April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day!

National Grilled Cheese Day is celebrated annually on April 12. All grilled cheese sandwiches have three basic ingredients: bread, cheese, and grease. Beyond these three things, the sky is the limit on additional toppings and flavors of grilled cheese sandwiches. 

All types of breads can be used for grilled cheese, but firmer breads hold a sandwich together better than softer breads. Sourdough and French bread are my favorite breads to use for grilled cheeses. Bread can add additional fun and flavor to a grilled cheese sandwich— try making your next grilled cheese with garlic bread to change it up. 

The best cheeses to use for grilled cheese sandwiches are medium-soft to medium-hard; too-soft cheese will melt too much and make the sandwich fall apart, and cheeses that are too hard will not melt correctly for the typical grilled cheese consistency. If you do use harder cheeses, like cheddar, for your grilled cheese sandwich, shredded cheese melts better than sliced cheese.

Greases are a very important part of any grilled cheese sandwich. You can use butter, margarine, or mayonnaise for your grilled cheese, but I have found that butter works best. While putting your chosen grease on the pan can work, the sandwich is typically more flavorful if you directly grease the pan-side of the bread directly and cover the entire side. 

A grilled ham and cheese is a great meal any time of day!
Photo by Laura E. Palmer.

If you are using butter or margarine directly on bread, make sure it is at room temperature to ease the spread. To add an extra burst of flavor to your grilled cheese sandwich, try using a flavored grease like garlic butter on your next sandwich.

There are different ways to cook a grilled cheese sandwich as well, though the two most popular are stove-top in a skillet or in the oven. Making a grilled cheese in a skillet on the stove is the easiest and most common way to cook your sandwich, but ovens are useful for bigger sandwiches with more toppings. To cook a grilled cheese sandwich in an oven, put an even amount of cheese and toppings on each piece of bread on a pan or skillet at 350°F; cook time on each sandwich depends on the amount of toppings.

Here are five grilled cheese sandwich recipes to try making this National Grilled Cheese Day:

FIVE CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE

2 pieces of bread

2 pieces of American cheese

2 pieces of provolone cheese

2 pieces of Colby-Jack cheese

2 pieces of mozzarella cheese

½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

1-2 tablespoons of butter

Heat skillet on stove while letting butter warm to room temperature. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place the buttered side of your first piece of bread on the skillet and start layering your cheeses. You can use any medium-soft to medium-hard cheeses you want but be sure to put any shredded cheeses between pieces of sliced cheeses. 

Place the second piece of bread, buttered side out, on top of the cheese. When the first piece of bread is golden-brown, carefully flip the sandwich with a spatula. When the second piece of bread is golden-brown, remove the sandwich from the skillet.

BREAKFAST GRILLED CHEESE

2 pieces of bread

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 slices of pepper jack cheese

1 egg, fried

1 slice sugar ham

1-2 slices of tomato

1-2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is preheating, let your butter warm to room temperature. Fry the egg and ham in two separate skillets. You can use any breakfast meat, like bacon or sausage, for this sandwich, but sugar-cured ham is my go-to.

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place the buttered side of both pieces of bread on a skillet, pan, or cookie sheet. Put ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese on each piece of bread. Put the fried egg on one piece of bread. Put the ham on the other piece of bread and place the pepper jack slices on top of the ham. 

Place in the oven until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden-brown. Immediately after removing the sandwich from the oven, so the melted cheese can stick the sides together, combine the sides of the sandwich.

GRILLED HAM AND CHEESE

2 pieces of bread

6 slices of provolone cheese

4 slices of deli ham

1-2 tablespoons of butter

Heat the skillet on the stove while letting butter warm to room temperature. Sear ham on a skillet on the stove or a pan in the oven to release moisture; when ham is heated up it releases water and without cooking it prior to putting it on the sandwich it can make the bread soggy.

Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place the buttered side of your first piece of bread on the skillet. Put two pieces of provolone cheese on the bread, then two pieces of the ham, then two more pieces of cheese. Repeat this pattern as many times as desired, as long as cheese is touching both pieces of bread. 

Place the second piece of bread, buttered side out, on top of the cheese. When the first piece of bread is golden-brown, carefully flip the sandwich with a spatula. When the second piece of bread is golden-brown, carefully remove the sandwich from the skillet.

BLT GRILLED CHEESE

2 pieces of bread

4 slices of Colby-Jack cheese

2 slices of Swiss cheese

2 pieces of bacon

1-2 slices of tomato

1-2 leaves of lettuce OR ¼ cup of shredded lettuce

1-2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is preheating, let butter warm to room temperature and fry bacon in a skillet. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place the buttered side of both pieces of bread on a skillet, pan, or cookie sheet. Put 2 slices of Colby-Jack cheese on each piece of bread. Put bacon on one piece of bread. Put tomato on the other piece of bread and place a piece of Swiss cheese on top of each.

Place in the oven until the cheese is melted and bread is golden-brown. After removing from the oven, put lettuce on the sandwich and combine both sides of the sandwich.

MAC AND GRILLED CHEESE

2 pieces of bread

4 slices of American cheese

1 box of Kraft macaroni and cheese

1-2 tablespoons of butter

Prepare a box of macaroni and cheese according to the instructions on the box. I prefer Kraft because it’s cheap and easy, but any box or homemade macaroni and cheese will do. Once macaroni and cheese is finished, put a ¼ – ½ inch layer of pasta on a cookie sheet to freeze. This helps the pasta stay together on the sandwich. It also makes the sandwich-making process much easier if you freeze the macaroni in the shape of your choice of bread.

A mac and grilled cheese tasty way to bring childhood favorites into adult life.
Photo by Laura E. Palmer.

Heat the skillet on the stove while letting the butter warm to room temperature. Remove frozen macaroni and cheese from the freezer and, if you have not already, cut it into the shape of your bread. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Place the buttered side of your first piece of bread on the skillet.

 Put two pieces of American cheese on the bread, then place a section of your pasta on your sandwich. Put two pieces of American cheese on top of the macaroni, then place the second piece of bread on top. I also like using mozzarella and Colby-Jack on these kinds of grilled cheeses, but American cheese melts easiest and is the same type of cheese used in Kraft macaroni and cheese, so the flavor is more cohesive. 

When the first piece of bread is golden-brown, carefully flip the sandwich with a spatula. When the second piece of bread is golden-brown, carefully remove the sandwich from the skillet.

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