For the Best Grilled Cheese, Start in the Microwave|Recipes Spots

  • on October 25, 2023
For the Best Grilled Cheese, Start in the Microwave

Image of a grilled cheese sandwich on a plate with yellow and blue illustrations in the background
Simply Recipes / Photo Illustrations by Wanda Abraham / Getty Images

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. The combination of an ooey gooey cheese with toasted bread is a heavenly treat. They’re low effort and highly customizable so I make them often; they’re my go-to meal for most busy days. 

I’m a self-proclaimed grilled cheese expert and I’m going to let you in on my secret for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, every single time. One that guarantees the toast is golden brown and the cheese is fully melted, slightly oozing down the edges. All you need to achieve this is a hand-dandy microwave.

Sheet Pan Grilled Cheese Sandwich Cut in Half and on a Light Blue Plate Next to a Table Napkin and a Sheet Pan With More Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Simply Recipes / Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

My Ammu Helped Me Discover This Smart Trick

My grilled cheese journey started solely in the microwave. I had my first grilled cheese sandwich in elementary school when a friend encouraged me to get one at the cafeteria. It was so good, I begged my ammu (mother in Bangla) to make it for dinner. 

Befuddled by its foreignness and my limited, unhelpful descriptions (I was in first grade!), she made it by heating two slices of sandwich bread with a single square of American cheese in—you guessed it—the microwave. Though it wasn’t what I’d had for lunch, I devoured it. 

Eventually, my ammu and I took to the stove to cook the microwaved grilled cheese sandwich on a skillet. These sandwiches were superb.

Why I Always Microwave My Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Some would argue that the quintessential grilled cheese is already a simple dish that needs no reform. I beg to differ. What about those times when the bread toasts (or worse, burns!) before the cheese is fully melted? Grilled cheese recipes recommend cooking them low and slow for this reason—to give heat a chance to pass through the bread and melt the cheese.

By starting your grilled cheese in the microwave, the cheese is not only 100% melted before the sandwich even hits the skillet, the overall cook time is reduced to less than five minutes. Then you can even control how toasted you’d like your sandwich! This is a hack I’ve used for years, and I’ll never make grilled cheese any other way.

How to make a grilled cheese in 3 ways
How to make a grilled cheese in 3 waysHow to make a grilled cheese in 3 ways

How I Make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in the Microwave

I used to use whatever sandwich bread my parents bought, from Classic White Wonder Bread to Private Selection’s specialty breads, and Kraft Singles American Cheese. Now, my go-to is Wegmans Sourdough Sandwich Bread and any of their block cheeses—my favorite is pepper jack.

Here’s what I do to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich: 

Assemble the sandwich on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave it on high for 40 seconds to one minute, until you can see on the sides that the cheese is melted. The timing depends on the thickness of the bread and the power of the microwave; I’ve found 40 seconds is enough for standard sandwich bread. 

While the sandwich is in the microwave, heat a skillet—I prefer cast iron—on medium-high heat and add about half a tablespoon of butter. 

Flip the microwaved sandwich onto the skillet once ready, with the plate-side facing up. This is important because steam will accumulate between the plate and the sandwich, and you want to release it so that the sandwich doesn’t get soggy. If you let the microwaved sandwich sit on the plate for long, it’ll get wet and sticky from the trapped steam. 

Cook each side for one to two minutes, depending on how toasted you like it. Cut the sandwich (I’m team diagonal) and voila, the perfect grilled cheese sandwich!

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