Skip to main content

Level up a childhood fave: These are the best cheeses for a fancy grilled cheese

Best grilled cheese: Add a punch of grown-up flavor with these cheeses

It goes without saying that the grilled cheese sandwich is something of a staple when it comes to childhood comfort foods. There are few dishes that provoke such comfort and joy in so few ingredients. And while we all loved some melty Kraft Singles on Wonder bread, our palettes have evolved since childhood, now enjoying far more sophisticated flavors. Well, for the most part. We still love us some processed cheese.

If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time to give that reassuring, warm-memory-provoking little sandwich a makeover, a glow-up, a refresh. It’s time to put away the Kraft Singles (at least temporarily) and explore some of the other incredibly melty, nutty, savory, buttery cheeses available that make for some great alternatives to the classic we all know and love. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, why stop there? After all, the world of bread is every bit as vast as the one of cheese. The flavor combinations of these two ingredients alone are one of the biggest reasons we love European cuisine, isn’t it? And then you throw in the topping possibilities! Caramelized onions, peppery pesto, briny olives, hot-off-the-grill, juicy fruit — it never ends!

Related Videos

Sure, the grilled cheese sandwich is a dream-come-true for picky-eating kids across the globe. But oh, what a travesty it would be to leave it there. We cannot let this beautiful thing die on the children’s menus of chain restaurants. It is up to us to create, explore, and relish in all this delicious sandwich can offer those of us older than the age of nine. Let’s start by exploring some of the best cheeses to star in your next (or first) grown-up grilled cheese sandwich.

grilled cheese

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is wonderful for a grilled cheese sandwich as it has a very mild flavor, melts beautifully, and doesn’t overpower any other ingredients you may want to add. So bolder flavors like barbecue sauce, pesto, or even kimchi will all meld perfectly with Monterey Jack. If you want a bit of a kick but the same meltiness and texture, Pepper Jack is simply Monterey Jack with some dried peppers and herbs thrown in.

What to pair it with: Because of its mild taste, Monterey Jack pairs well with more flavorful breads like marble rye, pumpernickel, or Italian herb.


Rich and gooey, nutty, and creamy brie is one of the most wonderful things there is. Period. There isn’t a thing we can think of that isn’t improved by this delicious cheese, and that includes your next sandwich.

What to pair it with: This French cheese is incredibly delicious melted with apple slices and caramelized onions between two toasty pieces of baguette.


There’s a reason the French will only use Gruyere on their beloved Croque madame. Its earthy nuttiness pairs perfectly with ham and other shaved meats. It also has a wonderfully velvety texture when it melts, making it perfect for a grilled cheese sandwich.

What to pair it with: Ham and other shaved meats, of course.


If we’re talking meltiness, Mozzarella is probably the biggest cheese of them all. Known for its stretchy, stringy, melty mildness in all of its delicious Italian glory, Mozzarella is the perfect cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich.

What to pair it with: With its mild flavor and dramatic melt-factor, you can show off this cheese with a slathering of pesto and fresh tomatoes between two slices of Ciabatta.


This slightly sweet Dutch cheese increases in flavor as it ages. The older the cheese, the more flavorful it is. However, as it ages, it’s also less likely to melt as well as a younger Gouda. So if purchasing for grilled cheese, a younger cheese is preferred.

What to pair it with: Try pairing some sauteed red peppers and shallots in your grilled Gouda. It will go marvelously on brioche.

Cream Cheese

Alright, this is pretty far from extraordinary as far as special cheeses go. And we’re sure that the thought of cream cheese on a sandwich isn’t all that new to you. But, have you ever paired cream cheese with a contrastingly sweet ingredient, slapped it between buttery sourdough slices, and pan fried it? If the answer is yes, good on you. We should be besties. If the answer is no, go do it now. You’re welcome.

What to pair it with: Combine cream cheese in your grilled cheese sandwich with any jam or jelly you can think of. Or slice some fresh fruit and watch the magic happen as they melt together. Perhaps chocolate hazelnut spread is more your style? Try to keep from drooling as you watch these two ingredients become something so incredible it’s otherworldly.

…The answer is butter. The answer is always butter.

There is a bit of debate over whether butter or mayonnaise is the superior spread for pan-frying grilled cheese. Do not be sucked in by this absurdity. Your heart knows the answer.

Editors' Recommendations

Expert pitmasters reveal their top tips to make smoked brisket
Expert pitmasters shows us how to make smoked brisket
hill country barbecue market brisket 3

No one can argue that smoked meat is one of the great joys in life. If someone does, immediately unfriend them — they are not worthy of your time. Kidding, but only kind of. And while we love all pieces of smoked meat, from sausages to ribs and beyond, there’s something truly special about biting into a perfect piece of brisket, with its pink smoke ring, flavorful bark, and juicy meat that is just the right texture. While we’ve cooked many briskets in the oven in our day, smoked brisket is a much bigger undertaking, especially if you’re new to the backyard barbecue game.

New York City barbecue has been coming into its own during the past decade, which can be seen in the city’s many meaty festivals that take place every year. (Don't believe us? Check out this episode of Beards, Booze, and Bacon with Arrogant Swine's Tyson Ho.) One such event, Brisket King NYC, which has been going on for over ten years and draws pitmasters from near and far to compete for the best brisket in the city. This year, top pitmasters will be throwing down for the title on April 26, 2023, in what is sure to be a meat-tastic day.

Read more
Bubbly? Full-bodied and red? Zesty and white? Your favorite wine types, explained
All the primary types of wine (and everything you need to know about them)
Glasses of different kinds of wine

Trying to understand everything about wine all at once is an impossible endeavor. Wine is a beautifully complicated, ever-changing quiddity, and even the most decorated and prestigious wine experts in the world often find themselves confounded by its constant little surprises.
That isn't to say that, if you care to, you shouldn't become educated on the subject of wine. It's a hobby and a passion that's tremendously fun to pursue, and there's much to learn on the matter.
If you find yourself in the beginning stages of your wine education, just as in everything, you'll want to start with the basics. It's possible that up until now, you haven't put much thought into the several different kinds of wine there are, except for, say, red and white. But while there are obviously exceptions within every hard and fast rule, for the most part, wine can be broken down into roughly nine categories. Here we'll take a minute to break those categories down, explain what they mean, which wines fall into them, and, our favorite - how to drink those wines.

Sparkling wine

Read more
This NYC restaurant’s $518, 19-course tasting menu of Chinese cuisine is amazing
Chef Guo in New York is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a feast for the senses and the palate
Chef Guo food.

Butterfly Falls in Love with the Flower.

Step inside the restaurant Chef Guo, and the first thing you'll be greeted with is a majestic model of a ginko tree, the national tree of China, complete with brightly colored golden leaves. The tree cascades over the dining room, a space filled with Chinese calligraphy on the walls and regal Indonesian Zi Tan rosewood chairs. Soft and pleasant Chinese instrumental music plays in the background, an oasis in an otherwise hectic Midtown Manhattan.

Read more