The No-Fail Grilled Cheese Formula That Wins Lunch Every Time

Get creative with unexpected cheeses, fruits, veggies, and misc. toppings.

Photo: Ted Cavanaugh.

American cheese on white bread will forever remain a classic, but there's also something to be said for changing up your grilled cheese. (See: 10 Healthy Grilled Cheese Recipes That Will Make Your Mouth Water) Mix in sophisticated ingredients, vary your cheese, and give it a hit of the unexpected (harissa! honey!) for a thoroughly upgraded flavor bomb of a meal, says food blogger Tieghan Gerard (@halfbakedharvest), the author of Half Baked Harvest Cookbook. Try one of her creative twists here-or play around to invent your own. (BTW, here's what your love of grilled cheese means about your sex life.)

Start with the cheese. Choose one of your favorites, like:

  • Cheddar
  • Gruyère
  • Mozzarella or burrata
  • Goat cheese or feta
  • Swiss
  • Brie
  • Havarti
  • Fontina
  • Muenster
  • Blue or Gorgonzola

Next, layer on fruits or veggies:

  • Freshly sliced figs, persimmons, pears, or apples
  • Whole cranberries
  • Jams, like blueberry or fig
  • Roasted vegetables, like kale, zucchini, or peppers
  • Greens, like spinach, arugula, or shredded brussels sprouts
  • Caramelized onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Marinated artichokes or olives

Finally, add some crunchy texture or bold flavor:

  • Slivered almonds
  • Herbs, like thyme or sage
  • Bacon or prosciutto
  • Honey
  • Spreads, like peanut butter, pesto, harissa, or tapenade

Five of Tieghan's melty mash-ups (pictured from top to bottom):

  1. Goat cheese + Spinach + Olives + Harissa
  2. Cheddar + Blueberry jam + Slivered almonds
  3. Burrata + Roasted red peppers + Tapenade
  4. Cheddar + Roasted veggies + Pesto
  5. Brie + Persimmons + Fried sage + Honey
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