How to Make Grilled Cheese in a Pan (Cheese Toastie)

5 from 4 votes
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How to make grilled cheese in a pan – with tips and tricks for the best grilled cheese (aka cheese toastie) every single time! All you need is 3 base ingredients and under 10 minutes for this classic snack, side, or main! Gluten-free and vegan options included!

Cheese Toastie cut in two

Recently I’ve really enjoyed sharing all my meals in my Instagram stories; no matter how simple or complex, it seems like you’ve really enjoyed it – and I’ve loved getting your feedback, too. Most recently, I’ve shared recipes including steamed mushroom dumplings with gyoza sauce, mushroom tacos with authentic corn tortillas and salsa Roja, vegan mushroom ragu, breakfast fried rice. And, of course, how to make grilled cheese (aka a cheese toastie)!

A few days ago, I had a grilled cheese for lunch using homemade mozzarella, and I honestly wasn’t even considering putting something so ‘simple’ on the blog… until I was inundated with questions and suggestions, that is! I shouldn’t be surprised, though. Who doesn’t love a perfect grilled cheese with its crispy, crusty buttery-tasting bread and ooey-gooey cheese filling? It’s a classic for a reason!

Cheese Toastie split in two to show the stretchy cheese

While enjoying a delicious grilled cheese may be something many of us remember from our childhoods (and student years!), there are definitely some top tips for making the best grilled cheese you can. In fact, in this post, I’ll include several top tips and a section on the best cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as my personal method for making a stovetop grilled cheese!

And if you love toasted bread breakfast as much as I do, you might like these recipes for Spanish tomato toast, creamy mushroom toast, avocado toast (the blog post includes 30+ ideas for the best toppings), and even French toast!

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The Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Okay, this section of the post is a little bit of a ‘trick question’ style section – because there is no ‘best cheese’ in my opinion – just lots and lots of options!

1. Cheddar

Often considered the ‘king’ of the grilled cheese, cheddar is an excellent option for any grilled cheese sandwich (and a crowd-pleaser!). Use mild, medium, or mature depending on the flavor you want – it’s sharp enough to provide a lot of flavor while also pairing with tons of other flavors and being melty too. You can even get various flavored cheddars for extra flavor and/or combine it with another ‘meltier’ cheese, like Gruyere, etc.

Just note that the sharper the cheddar, the worse it will melt.

2. Mozzarella

Perhaps controversial, but mozzarella is an option I use a lot. It’s super melty and mild enough that it can be ‘jazzed up’ and pair with almost anything (within reason!) – just like pizza, the mozzarella soaks up the flavors of the ingredients around it – delicious.

Half-grated mozzarella cheese in a bowl with a mint leaf

3. Gruyere

Swiss Gruyere is both sharp and sweet with a slightly nutty, earthy flavor (like a softer, milder version of parmesan) – and an absolute classic in French cuisine for dishes like French onion soup and fondue. This cheese is sure to give you incredible ‘cheese pull’ pleasure and great flavor.

4. Gouda

Another cheese with mild flavor yet excellent melting power is gouda from the Netherlands. This semi-soft cow’s milk cheese has an almost sweet buttery flavor which pairs wonderfully when making a sweet and savory grilled cheese (think apples and walnuts perhaps!)—the older the gouda, the ‘nuttier’ the flavor, and the stiffer the texture. Choose young gouda for the best cheese pull!

For extra flavor, you could use a delicious smoked gouda!

5. Manchego

Spanish manchego is made with sheep’s milk and has a complex sweet, savory, buttery, tart, salty flavor with excellent melting power without being too gooey! It would be a great option for pairing with honey or other slightly sweet fillings like chutneys/jams.

6. Monterey Jack

While mild in flavor, American Monterey Jack (and Pepper Jack) is a great option for grilled cheese – especially with Mexican or Tex-Mex flavors. It’s often compared to a mild cheddar or Colby cheese and melts wonderfully. Use Pepper Jack, with its’ added chili flavor, if preferred.

Other Options

Honestly, I could keep on going – but then this section would deserve its own post, so now let’s switch to rapid-fire with more great options for your grilled cheese.

