Cooking Tips

5 Ideas to Improve Your Grilled Cheese Game

Cake pan. Mayo. Low temp. How to make your already good grilled cheese sandwiches even better.

Published June 14, 2023.

Do you think a lot about grilled cheese? I do. 

I’ve got a 7-year-old boy with an insatiable appetite. Then there’s the 7-year-old in me, who’s only recently rediscovered the delights of a crisp, gooey grilled cheese sandwich.

Achieving a decent grilled cheese doesn’t involve rocket science. For the longest time, I was perfectly content with “decent.” But now that I’m cooking more, I’m intrigued by how to get my grilled cheese from a 90% to a 95%. 

Scouring our archives and across the internet, I discovered some new insights.

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1. Butter the Bread (Not the Pan)

Cook’s Country’s recipe for Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches yielded a number of interesting techniques. One was to butter the exterior of the bread, rather than adding butter to the hot pan. Our test cooks found this produced the most even browning. 

2. Lower the Heat

Don’t use high heat when making a grilled cheese. This scorches the outside before giving the interior cheese time to melt. Medium-low is the way to go.


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3. Use a Cake Pan

Use a cake pan to press down on the sandwiches while it’s on the pan (this is our hands-down favorite cake pan). This simulates a panini press and helps create an extra-crisp crust. 

4. Use Mayo (on the Outside)

There’s been a recent trend of slathering the outside of your sandwiches with mayonnaise instead of butter. We’ve tested this out, and there’s certainly benefits to using mayo. Mainly, it’s easier to spread on bread, especially if you’re using cold butter straight from the fridge. Flavor wise, mayo adds a slight tangy note to the sandwich.

In any case, both mayo or butter works fine in this application. Two notes: 1) We don't suggest using light mayo, which doesn’t achieve optimal browning. 2) In our taste test of vegan mayonnaise, we discovered—to our surprise—that Hampton Creek Just Mayo bested Hellman's in every test . . . even on the outside of a grilled cheese.

5. Make It Melty

Do you struggle to get those aged cheeses like cheddar and gouda to melt properly? Make a cheese paste. Watch this video make your next grilled cheese sandwich perfect (and tailored to you!).

Watch Julia apply these steps and make the crunchiest, tastiest grilled cheese.

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