Gourmet Grilled Cheese is the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich of your dreams!! It’s a gloriously cheesy meal, stacked with the perfect toppings. This grilled sandwich recipe will rock your taste buds!
Learn how to make grilled cheese that’s crispy on the outside and melty in the middle, which cheese is best for grilled cheese sandwiches, all of your bread options, and more!
Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Fancy grilled cheese sandwiches elevate simple ingredients into a melty, mouthwatering masterpiece!
While the classic combination of bread, butter, and cheese is nostalgic and comforting, there’s nothing wrong with making it a little more “grown-up” from time to time.
This gourmet grilled cheese includes crispy bacon, juicy tomato slices, and peppery arugula in between layers of cheddar, Swiss, and Monterey Jack cheese.
I often make this sandwich recipe for an extra special lunch. When I do, it’s alongside the perfect partner — my copycat version of Applebee’s tomato basil soup!!
If you want, you can even make a large batch to feed a crowd on game day!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
You’ll find plenty of information below on the best cheese for grilled cheese, plus our favorite varieties of bread.
Here we’ll cover the savory additions to put your sandwich over the top!
- Bacon – Opt for thick-cut slices for texture in whatever flavor you prefer. We like to use applewood for gourmet grilled cheese, but pepper crusted would be tasty too.
- Tomato – Hothouse and heirloom tomatoes will have the best flavor, and you’ll only need 2 to 3 slices per sandwich.
If those aren’t available, opt for Roma tomatoes as they are less watery than regular slicing tomatoes.
- Arugula – This peppery green is a popular choice for gourmet sandwiches, but some may find it too bitter.
Spinach is a fantastic alternative — just be sure to remove the stems first!
Best Cheese For Grilled Cheese
No two cheeses are alike, so it’s important to choose your varieties carefully. Not only are there a wide range of flavors, but each melts differently as well.
I think the best cheese for grilled cheese is a combination of quality cheddar, along with a semi-soft and semi-hard cheese.
Feel free to mix and match based on your favorite flavors!
- Cheddar: Sharp and white cheddar are the perfect foundation when making the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.
Keep in mind that sharper varieties don’t melt as well.
- Semi-soft: Popular choices are Monterey Jack, Havarti, Muenster, and Provolone.
- Semi-hard: Gouda, Swiss, Gruyere, and Fontina would all taste great.
How to Make Grilled Cheese
First, you’ll need to choose the right pan — stainless steel and cast iron will create the best crust on your sandwiches.
Nonstick is fine if that’s what you have, but it won’t get quite as hot.
- Heat your skillet on the stove over medium heat. Meanwhile, layer the ingredients on a slice of bread, then top with another slice.
- Butter the top piece of bread, spreading it all the way to the edges.
- Flip the sandwich and place it buttered-side down in the hot skillet. Then, butter the slice of bread that’s now on top.
- Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown underneath. Carefully flip and cook the other side until the cheese is nice and melty, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate, then wipe out the pan before making more. This prevents the later sandwiches from burning.
If you don’t feel like standing over a hot stove, this method also works with an electric griddle — plus, you can make several at once!
Tips for the Best Grilled Cheese
- Use room-temperature cheese.
Let your slices warm for a few minutes on the counter while you prep your other ingredients. Removing the chill first will help them melt faster.
- Cheese still not melting?
Use steam to help it along. Add a teaspoon or two of water to the skillet and cover it with a lid.
When the cheese is gooey and perfectly melted, remove the lid. Then, cook until the pan is dry, to ensure that your gourmet grilled cheese isn’t soggy.
- Make bacon in the oven.
Not only will you avoid grease splatters, but using the oven allows you to cook a large batch at once.
And since the baking sheet is lined with foil, there’s one less thing to clean later!
- Feeding a crowd?
Preheat your oven to 200°F and place a wire rack on a baking sheet.
As you make your fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, pop them in the oven to keep them warm. Then, you can serve everyone at once!
Ultimate Grilled Cheese FAQ
I love the tangy flavor and hard crust of freshly baked sourdough, but there are plenty of other options available.
French bread and Ciabatta have a nice, crunchy exterior, while multigrain, pumpernickel, and Texas Toast will add another layer of flavor.
No matter what, be sure to choose bread that is thick and sturdy enough to hold the other ingredients!
Feel free to experiment with different meats and vegetables. There’s really no right or wrong way to build your sandwich.
If you don’t like tomatoes, try caramelized onions, pickles, or even avocado. Instead of bacon, use shredded chicken, sliced ham, or salami.For a restaurant-worthy gourmet grilled cheese, pair cheddar and Swiss with some thinly sliced apples. Or, combine Gouda and Brie with pears in the middle.
Make Ahead Fancy Grilled Cheese
These fancy grilled cheese sandwiches really should be made and served right away. I don’t recommend making them in advance, for a couple of reasons.
The texture of the melted cheese changes when it’s put back into the fridge. Plus, the tomato and arugula will cause the bread to become soggy.
That said, it’s a good idea to have all of your ingredients ready to go before starting this ultimate grilled cheese recipe — especially if you plan on cooking up a large batch!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Simply Scrumptious Sandwiches
Gourmet Grilled Cheese
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 4 slices Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese, about 4 ounces total
- 8 slices thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, cooked
- 16 tomato slices
- 4 ounces arugula
- 4 slices Wisconsin aged Swiss cheese, about 4 ounces total
- 4 slices Wisconsin Monterey Jack cheese, about 4 ounces total
- Place 1 slice of cheddar onto a piece of bread. Top with bacon, tomato and arugula. Add remaining cheese. Place a piece of bread on top. Butter the top slice of bread.
- Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Place butter side down into skillet. Butter slice of bread facing up. Cover. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Carefully flip sandwich, cover and cook 2-4 minutes on second side. Wipe out pan with a paper towel and repeat process until all sandwiches are cooked.
- Serve and enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published April 20, 2015, updated and republished August 2023
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