and pepper, and the havarti melting all over the place.

                                                                                        1. I've heard about the GC made with mayo but have not yet tried it & since tonight is eat whatever you can find in the pantry/fridge night, I will give it a go. I've always considered myself a GC purist ... butter the outside of 1 slice of bread, place in heated pan, place cheese on bread, allow bottom to brown. Once bottom is nice & browned, place another piece of buttered bread on top, flip & allow to cook until golden brown.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: RhondaB

                                                                                            Jfood as a minimalist as well, butter, bread cheese.

                                                                                            Jfood tried Light Mayo (Hellman's) and it was not very good. The bread stuck to the pan. Never again. If you do try Mayo please use the full fat stuff.

                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                              I'm a health nut, so I do toast, and use non-dairy cheese, now.

                                                                                              But as a kid it was all about the butter, the skillet, and actually rye bread (mom wouldn't allow white)--pretty good.

                                                                                              Also, Swiss + Tomato is good.

                                                                                              Provolone grilled was nice as well.

                                                                                              Ah, memories..and yeah, with cheddar I did 'dip' them in katschup.

                                                                                              Side of potato chips, pickle goes nicely too :)

                                                                                              1. re: veganish

                                                                                                Until about age 12 or 13, I refused to eat a grilled cheese sandwich without either a whole DILL PICKLE or dill pickle "chips". Of course my horizons have broadened now, but it is still a delicious way to enjoy a grilled cheese, so I had to speak up for the mighty vinegary tang of pickle. My friend made me a GC last night with a blend of two grated gruyeres: swiss gruyere and french comte. I believe he used olive oil AND salted butter, and had a "skin on" clove of garlic floating around in the iron skillet for some subtle garlicky goodness. Oh it also thinly sliced roma in it. A beautiful sandwich.

                                                                                          2. My version of a toasted cheese sandwich is this:

                                                                                            - Preheat oven to 450 deg
                                                                                            - Prepare bread as you normally would for a grilled cheese, butter the outsides
                                                                                            - assemble sandwich on a baking sheet
                                                                                            - bake at 450 for about 5 min per side

                                                                                            done, enjoy...

                                                                                            1. Non-stick pan on the stove burner, small amount of olive oil to grill the bread.

                                                                                              Out of nowhere, Velveeta became my cheese of choice for this sandwich.

                                                                                              1. My version is thinly sliced artisan bread with butter or mayo on the outside done in a non stick pan. Fontina, tomato and one slice of prociutto is the way to go for me.