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How to Achieve the Ultimate Grilled Cheese

How to Achieve the Ultimate Grilled Cheese


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Learn 5 essential tips for mastering this gooey comfort favorite—then make our perfect grilled cheese recipe.

The humble, yet revered, grilled cheese lands among the most universally loved foods out there. I mean really, the soul-warming and gooey appeal of a grilled cheese transcends age, race, and gender... it's like the Harry Potter of sandwiches. So simple and satisfying, a grilled cheese is often one of the first things we learn how to cook. And often, it's one of the first things many of us—myself included—learn how to cook wrong.

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I'm not usually someone to call out "right" from "wrong" in the kitchen—I'm of the belief that if it tastes good to you and you didn't cut a finger off while making it, you did it right. That said, I have years of experience making less-than-awesome grilled cheese sandwiches, which has given me with the wisdom and authority to now say that yes—despite the fact that it’s difficult for melted cheese on buttered bread to ever be a bad thing—there are definitely a few factors that differentiate an OK grilled cheese from a great grilled cheese.

1. The fat goes on the bread—and not in the pan.

This was one of the biggest game changers in my grilled cheese life. Normally, if you're cooking something in a pan, you heat the oil or butter in the pan, then add the food and let it sizzle, right? Right—except not for grilled cheese.

In order to achieve the most even caramelization on the bread, the fat needs to coat the outside of the sandwich, not the bottom of your skillet. To do this, brush the outer side of the sandwich slices evenly with your cooking fat of choice (we opt for heart-healthy olive oil, but the same rules apply for melted butter), then add to a heated pan slicked with cooking spray.

2. Heat control is critical.

If I'm whipping out a skillet for a quick stove top job, 9 times out of 10, I'm throwing that sucker over medium-high heat. But not for grilled cheese. Here, you're gonna wanna dial it back just a touch. (This isn't a steak—the idea isn't to hit it with a quick sear.) Using moderate heat allows the cheese enough time to melt as the bread gradually browns. If your pan is too hot, the bread will burn by the time you reach that wonderful state gooey cheese nirvana. Nobody wants that.

3. Choose the right cheese.

I assume if you're reading this, you've likely "graduated" beyond Kraft American Single. And since we're all such big sophisticated boys and girls, there's something we need to take a sec to be adult about acknowledging—the Kraft American Single is a great cheese for grilled cheese; it is the perfect set of cheese training wheels. This iconic slice of the processed food industry is also magnificent at melting—and that meltability is an important principle to keep in mind as you move forward in your grilled cheese life.

If you want that signature goo factor, you also need to include a cheese that's prone to melt (like mozzarella or provolone). Welcome to the art of cheese blending. For my ideal grilled cheese, I am especially fond of raclette—it's an exceptional melting cheese that also brings pungent flavor to the table. For the recipe below, we also threw some cheddar into the mix. Because you only get one life to live, and why not?

4. Spread the cheese on the bread.

Unless you are actually using a uniformly pressed American cheese square, you need to shred and evenly spread [on bread] for the best melting results. Because I dig an oozing creamy grilled cheese, I shredded my cheese, then mixed it with a bit of mayo for the recipe below.

This extra step helps to further ensure even distribution of cheese and allows you to spread the cheese on the interior sides of both bread slices. If you're throwing some other non-cheese components into the mix, this allows the melting cheese to encompass the other ingredients so that your sandwich doesn't fall apart. And speaking of those other components…

5. Keep the non-cheese add-ins in check.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

I'm something of a purist; so to me, once you start adding in layers of meat and veggies, you're making a toasted sandwich, not a grilled cheese. I'm sure some very logical person could pose a very logical argument against me on that, but I believe cheese should be the star of a grilled cheese, the end. When the cheese is not the star of a grilled cheese and is left in a supporting role, you lose the tightly sealed toasty gooey package quality that makes a grilled cheese a grilled cheese (take that for logic).

