Baked Grilled Cheese Is Your Easy Answer To Comforting Meals

Grilled cheese is the meal we want to have on our plates for lunch every day. There are not many ways you can go wrong with a browned piece of bread covered with a buttery spread. When you take a bite in or pull your sliced sandwich apart, the cheese should be melty and Instagram-worthy every single time.

The secret to getting the perfect grilled cheese recipe isn't your stovetop: It's where you cook it. Instead of cooking your sandwich in the pan on your stovetop, turn to your oven to make your perfect grilled cheese at home. It's a secret straight out of the playbook of Natasha Kruvchuk, cookbook author and blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen. Her book by the same name includes a recipe for roasted tomato soup and baked grilled cheese sandwiches. We got the chance to sit down with Kruvchek and ask her about her inspiration for the recipe and tips for making the perfect version at home.

Why the oven is preferable to the stovetop

If you've ever made grilled cheese for a crowd, you've realized how tedious it can be to butter, cheese, and flip many, many individual sandwiches. Cooking your sandwiches in an oven rather than on the stovetop will save you sufficient amounts of time if you're making multiple sandwiches at once. "It's so hands-off, and you can make a big batch to feed a crowd," Kravchuk explains. Kravchuk adds that she had some reservations when she was first developing this recipe. "Is it gonna brown? Is it gonna turn golden and get that irresistible crunch on the outside? And it absolutely does." 

Kravchuk uses a rimmed baking sheet to make her grilled cheese in the oven, which can easily be sized up or down depending on how many sandwiches you need to make. She butters the side of the bread before placing it face-down on the baking sheet. Then, she adds her cheese to the other piece of buttered bread (butter side up for crispiness) and bakes them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes on each side.

Add mozzarella to your sandwiches

One of the most important questions for any grilled cheese aficionado is what type of cheese to add to the sandwich. For Kravchuk, there are two staples: cheddar and mozzarella slices. "I like to combine the two," she explains. "Cheddar adds a really great flavor to grilled cheese and it's so classic. But mozzarella — iit just has that ooey, gooey consistency. When you put those two cheeses together, it makes the most incredible cheese pull you've ever seen. When that happens, nobody can resist the grilled cheese sandwich." 

Besides the Instagrammable nature of the mozzarella, adding it to your grilled cheese also amps up the flavor. You should opt for low-moisture mozzarella for this recipe rather than the mozzarella balls or slices that you get from the cheese section at the grocery store because it will melt better. Mozzarella shreds are also an option; since they have less surface area, they will soften more easily and give you the desired cheese pull effect. 

Pair with tomato soup and cook both in the oven

Nothing goes better with grilled cheese than tomato soup. And Kravchuk's recipe is the perfect accompaniment to her baked grilled cheese sandwiches. To make the most out of her kitchen space, she roasts her tomatoes in the oven before sliding her sandwiches into the already pre-heated oven.

One of the reasons why the grilled cheese and tomato soup combo is so typical in her household is because of how easy it is to store the soup and make the grilled cheese for a crowd. Her secret ingredients for a delicious tomato soup include chopped fresh basil, which has been puréed into the soup with the tomatoes, and heavy cream added to taste. She recommends flavor testing the soup recipe throughout the cooking process to ensure that the seasoning is on par, depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes. While the sandwich and soup are a good match on their own, serving it with a side salad or a crouton garnish can elevate the profile of your pairing into something more sophisticated.

Roast the tomatoes for the soup

Kravchuk's secret for getting the perfect flavor in her tomato soup is to roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet before adding them to a food processor with the other ingredients. Although she typically uses whatever tomatoes are in season in her garden, including heirloom tomatoes and fruits of all sizes, she also uses store-bought tomato varieties in a pinch. She explains that since the tomatoes are roasted on a baking sheet, you can't really tell that the fruits are store-bought. Instead, the roasting brings out the mild caramelization on the edges and creates a slightly sweet, umami profile. 

Kravchuk roasts the halved or quartered tomatoes on a baking sheet with peeled garlic and yellow onion with a drizzle of oil and seasoning. Once the tomatoes have roasted for up to 50 minutes and the edges start to brown and curl, allow the veggies to cool for about 10 minutes while you whip up your grilled cheese with the residual oven heat.