Upgrade this classic comfort food with everyone's unique spins on it.
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Grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet
Credit: MSPhotographic / Getty Images

Looking for a quick and affordable yet creative way to make dinner fun again? Say cheese! Grilled cheese, that is, and make it an interactive experience where everyone can build their own sandwich. By setting out a variety of breads, cheeses, and toppings, each member of the family can make a unique cheesy masterpiece without having to worry about catering to picky eaters.

Follow this easy six-step strategy to perk up a Friday night family meal or for one of the easiest, cheesiest entertaining ideas that will feed a crowd—and fast.

Step 1: Choose Your Bread

White bread isn't your only option (although it's a great one!). Offer a mix of textures, flavors, and thicknesses so diners can tailor to their own tastes. For a nice variety, we suggest:

  • White
  • Wheat or multigrain
  • Sourdough
  • Ciabatta
  • Focaccia
  • Rye
  • Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread (such as Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free 7-Grain Bread; $5.99, target.com)

Step 2: Choose Your Spread

For the outside of each slice, butter, garlic-infused olive oil, or mayo all taste magical and create a great crispy crust. Then for the inside, try:

Step 3: Stack on the Cheese

Now it's time for the featured ingredient: Fromage. These can be shreds, slices, or in blocks that you shred yourself. Aim for varieties that melt to gooey perfection in minutes, such as:

  • American
  • Brie
  • Swiss
  • Cheddar
  • Gruyere
  • Gouda
  • Havarti
  • Mozzarella

Step 4: Top to Your Heart's Content

Just before cooking, layer on the accessories. Here's where you can really get creative with savory, sweet, and even crunchy bonus items. Just be sure to layer ingredients thin enough that the cheese will still be able to melt, the thicker the sandwich the longer the cooking time. Go wild with:

  • Apple or pear slices
  • Pickles banana peppers or jalapeño slices
  • Tomato slices
  • Caramelized onions
  • Pickle slices
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Diced roasted red peppers
  • Avocado slices
  • Thyme, rosemary, basil, or other fresh herbs
  • Crispy bacon strips
  • Prosciutto
  • Sliced grilled chicken or steak

Step 5: Melt

Now the heat is on. While a skillet or griddle both work great, you can also score stellar results with a bigger option to cook all the sandwiches at once, or appliances that add extra crispy edges. We like:

Step 6: Devour

Slice in half—diagonal is our preferred method—and enjoy as-is or dunk in your favorite soup recipe to complete the grilled cheese night in quintessential comfort food-style.

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