This post was created in partnership with Breville.
All thoughts and opinions are always my own.
The perfect grilled cheese isn't fancy. It doesn't have decadent cheeses with various toppings that you have to go to a specialty store for. The perfect grilled cheese is really one of the simplest and most pleasurable bites we can take. You know that delicious bite that is in the middle of the sandwich? The one that has no crust around it and it's all just melted cheese and crunchy bread? Yeah, that's the bite grilled cheese lovers crave.
There are only three ingredients needed for the perfect grilled cheese. Just three. That's it.
The preferred bread for the perfect grilled cheese is either fresh sourdough or good quality white bread. It might sound a little funny to hear "good quality white bread." What I mean is just not that white bread that is going to disintegrate when you pick it up.
The bread should be sliced about ½" thick. Too thin and it squishes into nothing; too thick and it's too much separation between the crunch and the melted cheese.
Fat always goes on the outside of the grilled cheese. We're not making a toast sandwich. If there's no fat on the outside of the bread, it's really just melted cheese between two pieces of toast. No thanks. Nothing more disappointing than ordering a grilled cheese or a panini and having a dry outside. So let's do it right.
Butter isn't included in the three ingredients of this sandwich, which is what is often used.
Two reasons for not using butter:
1. How often is your butter soft and spreadable unless you store it on the counter? Mine is pretty much never that way (especially when I'm in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich). When I want a grilled cheese, I don't want to wait. It's gotta be ready to go because I'm hungry.
2. Butter doesn't brown quite like the ingredient I'm about to talk about does.
Mayonnaise is the secret ingredient that we use on the outside of the grilled cheese (well, it's not a secret, it's just the important ingredient).
Mayo is easily spreadable right out of the fridge. Mayo browns and crisps perfectly and evenly. You don't taste the mayo, so if that's what you are worried about, then you don't have to. Mayo is the perfect fat for a grilled cheese.
There are two kinds of cheese I would use for the perfect grilled cheese. Either cheddar cheese (you pick either mild, medium or sharp) or good 'ol American cheese. There's no need to look beyond these choices. Sure, you can use just about any kind of cheese that melts well, and some of them can also make a great grilled cheese. For this perfect grilled cheese, we are sticking to either cheddar or American.
To Shred or to Slice the Cheese?
Shredding the cheese is a great option, but not always necessary. If you are using cheese that is harder like a gruyère and doesn't melt quite as easy as cheddar or American, then shredding is your best bet to an even melt before burning the bread. If it's cheddar or American, then slicing the cheese is totally fine.
There is a little hidden benefit to shredding cheese though, and that's eating the little pieces of melted cheese that have fallen out of the sandwich and crisped up on the griddle.
Cooking the grilled cheese starts with either a pre-heated skillet, griddle or a sandwich press. The heat should be medium-low, and it's a low and slow cook to get that perfect golden bread while melting all the cheese. If the surface is too hot, the bread will burn before the cheese melts. Check the sandwich often and don't be afraid to move it around.
The Breville Perfect Press
I have to say that I was a little skeptical about a kitchen appliance that was specifically for making griddled sandwiches. After the Breville Perfect Press, I'm totally convinced that it is worth having. It's quicker, it melts the cheese faster and more evenly since it cooks from the top and bottom at the same time.
Benefits of the Breville Perfect Press
- It's great when you have kids - I don't know about your hungry kids, but mine isn't in the waiting mood when it's time for a sandwich. The Perfect Press takes a few steps away from my normal routine and his sandwich, so it's ready to eat in less time.
- Quick and even browning - It cooks from both sides and lightly presses the sandwich together.
- Easy clean up - A simple wipe with damp paper towel is really all you need to do to clean the non stick surface.
- Makes two sandwiches at once - There's enough surface area to make two sandwiches at the same time.
- Heats up quickly and to the right temperature - Ready in just under 3 minutes, by my test.
How to use the Breville Perfect Press
It couldn't be simpler and there are really only two options. On/Off and the lid setting to either have it locked for storage, crush control (used here) and open melt for open-faced sandwiches.
- Turn the Perfect Press on.
- By the time you are ready to put your sandwich on, it's pre-heated and ready to go (in 3 minutes).
- Place your sandwich in the Perfect Press and close the lid.
- Remove the sandwich when it's browned to your liking and the cheese is melted.
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The Skillet Method (if you don't have a Perfect Press)
Really any skillet or griddle will work for making a grilled cheese. I find myself grabbing a 10" cast iron skillet for the task. It heats up slowly, which is a good thing because you want to start with a medium-low temperature. You can place the bread in the skillet, then the cheese, then the top part of the bread.
Slicing the the grilled cheese should always be on the diagonal using a serrated knife. There's really no debating this one. Numerous unofficial studies concur that the best way to slice a grilled cheese is on the diagonal.
How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese
Heat your skillet on medium-low or turn on the Breville Perfect Press. Evenly spread mayonnaise on the outside of two bread slices, then place cheddar or American cheese in the middle. Cook the sandwich until it is golden on both sides and the cheese has melted, about 4 minutes. Slice the grilled cheese in half on the diagonal and enjoy.
- 2 slices White or Sourdough Bread (½" thick)
- 2 tablespoon Mayonnaise
- 1 to 2 slices Cheddar or American Cheese
- Pre-heat the Breville Perfect Press or a skillet on medium heat.
- Evenly spread a thin layer Mayonnaise on the outside of the bread and place the cheese slices in the middle.
- Griddle the sandwich until it is golden on both sides and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Give it a press into the skillet (if using that method) to encourage crisping.
- Slice the grilled cheese in half on the diagonal and enjoy immediately.