Gallery: The Art of the Perfect Grilled Cheese (Plus 20 Variations to Shake Things Up)

Grilled Cheese With Kimchi
Grilled Cheese With Kimchi

It may sound strange, but spicy, garlicky kimchi and melty cheese are a natural pair. Just ask anyone who's had cheesy kimchi ramen, or a kimchi quesadilla from a Korean taco truck.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese
Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

Blue cheese, shredded chicken, and Frank's RedHot are straddled by two melty layers of Monterey Jack—all the spicy, meaty, funky, cheesy flavors of the sports-bar classic, translated into the ultimate comfort food.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Classic Grilled Cheese
Classic Grilled Cheese

This is the one we all know and love. Buttery, golden-brown bread and oozy, gooey, melty American cheese. The trick to perfecting it? Griddling the bread on both sides for maximum crispness.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Potato Chip Grilled Cheese
Potato Chip Grilled Cheese

Four words: Potato. Chips. In. The. Sandwich. Okay, five words. Still just as tasty.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Caprese Grilled Cheese
Caprese Grilled Cheese

Fresh mozzarella, sweet-tart tomatoes, basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. It's part refreshing and light, part hearty, melty comfort food.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese
Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

All the elements of a jalapeño popper—the crisp crust, the heat from the peppers, the gooey-and-melty cream cheese—shoved into a grilled cheese sandwich. Oh, right. Plus bacon.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Chili Cheese Dog Grilled Cheese
Chili Cheese Dog Grilled Cheese

This'll take you right back to the ballpark. Thinly slice a single hot dog, fry it up on a hot skillet, then lay it on top of a slice of bread lined with American cheese. Spoon on some chili, add another slice of cheese, then close 'er up and grill in the fat rendered out of the hot dog. Not big enough? A double dog'll do ya!

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Guacamole Grilled Cheese
Guacamole Grilled Cheese

If you're one of those people who gag at the idea of warm avocado, this recipe just might change your mind. This sandwich combines the warm, gooey, crisp, buttery comfort of a grilled cheese with the creamy tang of guacamole. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd place good odds on this being one of the best things ever.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Muffuletta Grilled Cheese
Muffuletta Grilled Cheese

Yeah, we like our muffulettas up in here. This grilled cheese variation gets piled with cold cuts and olive salad before being griddled in hot butter until melty.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Grilled Cheese With Roasted Pineapple, Ham, and Swiss
Grilled Cheese With Roasted Pineapple, Ham, and Swiss

Grilled cheese by way of Hawaii—that is, assuming they really eat a lot of ham and pineapple in Hawaii (which, of course, they do). Roasting the pineapple beforehand makes it extra sweet.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Grilled Cheese With Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado
Grilled Cheese With Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado

It's like a B.L.T. sandwich, except the lettuce is a bit ooier, gooier, meltier, saltier, and, well, made of cheese. We also throw in some avocado for good measure. Don't do bacon? Just sub in our mushroom "bacon" from this vegan B.L.A.T. sandwich!

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Faux Cubano Grilled Cheese
Faux Cubano Grilled Cheese

It's not quite a Cubano without the roast pork or Cuban bread, but in many ways, it's even better. For one thing, sliced bread is better for soaking up butter and cooking up golden brown. For another, it takes a fraction of the time. A fair tradeoff, in my estimation.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Caramelized onions, sautéed shredded Brussels sprouts, and sharp Vermont cheddar cheese combine on a buttery-crisp French loaf for a hearty but elegant take on the classic.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

French Melt
French Melt

A big ol' pile of sweet caramelized onions (see here for an easy technique to speed up the process), melted with a fat slab of Comté cheese. It's like French onion soup in an easy-to-pick-up, extra-buttery package.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Cemita-Style Grilled Cheese
Cemita-Style Grilled Cheese

A grilled cheese inspired by cemitas—the Pueblan sandwich specialty. Stringy Oaxacan cheese surrounds a spicy, creamy mash of avocado and chipotles in adobo, while a layer of whole papalo leaves adds an herbal pop. This sandwich may not have the beef and onion or the trademark roll, but it still manages to capture the bold, fiery flavors of the original.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Crisp Grilled Cheese
Crisp Grilled Cheese

In this version, we've upped our standard grilled cheese game by adding a layer of crispy browned Parmesan cheese to the exteriors of our sandwiches. Meta grilled cheese?

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

The Grilled Cheese Eggsplosion
The Grilled Cheese Eggsplosion

One of my favorite breakfasts: Cut a hole out of a slice of bread, cook in butter, break an egg into the hole. Well, we wondered what would happen if we built a grilled cheese out of two of those bad boys. We did it, and deliciousness ensued.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Fatty Melt
Fatty Melt

A monstrous creation whose origins are unknown, but it deserves worldwide infamy. What is it, you ask? Only a hamburger with two grilled cheese sandwiches as its bun. Yeah. Shove that on your griddle and fry it.

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Bacon Fatty Melt
Bacon Fatty Melt

Yeah...you can add bacon to this bad boy, too. NBD.

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Double Bacon Fatty Melt
Double Bacon Fatty Melt

Want to go one step further? How about the Double Bacon Burger Fatty Melt? Two burgers, 12 slices of bacon, seven slices of cheese, six slices of bread, and one hell of a grilled cheese coma.

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Brie and Nutella Grilled Cheese
Brie and Nutella Grilled Cheese

Nutella makes most things better, and toasting things in butter makes better things even...more better. So why not combine two great concepts and apply them to the greatest food ever? It makes for one seriously delicious mess of a sandwich.

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]