Poor grilled cheese. Although it holds a special place in our hearts, it’s often passed over in the innovation department. Toast plus melted cheese already equals tasty. Why mess with it?
Because a grilled cheese sandwich can be an ideal canvas for experimental flavor combos, that’s why. And why settle for delicious when you can have ZOMG-THIS-CHANGED-MY-LIFE delicious?
Here are a few grilled cheese sandwiches to try pronto.
1. Lobster, Vermont Cheddar, Gruyère and Parmesan
Grilled cheese doesn’t need lobster to be awesome, but it sure doesn’t hurt. So goes the thinking at The Brooklyn Diner in New York City, which makes a wonderfully over-the-top grilled cheese with Vermont cheddar, Gruyère, Parmesan and buttery pieces of lobster.
2. Quince Jelly and Taleggio
Fromage-o-philes know that jams and jellies can be great paired with the right cheeses, but why not grill them together? Unctuous, creamy taleggio meets its match in a bright, tart quince jelly.
3. Bacon, Maple Syrup, Gruyère, and Asiago
Maple syrup needn’t be exclusively the domain of pancakes and French toast. We salute trailblazers like The Beer Belly in Los Angeles, which had the gall to put it on a grilled cheese sandwich. Our homage to their derring-do? This Gruyère, asiago, bacon and maple syrup combo.
4. Balsamic, Blueberries, and Havarti
Fresh blueberries get more zing when macerated with a bit of balsamic vinegar and sugar. The result is fabulous paired with a buttery havarti.
5. Honey, Bacon, and Blue Cheese
Bacon is here, there and everywhere these days—heck, this is its second cameo on our list—but it’s undeniably good, you guys. Paired with a tangy blue cheese, it’s positively decadent. A drizzle of honey rounds out the flavors.
6. Fruity Pebbles, Apple Slices, and Taleggio
Last year, Café Saint-Ex in Washington, D.C. practically turned us into squealing eight-year-olds with a Fruity Pebbles-encrusted grilled taleggio sandwich stuffed with thin apple slices. (This is a notable exception to our strict never-eat-a-rainbow-colored-grilled-cheese policy.)
7. Kimchi and Provolone
This pairing may seem out of left field, but it’s actually pretty popular in certain circles—most notably, for a time last year at Porsena Extra Bar in New York City. Punchy kimchi gets its perfect foil in gooey provolone, which balances the kimchi’s acidity without masking its heat. Bonus: it turns your sandwich a neon shade of orange.
8. Brie and Nutella
Yes, you can put Nutella on your grilled cheese. You’re a grown up and you can do what you want! But seriously, this is a rich sandwich. Handle with care.
9. Sriracha, Avocado, and Cheddar
Ahh, sriracha. We love you so. You are especially attractive when drizzled over a few creamy slices of avocado and thinly sliced sharp cheddar.
10. Roasted Pineapple, Ham, and Swiss
Think about it: This combo works with pizza, so why wouldn’t it work with grilled cheese? J. Kenji López-Alt over at Serious Eats makes a similar point (and tantalizes us with a fantastic-looking recipe).