13 Common Mistakes Everyone Makes With Grilled Cheese

Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich is certainly on the Mount Rushmore of quintessential childhood meals, alongside classics like macaroni and cheese and even chicken nuggets. Between the crunchy bread and the gooey cheesy filling, loving this sandwich is easy. Even still, there are many different ways to create and enjoy grilled cheese. Even starting with the most basic of elements of cheese, butter, and bread, there's plenty of opportunity for variation. People have different bread preparations, and everyone seems to have thoughts on what kind of cheese makes the best grilled cheese. Some people even believe in adding unique ingredients to the cheese to alter and enhance the flavor.

While there are endless ways you can enhance your grilled cheese, there are also plenty of ways to make mistakes when planning, preparing, and cooking the perfect grilled cheese. Thankfully, this sandwich is relatively quick to put together, so even if you make mistakes, making a new grilled cheese takes very little time. But it's always best to get it right the first time if you can, and as you set out to make a delicious sandwich, it's helpful to know what pitfalls may stand in your way.

Choosing the wrong bread

One of the first mistakes you risk making when preparing your grilled cheese is choosing the wrong type of bread. Think of the bread as the foundation of your sandwich. Many cooks will choose simple white bread, but there are certainly even better choices. Brioche bread, for example, has a fabulous taste and color. Authentic brioche feels richer than regular white bread, and you'll undoubtedly find that it only serves to enhance your sandwich. Not only does brioche bread tend to be fluffier, but it also adds a little sweetness to your sandwich, which can complement typical grilled cheese sandwich ingredients nicely.

If you're looking for something a little healthier, consider a whole grain bread. These loaves contain every part of the grain kernel, and thus have all the nutrition of every part of the grain. This means a healthy dose of fiber, iron, and other body-loving vitamins.

From white bread to brioche and even sourdough, there are more unique options than simple white bread. Your choice of bread should depend on the flavor and nutrients you hope to achieve. More than anything, remember that you have a choice when it comes to bread, and this is the perfect place to start taking your grilled cheese game to new heights.

Only buttering your bread

The classic and beloved grilled cheese has butter smothered on the outside of the bread to give it a nice toasted exterior from its time in the pan. And while butter works great, there may just be a better alternative. The debate over whether butter or mayo makes a better grilled cheese is not entirely new, but you may still feel skeptical.

When you make your grilled cheese with butter, you'll achieve a nice golden toast on the outside, but it may not be a consistent toast throughout the bread. Mayo, on the other hand, allows for a more thorough toast on the bread. While butter needs to soften or even melt before you can apply it to bread, mayo is already soft and quite spreadable.

All told, however, these options are similar. In reality, the best option is going to be whatever you feel most comfortable with, both in preparation and for the final product. You should take into account how you'd like the toasted sandwich to look when you're done as well as other ingredients you may include with the cheese in your toasted sandwich.

Not adding a cheesy crust

Preparing a grilled cheese can be simple if you want it to be, but there's also an easy way to enhance your bread. Instead of settling for plain bread, level up your grilled cheese with a Parmesan crust.

To achieve this tasty crust, slather the outside of your bread in butter or mayo, then put grated cheese on the bread. This way, when the sandwich cooks, your cheese crust will cook too. With this crust you'll enjoy a slight sharpness and even saltiness from the Parmesan, as well as a little crunch. This would be delicious all on its own, but if you pair a Parmesan-crusted grilled cheese with tomato soup, it gets even better. You can use white bread to achieve this crust, but it would work well with a nice sourdough too. When adding the Parmesan on the outside, be sure to up your cheese game inside too. Remember, there's no need to stick with the classic American cheese.

Using only one kind of cheese

When choosing your cheese, don't limit yourself by reaching for only one type. Many people will only fill their sandwiches with a plastic style of American cheese that comes in its own plastic wrapping, but cheddar is also an excellent choice. Even still, there's no need to stop there.

