Grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food. For the ultimate grilled cheese, here are the cheeses you should use.

By Christine Clark
March 23, 2020
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Credit: Jason Donnelly/Meredith

There's no bad time for comfort food, but in uncertain times, it's often the first place we turn. Enter a good ol' grilled cheese sandwich.

The good news is that you can use any cheese you like for your grilled cheese. If it's your favorite, give it a go! The bad news is that not every cheese will give you the gooey melt that we all hold dear. If you simply must include a not-so-melty cheese like Parmesan or feta in your sandwich, grate or break up said cheese into any of the below cheeses (also grated, if you can). This way it will be perfectly incorporated into the dreamy, oozy sandwich that you're going for.

8 Best Cheeses For Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

1. Medium Cheddar

Ah, the grilled cheese standard. There's a reason for that! Medium cheddar is balanced, properly melty, and endlessly customizable. Add some hot sauce! Add some apple slices! Add some fresh herbs! It's all excellent.

2. Raclette

If you've been on the internet anytime in the past few years, you've likely seen the melty cheese being melted over meat, bread, potatoes. That's raclette, and it's both a cheese and a dish.

The dish dates back to when shepherds would carry hunks of cheese with them to melt onto bread over the fire for their dinner. The cheese is meaty and rich, with a hunt of funk that fades when it's melted. Throw a few slices of cooked bacon onto your raclette grilled cheese sandwich and thank us later.

3. Young Unsmoked Gouda

Gouda melts as well as your standard cheddar, but offers a tad more sweetness. No, there's no sugar (all the milk sugar, known as lactose, in milk essentially vanishes in the cheesemaking process), but its unique make process imparts sweeter flavors to the cheese.

If you like your grilled cheese with jam or honey, make it with young gouda for a real "gouda" time (sorry). Aged gouda is wonderful for its crystalline texture and butterscotch flavor, but the young stuff melts much better.

4. Organic American Slices

The con of American cheese slices: it's basically fake cheese, only 25 to 30 percent cheese, plus filler. The pro of American cheese slices: it's delicious and the holy grail cheese for grilled cheese.

Meet yourself halfway, and buy the organic version that can be found at Trader Joe's. You get that wonderfully fake cheesy flavor and a goopy melt but are supporting better farming practices by going organic. Wins all 'round.

5. Fontina Val D'Aosta

This is not the Fontina you're thinking of. Coming from the unpasteurized milk of the Valdaostan Red Spotted cows who graze in Italy near the Swiss Alps, this cheese is savory, complex, and has been made here since the 12th century.

It may not be your go-to for a cozy midnight grilled cheese, but if you're looking to upgrade your dinner grilled cheese, consider this historic Italian melter. Add some sautéed mushrooms for extra umami.

6. Pepper Jack

Pepper Jack is uber melty and will up your grilled cheese ante with a hint of spice. If you can find Maple Leaf Pepper Jack from Wisconsin, their version includes fresh peppers rather than dry, imparting the fruitiness of the peppers as well as the spice. Cabot also makes a Habanero cheddar with taco seasoning if you want more heat and a more Southwest-inspired flavor.

7. Taleggio

Yeasty, meaty Taleggio has a sort of egg custard vibe that gets even more divinely savory on a grilled cheese sandwich. Add slow-roasted tomatoes or artichoke hearts for a more Italian panini feel. Or, take it in a more dessert-y direction with a smear of fig jam.

8. Comté

France's answer to Gruyère (also awesome on a grilled cheese, incidentally), Comté is more hazelnutty and nuanced than its rich, brothy Swiss cousin. Think of it as a hug hello from your grandmother, as opposed to being mobbed by your family's new puppy. Both are great, but sometimes you need the more comforting hug-like flavors of Comté. For extra richness, add a drizzle of a dark honey like buckwheat or chestnut.