warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

DIY Grilled Cheese Recipes

Kelli Shiroma |
April 10, 2014 | 10:03 a.m. PDT

Food Editor

Everything tastes better in waffle form, including grilled cheese (Photo Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com).
Everything tastes better in waffle form, including grilled cheese (Photo Courtesy of FoodNetwork.com).
What better way to celebrate “National Grilled Cheese Month” than by creating your own versions of the beloved sandwich?

From extra cheesy and savory to slightly sweet or super spicy, these different varieties of the traditional grilled cheese sandwich are sure to please palates of every type.

Take your grilled cheese-making skills up a notch by using a waffle iron to create this savory concoction.

Yield: 4 servings

4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt

8 slices country white bread
Melted unsalted butter, for brushing

1/4 C mayonnaise

12 slices cheese, such as Cheddar, Swiss, Muenster or a combination

Special equipment: waffle iron

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet cut-side down. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Slow-roast until the tomatoes are soft and wrinkled, about one hour. Set aside to cool. (The tomatoes can be made and refrigerated up to one day ahead.)

Preheat a waffle iron to medium-high. Brush one side of each bread slice with melted butter. Lay the bread out on a clean work surface, dry-side up. Spread each slice of bread with some of the mayonnaise. Top four bread slices with two tomato halves, slightly smashing them into the bread. Top with three cheese slices each and the remaining bread slices.

Place two sandwiches at a time in the waffle iron and gently close the lid (don't press down). Cook until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are golden-brown, 6-10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.


This gooey grilled cheese sandwich includes a sharp kick from the Andouille sausagse and the flavorful Dijon mustard.

Yield: 4 servings

4 cooked andouille sausages, sliced lengthwise in thirds
3 T butter, softened
10 oz. extra-sharp orange cheddar, 6 ounces shredded, 4 ounces sliced
8 large slices sourdough bread
2 T Dijon mustard
4 oz. (about 1 C ) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
12 cornichons, halved, plus more for serving

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the sliced sausages over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, about eight minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate and wipe out the pan.

In a bowl, stir the butter with the shredded cheddar cheese just until combined. Spread the cheddar-butter on one side of each slice of bread; arrange them buttered side down on a work surface. Spread the mustard on the bread and sprinkle the Monterey Jack over the mustard. Top four slices with the sausages, halved cornichons, and the sliced cheddar. Close the sandwiches, pressing lightly and tucking in any stray cheese.

Place the sandwiches in the skillet, cover, and cook over moderately low heat until golden on the bottom, three minutes. Flatten slightly with a spatula, then flip the sandwiches, cover, and cook until browned on the bottom, three minutes longer; lower the heat if the bread is browned before the cheese melts completely. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and let rest for two minutes, then cut them in half and serve with cornichons.

This take on grilled cheese includes a hint of sweetness from the slices of Granny Smith apples. This is perfect for those who want a sandwich that isn’t super cheese-heavy.

Yield: Serves 4

2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced ½-inch thick
1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
8 slices country-style white bread
½ C whole-grain mustard
2 C shredded Gruyere cheese
1 slices Black Forest ham

In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are slightly soft, about 4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.

Preheat panini press (or, if you don’t own one, use a grill pan that can be heated over the oven).

Spread each bread slice with 1 T mustard. Arrange ¼ C of cheese on each of the four bread slices and top each with two slices of ham. Divide the apple mixture evenly over the ham. Add the remaining cheese and place the remaining four bread slices, mustard side down, on top. Grill until the cheese has melted and the tops are golden and crispy, 5-6 minutes.


This sandwich is slightly reminiscent of your favorite pasta dish because of its pesto spread and buttery goodness.

Yield: Serves 1

1 T butter
2 slices bread
½ C gruyere, grated
1-3 T spinach pesto

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread; sprinkle half of the cheese on the inside of one slice of bread. Top with spinach pesto, the remaining cheese and the other slice of bread.

Create the sandwich and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.

This Greek-inspired sandwich puts a spin on the American staple. Serve with pita and humus instead of traditional potato chips.

Yield: Serves 1

1 ½ tsp. butter, softened
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 T crumbled feta cheese
2 slices Cheddar cheese
1 T chopped red onion
¼ tomato, thinly sliced

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the non-buttered side of one slice, layer the feta cheese, Cheddar cheese, red onion and tomato. Top with the other slice of bread with the butter side out.

Fry the sandwich until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. The second side always cooks faster.


… because peanut butter and bacon just make everything better.

Yield: Serves 1

2 slices bacon
1 T smooth peanut butter
2 slices soft white bread
1 slice American cheese
1 T butter, softened

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate.

Spread peanut butter on a slice of white bread, and cover with cheese slice and bacon. Top with the other piece of bread. Spread butter on both sides of the sandwich, and pan-fry in a skillet over medium heat until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted, 2-3 minutes per side. Serve hot.

This extra-crispy grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate pleasure for cheese fanatics.