Not to mention, part of losing that tightly sealed toast gooey package quality is that your sandwich is apt to fall apart. Few things in this life are more demoralizing than your sandwich falling apart into a hot skillet when you try to flip it. To live your best grilled cheese life, keep it simple. A slice of tomato and a few fresh basil leaves are my absolute favorite grilled cheese "extras." They bring enough brightness to compliment the cheese, but never threaten to upstage it.

OK, so now that I've officially killed the word "gooey," let's put your newly-gained GC know-how to the test. This easy Tomato-Basil Grilled Cheese is simply everything you want from a perfect grilled cheese. Go forth—and grill cheese!

Tomato-Basil Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 (1-oz.) slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 Tbsp. canola mayonnaise
  • 1 1/4 oz. raclette cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/4 oz. light sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices
  • Dash black pepper
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

How to Make It

1. Place oil in a small bowl. Brush 1 side of each bread slice evenly with oil; place oil side down on a cutting board.

2. Combine mayonnaise and both cheese in a medium bowl, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine; spread cheese mixture evenly over non-oiled side of each bread slice.

3. Place 1 tomato slice on top of cheese mixture on 2 of the bread slices; sprinkle evenly with black pepper and basil leaves. Close sandwiches with remaining bread slices.

4. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat; coat with cooking spray. Add sandwiches to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn sandwich; cook 2 minutes or bread is browned and cheese is gooey. Serve immediately.

SERVES 2 (serving size: 1 sandwich) CALORIES 335; FAT 18g (sat 6.2g, mono 6.1g, poly 3g); PROTEIN 17g; CARB 26g; FIBER 4g; SUGARS 4g; CHOL 26mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 626mg; CALC 352mg


5 Steps to the Ultimate Grilled Cheese

Our Grilled Cheese Slideshow features 15 ooey-gooey takes on the classic comfort food. Before you try your hand at the recipes, though, it's important to get familiar with the proper technique. Here are five of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen wunderkind Sarah Tenaglia's tried-and-true tips for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

Work with the right ingredients. "A toothsome, country-style bread works best, and it can support a range of cheeses," says Tenaglia. "Make sure to use cheeses that melt well, like cheddar, mozzarella, fontina, or jack. Goat cheese has a nice tang, and blue cheese adds sharpness, but neither does that gooey thing you want for a grilled cheese. If you want to use one, just combine it with a 'melty cheese.'"

Use a non-stick skillet. "You won't have to use as much fat, so you won't run the risk of a soggy sandwich."

Moderate heat is the key. "A good grilled cheese sandwich is brown on the outside and gooey on the inside. This is hard to achieve without burning the bread make sure to use medium heat. Also, using a mixture of oil and butter prevents the butter from browning too quickly."

Add greens later. "I don't like greens wilted ahead of time there's something about the freshness of certain elements that are not heated through. Split open the sandwich and add the arugula or lettuce right at the end."

Finish it off in the oven. "For me, the worst thing is not to have the cheese melted all the way through. If the bread is browning on the stovetop but the cheese isn't gooey yet, stick the sandwich in a 400-degree oven for a couple of minutes."

After the jump, find four of Tenaglia's favorite grilled cheese ideas.

4 Delicious Grilled Cheese Flavor Combinations:

The Classic: Country-style bread and aged cheddar cooked in a skillet with butter.
The Southwestern: Country-style bread, jalapeno jack cheese, avocado, and cilantro cooked in a skillet with olive oil.
The Frenchie: Country-style bread, blue cheese and brie cooked with sliced apples or pears in a skillet with butter.
The Tuscan: Country-style bread, fontina, strips of prosciutto, and sprigs of fresh thyme cooked in olive oil with cracked pepper.

In general, smoky meats are a good counterpart to cheese, and the sweetness in caramelized onions works well, too. And a tip for groups: Forgo the stovetop and try using the oven. "Spread butter on bread slices, place them on a baking sheet, and broil them until brown," says Tenaglia. "Then flip them, add cheese and whatever other ingredients, put another buttered slice of bread on top, and broil that side. You can do six sandwiches at one time this way."


Upgraded Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Your Family Will Love

Blueberry bacon

This grilled cheese is the perfect balance of sweet and savory with Swiss cheese, bacon, and blackberry jam on nice, thick slices of sourdough bread.