  • Colby – whether used alone or blended with other cheeses, Colby is like a mild cheddar but with a slightly sweeter flavor.
  • Blue cheese – certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. This works best when combined with another cheese and paired with sweet ingredients.
  • Brie – another divisive one. Brie is practically half melted before it even encounters heat, making for a super gooey cheese toastie filling. Pair with ingredients like olives, pesto, apple, mushrooms, etc.
  • Provolone – this cheese is excellent for regular sandwiches and a hero in making grilled cheese with a nutty flavor and great melting ability. Great for Italian grilled cheese – think basil, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.
  • American cheese – okay, this is basically just highly processed cheese slices – but I can’t deny that it’s super-duper melty and a classic choice.

For a Vegan Grilled Cheese

If you don’t eat dairy, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good cheese toastie. Many vegan kinds of cheese are known for not being great for melting. However, there are lots of options that work wonders too!

Look for vegan mozzarella advertised as being meltable. Sometimes vegan cheese slices (like smoked gouda) are also wonderful options and super melty. I also have a vegan mozzarella that would work or vegan cheddar.

The Ingredients

Cheese Toastie Ingredients
  • Bread: when it comes down to is there is no best bread for grilled cheese. White bread, whole wheat, sourdough (my favorite!), ciabatta – most will work well if you use the right technique! For a gluten-free grilled cheese – use gluten-free bread!
  • Cheese: within this cheese toastie, I used homemade mozzarella – because I had some needing to be used. However, read the post above for all the different cheese options. Note that shredded cheese will melt faster than sliced.
  • Butter: I suggest using salted butter for extra flavor. Use dairy-free for a vegan grilled cheese. This is used to crisp up the outside of the bread. Some people alternatively use mayo, but I haven’t entirely wrapped my head around that one yet.
  • Optional: since I used mild mozzarella in this version, I decided to add a little honey and dried chili for a mixture of sweet, savory, spicy flavor.

Other optional fillings (perfect for mozzarella): Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, grilled eggplant, and peppers (or this eggplant pepper dip), spinach, etc.

If I were to list all the possible add-ins you could use in your homemade easy grilled cheese, we’d be here for days. Instead, I’d love it if you let me know in the comments what you added to yours!

How to Make Grilled Cheese in a Pan

First, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Then add the two slices of bread and lightly toast for 1-2 minutes per side. This is important to not have a ‘soggy middle’. It also creates a crisper texture and slightly more flavor – it’s a win-win.

Add the cheese. Feel free to divide it between both pieces of bread and put it all on one side. Optionally drizzle with a bit of honey and sprinkle with some chili flakes for a quick and easy way to boost the grilled cheese flavor. Then close the sandwich.

Make sure to keep the heat at medium to medium-low – that way, you give the cheese a chance to melt without burning the bread. This is especially important when ‘pre-toasting’ the bread as I do.

Steps for making cheese toastie

Move the cheese toastie to one side of the pan and sprinkle in a little water to the other side – just ½-1 Tbsp is more than enough. Then put on a lid and allow it to steam for 1-2 minutes.

This will help the cheese melt faster without making the cheese toastie go soggy. Just make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bread at all.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid all water – you can add the lid right after adding the cheese to the bread, before making it into a sandwich. Leave the lid on just long enough for the cheese to melt, remove the lid, create the sandwich, and flip it over to continue cooking until ready.

Once it’s ready, serve it up and enjoy it immediately, eat alone, or accompanied by some tomato soup, fries, or a leafy green salad!

Cheese Toast on a flat surface

FAQs

What can I do if the cheese doesn’t melt properly?

If you’re in that tricky situation where the bread is fully browned, but your cheese still hasn’t melted, don’t worry. It may be a little annoying, but you can fix the situation by transferring the sandwich to the oven at 200ºF/95ºC and heating it for a few minutes until the cheese melts.

How much cheese should I use?

I know it’s tempting, but try to stuff in too much cheese, and it will melt out over the sides and become a mess! I suggest using between 1/4-1/3 cup cheese per sandwich. It can handle slightly more, but I wouldn’t recommend over 2/3 cup grated cheese per sandwich. If you’re using slices, I’d use two slices stacked on top of one another.

Cheese Toastie cut in two

Recipe Notes and Top Tips!