Plenty of cheese combinations are absolutely outstanding, but one of our favorites comes in the form of the ultimate grilled cheese with cheddar and gruyere. This sandwich combines cheddar and gruyere to make a sharp, but mostly mellow sandwich, paired with enhanced mayo. While most grilled cheeses use sliced cheese, consider combining your cheddar and gruyere cheese in a food processor. This paste will create a nice texture for the filling on your sandwich that will taste and feel perfect when warm. Plus, if you put mayo on the bread outside, the condiment's sweetness will add a nice compliment to the sharpness of the cheese.

Avoiding experimentation

When preparing your grilled cheese, you'll probably reach for the typical ingredients to put on your bread. That means you'll probably enjoy a primarily cheese-filled sandwich. However, you can (and should) change up ingredients to add even unconventional ingredients that will change your grilled cheese forever.

One way to switch up the classic grilled cheese is by adding peanut butter to it. Though you may grimace a little at this combination, think of it as the next generation of your cheese and peanut butter crackers from that brown bag lunch In elementary school. Another change you could make is to add jelly with peanut butter to your grilled cheese.

If the idea of a fruity grilled cheese sounds fabulous to you, consider making an apple grilled cheese. This recipe called for a nice sturdy bread like sourdough, apple butter, cheddar cheese, apple slices, and butter. This delicious sandwich will be tasty, toasty, and unique. The sweetness of the apples and apple butter is lovely paired with the cheddar cheese. It's like a charcuterie board on bread.

Forgetting the zest

While peanut butter can be an odd addition to your grilled cheese, try not to put limits or constraints on your sandwich additions. Think outside the box and consider slightly bizarre combinations. For example, another ingredient you can add to your sandwich is chiles, and they can add a little spice to your flavor profile and truly transform your grilled cheese.

If you have a favorite spicy pepper, adding that to your sandwich would be a tasty addition, but we love the idea of adding some bright red Calabrian chiles. This flavor will pack a spicy, smoky, warm punch since grilled cheese sandwiches can be relatively simple in flavor profiles. Adding something a little extra is not just enjoyable, but it is also a great way to breathe new life into a classic old favorite that might've gotten a little tired.

Plus, since grilled cheese sandwiches go great with soups, adding hot peppers would make this zesty grilled cheese pair even better with a tasty and even a little spicy chili.

Not using berries

There are so many ways to get creative with grilled cheese. We know peanut butter makes a fascinating addition, and chiles can really add some intrigue to each bite. But what about something sweet and even tart? Rachel Ray adds a truly unexpected ingredient to grilled cheese.

In addition to the cheese for your grilled cheese, Ray throws in a tasty mix of basil, blackberries, and balsamic vinegar. This mix should be prepared together on the stove to create a thick syrup that is a fabulous sauce-like topping over the cheese. Indeed, you could use cheddar cheese in this sandwich, but Fontina cheese is a delicious change-up. You'll love this exciting and slightly tangy cheese. Also, while cheddar is typically yellow, Fontina is white, so the contrast between the berry mixture color is even more pronounced and visually appealing. One thing is for sure — this grilled cheese mixed with Fontina cheese and berries is a mature diversion from the classic sandwich.

Keeping it strictly cheesy

In addition to adding different kinds of cheese to your sandwich, you can also add some pretty underrated veggies to your grilled cheese. You could certainly include some tomato or spinach, but we love the idea of adding in a significantly underrepresented vegetable: leeks.

To make this addition, chop up your leek pretty small and throw it on top of your sliced cheese. Then, when it comes time to cook your sandwich, that leek should sink right into your cheese and mix quickly with that cheesy flavor. Leek will add a small amount of bite that will taste delightful when combined with mellow cheeses and only accentuate your sharp cheese if you choose to add them. In other words, a leek will complement the flavors no matter what cheese you choose to put in your sandwich.

We should note that you must clean your leeks before using them because this veggie tends to be a little on the dirty and gritty side. This extra step will take a little more of your time, but it's absolutely necessary in order to avoid eating dirty veggies.

Setting the temperature too high

When it comes to actually cooking your sandwich, one of the absolute biggest mistakes you're probably making with grilled cheese is getting your pan too hot. And at a certain point, it doesn't matter how many delicious ingredients you add to make your grilled cheese special and unique — if you keep that heat too high, your sandwich will not be as great as you'd like.