Add fresh jalapeño slices for a delicious and unexpected spicy kick!

Apple and gouda

This grilled cheese sandwich is super simple, yet still deserves a place on this list for its amazingly complex tart and savory flavor profile featuring smoked gouda and fall favorite, granny smith apples.

Pear, gorgonzola, and brie

Here’s another grilled cheese featuring fresh fall fruit and a decidedly different flavor profile with pungent Gorgonzola and rich brie.

Gruyere, herb, and caramelized onion

Gruyere is easily one of my favorite cheeses, even though I’m not crazy about traditional Swiss cheese.

This cheese is technically in the Swiss cheese family, but tastes so much better, especially in this grilled cheese sandwich with white cheddar cheese, sweet caramelized onions, and tasty rosemary butter.

Pumpkin, chocolate, and brie

This sandwich is the ultimate dessert grilled cheese.

Pumpkin butter may seem like a strange ingredient, but trust me, it’s amazing!

It can be difficult to find in stores, though, so here’s an easy recipe to make your own.

Sun-dried tomato pesto

These grilled cheese sandwiches with sun-dried tomato pesto are like eating a gooey pizza sandwich!

Jalapeño popper

Here’s another spicy jalapeño offering that just like eating jalapeño poppers in sandwich form with crispy bacon, cream cheese, and Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses!

Bacon, brie, and apricot

This sandwich has salty bacon, creamy brie, sweet apricot jam, and a balsamic reduction drizzled on top.

If you’ve never had balsamic reduction, I recommend you try it.

When you reduce balsamic vinegar, it gets really sweet and yummy – the perfect addition to this unique grilled cheese sandwich.

Dill pickle bacon

Dill pickle flavors seem to be everywhere!

They’re even making dill pickle potato chips, which I must admit I’ve tried, and they’re actually pretty good!

If you enjoy dill pickles too, you need to try this crazy dill pickle and bacon grilled cheese with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses for a seriously flavorful treat.

Raspberry and chocolate with almonds

Here we have another dessert grilled cheese.

This one features the classic flavor pairing of fresh raspberries, orange zest, and PA’s own Hershey’s chocolate with crunchy almonds and creamy Havarti and Mascarpone cheeses!

Big popper hot buffalo chicken

Do you like your food hot and spicy?

Then you need to try this decadent sandwich that’s basically a buffalo chicken sandwich and jalapeño popper in one!

Pesto, artichoke, and havarti cheese

Here’s another Italian inspired grilled cheese featuring a healthy spinach basil pesto.

Brisket

This hearty grilled cheese is definitely filling enough to stand on its own!

Mediterranean

This grilled cheese is a healthy, vegetarian, Mediterranean inspired sandwich featuring tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, and black olives.

Blueberry brie

Last but certainly not least is this simple dessert grilled cheese with soft brie cheese and sweet blueberry pie filling.

These Amazingly Delicious Grilled Cheese Sandwiches are the ultimate comfort food meal any time!

Don’t be afraid to try some of these new flavor pairings. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did!

What do you think of these Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!


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This recipe is presented by Eggland’s Best.

When you’re tired, out of time, or just want the comfort of simplicity, brinner (breakfast for dinner), is a welcome solution.

This isn’t any old grilled cheese, though. The sausage and egg pack an extra protein punch.

Tips for Eggs and Sausage

Eggs should keep a consistent and low temperature. This is best achieved by placing their carton in the center of your fridge. The eggs should also remain in their original packaging to avoid the absorption of strong odors.

It is wise to follow the “best by” date to determine overall freshness, but eggs can be tested by simply dropping them into a bowl of water. Older eggs will float while fresh eggs will sink. This is due to the size of their air cells, which gradually increase over time.

Cooked eggs have a refrigerator shelf life of no more than four days, while hard-boiled eggs, peeled or unpeeled, are safe to consume up to one week after they’re prepared.

The beauty of an egg is its versatility. Eggs can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are some tips in accomplishing the four most common preparations.

