How to Make Easy Oven-Baked Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
What, you didn’t know that National Grilled Cheese Day was coming up on April 12? But there's no excuse needed to try our time-saving hack to whip up a batch of classic cheddar or pizza-flavored sandwiches in the oven.
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Photos, recipes, and story by Ashley Strickland Freeman
Mmm…grilled cheese. Bread, butter, and cheese slices. How can this three-ingredient combination be so satisfying? The humble grilled cheese sandwich is a favorite in our house, whether served as the classic cheddar alongside hot tomato soup or doctored up with extra toppings and specialty cheeses. On days when I crave something soul-satisfying (or these days, when I’m busy homeschooling), a grilled cheese sandwich is my go-to meal, and it appeals to both my 4-year-old and my husband. There’s only one drawback with grilled cheese: standing over the stovetop cooking one or two sandwiches at a time.
That’s why my hack for making grilled cheese en mass in the oven is a game-changer. I can cook up to six at once on a sheet pan, and everyone gets to sit down together and eat a hot sandwich.
And though we’re not entertaining right now during these shelter-in-place times, the idea works beautifully when you want to cook for a crowd and enjoy the party. So definitely keep this in mind for when we can have friends over again.
Making oven-baked grilled cheese sandwiches is almost a no-brainer, except for one secret technique. You cook them between a pair of sheet pans, and preheat the top one to add weight and another surface for crisping the bread. This also means there’s no need to flip the sandwiches mid-bake. Total time: about 20 minutes!
How to make classic grilled cheese sandwiches in the oven
Here’s the basic method. See below for more ideas, including a recipe for a pizza-flavor variation.
1. Build your sandwiches
Preheat a sheet pan in a 450° oven. While it's heating, spread half of the slices of bread with softened butter and place them with the butter side down on a second sheet pan. Top each bread slice with sharp cheddar cheese (using pre-sliced cheese makes it super easy). I went with potato bread here, but any white bread or even a favorite whole-wheat sandwich bread works great. I like salted butter (Kerrygold, if you’re wondering), but also love using mayonnaise. Either yields that desirably crispy crust.
2. Build the sandwiches
Cover sandwiches with the remaining bread slices, then butter them.
3. Top with the hot sheet pan, and bake
Remove the hot sheet pan from the oven and carefully place it on top of the sandwiches, rimmed edges up. Bake the stacked sheet pans until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown and crispy, 10-12 minutes.
More oven-baked grilled cheese ideas, including pizza flavor
Once you have the basics down for making oven grilled cheese, there are so many combinations to try. The idea is ideal for a DIY family dinner or evening when friends come over. Set out bowls of toppings for everyone to make their own creations: caramelized onions, chutney, tapenade, sundried tomatoes, pesto, herbs, and grilled vegetables, for example. Consider changing up the cheese, too, with goat cheese, brie, and blue cheese in addition to cheddar.
Pizza grilled cheese is a home run for my family, and the following recipe couldn’t be easier. We keep it simple with jarred marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sliced pepperoni, but feel free to add olives, mushrooms, spinach, or another favorite topping. Are you a Hawaiian pizza fan? Sliced ham and pineapple chutney would be great to spread onto slices of bread with mozzarella and marinara. Or are you a purist and go for margherita pizza? Fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil make an awesome grilled cheese too.
Recipes for quarantine cooking
We're with you at Yummly during the coronavirus to make home cooking as easy and flexible as possible. You'll find lots more ideas in our quarantine cooking collection.