The 10 Best Cheeses to Take Your Grilled Cheese to the Next Level

There’s nothing quite like a hot, crispy, ooey-gooey grilled cheese—but this comforting classic is so much more than American singles and white bread. 

The next time you’re craving grilled cheese, try melting some of these new-to-you varieties. These are the 10 best cheeses to use in a grilled cheese sandwich—plus recommendations for varieties to try in our online cheese shop.

Cheddar

deer creek cheese stag cheddar

The cheese that most of us associate with the molten center of a grilled cheese sandwich is, of course, one of the best cheeses to use. Mild block cheddar will melt more readily but offer milder flavor, while crumbly, sharp clothbound cheddar offers a flavor punch but isn’t so ooey-gooey. Our solution? Grate, mix, and melt the two together.

Cheddars to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Raclette

spring brook farm reading raclette

It’s no wonder that raclette—a Swiss cheese made to be melted over crusty bread, crispy potatoes, and just about any other food you can think of—makes for a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich. Include sliced cornichons and a swipe of whole-grain mustard to cut through the richness of this washed rind Alpine cheese. 

Raclette to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Gruyère, Comté, and Other Hard Alpine Cheeses

consider bardwell farm rupert reserve

Take inspiration from fondue, another Swiss melted cheese tradition, with this cheese family. Younger and longer-aged Alpine cheeses are often blended together to create the perfect combination of gooey stretch and savory in the fondue pot. 

Between slices of bread, you can use just about any Alpine cheese—keeping in mind that very hard, crystalline varieties should be blended with something softer and milder to create the perfect texture. Add in peppery arugula, slices of tart apple, or a dollop of pepper jelly for contrast. 

Alpines to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Fresh Cheeses Like Chevre, Fromage Blanc, and Mozzarella

goat cheese grilled cheese with butternut squash

We reach for these soft, spreadable, tangy cheeses to go with our morning cheese toast or bagel, but they shine as a grilled cheese sandwich, too. Keep in mind that you won’t get stretchy cheese pulls with fresh cheeses, but you will get a warm, luscious creamy texture that contrasts beautifully with the crunchy bread and any additions you make. 

Another great thing about fresh cheese for grilled cheese is that it’s like a blank canvas for sweet or savory additions. You can add preserves, fresh fruit, tomatoes, or even butternut squash, veggies, and lemon saffron jam.

Fresh Cheeses to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Gouda

carr valley aged gouda

Few cheeses melt as beautifully as a young to medium-aged Gouda (or smoked Gouda!). Its texture is supple and flowing when heated, and its sweetness ranges from milky to caramelized and nutty.

Once again, you’ll want to skip very firm, aged Goudas unless you’re blending them with a younger, higher-moisture young Gouda to balance flavor and texture. Try adding sliced ham, roasted mushrooms, or roasted red peppers. 

Goudas to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

  • Très Bonne by Boston Post Dairy, Vermont
  • Hootenanny by Goat Rodeo, Pennsylvania
  • Aged Gouda by Carr Valley Cheese, Wisconsin

Taleggio and Other Washed Rind Cheeses

boxcarr handmade cheese lissome

One of the keys to great grilled cheese is finding a wedge with the right combination of texture and flavor—and many washed rind wheels fit the bill perfectly. These cheeses have the right balance of moisture and fat to melt like a dream, and their pungent aromas and rich, buttery flavor make an ideal base for tasty add-ins

Instead of grating, choose a variety that’s firm enough to be cut into thin slices, then layer those in with pickled asparagus spears, savory slices of prosciutto, apricot jam, or slices of juicy ripe tomato. 

Washed Rinds to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

  • Pawlet by Consider Bardwell, Vermont
  • Lissome by Boxcarr Handmade Cheese, North Carolina
  • Ruby by Green Dirt Farm, Missouri
  • Ashbrook by Spring Brook Farm, Vermont

Natural Rind Tommes

appalachian tomme with salami toscano and crackers

A tomme is any small, cylindrical aged raw milk cheese, typically with a rustic natural rind and fine, lacelike eyelets in the paste. While they originated in France, tommes can be made just about anywhere. The form is beloved by cheesemakers for its versatility and expression of the milk’s quality and terroir. 

These cheeses often make excellent grilled cheese sandwiches: they’re not too dry, meaning they’re high enough in moisture to melt well; they offer robust flavor from subtle and savory to rich and nutty; and they have a great texture for slicing or grating. 

Natural Rind Tommes to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Flavored Cheeses Like Pepper Jack  

goat rodeo wild rosemary cheese

Cheeses with hot peppers, fragrant herbs, or bits of bacon added to the curds or pressed into the rind often make great grilled cheese. In addition to the extra flavor, those mix-ins can offer some extra textural crunch or chew, too. 

Flavored Cheeses to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Brie and Other Bloomy Rind Cheeses

marin french petite camembert

Brie, Camembert, and other bloomy rind cheeses are just as luscious when melted as they are at room temperature. Choose varieties that are firm enough to slice—this often means seeking out younger specimens—and save the ripe wheels to enjoy as they are on a cheese board. 

Bloomy rinds are super versatile between slices of bread. They pair beautifully with slices of seasonal fresh fruit (think peaches, plums, pears) as well as fruit preserves, honey, charcuterie, roasted mushrooms, or tomatoes. 

Bloomy Rind Cheeses to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

Blue Cheeses

chicory blue cheese from tulip tree creamery

Yes, you can make a grilled cheese sandwich with blue cheese! Blue cheese wheels often have a crumbly, somewhat open texture that melts on the tongue, but they don’t act quite like other cheeses when heated. Think of them more like butter than stretchy, melty cheese. 

Look for soft, almost spreadable varieties, or place crumbled blue cheese directly on the first piece of bread in the pan to keep things contained, then gently press down on the second piece after flipping to keep things contained. You can also anchor the sandwich with some grated mild cheddar to hold it all together and create a gooey texture. Add in fig jam, slices of apple, or crisp pieces of bacon. 

Blue Cheeses to Try in Your Next Grilled Cheese

  • Bayley Hazen Blue by the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont
  • Original Blue by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., California
  • Caveman Blue by Rogue Creamery, Oregon
  • Chicory by Tulip Tree Cheese, Indiana

What are your favorite cheeses to use in a grilled cheese sandwich? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and let us know! 

Alexandra Jones is a writer, cheesemonger, and food educator who has been working with farmers and artisans in Pennsylvania for the past eight years. She has written for publications like Food & Wine, USA Today, The Counter, Civil Eats, Thrillist, and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is one-third of the team behind Collective Creamery, a women-powered artisan cheese subscription based in southeast Pennsylvania. Alexandra leads cheese tastings and teaches cheesemaking classes in and around Philadelphia, and we are honored to have her on our team.

2 comments

  • Oohhh, yes. We can add feta to that fresh category due to the way it melts and the flavor profile it brings to a grilled cheese. Even though it is aged in brine…

    Jessica at Cheese Grotto
  • You forgot to mention FETA. This Greek brined cheese makes a great grilled cheese sandwich on slices of sourdough bread. layered with sun dried tomatoes, awesome

    William Moore

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