Why Your Microwave Is The Secret For Even Better Grilled Cheese

Iconic American sandwiches like the Reuben, Muffaletta, and turkey club are all evidence of an extravagant and beloved sandwich culture. However, there's something to be said for the simplicity of a humble, three-ingredient grilled cheese sandwich. The decadent and comforting taste of crunchy buttery toast and gooey, savory melted cheese coupled with the ease of execution makes them a beloved household recipe.

While everyone has a personal preference for favorite types of cheese and bread, most grilled cheese recipes employ a stovetop method to achieve that perfect textural contrast. It'll come as a surprise, then, that your microwave is the secret to an even better grilled cheese. Placing the uncooked cheese and bread sandwich in the microwave before toasting it in a skillet may tack on an extra step but will save you time and ensure the best possible textural contrast.

A quick 40-second to one-minute stint in the microwave will completely melt the cheese while giving you the perfect window of time to get your skillet nice and hot for the perfect toasted crunch. A classic stovetop recipe requires a low, slow cooking method so that the bread will toast at the same rate as the cheese melts. By using the microwave to melt the cheese first, the skillet is strictly for toasting your bread, which is done over high heat in half the time.

Tips for microwave-grilled cheeses

Some microwave grilled cheese recipes opt for toasting the bread, assembling the sandwich, and then microwaving it to melt the cheese because it'll reduce cooking times even more. However, finishing the sandwich in the microwave will sabotage its texture. As the cheese melts, it'll steam the bread, diluting the buttery flavor and softening that desired toasted crunch. Toasting the bread after melting the cheese helps dry out the moisture imparted by the microwave so it can better absorb the butter used to toast it.

The slice of bread touching the microwave-safe plate will incur the most moisture, so you should place the side of the sandwich touching the plate on the hot skillet first. If you're worried about soggy bread, you can also wrap the cheese sandwich in a paper towel before microwaving it. A dry paper towel will absorb a lot of the moisture from the bread, which will cut down on toasting times in the skillet. A standard slice of sandwich bread shouldn't take more than two minutes per side to crisp up, while thicker, crustier slices might take longer. Unless you're using American cheese singles, shredding cheese onto the sandwich will facilitate faster, more uniform melting.