The Best Cheeses for a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The bread component of any sandwich is important but, where grilled cheese is concerned, you have to prioritize the namesake ingredient. Most recipes claim to have the best, most perfect combination of fats and dairy for the ultimate grilled cheese, but what if you’re more of a stretchy-cheese girl? Or maybe a fully melted, liquid cheese puddle is more your vibe. The point of any comfort food is to make yourself happy. Instead of ranking cheeses according my personal preferences, here’s a quick guide to the best cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich for the most important person in the room. (I’m talking about you.)

Assorted cheeses piled up on a countertop.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The best cheese for a grilled cheese

Cheese is composed of protein, fat, water, and acid. (Read more about cheese elements here.) Depending on the ratio of those four pillars, you’ll get different reactions when heat is applied. This might mean that you use all of one type of cheese, or you can try pairing cheeses to get different results.

The best cheese for stretchy sandwiches

If a quality cheese-pull is where the party’s at, then that stretchy protein percentage is important.

For major elasticity, try:

  • Mozzarella

  • Gouda

  • Havarti

  • Gruyère

Lean on younger cheeses, as those aged for over a year lack the moisture to melt and stretch quite as well as their younger counterparts.

The best cheese for gooey sandwiches

Not everyone wants a never-ending cheese pull. Sometimes less stretching and more of a soft, melting cheese is in order. The fat content will play a starring role in this case, allowing the protein clusters to move farther away from each other.

For a cheese that melts so smoothly you could weep, try:

  • Taleggio

  • Muenster (by popular demand, and I agree.)

  • Cheddar

  • Raclette

  • Fontina

  • American (It’s the cheese we all hate to love, but you have to admit, the stuff can melt.)

The best “cheese” for liquid cheese magma

There is a stage past gooey. A place not many choose to go, but if you dare, you could make a grilled cheese that practically erupts with melted dairy. For a nearly liquid cheese sandwich, lean on those with a higher fat and water content. I recommend using very soft cheeses in addition to, well, let’s call them “cheese-type snacks.”

  • Velveeta

  • Tostitos Salsa Con Queso

  • Cheez Whiz

Apply a little heat and they’ll reward you with yellow liquid sin. If you can’t bear to put a cheese-type snack on your sandwich bread, try:

Don’t fret, if you want a little bit of everything in your dream-date grilled cheese you should explore some combinations. If you enjoy a little stretch with your melt, layer in some gruyere with your fontina. Add in a secret smear of Cheez Whiz (we all know Philadelphia’s on to something with those cheesesteaks). Be brave. The grilled cheese of your dreams awaits.

Here’s my current favorite cheese combination for a slow-running, gooey grilled cheese with the tiniest bit of stretch and a mild cheesy flavor.

Grilled cheese cut in half on a cutting board.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe


1. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice, butter-side down, in a frying pan. Don’t turn on the heat yet.

2. Layer in the cheeses. If you can’t find sliced havardi or muenster, just cut off a hunk and dot the bread with cheese. They’re both semi-soft so I like to give them a smash with my fingers to flatten them out.

3. Top the sandwich with the other slice of bread, butter-side up. Turn on the heat to medium-low and put a lid on the pan. The steam and ambient heat will help melt the cheeses thoroughly.

4. Flip the sandwich after a few minutes to brown the other side. There’s no need to put the lid on again. Cool briefly on a wire rack before chowing.

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