Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe (2024)

By Julia Moskin

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe (1)

Total Time
15 minutes
Read community notes

The trick to making the best grilled cheese sandwich isn't just in the ingredients (mayonnaise and butter, together at last). It's also on the stove. Achieving a golden, crusty outside and oozy inside takes a little patience: if the heat is too high, the outside will scorch before the cheese melts. Cooking the slices separately at first gives the cheese a good head start. There’s no need to search out artisanal loaves or local cheese (though they won’t hurt), but definitely do not use homemade mayonnaise. Mustard, chutney or even strawberry jam (believe it) can be dabbed on the cheese as it melts, or add ham, prosciutto or slices of apple or tomato (drain on paper towels first). You can use any melting cheese, such as American, Muenster or Swiss, but not too much: part of the perfection here is in the proportion of bread to cheese.

Featured in: A Field Guide to the American Sandwich

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Yield:1 sandwich

  • 2slices bread, either soft sandwich squares or large peasant-style slices, not more than ½ inch thick
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2ounces grated cheddar (or other cheese), depending on size of bread

Ingredient Substitution Guide


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Heat a heavy pan over medium-low heat.

  2. Step


    Thinly spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Spread the other side of each slice with mayonnaise and place the bread, mayonnaise-side-down, in the pan. Divide the cheese evenly on top of the buttered slices. Adjust the heat so the bread sizzles gently.

  3. When the cheese is about halfway melted, use a spatula to flip one slice over on top of the other, and press lightly to melt. Keep turning the sandwich, pressing gently, until the sandwich is compact, both sides are crusty, and the cheese is melted.



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Cooking Notes

Julia Moskin

Since mayonnaise is made mostly from oil and salt, it makes sense to use it as the cooking medium for a stovetop sandwich. If you cook it in butter, the bread will tend to burn before the cheese is melted.


- Butter not mayo
- Cheddar cheese or don't bother
- If you really want the cheese to melt, when the sandwich is open, put a glass lid on the pan. It'll heat the cheese better from the top-down.


Why does the sandwich need to be greased inside and out? What purpose does the butter on the cheese side provide? Isn't the cheese fatty enough to carry its own weight and melt without the additional? I'm no cardiac surgeon, and I do love both butter and mayo -- but what does the mayo do? Why no butter on the outside, and that's that? Can someone be kind enough to explain this technique to me.

Laura G.

I've never heard of putting mayo on grilled cheese! The egginess of the mayo was unpleasant. I have learned to make buttery grilled cheese without burning it and the excellent flavor makes it worth the bit of extra attention. This mayo idea (is it a regional thing?) was a dud for my family.


My first trip to Vegas as a very young bride, room service sent my grilled cheese with slightly-garlicky butter. Heaven! The marriage didn't last, but the garlic butter idea did!


Most definitely yes to a THIN (but thorough) schmear of mayo on the outside, but instead of using butter on the inside - which kinda gets lost in the shuffle, flavor-wise - consider an equally thin schmear of mustard to really set off all that cheesy lusciousness...and hey, it couldn't hurt to use rosemary bread either, while you're at it.


until you try it, you don't get it. yes to the mayo. really.


In these troubled times what a delight to read all of the notes and feel their tone of sharing something near and dear to each person's heart.
I'm making a little notebook of them to keep in my cooking diary in the hope of eventually trying every one of them out. I will be thinking of each of you as I do, marveling at how wonderful it is to have something so essential to connect us.


Regarding "liquid garlic" - for many years I have simply sliced a garlic clove in half and just before serving the grilled cheese sandwiches rubbing the outside with the garlic halves, not unlike when I make bruschetta. I urge you all to try this!

Tom Wanamaker

To help the cheese melt before the bread gets burned, I put a domed pot lid over it while it's on the griddle. (It's a trick I learned while working at the Cookery in Fish Creek, WI.)

Zac from VA

I've read a bunch of these notes and I'm baffled that nobody else seems to use my technique, which just seems commonsensical to me.

Butter one side of your bread, then throw another pat of butter in a pan on medium heat and let it melt and spread. Lay the unbuttered sides into the pan and cook separately for a minute or two. Flip one, add cheese to the now-hot top, then cover it with the other hot slice. Cook, flip, cook, eat!

You need more pan space but it's worth it.

s leinweber

thinly sliced red onion in these makes them really great!!


"...but definitely do not use homemade mayonnaise."
I use homemade mayonnaise all the time, and it makes for the best outer crust. One egg, 2 tsp. red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup neutral oil (I use avocado oil). The best mayo and the best grilled cheese sandwiches.


I make grilled cheese sandwiches the way my mother did - by covering the pan. That way, the cheese melts before the bread burns.


I was so eager to try the mayonnaise on the outside - so handy if you don't have soft butter around in the moment that you want a grilled cheese. I felt the mayo was a hit, but next time I would skip the butter on the inside of the sandwich - it made it almost too rich.


So gross. I was so excited to try this and the mayonnaise gives off a really unpleasant wet dog smell. I used hellmans and cooked it on low medium heat in the cast iron. Couldn't eat the sandwich because of the creepy eggy smell.

Aron S.

The mayo idea is genius, it provided a perfectly golden crispiness to the bread. Note: low to medium heat. I took it a step further: applied mayo and grilled both sides before adding cheese. No need for butter this way. I embellished my sandwich by adding some smoked ham. Served with TJ's Tomato and Roast Pepper soup. Winter Yummy-ness.


I made this recipe exactly as written. Several thoughts: first, yes to mayo AND butter. But the technique is completely backwards. After giving this a shot, I did the next batch by melting the butter in the skillet first, then adding the bread, mayo side UP, with cheese on top of mayo. Better yet, use homemade pimento cheese, a slice of tomato, and a slice of ham if you’re hungry for real southern comfort.

Mark Careaga

Try it with Kewpie Japanese style mayo!


As a Canadian we like to eat everything with ketchup and grilled cheese is definitely no exception. My mom would also sometimes bake the grilled cheese for extra crunch and serve with tomato soup. Yummy.


Oh so good! Used pullman loaf of bread and texture was perfect. Did butter on one of the inside slices but not both & they didn't seem overly oily. First bite with mayo is different taste than you are expecting & then it tastes like it was always supposed to be that way. Dijon Mustard on one slice as well

MJ Tastes like fried mayonnaise, despite putting the thinnest layer on I possibly could. I see why you don't fry in butter, but the mayo thing is a huge turnoff to me.


Use mozzarella, sliced tomato, and a sprinkling of oregano for a pizza style version.


Tried it. I love mayo, but yuck. Julia Moskin says that making with butter means the bread will burn before the cheese melts. I have never had that problem, and I've made a LOT of grilled cheese. I'll save my mayo for inside of other sandwiches, and stick with butter for grilled cheese.


This is delicious. So simple and so yummy.


Added kimchi to this recipe perfectly!

Edie Patterson

I’ve been happy with the traditional butter version, but (Duke’s) mayonnaise is a tasty alternative. Add some summer tomatoes and crispy bacon and it’s gone upscale, at least in my opinion.


I agree w the guy who wrote "I'm no cardiac surgeon, but". Why add all that grease and fat when it's not necessary? I toast the bread, butter the pan, throw the sandwich in, cover with a glass lid, and flip when it starts to melt. Use the best quality bread and cheese you can find.

Gail Blizard

Ghee is the perfect middle ground between butter and mayo. Buttery, but it doesn’t burn.


My favorite grilled cheese variations: havarti cheese and basil pesto; cheddar cheese and mango chutney. And sourdough bread always.

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe (2024)


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