Tips for Perfect Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese tips | Kale and Ale

I love cooking. It is very calming and relaxing to me, and I can make food to my preference (which usually means savory and heat level). But there are two things in our house that I had the reigns (if by reigns we mean skillet and spatula) over to Aaron for: Pancakes and grilled cheese. That’s because those are his specialties and he enjoys making those. And make them well he does!

His pancakes stay pretty traditional (maybe a little vanilla or chocolate chips here or there) but they are fluffy and moist, consistently good. While the pancakes are good, the grilled cheese is simply divine. I tried to be helpful and make the grilled cheese once, and it didn’t compare. Aaron’s grilled cheese game is on point, I leave it up to him.

Like stepping away from the stove on grilled cheese night,  I hand over my blog ahead of National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12. Aaron shares his tips and tricks to the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to Kale and Ale readers.

Aaron national grilled cheese | Kale and Ale

Aaron shares his tips for perfect grilled cheese.

Hi, Aaron here.

I love helping Val with her blog from the background or as a taste-tester, but melty cheese is my jam. It’s a food group in my diet, anchored by foods like mac ‘n’ cheese, pizza and, of course grilled cheese. I want to share some tips for the perfect sandwich on National Grilled Cheese Day or any other day, which have been honed and shared here.

Tips for the perfect grilled cheeseNational Grilled Cheese Day assembly | Kale and Ale

Low and slow cooking.

I set my stove on medium low to medium. This helps the sandwich achieve a nice crisp golden-brown outside and smooth inside. If your burner doesn’t cook evenly or you’re making two at once, you might need to rotate the sandwich during cooking to brown all sides evenly.

If it’s a basic grilled cheese, it’s ready to flip when the top butter starts to melt. If it’s a deluxe sandwich, pay attention to how the bottom is browning, flipping when it’s cooked and starting to get crisp but not overdone.

Cheese choice is crucial.

A combination of flavorful and melting cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar and Havarti or chedder and pepper jack) balances one another nicely. You end up with a mix of taste and flavor and gooey meltiness blended together in every bite.

Grilled cheese layers | Kale and AleExtras really elevate the sandwich.

Guacamole is my filling of choice because it adds a creamy, buttery richness and good flavor. Other add on ideas include sauteed mushrooms and onions or tomatoes, but really the sky is the limit.



Comfort foods

Everyone has a favorite that takes the person to a special place. Comfort foods are meant to bring the eater happiness inside and out and bring a memory of a special place and time.

As a vegetarian since 15, I don’t eat many foods commonly associated as comfort foods that I had growing up. I would love pepperoni pizza on Friday nights, hamburgers while grilling or turkey on Thanksgiving.

This isn’t to say every meal from my childhood had meat. I love a nice bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese. My mom gave me her green been casserole recipe that I’ve made vegetarian. I’m always trying new combinations of portobello mushroom or tempeh to recreate a reuben sandwich (recipe at the end). And sometimes I can’t help myself but make pigs in a blanket with soy hotdogs when I really want to bring back the memories.

Pita pizza with sauce, garlic, spinach, black olives and mozzarella

One of my favorite comfort foods is pita pizzas. It’s a great way to load up on veggies or use what is nearing the end of its life in the fridge. When I was young, I loved making these because I could make my food. Everyone can make them how they want, which is an exciting concept when you are nine!

When we made these, my brother and I would press our noses against the oven window and keep an eye on our little pizzas. We may have used the same toppings, but we arranged them in a way that we knew who had which pizza. It always tasted better after the fruits of our labor. And it still tastes great today.

What is your favorite comfort food for when you need to forget the day-to-day stresses and return to a simpler time?

Awesome vegetarian Reuben (Serves 2)

I have many variations to this recipe, including one for a slow cooker. If you are interested in a different recipe, please let me know.

Dressing (All more or less to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons pickle relish


  • 2 portobello mushrooms or half a block of tofu or tempeh, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices Rye bread
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • Sauerkraut to top, or Carolina slaw would be great on it

To prepare

  1. Mix the dressing, set aside.
  2. Slice the portobello, tofu or tempeh about a quarter-inch thick and place in a bowl.
  3. Mix the olive oil, soy sauce and salt and pepper in the bowl and let marinate about 10 minutes.
  4. Place the portobello, tofu or tempeh in a skillet, on a grill or under a broiler for about 10 minutes until cooked thoroughly.
  5. Put half the portobello, tofu or tempeh divided among two pieces of bread (toasted if you like) and top with sauerkraut and two slices of Swiss cheese, each. Put the dressing on the other pieces of bread and top.
  6. If you want the outside crispy and cheese melted, place in a skillet or 350° oven about 5 minutes or until desired melty or crispy goodness.