Scrambled: Whip your eggs in a bowl. The consistency of your scrambled eggs is a personal preference, though it seems like the majority of breakfast connoisseurs enjoy a more runny and fluffy option. In this case, add about ¼ cup of milk for every four eggs. This will help to thin the mix. Feel free to also season with salt and pepper (or stir in cream cheese for added decadence). Grease a skillet with butter over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. As the eggs begin to cook, begin to pull and fold the eggs with a spatula until it forms curds. Do not stir constantly. Once the egg is cooked to your liking, remove from heat and serve.

Hard-boiled: Fill a pot that covers your eggs by about two inches. Remove the eggs and bring the water to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, carefully drop in the eggs and leave them for 10-12 minutes. For easy peeling, give the eggs an immediate ice bath after the cooking time is completed. For soft-boiled eggs, follow the same process, but cut the cooking time in half.

Poached: Add a dash of vinegar to a pan filled with steadily simmering water. Crack eggs individually into a dish or small cup. With a spatula, create a gentle whirlpool in the pan. Slowly add the egg, whites first, into the water and allow to cook for three minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to kitchen paper to drain the water.

Sunny Side Up/Over Easy/Medium/Hard: For each of these preparations, you are cracking an egg directly into a greased frying pan. For sunny side up, no flipping is involved. Simply allow the edges to fry until they’re golden brown. To achieve an over easy egg, flip a sunny side up egg and cook until a thin film appears over the yolk. The yolk should still be runny upon serving. An over medium egg is flipped, fried, and cooked longer until the yolk is still slightly runny. An over hard is cooked until the yolk is hard.

Eggs can easily be frozen, but instructions vary based on the egg’s physical state. As a general rule, uncooked eggs in their shells should not be frozen. They must be cracked first and have their contents frozen.

Uncooked whole eggs: The eggs must be removed from their shells, blended, and poured into containers that can seal tightly.

Uncooked egg whites: The same process as whole eggs, but you can freeze whites in ice cube trays before transferring them to an airtight container. This speeds up the thawing process and can help with measuring.

Uncooked yolks: Egg yolks alone can turn extremely gelatinous if frozen. For use in savory dishes, add ⅛ teaspoon of salt per four egg yolks. Substitute the salt for sugar for use in sweet dishes and/or desserts.

Cooked eggs: Scrambled eggs are fine to freeze, but it is advised to not freeze cooked egg whites. They become too watery and rubbery if not mixed with the yolk.

Hard-boiled eggs: As mentioned above, it is best to not freeze hard-boiled eggs because cooked whites become watery and rubbery when frozen.


12 Fresh Homemade Pasta Recipes

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An entrepreneur at heart, Stephanie walked away from her corporate career in 2012 to follow her passion to launch Socialfly, a leading social-first digital and influencer marketing agency based in New York City. Socialfly has since blossomed to over 30 full-time employees and has been named to Inc. 5000's fastest growing private companies two years in a row. The agency has worked with over 200 well-known brands including Girl Scouts, WeTV, Conair, Nest Fragrances, 20th Century Fox and Univision. Stephanie is the co-host of the Entreprenista Podcast and co-author of Like, Love, Follow: The Entreprenista's Guide to Using Social Media To Grow Your Business. She is also a recent recipient of the SmartCEO Brava award, which recognizes the top female CEOs in New York and a Stevie Award for Women Run Workplace of the Year.

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Grilled Cheese: Need We Say More?

A deliciously gooey grilled cheese sandwich is quite possibly the quickest comfort food.

Anyone can master the art of sandwich making, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to this old standby.

We tried a variety of flavor combinations, grilling techniques, and serving ideas. Ultimately, we gave the nod to these five sensational recipes they are truly divine, and most can be ready to serve in less than 30 minutes.

Combine any types of cheeses and breads to create your own personal masterpiece, and send us your recipe. In the meantime, make a meal of these top-rated selections.

Grill It Up Golden
An electric griddle allows you to cook more sandwiches at a time. Test Kitchens Professional Angela Sellers says, "The secret is to preheat your griddle or skillet to a medium temperature." The results are perfectly melted cheese and crispy, golden crusts every time.

