grilled cheese recipes/tips/techniques/hacks

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Well-known member
Mar 24, 2018
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northern Midwest USA
Two and a half weeks ago, I promised to post "Polar Vortex grilled cheese".
The reward for your patience is a technique that's much more suited to van dwellers: "No Mess grilled cheese". :)

Please feel free to post your own tips, techniques, hacks.
I had assumed there'd be an existing "grilled cheese" thread, and was shocked there wasn't a single cooking thread with "cheese" in its title.
I felt obliged to start one, being in The Land of Cheese and Cheeseheads. :)

"No Mess grilled cheese":
Make it with the same parts you'd normally use, except do not use butter/margarine/etc on the outside of the bread.

Most of you are thinking that eliminates the best part, the warm toasted fat. :)
The key to this, as with many Cooking Conundrums...


Specifically, pre-cooked bacon (more about that below).

One or two strips or a pile of "bits", placed between the bread, gives you a good dose of warm fat. It has a different "mouth feel", but the overall effect works, at least for me. :)
It's particularly good if the cheese is mozzarella (again, a subjective experience).

The cool thing is this makes no mess, beyond a few bread crumbs, and is insanely easy/fast to make. At most, use a bit of paper towel to brush out the crumbs.
Expect your Beagle to be disappointed. :)

If you're in S&B or have lots of water, one wouldn't do this.
In a water constrained boondocking situation, this is an easy way to make some morale food.

Here's the insides, ready to toast:

Outside, after skillet "dry" toasting:

Inside, after toasting:

Pre-Cooked Bacon:
If you're not familiar with this, it's pre cooked and shelf stable, good for about a year without refrigeration. One is "supposed" to refrigerate it after opening, however reputable backpacker sites claim it's safe (due to the high salt content) as long as you eat it within a few days. Last summer, I stored a pack in a soft sided cooler with just a large fast-food soda cup full of ice (replenished daily) for about a week, and had no digestive issues. Your mileage may vary.

You don't have to warm it (thought it tastes better warm), and it only leaves a light fat coating on anything it comes into contact with.

It's available at most grocery stores, usually in the bacon area.
Size is typically about 2.5 ounces, with 9 to 12 regular sized strips of bacon, costing about $4.
It's sporadically on sale for around $2.50 (which is close to Aldi's regular price). When I see it on sale, I stock up.

Even cheaper is real bacon bits, which cost about $1.30 for 2.5 ounces (generic brands). They pack better (soft package, instead of cardboard box), are better (IMO) for scrambled eggs, and I find I use fewer bits than strips.
I only found out about those last summer, and had a major "doh!" moment. I now mostly buy them.
Bacon bits are messier when used in grilled cheese, but even worst case scenario (which I've ably explored), they spill some, but are easy to fix.
Polar Vortex grilled cheese sandwiches:

Ingredients (all are approximate - experiment & tweak to your own taste):
  • about half a stick of margarine or butter or whatever
  • a couple of spoonfuls of mayonaise (I use fast food packets)
  • one or two spoonfuls of grated parmesan cheese (I sometimes use fast food packets)
  • sliced bread (I usually use Walmart's $1 Italian loaf with sesame seeds)
  • your choice of cheese slices or grated (I mostly use "American", but occasionally use whatever real cheese I have)

Melt the margarine/butter, mix in mayo & parmesan.

Heat frypan (optionally use some margarine/butter/whatever, depending on type of pan).

Dip one side of a bread slice into mix (or spread mix onto bread), put into frypan ("mix" side down), add cheese, top with another one-side-dipped/spread bread slice (mix on outside).
Fry to desired crispness, flip, fry other side.
Makes enough for one to two people.

It's fancier and more decadent than "normal" grilled cheese, yet only a tiny bit more complicated (after the first batch or two).
Even better served with tomato soup.
Perfect treat for a frigidly cold day. :)

One batch being cooked:

Steaming bowl of Tomato soup:

Only downside is clean up, with major mess in your skillet, plus the dipping bowl.
Your Beagle will be happy. :)
Processed, chemically preserved, meat is very bad for you, as is trans fat margarine.

Be careful with meat in general. You can smoke your own jerky, but the time I got seriously sick was when I left the meat in the brine for too long - even in colder weather.
I like the bacon bit on the grilled cheese sandwich idea. I have been using the packaged bacon bits for years to make burritos, put on baked potatoes and salads. My grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty plain. Sometimes I will put a slice of ham in with the cheese. I'm just using american cheese.

Heat skillet with a pat of butter and place the sandwich in after melted, swirled to coat bottom and toast turning when toasted. After turning, move the sandwich around to soak up the rest of the butter. A lower heat assures it is heated through.

