Grilled Cheese

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This is the BEST Grilled Cheese sandwich complete with crispy bread and a combination of three kinds of cheese. We’re spilling all our”secrets” to take your Grilled Cheese experience to the next level without adding any extra effort.

This recipe contains directions for how to make Grilled Cheese in a skillet AND how to make an air fryer Grilled Cheese. (If you have an air fryer, you might not ever go back to a skillet!)

Overhead image of Grilled Cheese on a plate

Our favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

Somehow in the past eight years of posting recipes, I have never shared my go-to Grilled Cheese recipe. Which is a travesty, since we lean on these trusty sandwiches quite frequently. Especially when it’s soup season and Tomato Basil Soup or Easy Tomato Soup is on the menu! Is there a better combo than toasted, buttery bread with loads of melty cheese and a bowl of warm tomato soup?!

But truthfully, the frequency with which we make these sandwiches near tripled after making them in the air fryer a few weeks ago. Talk about a game changer! Yes, these sandwiches are still tasty when made in a skillet, but the texture, flavor, and crispiness you get from air frying is unbeatable. Plus, they are practically all hands-off — the air fryer does all the work!

Today’s recipe is all about an all-American Grilled Cheese sandwich. If you’re looking to make a gourmet Grilled Cheese, I have some suggestions for how to level up your sandwich in the FAQs section. Or skip to our two favorite gourmet Grilled Cheese recipes: Grilled Cheese Margherita Sandwiches or this French Dip Grilled Cheese

Process shots--images of the bread being spread with butter mayo, cheese, and salt

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ingredients

  • Bread. The bread makes all the difference! We want to use thick-sliced bread like Texas Toast. This particular type of bread is sliced thicker than regular sandwich bread– which we’re relying on. If the bread is too thick, the cheese won’t melt and, too thin, the sandwich will be flimsy. Aim for bread sliced about 1 inch thick. 
  • Softened butter. It’s important the butter is thoroughly softened so it can spread easily without mashing up or flattening the bread. Plus we want an even layer of fat to ensure the perfect bread toasting. See “quick tip” below.
  • Mayo. Real, full-fat mayo is our preference for sandwich flavor!
  • Garlic powder. This is optional — if you love garlic, you’ll love what this subtle addition does for the sandwich.
  • Salt is cheese’s best friend: If your grilled cheese doesn’t taste “cheesy” enough, chances are it’s a salting issue. Try adding a touch more salt and see if that doesn’t make a world of difference. Yes, even a sandwich needs salt — you’ll be amazed at the difference this can make!
  • Cheeses. We add three types of cheese! What’s the best cheese for grilled cheese? Our favorite combo is affordable and kids and adults alike love it:  gouda, sharp Cheddar, and Muenster. Delish!


Here’s how to soften butter quickly: Unwrap butter and place it on a plate. Then, fill up a wide liquid measuring cup with 1 cup of water. Microwave the water for 2 minutes or until really hot; then pour out the water and quickly dry the cup. Invert the hot measuring cup on top of the butter. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes.

Process shots of Grilled Cheese-- images of the sandwich being toasted on a skillet

How To Make Grilled Cheese

Making a PBJ may be pretty straightforward, but when it comes to a GC, there are a few tricks to the trade.The full recipe is below, and here are a few of our top tips to make the best possible sandwich:

  • Spread softened butter to the very edges, ensuring good coverage for the perfect crispy exterior. 
  • If making the sandwich in a skillet or electric griddle, my number one tip is low heat and patience. In order for the cheese to melt at the same time the bread takes to toast and develop the ideal crunch and color, the heat needs to be medium-low to low. The total cook time will be anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. Don’t rush it!
    • Heat too high = cheese that isn’t fully melted and/or burned (not toasted) bread. 
    • Start with a cold pan. Don’t preheat the pan like you do for most other recipes. We want the pan to heat up slowly and evenly distribute the heat to the cheese and the bread.

Process shots of Grilled Cheese-- images of the sandwiches being air fried

How To Cook a Grilled Cheese

Any non-stick skillet will work great. If you’re making a lot of sandwiches at once, an electric griddle/flat cooktop is a game changer! You could also use a sandwich/panini press.

As far as air frying goes, we use, love, and recommend this Air Fryer (affiliate link). Air fryers do vary a bit from brand to brand, so the timing for sandwiches may need to be slightly tweaked for your specific model. Also keep in mind that after the initial air fry, the machine is warmed up and will cook subsequent sandwiches a bit quicker.

Overhead image of the sandwich being dipped in tomato soup

Grilled Cheese FAQs

1How many calories in a Grilled Cheese sandwich?

This sandwich has just over 600 calories. The full nutritional breakdown can be found below the printable recipe.

