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Even with the word “grilled” in the name, a grilled cheese sandwich is not always made on the grill anymore. The truth is, many people don’t. But, doing so can give you such a delicious result that you may not want to do it any other way going forward.
It can be tricky to properly make a grilled cheese on the grill if you’ve never done it before. The last thing you want is some great cheese and toppings ruined by totally charred and burnt bread.
To help you avoid that, we’ve put together some specific tips on how to make grilled cheese on the grill and do it successfully. Ready to perfect an actual “grilled” cheese? Let’s take a look:
First things first, you should never cook anything directly on grill grates that have leftover food particles or char. This can impact the flavor of what you are about to cook and even cause it to burn. So, to get the best results for grilled cheese on the grill, make sure your grill has been properly cleaned and the grates have been scraped off. Cranking up the heat on your grill, letting the grates warm up, and then gently scraping them off before cooking will help ensure there’s nothing leftover on the grates.
Make sure to set up your grill with multiple cooking/heat zones. The minimum should be two zones but three zones work even better for a grilled cheese on the grill. With two-zone cooking, you’ll have one zone that is the direct, high-heat side and the other zone is the indirect, low-heat side. When you do three zones, it adds a medium heat zone into the mix. Multi-zone cooking allows you to move the grilled cheese as needed throughout the cooking process to ensure the cheese is properly melting without the bread burning.
Source: Healthier Steps
Good quality, thick-sliced bread is critical for a grilled sandwich. The traditional, pre-sliced sandwich bread, which is usually pretty thin, will not do well on the grill grates. So, you want to make sure you have thick, sturdy bread that will hold up to the heat of the grill. Keep in mind that since your bread is thicker, it will take longer to melt the cheese when doing it on the grill versus a conventional grilled cheese. That’s why the multi-zone grill setup is important.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with other types of bread than the traditional white varieties. Try out whole wheat and whole grain varieties, as well as rye, pumpernickel sourdough, or even a halved donut. Then you can mix and match different types of bread, cheeses, and additional toppings to create some delicious combinations. (See more on this below)
Buttering the outsides of the bread has long been standard procedure for grilled cheese sandwiches. This helps to flavor the sandwich and prevent the bread from burning and sticking to the pan. But, if you’re going to do a grilled cheese on the grill, make sure to grab the mayonnaise. Mayo actually works better when it comes to browning the bread, preventing it from sticking to the grill grates, and keeping it just moist enough. Plus, it adds a little tangy flavor that pairs with the richness of the bread and cheese very nicely.
If you really love the taste of butter on your grilled cheese, you can still do both. Spread mayo on the outside of the bread slices and butter on the inside and place the slices mayo side down on the grill.
No matter what variety of cheese you use, the main thing is that you stick to varieties that melt nicely. Of course, the classic choice for grilled cheese is American cheese. But, as we mentioned above, you should also try some other cheeses to discover new favorites. Some other great options for grilled cheese on the grill include young cheddars, Gruyère, Comté, Fontina, jack cheeses, Taleggio, Brie, Gouda, Manchego, or Mozzarella.
Crumbly and dry fresh cheeses like Feta or overly-aged cheeses like Parmesan won’t melt very well. They’re a great way to add an additional kick of flavor to other cheese options but don’t use these as the main cheese.
Source: Nutrition Advance
The best way to ensure your cheese reaches the edge of the bread and melts perfectly is to use grated or shredded cheese. The cheese will melt faster and more evenly and you can ensure every bite of the sandwich will have a good amount of cheese.
You want to use the right type of cheese and make sure there’s enough to cover the whole sandwich, but it’s also important not to use too much cheese. Cheese spilling out the sides can cause a big mess very quickly on a grill.
Of course, the cheese is and should be the focal point of any good grilled cheese sandwich. But, if you’re going to make the effort of cooking a grilled cheese on the grill, why not kick it up a notch with some delicious toppings? Bacon, sliced ham, prosciutto, or even homemade pulled pork are great additions when you want to bring meat into the mix. (Cheddar Jack cheese, pulled pork, and BBQ sauce makes a great combo!)
Tomatoes, sliced avocado, roasted red peppers, Peppadew peppers, caramelized onions, and sauteed mushrooms all make great veggie options to add in. Thinly sliced pears, apples, or peaches can add a delicious crunch to the mix while also complementing the flavor of the cheese. If you’re looking for more crunch, potato chips or corn chips (Fritos!) are good options. Olive tapenade or mustard can add a good tangy flavor, while honey, sweet BBQ sauce, jam, or chutney can create a salty-sweet flavor profile.
When you’re cooking a grilled cheese on the grill, thinking like a BBQ pitmaster and exercising patience is going to be key. The indirect heat zone of your grill is where you are going to mainly be cooking the sandwich. To properly melt the cheese, you need to cook it low and slow.
So, keep that cooking zone in the medium to medium-low range (medium is 325 degrees to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.) This will ensure that the bread is toasting at the same rate that the cheese is melting. Then, if needed, you can use the direct, higher heat zone to toast the bread just a little more before serving.
Cook the sandwich with the grill lid closed until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is nearly melted. (Roughly 4 - 6 minutes)
Source: Trip Advisor
Everyone loves a good grilled cheese sandwich. With these tips above, you can cook the best grilled cheese directly on the grill today. As mentioned above, don’t be afraid to get creative with your cheese and topping combinations. With so many options, you could have a delicious and totally different-tasting grilled cheese every time you cook one!
Do you have a favorite combination of cheese and toppings for a grilled cheese on the grill? Have another tip we should add to the list above? Leave a comment below. We want to hear from you!
Want to learn how to cook more great backyard BBQ? Check out our in-depth, step-by-step virtual Championship Backyard BBQ Classes with some of the top competition Grillmasters and Pitmasters. You can learn a variety of delicious recipes, including all the insider tips you need to know, and level up your backyard cooking skills today!
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*Feature image from Land ‘O Lakes
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