Yield: Serves 1

2 T butter, divided
2 slices white bread
1 ½ C shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

Melt 1 ½ T butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Place bread slices in the skillet on top of the melted butter.

Spread about ¼ C Cheddar cheese on one slice of bread; place the other slice of bread, butter-side up, on top of the cheese. Spread about 2 T of cheese on top of the sandwich.

Melt remaining ½ T butter in the skillet next to the sandwich. Flip the sandwich onto the melted butter so that the cheese-side is facing down. Spread remaining cheese on top of the sandwich. Cook sandwich until cheese on the bottom is crispy and caramelized, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwich and cook until cheese is crispy and caramelized on the other side, another 3-4 minutes.

This sandwich is similar to a Monte Cristo, in that is features French-style grilled ham and cheese that’s dipped in egg batter and fried (or cooked in a skillet). This version of the sandwich is like a cheesy, savory, stuffed French toast.

Yield: Serves 2

4 slices French bread
4 tsp. honey mustard
6 oz. reduced-fat deli ham, thinly sliced
4 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese
½ C fat-free milk
3 large egg whites
Cooking spray

Cut a slit in each bread slice to form a pocket. Spread 1 tsp. honey mustard into each bread pocket. Divide ham and cheese evenly among bread pockets.

Combine milk and egg whites in a shallow bowl, stirring with a whisk. Dip sandwiches, one at a time, in milk texture, turning to coat.

Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add two sandwiches; cook three minutes on each side until golden brown. Repeat procedure with remaining sandwiches.

For those who want a little extra zest in their grilled cheese, these chipotle peppers are sure to do the trick.

Yield: Serves 2

1 T olive oil
6-8 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 T cream cheese, softened
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese
2 T chopped cilantro
2 T butter, softened
4 slices of bread

In a pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and allow to get hot but not smoking. Add the sliced mushrooms and sautée until dark and cooked through, remove from heat.

In a bowl, add the softened cream cheese and the chipotle peppers, stir until well combined. Add the Cheddar cheese, mushrooms and cilantro and stir until combined.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Return the pan used to cook the mushrooms to medium high heat, add one slice of bread, butter side down to the pan. Carefully slather half of the chipotle cheese mixture onto the bread and top with another slice, butter side up. Repeat for the additional slices of bread. Cook on each side until browned, about four minutes per side.

Remove from pan, slice and serve.

This Fontina grilled cheese is savory and delightful (Kelli Shiroma / Neon Tommy).
This Fontina grilled cheese is savory and delightful (Kelli Shiroma / Neon Tommy).

Fontina and Mozzarella combine in this sandwich to form the ultimate, savory blend.

Yield: Serves 1

2 slices bread
2 T butter
2 oz. Fontina cheese
2 oz. Mozzarella cheese (grated, enough to loosely pile 1-2 inches high)

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Generously butter one side of bread and place it buttered side down in the skillet.

Quickly add the Fontina, completely covering the surface of the bread with cheese.

Generously sprinkle on the Mozzarella (covering the Fontina), so it’s loosely piled 1-2 inches high.

Butter the other slice of bread on one side and place it on top of the cheese, buttered side up.

Cover the pan (helps to melt the cheese more quickly) until bottom of bread is golden browned.

When golden, flip sandwich over and cook covered for about 2 minutes, or as necessary, until the second piece of bread is golden brown. Slice and serve immediately.

Make your cheese sandwich a little more upscale with a fried egg on top for extra (salty) flavor.

Yield: Serves 2

12 slices pancetta (Italian bacon … or your favorite type of bacon)
2 T butter
4 slices sourdough bread
8 thin slices Provolone cheese
4 large eggs
1 small green onion, chopped
Parmesan cheese shavings
12 fresh basil leaves or arugula leaves

Cook pancetta in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels. Reserve skillet with drippings.

Melt butter in extra-large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add four bread slices; top each with two Provolone slices. Sprinkle with black pepper. Cook until cheese melts, 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat skillet with drippings over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet; cook until whites are set but yolks are still runny, 2-3 minutes. Set six pancetta slices and two eggs atop each of two cheese toasts. Top eggs with onion, Parmesan and basil, then remaining bread slices, cheese side down. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.

Like your sandwich extra crispy? This panko crust layer will do the trick.

Serves: 2-3

8 slices stale French loaf (4 slices of normal bread loaf)
1 C grated cheese
1 C panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 T milk
4 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Whisk egg, milk, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Set aside.

Pour panko breadcrumbs and grated cheese on respective plates. Set aside.

Add some grated cheese on a slice of bread, then layer with sliced tomatoes, then some cheese again and a second slice of bread.

Dip both sides of the cheese sandwich in the egg mixture and coat it with panko breadcrumbs. Shake of the excess breadcrumbs.

In a heated pan greased with some neutral cooking oil, grill both sides of the sandwich until golden brown. Keep the flame on low to ensure the cheese is melted at the same time not burning the breadcrumbs.