And a variation is to spread mayo on the outside and toast it that way. Makes for a sweet taste.

Cleanup is as simple as wiping the pan well with a paper towel. I generally treat pans like cast iron, no water wash to remove any oil that seeps into the pores. I spray a little alcohol on the pan and let it air dry, no rubbing. Reheating the skillet must kill any bacteria as it hasn't made us sick yet.

I haven't used margarine since I was a kid.

I've made it to 70 eating all this trans fat stuff (and all the other bad for you stuff). I gotta die of something and I want to be as happy as I can without depriving myself. As in anything, moderation is the key.
I like the bacon bit toasted cheese sandwich idea. I already use the precooked bacon bits, not the wanna be bacon bits.

I guess I make the boring american cheese sandwiches and sometimes throw in a slice of ham. I don't use margarine as it is artificial in my book.

A pat of butter in the pan until melted, drop in sandwich and toast. Flip when toasted and move around in pan to soak up the rest of the pat of butter. Too high of heat and it is cold in the center. IK use a 7" skillet.

Cleanup has always been just a paper towel to wipe it well and the a spritz of alcohol to let it air dry. No wiping after spray.

Everything is bad for you in enough quantity. I've made it to 70 eating and drinking all the bad for you stuff all my life. I don't eat anymore artificial stuff than I have to but processed meat is an exception (and there are many). It would be kind of tough hauling around a side of bacon to use without it. I gotta die of something and I want to enjoy life as much as I am able and depriving myself is not enjoyment. YMMV
B and C said:
...Snip...   eating all this trans fat stuff (and all the other bad for you stuff).  I gotta die of something and I want to be as happy as I can without depriving myself.  As in anything, moderation is the key.

^ This...

Toasted cheese and tomato soup from December to March in the NE.
Got to be toasted, either mayo or a lightly salted butter product on the outside, any cheese on the inside. For a change of pace I'll add some spicy mustard and If I remember I'll pick up a tomato and slice it thin, some browned onions, all added before browning the other side. I've been known to do 1 over easy egg on top of the finished product and eat it with a fork.

Now I'm hungry..... and out of cheese  :(
We all had yummy grilled cheese sandwiches and loaded potato soup for dinner last night in YARC Camp. YUM!
Yep, we just had the bacon bits in the american cheese grilled sandwiches this morning. Yummm. Wish I had known a long time ago. Using the bacon bits is a whole lot easier than frying bacon (and cleaner too).
Mmmmmmm, yummy thread!
Anything that is soooo delicious is probably going to clog your arteries of course. The price of decadence.
Came across one recipe a few years ago that used mayo and shredded cheese on the outside, giving it a crispy cheese texture on the outside that I loved.
The parmesan to the outside is a great tip as is the outer butter/ mayo/ parmesan tip.
I put parmesan on everything, salads, mashed potatoes, rice, eggs, even a mock Mac and cheese using ramen noodles and parmesan which is quite tasty.
The beauty of parmesan, no refrigeration needed, it will last kept in a cool place.

Using a strong cheese on the inside like gruyere or Munster also can give it more bite. Add bacon or ham, just takes it over the top.
I'm lusting and salivating right now.

If you do a Google on best/greatest grilled cheese ever, lots of ideas and methods to explore.
Here's one,

At the Tillamook cheese factory tour and restaurant, the grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of their most popular items, besides the ice cream of course. And the free cheese samples, highly recommended stop if you're in the area.
@Kaylee, you had to do it didn't you?
Just starting the thread with recipes wasn't enough, you had to add the food porn pics...
You teasing harlot.
C'mon, admit it, you work for a cheese company.

Now I'm like a dog after a bone, can't get the thought or impulse out of my brain until my taste buds have been fully satiated.
And the only ingredients that I have are the bread, mayo and some land o lakes butter type spread.

Luckily, there's a Walmart within walking distance.
Guess where I'm going real soon for some cheese and bacon bits.
Your timing couldn't have been better for my situational circumstance. And it's a cool, rainy day. Thx.
Brian, as we figured out a few weeks ago, you are my culinary brother! :)

Matlock said:
For a change of pace I'll add some spicy mustard
Now I'm hungry..... and out of cheese
Matlock, do you put the mustard on the inside? It sounds like it, but just making sure.
Awesome hacks/tips! :)
I've done ketchup on the inside, and it works well with plain old humble American cheese singles.

I definitely feel your no cheese pain, and promise to post a "shelf stable cheese" thread.

