Few meals top the combination of mounds of melted cheese and perfectly toasted bread that make up the beloved grilled cheese. Add avocado, bacon, caramelized onions, or extra Brie, and you’ve got what we like to call a mouthgasm.
Before running to the nearest sandwich shop in hopes of finding your taste buds’ cheesy soul mate, consider this: Grilled cheese is one of the easiest (and cheapest!) sandwiches you can make at home. And odds are you have the ingredients on hand. It’s also easy to transform the bread-and-cheese confections from simple to gourmet—meaning they’re ideal to entertain both kids and foodies.
These nine grilled cheese recipes make you look like a Top Chef while leaving your savings account in tact. Stay cheesy, my friends.
Photo: She Wears Many Hats
1. Grilled Cheese with Gouda, Roasted Mushrooms, and Onions
To anyone who says grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t healthy, simply respond, “I see your claim and raise you roasted veggies!” Made with more onions and mushrooms than cheese, this sandwich is pretty darn close to a health nut’s dream. It even tastes great with added greens like kale or Brussels sprouts.
2. Mediterranean Grilled Cheese
Sure, Greek salads are delicious. But the flavors are even more delicious when melted between two pieces of sourdough bread. Loaded with vitamin-rich spinach, tomatoes, olives, red onions, and plenty of Feta cheese, this sandwich will leave both your heart and YOU happy. Literally! The Mediterranean diet can boost your mood.
3. Fried Green Tomato Grilled Cheese
No, we’re not talking about the awesome ‘90s movie. (Though it’s absolutely worth watching.) But this recipe is full of fried green tomatoes. And pimento cheese. And bacon—if you’re looking to add extra protein and deliciousness. Just add two slices of rye, and you’re ready to rock.
4. Green Goddess Grilled Cheese
There’s going green, then there’s eating green. While we’re fans of both, this grilled cheese found its way to our hearts with, well… cheese. But it’s also chock full of nutrients: Healthy fats in the avocado, iron from the kale, and assorted vitamins from the blend of fresh herbs. Though the recipe uses white bread, you can choose a whole-grain variety for extra fiber and flavor.
5. Balsamic Blueberry Grilled Cheese
Full of antioxidants, fiber, and loads of vitamin C, blueberries are one super superfood. And while they might not seem like a natural fit for a grilled cheese, this recipe indicates otherwise. With your white cheese of choice (we suggest goat), a handful of greens, and plenty of berries, this sandwich just may be our favorite.
6. Lasagna Grilled Cheese
Some hybrid foods are hard to get behind. (Ramen burger, anyone?) But the combination of two delicious comfort foods? Now that, we support. Filled with ricotta, mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, this sandwich makes you nostalgic for a home-cooked Italian feast. (Even if that feast only happened in a dream.)
Photo: House of Yumm
7. Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
When a Hawaiian getaway isn’t a realistic option, bring tropical flavors to your mouth instead. Stuffed with fresh pineapple, Canadian bacon, and a hefty handful of cheese, this sandwich is the new and improved Hawaiian pizza. Eating while hula dancing is optional.
8. Grilled Cheese Rolls
Though this recipe may not qualify as gourmet, it’s certainly creative. And who doesn’t love a fresh (literal) twist on a classic? With only American cheese, whole-wheat bread, and butter, these cheese-filled roll-ups are great for dipping into almost any soup or just eating on their own.
9. Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Talk about a trifecta of taste! This sandwich includes all our favorite ingredients: bacon, cheese, and guacamole. Though it may not scream fine dining, we're firm believers that the recipes with the fewest ingredients tend to taste the best. So set that bacon to sizzle, mash up some avocado, sprinkle some cheese, press those bad boys together, and realize that yes, this is what heaven is like.
Every week, the Greatist Team scours the web for tasty, trendy, and (mostly) healthy recipes to help open both minds and palates to the wonders of food. Tune in next Wednesday to see what else we have in store!