Panini Perfection
Electric panini presses are available at your local superstore. (Prices range from $40 to $130 for most brands. Specialty brands at gourmet kitchen stores are more expensive.) They&aposre great for grilling sandwiches, and some also work for grilling meats and vegetables. You can also use an indoor grill, such as a George Foreman Grill, to achieve the panini look. Results may vary when it comes to getting good grill marks.

Use sturdy bread, such as a French baguette, when making paninis. Jalapeño jelly yields a spicy-sweet bite in Hot Buttery Brie Melts.

"Grilled Cheese: Need We Say More?" is from the January 2007 issue of Southern Living.


16 grilled cheese recipes you should know

  • Although the grilled cheese is a pretty straightforward sandwich to make, there are some important tips to keep in mind when trying to perfect your craft, like using plenty of room-temperature butter.
  • According to chefs, when thinking about what bread to choose for your grilled cheese it is essential to consider what ingredients you’ll be including in the sandwich.
  • Check out these must-try, original grilled cheese recipes from some of the world’s most celebrated chefs.

One of America’s simplest yet most loved dishes, the grilled cheese, has been melting hearts around the US for years. Sure, it’s pretty easy to make – after all, it’s just melted cheese on bread right? According to chefs at the Brooklyn Kitchen, although the grilled cheese is a seemingly easy dish to master, there are a few tricks to the trade if you want to achieve a truly mouthwatering sandwich.

The chefs emphasise the importance of buttering both sides of your bread, not just the side that hits the griddle, for an even more decadent outcome. When thinking about bread it’s important to consider what type of ingredients you’ll be adding to the center of your sandwich.

According to Reva Castillenti, a baker at Brooklyn Kitchen, “Sourdough, brioche, and hearty whole wheat are great options, but any slice of bread with plenty of room for butter will get the job done.”

If you’re still in need of grilled cheese inspiration, check out these special recipes from world-renowned chefs for some ideas on your next cheesy masterpiece:


Creamy Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese

If you’re going to have tomato soup, you must have grilled cheese — it’s required.

But if you’re committed to healthy meal planning, the tomato soup + grilled cheese combo can present a bit of a pickle.

Under most circumstances, buttery, carb-loaded grilled cheese sandwiches are completely off the table for people trying to eat clean.

So how is this Creamy Tomato Soup With “Fix”-ed Grilled Cheese FIX-Approved? We’re glad you asked!

For their healthy cooking show FIXATE, Ultimate Portion Fix creator Autumn Calabrese and her brother, chef Bobby Calabrese have come up with a clever solution that satisfies that craving for a bowl of smooth, creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese that’s in line with a healthy meal plan.

The goal of this Creamy Tomato Soup recipe was to make it almost as easy as warming a can of soup over the stove.

Canned tomato soup might be the easiest way to quell your cravings, but most canned tomato soups contain a lot of salt and a host of unsavory ingredients like processed sweeteners and added preservatives.

Our recipe omits all that unnecessary stuff and brings tomato soup back to its wholesome roots, with ingredients like naturally sweet Italian whole peeled tomatoes, freshly chopped onions, and diced garlic.

Bobby always has a tip or two to help you take an average recipe to the next level. In this episode of FIXATE, he recommends springing for high-quality peeled whole tomatoes for a few good reasons.

For recipes that feature tomatoes as the primary ingredient, you can dramatically enhance the flavor of your dish with higher quality tomatoes.

Plus, by using Bobby’s tomato of choice, Italian San Marzano tomatoes, you won’t need as much sugar, as these babies are already naturally sweet!

To make your grilled cheese a little healthier, Autumn uses sprouted whole-grain bread in place of white bread.

By using rich, flavorful Munster cheese you won’t need to use nearly as much get that gooey grilled cheese flavor. And to keep them crisp and delicious she uses ghee (clarified butter) instead of salted butter.

When compared you compare this to your average can of tomato soup, this recipe boasts 1/3 the sodium and 1/2 the sugar, not to mention this creamy tomato soup doesn’t contain wheat flour and has no high-fructose corn syrup. Hooray for healthier recipes!