A searing pan could result in a sandwich with bread that is extra toasted and blackened without actually having a chance to melt the cheese. To remedy this issue, keep one mantra in mind: low and slow. One way to do this is to turn your pan on, let it come to a medium-low temperature grade, and add your sandwich. Another way you could cook your sandwich on low heat is to actually begin by heating it to a medium temperature and then cranking it to a low temperature when you add your sandwich. If toasted bread is extremely important to you, consider toasting your bread before adding the other ingredients and putting the whole sandwich in a pan.

Forgetting to use a lid

After you ensure you're using a pan with the perfect temperature, you may still find that your sandwich is still missing the mark when it comes to cooking. Thankfully, there's more you can do to ensure that you have perfectly melted grilled cheese. Even better, the hack is quite simple: Use the cover of your pan.

Simply cook one side of your grilled cheese for roughly two minutes. Then, after you flip your grilled cheese to cook the other side, put the cover on top of your pan. After flipping it over, you'll only need a few more minutes on the alternative side. If you're not using a pan since you like your grilled cheese on a griddle, you can cover it too. Follow the same instructions, but since griddles don't have lids, use either a baking sheet or even a heat-safe bowl to cover your sandwich instead. Either way, this helps keep the whole sandwich in the heat and allows for a nice melt of your cheese. Like using a lower temperature, using a lid will help be sure that your cheese gets a reasonable amount of melt.

Only using your spatula for flipping

The biggest goal when creating grilled cheese is to create a sandwich that is toasted on the outside and cheesy on the inside. Both the temperature of your pan and the lid on your pan will help with this process, but it turns out your spatula is a wonderful tool too. To help assist with toasting, we recommend pressing down on your grilled cheese using your spatula. Not only is that sizzle ultra-satisfying, but this may also actually help you achieve a perfectly golden and toasted crust ideal for tomato soup's favorite buddy.

Bear in mind that when you press down, the temperature of your pan becomes even more critical. If that pan is too hot, your grilled cheese will only burn faster when you add some pressure with your spatula. Try not to let this stop you, though; instead, be mindful of that temperature as you use your spatula for a toasting aid.

Strictly pan-frying your sandwich

Different countertop appliances move in and out of popularity. One of the more recent popular appliances has been the air fryer. This device comes in all shapes and sizes, but its main goal is to help you create fried foods without adding a crazy amount of oil or making a mess with the entire process.

While air fryers make great french fries and chicken nuggets, they also produce excellent grilled cheese sandwiches. You'll begin by preparing the sandwich as though it were open-faced. Put butter or mayo on the outside of the bread, and place cheese on the opposite side. Place these pieces cheese-side-up and put this in your air fryer at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes. When the time finishes, your cheese should be melted and delicious looking. Then, assemble the sandwiches and put them back in for an additional four minutes. Lastly, flip them over and cook for four additional minutes. This will reveal an ultra-toasted grilled cheese, perfect for anyone looking for a wonderfully delicious and toasted sandwich. However, since this really does an excellent job of toasting, be sure to pay close attention to just how crispy that bread gets. After all, you don't want to accidentally burn it.

Leaving out the panini press

If you're looking for more of a traditional toasting method for your grilled cheese, consider giving a panini press a try. As Insider explains, the earliest sandwich grill came from Thomas Edison. This machine had two hot grill plates fused together with a hinge. When using the press, you would be able to toast your bread and simultaneously warm up the filling of your sandwich.

Today, the beloved panini press works much the same way. While many people use them to make paninis with crusty bread, panini presses also make a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich. To same such a sandwich, you prepare it exactly as you would if you used a stove top to toast and heat the sandwich. Then, inside of using a pan, you'll place your grilled sandwich on the hot plates and close the lid. The best part about using a panini press is that you don't need to be concerned about whether both sides are getting enough heat since that will already be distributed by simply closing the lid. Upon opening, you'll reveal a sandwich just like the one you would have prepared on the stove, but it has the lovely benefit of having been that much simpler to cook.

All told, don't be afraid of alternative ways of cooking your grilled cheese. Especially if it will help save your time and sanity. Be creative with your cooking methods, just as you are with grilled cheese fillings.