Skip navigation
Sandwich Trends Spotlight: 5 Keys to Grilled Cheese Perfection

Sandwich Trends Spotlight: 5 Keys to Grilled Cheese Perfection

This story is a part of FM's Sandwich Trends Spotlight, a breakdown of tips, trends and data for sandwich success. Research firm Datassentials studied what customers want on sandwich builds, proteins, cheeses, sauce and more. FM covers everything from the banh mi to the Elvis to the perfect grilled cheese...

Matt Fish is the grilled cheese authority in Cleveland, OH, and beyond. He’s the mastermind behind the wildly popular cult favorite grilled cheese restaurant, Melt Bar & Grilled, with locations in Northeast Ohio and the newest Melt venture, Melt University, one of six new concepts at Case Western Reserve University’s Tinkham Veale center. The grilled cheeses from Melt are known for being big and hearty. The Parmageddon is stuffed with Pieroghis, an Eastern-European staple.

When Fish talks about the perfect grilled cheese, it sounds like something that can stand up to a Cleveland winter. He mentions the word “strength” a lot. These sandwiches can make a Rust Belt ice storm seem warm and cozy…when seen from indoors with one of these beautiful grilled cheese sandwiches.

We asked Fish for his very best advice on making the meltiest, most craveable sandwiches imaginable: from choosing the bread and cheese to avoiding the dreaded  ‘greasy mess’ grilled cheese!

Matt Fish at Melt Bar

1. Bread Choice
The choice of bread when making the perfect grilled cheese is definitely at the top. Since there are only two basic components of this perfect sandwich, you definitely cannot skimp on one or the other. Bread options are almost limitless, but two important factors must remain: the bread must be high quality and sliced thick. This gives sandwiches the height and “wow” factor, but also allows the sandwich to stand up to all the other heavy ingredients we add. Believe it or not, but two or three different cheeses can add a full pound, so bread strength is key. And the quality of the bread will definitely affect the flavor of the sandwich. I suggest fresh baked bread.

2. Cheese Choice
Equal in importance to the bread is obviously the cheese.  The cheese type will be determined by the type of sandwich you are creating and the audience you’re creating it for. A simple, quick meal may only require good-quality American, provolone or Swiss. More in-depth, creative sandwiches requiring certain flavor profiles may require goat cheese, blue, smoked Gouda or Havarti. The type of cheese doesn’t matter as much as the quality. Use something better than the really low-quality cheeses that normally contain a high amount of oil. This oil will be released when the cheese is heated, creating a greasy mess of a sandwich. Most good cheeses will melt evenly and look as good as they taste. Aged cheeses and smoked cheeses will be a bit dryer and will not usually melt as well as a younger cheese or non-smoked.

3. Spread application
The fat component used on the bread is important, but not as important as how it is spread, or where. Butter, margarine, lard, mayonnaise and olive oil can all be used as the fat component. Covering the entire surface area in a thin layer on both sides of the bread is very important. Not enough spread means it won’t toast evenly.  Too much spread will lead to soggy bread.

4. Toasting the Bread
Toasting on both sides adds to the toasty/nutty flavor of the grilled cheese. And it also adds to the strength of the sandwich and the melting of the cheese. Once the slice of bread is flipped, add the cheese to that hot surface; that will begin the melting process. But don’t over-toast; the ideal is a nice medium to darker toast.

5. Additional Ingredients
The addition of ingredients and flavor components is great when creating the perfect grilled cheese, but remember: Stay away from overly wet ingredients. This will likely make the bread soggy.  Wet ingredients can be used, but try to use in moderation, and definitely use a hearty cheese.. This creates a moisture barrier between the ingredient and the bread. Provolone and Muenster are good cheeses for this. Try not to add ingredients that overpower the flavor of the cheese. Do not add too many bold or outrageous flavors. Texture is another component. Adding a different crunch, like a chip, or a different creaminess of a sauce is good. This needs to compliment the cheese, not take away from it.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.