To get the recipe and find out the Container Equivalents and nutritional information, watch the FIXATE episode on Beachbody On Demand!


The Texture Of The Cheese Matters

For starters, slices are great. But it's grated cheese that makes the real difference. We're not talking about grated cheese such as parmesan, but a cheese that has actually been grated or shredded into smaller pieces that melt graciously when met with heat.

This results in a sandwich that can take its time rather than one that's rushing to match its exterior cooking with its interior cooking, as most of us know can be messy (and burnt) business. Grating your cheese first, if you're not using plain 'ol American cheese, can surely help the process.


7 Rules for Making Amazing Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Sure, you know how to make grilled cheese. But do you know how to make grilled cheese great? This guide to the best grilled cheese sandwich of your life will get you there.

While grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the most basic things you can make (after all, even a grade schooler could be trusted to put one together), even if we think we’ve mastered the game, it doesn’t hurt to take a step back and ask what exactly is a grilled cheese sandwich? What makes it great? How can we make it even better? Because if any food is worthy of existential questioning, it should be the one we know and love best, right?

Or maybe you’ve just ended up with grilled cheeses that are burnt black on the outside and rock solid on the inside more times than you’d care to admit (it’s okay—it even happens to the best of us). Not to worry, though: with these rules in mind, you’ll be on your way to getting golden-crisp, ooey gooey sandwiches each and every time.

1. Choose Your Bread Wisely

Your archetypal grilled cheese is made on pre-sliced white bread, which is a fine choice, but it’s not the only one. Most pullman-style loaves, a good sourdough, or even hardier ryes or whole wheats will get the job done.

Whichever bread you use, just make sure that it doesn’t have lots of holes (or the cheese will drip through) and that it’s sliced on the thin side (to ensure that everything gets melted through).

And with more strongly-flavored whole grain breads, pick a cheese that will complement it. For example, American cheese would be completely out of place on whole wheat, but nutty taleggio holds up nicely. Want proof? Get our Grape and Taleggio Grilled Cheese recipe.

Scanpan CS+ Skillet, $99.96+ at Sur La Table

A flat-bottomed nonstick skillet will help you achieve the perfect crisp on your bread.

2. Butter (or Mayo) It Up

The outsides of your sandwich should have a bit of an oily shellac to them, full of rich, greasy flavor—you’re not aiming to make toast here. You want to have a sense of lightly-fried crispiness on the outside with a softer crumb beneath, the sort that has a slight crackle as you bite into it. There are a few ways to achieve this.

You can a) melt butter directly in the skillet (not ideal more on that below), b) melt the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop first, then brush it onto the surfaces of the bread (best for even application), or c) spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outsides of the sandwich before frying it.

The last method works especially well because it tends to produce a more evenly browned bread and adds a pleasant tang to the sandwich. This recipe from Gabrielle Hamilton, who is known for her mayo-coated grilled cheeses, will show you how it’s done.

Next-Level Tip: After buttering or mayo-ing, try coating the outside of the bread with something else that’ll lend extra flavor, texture, or both Food52 likes garlic salt, but a tip from kween Chrissy Teigen (in a recipe from her second cookbook, to be precise) recommends more cheese, which just makes so much sense!

Cravings: Hungry for More, $19.21 on Amazon

Get more crazy-good recipes from Chrissy Teigen.

3. Know That Not All Cheeses Melt Equally

Have you ever tried to make a grilled cheese with aged cheddar or pecorino, only to find that you’re stuck with a cheese that’s as hard hot as it is cold? Firm, aged cheeses and fresh cheeses simply don’t melt in ways that are conducive to getting the gooey, runny texture you’re going for here.

A young, high moisture cheese should be the base of the sandwich—it has a protein structure that stays strong and stretchy even with heat. Young cheddars, mozzarella, swiss-style cheeses, and soft cheeses like Camembert or Brie fit the bill perfectly. They’ll give you the stringy, oozing insides that make grilled cheese amazing, as ably demonstrated by this melty Jarlsberg creation. Get our Sweet Hot Mustard and Jarlsberg Grilled Cheese recipe.



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