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The Best Cheese To Use In Grilled Cheese

Find the perfect cheese for a melty grilled cheese sandwich

There has always been an argument amongst cheese enthusiasts about the ideal composition of grilled cheese. How do you determine the best cheese for grilled cheese? 

grilled cheese sandwich

It is all about balance, age, and the melting texture of the cheese that determines the perfect combination. The right amount of gooey combined with a balanced funk and flavor of well-aged cheese is what turophiles, or cheese lovers, look for in every bite.

After some consideration and a few test sandwiches, we’ve come up with a good list that is always fun to switch up and combine. The cheeses are some of the meltiest, gooiest, and cheesiest choices for grilled cheese lovers.

Here is our list of the top choices for cheeses to use in grilled cheese.

Best Cheese To Use In Grilled Cheese

  1. Gouda
  2. American
  3. Gruyere
  4. Colby
  5. Muenster
  6. Provolone
  7. Monterey Jack
  8. Havarti
  9. Swiss

Gouda

gouda for grilled cheese

Gouda is a subtle nutty yellow cheese that originated from the Netherlands in the South Holland region. This cheese is very popular, and the name “gouda” is used for general cheeses produced the Dutch way.

Gouda cheese develops for weeks and even years and cheesemakers use six different categories to classify the aged gouda. 

Cheeses between 4 and 10 weeks are defined as young or young mature, while mature and extra mature cheeses range from 4 months up to 9 months. 

Everything after 9 months is considered old or very old cheese and develops a flavor that is well accompanied with apple butter, strong beer, or port wine. Aging gives gouda a caramel sweetness, and it melts at a relatively low temperature, making it perfect for a gooey grilled cheese.

American

american cheese slices

This originator is a processed cheese developed from cheddar and colby cheeses. It is mild with a slightly salty tang and a semi-firm texture. It is known as a creamy cheese and was the first cheese to be officially endorsed as the best cheese for grilled cheese.

American cheese is made from cow’s milk and is colored with annatto. This salty and savory cheese is ideal on original white bread for an all-American classic.

A low melting point and a trademark yellow color make this cheese an ideal fit for any grilled cheese. 

Gruyere

gruyere cheese

Gruyere is a hard yellow and white swiss cheese that originated in the region of Berne. A kind of alpine cheese, this sweet, salty, and tangy flavor is the perfect slice to add any funk to your grilled cheese.

Ideally unpasteurized, and aged for flavor, this creamy and nutty young cheese can be added to any sandwich to create a smooth and rich texture. When fully aged, it is slightly grainy but mature, complex, and earthy.

This preferred European Swiss cheese is ideal for any charcuterie board, but its low melting point and creamy texture bring together all complementing flavor notes in a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Colby

A semi-hard cheese from the United States, this cow’s milk cheese has a hazelnut bite and an orange color. It is often blended with another cheese and originates in Colby, Wisconsin. It is pasteurized and semi-hard meaning it has to be cut thinly for the ideal melt on your grilled cheese.

Similar to cheddar, it is moister and milder because the curds are washed reducing the acidity of the cheese. This mild flavor is because of this curd washing and has a sweeter, nuttier flavor due to the annatto seasoning like cheddar.

Muenster

muenster cheese

Originally from the United States, it is a soft cheese mimicking the german-produced Munster of Alsace and surrounding regions. It is smooth and pale and has a sweet nutty flavor. However, it is the soft texture and pungent aroma when aged that gives it its distinct flavor.

Perfect for melting, this soft cheese is ideal for all sorts of melted cheese sandwiches such as grilled cheese but also burgers, tuna melts, or even pizza. Of course, the flavor is because of pasteurization and the rind, flavored again with annatto. 

Provolone

This cheese originating in Campania near the slopes of Vesuvius is an Italian cheese aged and stretched for flavor. Semi-hard, this cheese has a very milked flavor and can be smoked, like gouda or swiss. 

It is a sharp flavor, aged for a minimum of 4 months, and other varieties, depending on age and pasteurization, can be sweet and mild. Perfect for grilled cheese because of its melty qualities and usual mild flavor, it can bind together more complicated flavors on a grilled cheese.

This is why provolone is the best cheese for grilled cheese as it marries contrasting flavors on one gooey and savory sandwich.

Monterey Jack

This California native, semi-hard cheese is a top contender on the cheese scale. It is famous for its mild taste and slight sweetness and is called an American original. Derived from monastic cheese production brought in by the Spanish, this cheese is used a lot in Mexican cuisine.

Though frequently marbled with Colby, this cheese on its own is savory, salty, and known for melting either in a burrito or as a grilled cheese. This cheese has many variants like blending to make Dry Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack, and many more.

Havarti

This semi-soft Danish cheese is a melting favorite! Known for being the perfect melting slice, this cow’s milk cheese can be considered a top contender for best cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich. With a buttery aroma, it can be sharp in stronger aged varieties. It is very sweet and slightly acidic too. Making it a great addition paired with strong bitter flavors.

It can be stored in a cooler because at room temperature it softens and melts quite easily. This white cheese can be aged about 3 months, and older varieties develop a more salty and hazelnut flavor. 

Swiss

There are many varieties of Swiss cheese, but the semi-hard alpine cheese Americans are familiar with is a version of Emmental swiss. It is firm but elastic with holes and has a strong, tart flavor due to aging. 

It ferments, and the curd incubates to create an ideal cheese for slicing and placing in a grilled cheese. This is a personal favorite addition to a grilled cheese as the funk of the Swiss ties together sweeter notes from cheeses like Gouda and milder sweetness like Havarti or Monterey. 

Final Thoughts

There is no one specific cheese that makes the best-grilled cheese. In fact, a variety of cheeses and their combinations is what makes the best grilled and melted cheese sandwich.

It is all about balance, age, and the melting texture of the cheese that determines the perfect combination. The right amount of gooey combined with a balanced funk and flavor of well-aged cheese is what turophiles, or cheese lovers, look for in every bite.

Contrasting flavors like swiss and cheddar can be balanced with nuttier or mild flavors like havarti or provolone. Overall, the answer for the best cheese for grilled cheese is obvious – all of them!

Use these cheeses on other popular sandwiches as well!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.