Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas
The grilled cheese is the supreme sandwich for all ages and hours. Whether it's an easy weeknight dinner for the little ones or a late-night snack for mom and dad, you just can't beat a grilled cheese. It's the trusty meal when you've got almost nothing in the fridge and a cast iron skillet on the stove. While you can't go wrong with the time-honored combo of melty cheese with two slices of crispy bread, there is a way to take your basic grilled cheese to the next level. And no, it's not tomatoes or bacon…
The secret to your best-ever grilled cheese? Mayonnaise. Next time you make one, don't smother your bread in butter like usual. Instead, slather on the mayo; it'll add a tang and create a perfectly crisp exterior.
Why Should You Use Mayonnaise on Your Grilled Cheese?
A grilled cheese seems like it'd be simple to make, but it takes a bit of technique to achieve the perfect balance of a crunchy crust with evenly melted, cheesy goodness on the inside. So how do you avoid a barely toasted cheese melt or burnt sandwich with still-cold cheddar? This often means going low and slow with the heat; and mayonnaise can quicken this process. Unlike butter, which burns quickly, mayonnaise is an oil-based fat and has a higher smoke point. In other words, you can turn up the heat and the mayo won't burn your bread, allowing you to achieve a photo-worthy, golden exterior.
Beyond its time-saving properties, using mayo is also more convenient than a stick of butter, as it is already smooth and spreadable (crucial if you're using soft, white bread), plus you also can get away with using less to accomplish the same job as butter.
Finally, it's a matter of taste: Sometimes, butter's rich creaminess feels a little too heavy and can overpower the cheese. Mayonnaise's light, tangy flavor means your tastebuds can fully appreciate the flavors of your cheese and bread choices.
What Mayonnaise Should You Use?
Well, that's totally up to and what's in your pantry. The only rule of thumb is that you must use a full-fat, traditional mayo. Reduced-fat and light mayonnaises have a higher water content, which can lead to a soggy sammy... and that's not worth saving a few calories over.