The Heat Mistake You Might Be Making When Cooking A Grilled Cheese

Restaurants and diners serve up the kid-friendly favorite that's just as beloved by adults, but when making a grilled cheese at home, things can get tricky. The chasm between "sandwich that launches you straight back to your childhood" and "desperation snack" is wide and treacherous. It's a drag when you go to all the loving care to craft a beautiful sandwich, only to find the bread is charred and the cheese isn't even totally melted inside. Avoid this unpleasant scene (bummer) with this one troubleshooting tip: Your cooking temp might be too hot.

More than bread or even cheese, perhaps the most important ingredient in a successful grilled cheese is patience. Ideally, the cheese has time to melt in the middle without the bread burning. To reach this sacred sweet spot, place your sammy in the cold pan. As the cooktop heats up, it'll slowly and evenly warm the sandwich from edge to edge. Once the cooktop is heated, your grilled cheese should only take 5-7 minutes to fully cook. As a general rule, keep the heat between low and medium. To ensure an even cook, flip your sandwich more frequently rather than reduce the heat too low or crank it too high.

It isn't rush hour

In a skillet on the stovetop, cook your sandwich over medium heat, then drop the heat to medium-low when you flip it. This will ensure that both sides achieve a crispy, crave-able golden brown toast and that the cheese is melted all the way through. Just be sure not to use a lid, as it'll trap the moisture in and create a soggy, steamed sandwich.

If you're cooking on an electric griddle, 275 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature. Keep it consistent the whole time, monitoring carefully to avoid over-browning. If you're using a panini press, set it to medium heat. 375 degrees is the perfect temp if you're making your grilled cheese in an air fryer. Cook for 7 minutes, flipping halfway through. 

Fat content protects the delicate bread during its tenure on the stove. As such, be sure to slather the outsides of your bread in a generous layer of butter or mayo to stave off scorching. Pro tip: Mayo has a higher smoke point than butter, so it makes a tougher shield against the heat. You could even use a combination of both ingredients.

The cooking temperature doesn't change when you add toppings. But, all additions to your grilled cheese should be ready to eat by the time they get stuffed into your sandwich. That means saute your onions, roast your red peppers, and fry your bacon beforehand; they might wilt slightly, but they won't cook between the bread.