One of our favorite ways to get creative on the grill is to figure out fun ways to incorporate our amazing cheeses into our summer cookout menus. But first, let’s make sure you’re in the right place! If you’re looking for our guide to creating the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, including the best cheese to use for grilled cheese, head here!
With just a few simple tips, you can go way beyond cheeseburgers this Father’s Day to incorporate all kinds of exciting artisan cheeses into your backyard BBQ arsenal. Here are some of our favorite ways to grill with cheese on a beautiful summer day.
Use cheese to top just about anything.
You’ve probably melted a slice of cheese over a juicy beef patty, veggie burger, or portobello mushroom cap before—but you can go way beyond the usual here. Any good melting cheese, from an earthy, nutty clothbound cheddar to Taleggio-style Lissome can take your burger to new heights. Got steaks on the grill? Top each one with some crumbles of your favorite blue cheese while it’s still nice and hot (we like Lively Run’s Blue Yonder and Cayuga Blue).
Fresh, crumbly cheeses like cotija and queso fresco are great grill toppers, too. To make elotes (AKA Mexican street corn), grate them over ears of grilled corn slathered with butter and sprinkled with paprika or chili. And briny feta isn’t just for salads. Crumble it over wedges of grilled watermelon, fire-kissed asparagus spears, or tender grilled zucchini.
Stuff cheese into fruits, veggies, and sandwiches.
The powerful, direct heat of the grill is too much for many soft cheeses, but you can still incorporate them into your cookout recipes. They just need a buffer from the heat—like ripe summer fruits and veggies.
Stuff plump fresh figs with chevre to give the outside of the fruit a lovely caramelized char and make the cheese inside warm and luscious. On the savory side, you can stuff small, round eggplants with cubes of homemade feta and fresh herbs, or halve and seed bell peppers before stuffing them with chevre and eggs and grilling for the perfect brunch on your patio.
And, of course, there’s the classic grilled cheese sandwich, which can be made on your barbecue grill or on the stovetop. The mozzarella-stuffed squash blossom grilled cheese is one of our absolute favorites this time of year.
Amp up the luscious texture of bloomy and washed rind wheels.
Think of this technique like baked brie, but for summertime. Use a relatively young wheel of bloomy rind cheese like Sharon Creek Brie or Trillium, or goat’s milk varieties like Sheldrake Moon or Spruce Reserve. You want a whole small wheel, not an already-cut wedge. Stash it in your Cheese Grotto until you’re ready to go.
Get the grill up to a sizzling medium-high, hot enough to gently char the rind of the cheese but not so hot the whole thing melts completely. Brush both sides of the wheel with melted butter or olive oil, then place it on the cleaned and oiled grill rack with tongs. After 1-2 minutes, carefully flip the wheel, then give another 1-2 minutes to the second side. Use the tongs and a flat metal spatula to quickly remove the wheel from the grill. The rind will have a little char and the interior will be soft, gooey, and spreadable.
Treat grilling cheeses like the savory proteins they are.
Some cheeses were made to put straight onto the grill (or, if you’re cooking inside, a ripping hot cast-iron pan.)
Cheeses like halloumi from Cyprus and tangy kefyatori from Greece have such a high melting point that you can grill or sear the exterior to a crisp, savory golden-brown—and the interior gets squeaky, warm, and tender rather than melting away. A wide range of Latin American cheeses, like queso panela, queso blanco, queso de frier, and varieties simply labeled queso para la parrilla (cheese for the grill) are great for this too.
Simply slice the cheese into half-inch-thick planks or wedges, oil up the grate, and grill the cheese on high for a minute or two per side, taking care to orient the pieces of cheese so that they won’t slip through the grill grate.
Give them a sprinkle of finishing salt and eat them as a side, as the protein in a burger or sandwich, or let them cool and serve them over a green salad. You can cut grilling cheeses into cubes and put them on kebabs with veggies, meat, and/or fruit, too.
What are your favorite ways to incorporate cheese into your grilling routine? Let us know!