10 Best Cheeses for Grilled Cheese
There are few sandwiches that have more universal appeal than the grilled cheese. For many the combination of buttery, crunchy bread and gooey cheese is the perfect comforting bite. Paired with soup and prepared with the best cheese for grilled cheese, it can soothe a cold and provide warmth on a rainy day.
However, any grilled cheese lover knows that not all cheeses are acceptable. There is not one best cheese for grilled cheese. Rather, a cook must consider also the best bread for grilled cheese, the best condiments, and sides. It’s not unlike finding the perfect wine pairing. Each of the cheeses listed here was chosen for its flavor, condiment compatibility, and ability to melt into the ideal creamy texture. Below you can find your perfect best cheese combination for grilled cheese.
Named after a Swiss village, Gruyere’s melt is what makes it a best cheese for grilled cheese. It’s nutty flavor pairs well with ham and is a wonderful contrast to fruit jam. Caramelized onions can also be a nice addition to gruyere grilled cheese.
Imported gruyere can be a little on the expensive side, $20-$25 per lb.,but it’s flavor is worth a little extra.
This Spanish, sheep’s milk cheese not only has fantastic melting capabilities, but also delivers a nutty, buttery flavor second to none. Traditionally, this cheese is paired with the spanish ham Jamon Serrano, but it can also work nicely with herbs and sundried tomatoes.
Manchego generally runs about $18-$20 dollars per pound, and while some groceries keep it in stock, it’s not as readily available as others on this list. A trip to a cheese shop might be required, or it can be ordered online.
Though it is often associated with fondue, Emmental, considered the true “Swiss” cheese, is also a best cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s natural sweetness and mild, nutty flavor make an Emmental grilled cheese the perfect partner for a creamy tomato soup. Fresh basil can add a bright, fresh flavor.
While more expensive than other Swiss cheeses at around 17$ per lb, Emmental is a superior product. However, if it’s just not in the budget, a more modestly priced Swiss will still make a yummy sandwich.
For a more sophisticated flavor, Fontina is optimal. It’s rich earthiness compliments sauteed mushrooms, and apples work well for a sweeter pairing. A smear of pesto can bring a nice brightness to a fontina grilled cheese.
The prices on fontina can vary, any where from 12$-20$ per lb, and is generally widely available in grocery stores and specialty shops alike.
With its rich, buttery flavor, Provolone stands up well to fatty meats like pork shoulder and spicy cured meats like soppressata. It’s superior melting ability is another thing that makes it a best cheese for grilled cheese.
Provolone is a popular, readily-available cheese that can be found for anywhere from 6$-13$ per lb.
Melted gouda, a Dutch, cow’s milk cheese, is exceptionally rich and creamy. It comes smoked or unsmoked, either of which is a best cheese for grilled cheese. An unsmoked gouda plays well with fruity flavors like apple and pear, and roast beef or roasted red pepper are fantastic compliments to a smoked one.
The price of Gouda varies. A young, unsmoked gouda can run as much as 20$ per lb, while the smoked one most found in grocery stores is much more reasonable at around 9$ per lb.
Cheddar is a classic, and for good reason. It is salty and nutty, and, depending on its level of sharpness, can have a lovely tang. Many grilled cheese lovers prefer cheddar on it’s own, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be accompanied by other flavors. The tanginess of a sharp cheddar works with mild fruits like apple, and milder cheddars can take on the bright tartness of cranberry.
Cheddar is likely the most diverse and widely available cheeses around and this is reflected in the range of prices. An aged, sharp cheddar can run as high as $40 per lb and a simple mild cheddar can be found for closer to $7.
3. Pepper Jack
For those looking for a little spice in their grilled cheese, Pepper Jack is the perfect option. Some prefer a little sweet with their heat. For them, the addition of grilled pineapple or mango puree is ideal.
Truly adventurous eaters might up the heat factor with pickled jalapeno or sriracha. A staple in any local mart, pepper jack be found for as little as 10$ per lb.
Havarti, a Danish, semi-soft cheese, brings a mild flavor and amazing texture to the table. It pairs well with a bright pesto or a salty prosciutto. The addition of a fried egg can add even more richness to a Havarti grilled cheese.
Havarti is generally reasonably priced at about 8$ per lb.
1. Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese – American
While gourmands might turn up their noses at American cheese, there is no denying the superior texture and melting capacity of this cheese. It is the ideally gooey grilled cheese of childhood, and is arguably best when on its own between two pieces of buttery grilled white bread.
Another benefit of American is that is won’t break the bank. A package of 24 slices is only going to run about 5$ and is easy to find.
The world of the grilled cheese sandwich is as vast and delicious as the world of cheese itself. Whether a dressed up Gruyere on brioche or a dressed down American on Texas toast, each grilled cheese is uniquely satisfying, and the possible combinations are endless. The only limit is a cook’s imagination. Do you have any favorite cheeses that we missed or mouth-watering recipes? Which one do you consider the best cheese for grilled cheese? Let us know!