Repeat steps to make additional sandwiches.

Though bagels usually come with cream cheese, there’s no limits or rules when it comes to forming a grilled cheese sandwich … especially if it’s for breakfast!

Yield: Serves 1

1 “Everything” bagel (or bagel of your choice)
1 handful baby heirloom tomatoes (sliced in half)
2 pads butter
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 T cream cheese

Hollow out the bagel (for a less messy sandwich): cut the bagel in half and place on cutting board, flat side down. Scoop out the top and bottom of the bagel.

Spread cream cheese into the hollowed-out bagel’s crevices. Slice tomatoes in half. Gently push the baby tomatoes onto the layer of cream cheese on one side of the bagel.
On the other half of the bagel, sprinkle 1 tsp. of thyme leaves.

Sandwich both halves of the bagel together. Add butter to a pan on medium high heat. When the butter starts to melt, rub the bagel around in it and cook for about two minutes on each side (until the bagel starts to form a golden brown crust). Cut in half and enjoy!

All the flavors of a delicious cheese plate combine to form the perfect sweet/salty/nutty sandwich.

Yield: Serves 2

¼ C hazelnuts
½ tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
4 freshly cut thin slices rustic white bread
1 ½ tsp. olive oil
2 T fig spread
4 slices port salut cheese
1 T butter

In a food processor, pulse hazelnuts with rosemary until finely ground (be careful not to make a paste). Pour onto a plate.

Brush one side of each bread slice with oil and press it into nut mixture.

Spread uncoated side of two of the slices with fig spread. Top with cheese and second bread slices, nut-crusted side out.

Melt butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook, turning once, until golden brown and cheese is melted, about eight minutes.

Roasted mushrooms and onions add additional savory flavors and textures to this version of grilled cheese.

Yield: Serves 2

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 T butter
4 slices bread of choice
1 C Gouda, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss sliced mushrooms and onion in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until roasted to preference.

In a skillet stove top, melt four T butter over medium heat.

While butter is melting, assemble sandwiches. On one slice of bread, layer shredded Gouda, the roasted mushrooms and onions, then more Gouda. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the other slice of bread. Lightly press together.

In the melted butter, place one sandwich down for one second, then gently flip it over to the other side. Repeat with the second sandwich. Cook for about two minutes, until lightly browned, then gently flip sandwich on other side and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and sandwich is browned to preference.

Who said that you can’t combine savory potatoes with America’s favorite sandwich? This sandwich embodies all the delightful flavors of a baked potato in grilled cheese form.

Yield: Serves 1

2-3 strips of bacon
1 potato
2 T sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Green onions/chives
2 slices of bread
Canola oil
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly cover the bottom of a pan with canola oil; put on medium heat. Cut potato into even slices (you’ll need 4-5 slices for the sandwich) and place them in the pan, cooking each side until brown and crispy.

Salt and pepper the potatoes to taste while they’re cooking. Sprinkle a light pinch of garlic powder. In another pan, cook bacon on medium heat to desired tenderness.

While everything is cooking, slice bread (use crusty, crunchier bread like sourdough or French bread) and generously butter the outside of each piece. On the inside, put 1 T of sour cream on each slice, as well as slices of Cheddar cheese on each side.

Once your potatoes and bacon are done frying, dab them on a paper towel to remove green. Fan potatoes out on your bottom slice of bread. Add additional sour cream if desired.

Slice up one green onion stalk and spread it on top of potatoes, along with bacon. Place your other slice of cheese on top of this and top with the other slice of bread.

Grill the sandwich in a pan on medium heat until each side becomes golden brown. Dig in and enjoy!

This sandwich might sound gross to some (can dark chocolate go with anything?) but you’ll be surprised at just how savory this medley turns out.

Yield: Serves 1

2 slices country bread

2 oz. dark chocolate (64%), coarsely chopped

6 thinly shaved slices Parmesan cheese

Cooking oil spray

Layer one slice of bread with the chocolate and then with Parmesan cheese and top with second slice of bread. Microwave for 30 seconds. 

Heat a panini press, grill pan or skillet. Spray the surface and the outside of the bread with cooking oil spray. Grill until bread is golden brown and chocolate and cheese are oozing. Serve immediately.


Bacon? Check. Mac and cheese? Check. Mac and cheese lovers, behold: one of the most savory sandwiches on the planet.

Yield: Serves 1

2 slices ciabatta bread
1 ½ T butter
1/3 C Cheddar mac and cheese
1 slice Provolone cheese
2 pieces bacon

Preheat a griddler or panini press.

Butter both sides of the bread. Layer the mac and cheese, cheese and bacon on one slice. Top with the second piece of bread and push them together slightly.

Place the sandwich on the grill press and press down (you can also use a pan on medium heat if you don’t have a panini press). Cook the sandwich until both sides are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Looking for other creative ways to make grilled cheese? Check this out.

Reach Kelli Shiroma here or follow her on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.