When I was a teenager, there was a small diner down the road. I stopped in one day for a coke after school and was almost flat broke. The cheapest thing on the menu was a grilled cheese sandwich, so I ordered it. It was the best thing I thought I had ever tasted at the time, so I asked the cook how she made it. I’ve done it exactly this way ever since.
Two slices of cheese are usually standard for a grilled cheese sandwich. Using one is usually too little, but using more than two may result in a messy sandwich with cheese oozing out of the sides. Of course, it depends on the thickness and type of cheese.
Read on to discover that there is no one standard for a grilled cheese sandwich. You can be creative with the type of cheese, type of bread, and additions depending on your cooking audience. Although American cheese has become the standard, there are other options for a delicious twist of the classic grilled sandwich.
Two Slices of American Cheese is the Standard
You cannot go wrong with two slices of standard thickness American cheese and two slices of white bread for a grilled cheese sandwich. You can mix it up and use one slice of white American cheese and one slice of yellow for a mix of colors. There are several steps to making a grilled cheese sandwich with American cheese and other types of cheese.
- Preheat your nonstick frying pan or griddle
- Butter both sides of your white bread
- Place the first piece of bread on the nonstick frying pan
- Quickly place the two pieces of American cheese on the non-buttered side
- Place the second piece of white bread on top of the cheese
The key to a perfect grilled cheese is frying it between low and medium temperatures. That way, the cheese will melt correctly, and the bread will fry to a nice golden brown. If your heat is too high, the bread will fry, but the cheese will not melt properly. Each side may take around five minutes, but you should be checking the bottom periodically.
Once the bottom piece of buttered bread is golden brown, you can gently flip the sandwich and fry the other side. Sometimes the second side of bread fries more quickly than the first side since the pan or griddle is hotter. Make sure you are checking the other side carefully with your spatula, so you do not burn the other side.
When Is Only One Slice Fine?
Some parents of small children have found one slice of American cheese works fine for a grilled cheese sandwich. It will be less messy and have minimal oozing so the children’s smaller hands can pick up the sandwich. As long as you still butter both sides of bread and fry it in the pan on low heat, you should have a crunchy, tasty sandwich.
It is important to note that one slice of cheese will more than likely not be enough if you are feeding hungry adults. You will want at least two slices to make sure the sandwich is hearty, but the type of cheese can vary.
Does Cheese Type Matter When Making a Grilled Cheese?
Although the standard for grilled cheese is classic American, most restaurants use cheddar, gouda, or gruyere for a fancier version of the standard grilled cheese. In fact, gruyere cheese is well-known for melting effectively, is deliciously nutty and salty, and is the traditional choice if you are serving your sandwich with a French onion soup. Cheese type does matter when making a grilled cheese.
Another type of cheese that is both mild and creamy is Monterey Jack. If the flavor is too mild, you can mix it with some sharp cheddar for a delicious experience. As mentioned earlier, the type of cheese does not matter as much as the temperature at which you fry your sandwich. If your cheese is not melting, the heat is simply too high.
Although shredded cheese will melt more quickly than sliced cheese, it is also messier and harder to work with overall. No matter what cheese you choose, sliced cheese works best for grilled cheese because it is easy to work with, less messy, and melts perfectly. One thin slice of cheese is roughly around eight ounces or one serving.
If you are measuring your cheese, eight ounces of shredded cheese will fit two full measuring cups (which means one cup of shredded cheese is four ounces). If you purchase pre-packed cheese, it will usually tell you the serving size per slice.
Pro Advice: Using sliced cheese from the deli will give the best flavor and melting for your sandwich.
The Best Bread for a Grilled Cheese
Classic white bread should be used over wheat bread when building your perfect grilled cheese. However, you can mix it up a little bit depending on what type of cheese you are using and the audience with whom you are making the sandwiches.
Below is a list of the best types of bread for your delicious grilled cheese:
- Pullman bread is a crusty white bread that will give you a fancier, more artisanal grilled cheese sandwich
- Sourdough is crusty and works perfectly if you are making a sophisticated grilled cheese with jelly
- Multigrain is probably the only non-white bread that is can be healthier and taste yummy with flavorful cheeses like Gouda, smoked cheddar, or Manchego cheese
- Ciabatta is an Italian white bread that can be cut into thicker slices and topped with additional cheese or other foods on top of the sandwich
- Pumpernickel is another darker bread that makes a delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwich
Try The “Wild Thing” Grilled Cheese: When I feel like having something different, I put two slices of swiss on swirly bread with chipotle mayo. This is something I can’t describe well in words, but you just have to try it. And yes, I just made that name up, but it seems appropriate. Add some Louisiana hot sauce for an extra kick.
As you can see from the list above, there are times when you can shy away from the standard white bread and offer a sophisticated, creative grilled cheese to your guests. If you are cooking for children, however, usually a simple loaf of white bread and a few slices of cheese work fine for their more naïve palate.
No matter what type of bread you choose, it should not be too thick. Usually, slices that measure one to one-and-a-half inches work best depending on the type of grilled cheese you are making. Anything thicker will not let the cheese melt correctly, but bread that is too thin will end up falling apart. The thickness of the cheese does matter.
Cheese Slice Thickness Matters
You can use nearly any type of cheese for a grilled cheese, but the thickness of the cheese does matter. This is why American and medium cheddar are so popular— they are thick enough to be hearty, yet not too thick that they will not melt properly. If you desire a cheese that is not sliced, you can ask the deli at your store to slice it for you.
If you find a delicious cheese to use, but it is sliced very thin, simply add more cheese to your sandwich. You can also add additional ingredients, from ham, bacon, and tomato, to fill it out properly.
Remember: The most important key to making a perfect grilled cheese is the low temperature, not the cheese itself.
Additionally, if the temperature is too low, the cheese may not melt on your grilled cheese. You want the temperature low enough to avoid burning the bread but hot enough to get the cheese to melt.
A grilled cheese sandwich is the perfect comfort food. Whether you have it with tomato soup, French onion soup, or just by itself, a perfectly golden brown, gooey grilled cheese can make anyone’s day.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to make one, and you can be very creative with ingredients as long as you stay within a few standards. Choosing the right cheese and type of bread depends on the flavors you want to achieve. However, you cook at a higher temperature for a quick grilled cheese sandwich. Slow and low is the rule for a grilled cheese sandwich.
Now, this is a staple in our house and it’s one of the few foods all three of my kids eat. Of course, they don’t like it the way I do; with extra mayo.
Thanks for reading.
For more, check out 5 Best Substitutes for Butter in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
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