Gabrielle Hamilton's Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

By • July 8, 2014 21 Comments

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Author Notes: The secret to crispier, faster, better grilled cheese sandwiches? Mayonnaise. "This is the greatest cooking medium of all time for a grilled cheese sandwich," she says. It won't burn as quickly as butter, and it won't stick to the pan, and it browns and crisps more evenly too. From Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune Restaurant, via CHOW.Genius Recipes

Serves 10

  • 20 (1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic bread (from about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Hamilton likes Hellmann's)
  • 1 pound shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place half of the bread slices on a work surface and spread with half of the mayonnaise. Flip the bread slices over and evenly divide the cheese among the slices.
  3. Spread the remaining bread slices with the remaining mayonnaise and place them mayonnaise-side up over the cheese to form 10 sandwiches.
  4. Heat a large nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium-low heat until hot, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place 2 to 3 of the sandwiches in the pan and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is starting to melt, about 5 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until the second sides are golden brown and the cheese is completely melted, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
  5. When all the sandwiches are cooked, remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool 1 to 2 minutes before cutting each sandwich in half.

Tags: bread, cheese, grilled cheese

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Comments (21) Questions (1)

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16 days ago Erica Chiarkas

I do ALMOST everything above, but I change how soon I build the sandwiches. I get my griddle going, put mayo on the outside of both slices of bread, and put the slices on the griddle right away. THEN, I shred my cheese and put it on the bread. By this time, the insides of the bread are already warm, and the cheese starts to melt. If I'm adding slices of ham, I warm those up on the griddle next to the bread before putting them on. If I'm adding tomato or pre-cooked bacon or pepperocinis, I add it at this time. Then, after I've built my sandwiches on the inside, I flip one side over onto the other and smush it down a bit. Flip it once or twice, checking for doneness, cold spots on the old griddle. By this time, most of my bread is grilled perfectly, the interiors are melty and melding, and the exterior is a perfect crunchiness. Cut with a serrated knife.

Note: One of our favorite combinations is sourdough bread, hard salami, and a really good provolone.

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about 1 month ago Lisa Devereaux

I soften some butter and mix it half and half with mayo, so you get the best of both worlds :-)

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3 months ago Darryl

Butter, Butter and more Butter!!!

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3 months ago Richelle

I tried this and the technique is good, the bread browned evenly and crisped up nicely, however I missed the taste of butter. We keep butter on the counter in a porcelain butter boat with a water reservoir so we always have spreadable butter on hand.

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6 months ago Tippy Canoe

Missed this the first time around, but saw it reprised on the best of 2014 list. Our own home stands divided: my husband loves this mayo method and declares that it directs the focus back on to the grilled cheese, which he loves; I missed the taste of butter and found this technique less satisfying. I don't usually run into butter spreading problems as I melt the butter on a cast iron pan before adding the bread, then lift the bread long enough when flipping it to add a bit more butter to the pan. Of course, this makes for a very buttered grilled cheese--just the way I like it.

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5 months ago cranberry

I just saw this as well. We are firm believers in bacon fat spread on the bread. I will have to try mayo, but I suspect it will not be as tasty!

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5 months ago cranberry

I just saw this as well. We are firm believers in bacon fat spread on the bread. I will have to try mayo, but I suspect it will not be as tasty!

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6 months ago DanaERT

I've been making grilled cheese with mayo for years, and I can't remember the last time I used butter. It's the perfect texture and crunch! And I love that Gabrielle suggests Hellmann's, because it is the best - no question!

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8 months ago Diane

Poor results on this one.... my first "unhappy" from a Food52 recipe, so that's a really good track record! :) I'm wondering if it was using homemade mayo was the problem. Just way too rich, with the cheese... almost an unpleasant gamey taste.

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11 months ago Donna Rose

I must have done something wrong, based on all the positive comments about success. I used Best Foods, a firm sourdough, shredded cheese. It tasted awesome, but despite letting it sit on a cooling rack, the sandwiches got soggy very quickly. Did I miss something?

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11 months ago celliejoe

i've never buttered the bread - always added the butter to the frying pan, adding more after flipping the sandwich over. will try the mayo, though, to see which we like better.

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12 months ago Lauren

I didn't have a non-stick pan available...that's the only problem I had....But the sandwiches were amazing!!! I loved the taste and I used my favorite Muenster cheese....oh, my!! Ooey, gooey cheesy dinner with bread and butter pickled veggies! The best plate I've had in a loooong time! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

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12 months ago mmmassey

I wonder if this would work with the other best thing to ever happen to grilled cheese... make it in a waffle iron!!!!!

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12 months ago Posie Harwood

Fact: mayo is so so good, and I truly appreciate any excuse to use it more. This sandwich will be happening soon

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12 months ago myboyboris

I love mayo more than bacon but I much prefer butter on the outside of my grilled cheese. Never had a problem with burning.

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12 months ago WileyP

Someone told me decades ago that mayonnaise is the thing to use on grilled sandwiches, and I remember that it worked very nicely. For some unknown reason, though, that tip slipped through the cracks and I continued using butter again. Thanks for reminding me!

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12 months ago Auntie Allyn

OMG, this is truly genius! When I make grilled cheese sandwiches with buttered bread, I always run into problems with the bread/butter burning before the insides are properly heated. Tonight's grilled cheese with prosciutto, using Gabrielle's method, was perfection!

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12 months ago MaureenOnTheCape

I've been making grilled cheese exactly like this for years and when I've earned extra calories I grill a hamburg first, and place it inside the grilled cheese as soon as it comes out of the pan. If you wait too long the cheese "glues" the bread together. You'll be satiated for most of the day.

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12 months ago Liz Colville

You know, even those olive oil has such a low burn rate (lower than butter's) I love to use it for grilled cheeses and then rub a sliced garlic clove over the bread when it's toasted. I think I learned this from a Fine Cooking feature, but also experienced it at a sandwich food truck in Berkeley, CA a couple of years ago!

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12 months ago Lola Blackwelder

your site will not let me use my e mail address, says this address is taken, but I can not use it to sign in.

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12 months ago Lauren Kelley

Lauren is the Director of Customer Experience and Operations at Food52

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