  • Using the right bread: There are only a few tips about choosing bread; don’t use slices that are too thick (the cheese won’t melt) or that have too many holes (the fillings will melt through and burn). Bread that’s beginning to go stale works wonderfully for a cheese toastie as well, as the heat/fat combo helps to rejuvenate it and It actually holds together better than fresh bread.
  • The butter: there are two ways you can deal with the butter in this recipe. The first is to melt it in the pan (as I did), and the second is to simply spread it across the bread before toasting. Either work, I just prefer to add it to the pan as I find it helps to avoid potential sogginess, but others would argue that you don’t thoroughly coat the bread this way – it’s up to you.
  • Don’t turn the heat too high: otherwise, the bread will burn before the cheese melts. Low and steady is the name of the game when it comes to a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Have fun experimenting: really, the biggest tip I can give anyone to make the perfect grilled cheese is to experiment and have fun doing it. Try different cheeses, different fillings, different bread!

Other Cheesy DIYs

If you try this grilled cheese recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d really appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Make Grilled Cheese in a Pan (Cheese Toastie)

5 from 4 votes
By: Samira
How to make grilled cheese in a pan – with tips and tricks for the best grilled cheese (aka cheese toastie) every single time! All you need is 3 base ingredients and under 20 minutes for this classic snack, side ,or main!
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 toasties

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 slices of bread use gluten-free if needed.
  • 3 oz cheese read post for a complete list of recommendations!
  • 0.7 oz butter
  • 2 tsp honey optional
  • dried chili optional

Instructions 

  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the two slices of bread and lightly toast for 1-2 minutes per side. This is important to not have a ‘soggy middle’ with a crisper texture and slightly more flavor – it’s a win-win.
  • Add the cheese. Feel free to divide it between both pieces of bread and put it all on one side. Optionally drizzle with a bit of honey and sprinkle with some chili flakes for a quick and easy way to boost the grilled cheese flavor. Then close the sandwich.
    Make sure to keep the heat at medium to medium-low – that way, you give the cheese a chance to melt without burning the bread. This is especially important when ‘pre-toasting’ the bread as I do.
  • Move the cheese toastie to one side of the pan and sprinkle in a little water to the other side – just ½-1 Tbsp is more than enough. Then put on a lid and allow it to steam for 1-2 minutes.
    This will help the cheese melt faster without making the cheese toastie go soggy. Just make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bread at all.
    Alternatively, if you want to avoid all water – you can add the lid right after adding the cheese to the bread, before making it into a sandwich. Leave the lid on just long enough for the cheese to start melting, remove the lid, create the sandwich, and flip it over to continue cooking until ready.
  • Once it’s ready, serve it up and enjoy it immediately, eat alone, or accompanied by some soup, fries, or a leafy green salad!

Notes

  • Using the right bread: there are only a few tips about choosing bread; don’t use slices that are too thick (the cheese won’t melt) or that have too many holes (the fillings will melt through and burn). Bread that’s beginning to go stale works wonderfully for a cheese toastie as well, as the heat/fat combo helps to rejuvenate it and it actually holds together better than fresh bread.
  • The butter: there are two ways you can deal with the butter in this recipe. The first is to melt it in the pan (as I did), and the second is to simply spread it across the bread before toasting. Either work, I just prefer to add it to the pan as I find it helps to avoid potential sogginess, but others would argue that you don’t thoroughly coat the bread this way – it’s up to you.
  • Don’t turn the heat too high: Otherwise, the bread will burn before the cheese melts. Low and steady is the name of the game when it comes to a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Have fun experimenting: Really, the biggest tip I can give anyone to make the perfect grilled cheese is experiment and have fun doing it. Try different cheeses, different fillings, different bread!

Read the blog post for answers to more FAQs and extra notes on the best cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches and the other ingredients!
Course: Appetizer, Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Shelf life: Eat Immediately

Nutrition

Serving: 1toastie, Calories: 371kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 66mg, Sodium: 595mg, Potassium: 102mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 674IU, Calcium: 361mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

  1. Hannah says:

    5 stars
    Yummy yummy. It looks delicious

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      I hope you give it a try, Hannah!

  2. Cherie grieco says:

    Love this this is simple and easy for everyone to do.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you so much for your comment!