As I mentioned in another thread, the weekend before the Polar Vortex, the motel was fully booked (prior to them kindly letting me stay), so I spent that weekend in my broken down van and a kind local cafe.
When I returned (via rural taxi), I brought a bunch of food, but forgot my cheese, margarine, tomato soup, and meat. Grrr!Argh!

I had remembered the new loaf of bread I'd bought (specifically for grilled cheese), so was doubly frustrated.
Fortunately, in my tub of sundry Old Food items, found a 6+ year old can of "Bega" cheese, then ordered bacon bits from Walmart (plus 2 other shelf stable meats and some baking supplies). :)
Last year I had bought a #10 can of freeze dried mozzarella, that I finally broke down and opened (yes, most of the pictures above & below feature freeze dried cheese, FTW!).

Last weekend, I ran out of bread, which was the impetus for finally baking my first ever genuine Loaf of Real Bread (I'd previously done soda bread and some flatbreads).
That was enormously satisfying! :)

First thing I did was make No Mess Grilled Cheese...

loaf in pan:

loaf by itself (it has a homely Nerf Herder aura):

outside, after grilling/pan-toasting:

inside, gooey goodness:

Abnorm: you reading this?!?
The ToastPorn is for you! :)

For everyone:
Toast was one of the issues I was concerned with, after I made the decision to do vandwelling, and started preparing.
Thanks to those who have posted their Toast Tips here & elsewhere.
That gave me the impetus to try grilled cheese without butter/margarine.
Toast issue solved! :)

I'll end with some relevant Wisdom from Julia Child:
"Fat gives things flavor."
"With enough butter, anything is good."
"If you’re afraid of butter, use cream."
"People who love to eat are always the best people."
"Life itself is the proper binge."
Here's how I do it.

Spread mayo on a slice of sourdough and place in pan mayo side down to grill (I like mine with a few burned spots to add a charred flavor)
Add Gruyere, Mozzarella and Black Forest ham to the bread

Spread a few dots of Huichol hot sauce on the inside of the second piece of sourdough and mayo on the outside

Flip to continue to brown
I loved Grilled Cheese ever since I was a kid.

Who needs "arteries" anyway?

Mine are still working and no meds so far. Arteries are probably smaller than they should be though. A baby aspirin a day and plenty of water does make the blood a little thinner for easier flow.

Edit to add: What good would life be without the little pleasures anyway.
I'd never even thought of trying it fried with only mayo! :)
I just ripped apart all my bags/tubs with condiments, and found only one packet. I'm out of bread, but was planning to bake another loaf Friday.
I will try that single packet.
Thanks! :)

From everything I've ever read, it's the folks with consistently bad dietary practices who have problems.
I'm with you. :) Embrace generally good food practices, then we can indulge in those mild comfort foods that do wonders for our morale.
Joyous people live longer. :)

P.S. I've prepped half the pics for the shelf-stable-cheese thread. Just have to crop&shrink one final set, then I'll post it, probably Friday, depending on how busy my volunteer job is.
Fridays & Mondays are peak volunteer days, however there's a particularly noisy bunch of snowmobilers this long weekend, so I may end up just doing nice simple food picture cataloging & prepping. :)
you can also make another version of skillet cooked, grilled cheese sandwich....the Monte Cristo

swiss cheese + ham for the filling

some type of white bread

then carefully coat the assembled sandwich with the egg mixture used to make French toast

cook on at a heat level about halfway between medium and low, it helps to melt the cheese more quickly if you put a lid on the skillet turning it into a mini stovetop oven

serve with some maple syrup if you wish, the maple, cheese and ham make a good flavor pairing
^^^ I do the same lid trick to get the cheese to melt low and slow, Maki.

My ex used to make grilled cheese with sauerkraut. At first it was weird, but it's really like a minimalist reuben sandwich. The trick is to use a paper towel and squeeze most of the liquid out of the sauerkraut so the cheese will stick to it and not get wet and slimy.

Ugh, now I'm hungry for a full on reuben. I need to figure out how to make a good gluten free pumpernickel-style bread.


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Angie LOL and good luck with your worthy Quest! :)

A couple of years ago, on buck-slice day at a KwikTrip gas station, I saw a "bratwurst pizza", was initially leery, but decided I had to try it. Brat bits and sauerkraut... amazing! :)
Some day, I want to try recreating that. :)

P.S. Pizza is just really big grilled cheese, right?!?
Kaylee said:
I'd never even thought of trying it fried with only mayo!

I got the idea years ago from a mayo commercial. It's mostly oil, so...
^^Kaylee - brats and sauerkraut on pizza does sound good. I've had them and caramelized onions as filling in an omelette. It was great.

^^MrNoodly - I saw that same commercial. It turns out pretty good.


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