2What is the best cheese for Grilled Cheese?

Cheese is the star of the show here, but who says there’s just one type of superior cheese? We like combining three cheeses for the ultimate sandwich! Our favorites:

  1. Sharp Cheddar cheese
  2. Gouda cheese
  3. Muenster cheese

Other great options: sharp white Cheddar or flavored Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, American cheese, Havarti

3Is mayo or butter better for grilled cheese?

We like BOTH! We enjoy the flavor of both so a little mayo on the inside of the sandwich and butter on the outside.

  • The butter not only adds a wonderful flavor, but it also promotes a nice and even crispy exterior and browning on the bread.
  • The mayo adds a nice subtle flavor and creaminess that nicely complements the cheese.

4What goes good on a Grilled Cheese sandwich?

Here are our favorite additions to “elevate” your sandwich:

  • Caramelized onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Fresh herbs (like basil, thyme, parsley)
  • Pesto
  • Olive tapenade
  • A sliced apple
  • Sautéed spinach
  • Ham or turkey
  • Sautéed mushrooms

5How do you make a Gordon Ramsay Grilled Cheese sandwich?

Gordon’s famous grilled cheese adds kimchi in the middle of the slices! Follow this recipe and add a scoop of kimchi atop the cheese before cooking.

6How can I add flavor to my Grilled Cheese?

Looking for more flavor? Try one of the ingredient adds listed in the 4th question.

For the quickest flavor-add, ensure you didn’t forget salt or even add an extra pinch. Salt is going to bring out the flavors really nicely.

Another way we like to add flavor (quickly) is to add a few other spices on top of the mayo. Try creole seasoning or cayenne for some heat. Add paprika and onion powder for some general flavor.

7Why isn't the cheese melting on my Grilled Cheese?

This is likely because the heat is too high and/or the pan is too hot. The outside is cooking before the inside has a chance to feel the heat.

If you’re cooking several sandwiches, let the skillet cool down a bit in between.

8What can you substitute for butter in Grilled Cheese?

If butter is a no-go, I’d recommend spray the sandwich with olive oil cooking spray or, using a pastry brush, brushing the bread with a thin layer of olive oil.

Serve This Sandwich Alongside:

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Grilled Cheese

5 from 1 vote
This is the BEST Grilled Cheese sandwich, complete with crispy bread and a combination of three cheeses. We're spilling all our secrets to take your grilled cheese experience to the next level without adding any extra effort.
Print Recipe

Grilled Cheese

5 from 1 vote
This is the BEST Grilled Cheese sandwich, complete with crispy bread and a combination of three cheeses. We're spilling all our secrets to take your grilled cheese experience to the next level without adding any extra effort.
Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course, Sandwich
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword grilled cheese, grilled cheese sandwich
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 1 sandwich (recipe scales easily!)
Chelsea Lords
Calories 626kcal
Cost $3.12


For ONE Grilled Cheese (Recipe easily increased!)


  • SOFTEN BUTTER: Set butter out to soften for at least an hour, or refer to note 2 for a quick method to soften cold butter.
  • ASSEMBLY: Brush one side of each Texas Toast slice with 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter. Flip and spread 1/2 teaspoon mayo on the other sides, adding a pinch of garlic powder. Layer 3 slices of cheese on one slice, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and either keep the two pieces of bread separate for cooking in a skillet or, if air frying, press the two pieces together into a sandwich.
  • SKILLET: Set a skillet over medium-low heat (or an electric griddle to 275°F) and place the bread, buttered side down. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden. Sandwich the slices and cook until the cheese melts and the bread is crispy, flipping once, about 3-4 more minutes. The total cooking time is 5-8 minutes. Keep the heat low to prevent burning. Once the cheese is melted and the bread is golden, remove and serve.
  • AIR FRY: Place the sandwich in the air fryer basket (Note 3), ensuring it has plenty of room. Air fry at 360°F for 4-6 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted. Adjust times based on your air fryer model. Remove to a plate.
  • SERVE: Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately.


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Texas Toast: Use thick-sliced bread like Texas Toast for the best grilled cheese. Bread should be about 1-inch thick for optimal results. Adjust cooking times if using different bread thickness.
Note 2: Soften butter quickly: Place butter on a plate. Heat 1 cup of water in a microwave for 2 minutes, then pour out and dry the cup. Invert the hot cup over the butter for 5-10 minutes.
Note 3: Air Frying: If using different bread than Texas Toast, secure the sandwich with 2 toothpicks in the corners to prevent shifting during cooking.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 626kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 26.9g | Fat: 40.9g | Cholesterol: 105.3mg | Sodium: 1147.4mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 3g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

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