The Expert-Approved Ingredients That Will Elevate Your Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese is a simple sandwich, typically consisting of only bread and cheese plus a bit of butter; while those flavors are delicious, they can be basic. That's why Mashed spoke with Diana Manalang — chef and owner of Little Chef Little Cafe in NYC — about ways to enhance your grilled cheese if you're looking for a new spin on the classic. While it's no secret that adding mustard to grilled cheese is delicious and honey can majorly upgrade your grilled cheese, Manalang suggested that combining the two creates the perfect condiment for your sandwich.

Manalang noted that honey mustard is perfect because "it's sweet, sharp, and flavorful, which totally elevates the grilled cheese." The sweet and savory combination helps to complement the rich cheeses, and the mustard's slight tang adds a strong element that cuts through fatty foods for a more complex flavor profile.

Adding honey mustard to the inside of your sandwich allows the spread to seep into the bread and combine with the cheese as it melts. Manalang also noted, however, that elevating the outside of your grilled cheese with herbed garlic butter is a game changer, too.

Herbs and veggies can further improve your sandwich

According to Diana Manalang, utilizing fresh herbs like sage and rosemary can add a flavorful freshness to the outside of your crispy bread. She explained that incorporating garlic and shallots into the butter can also add more complex tasting notes to your sandwich, noting, "So much yum can be packed into something so simple!"

While there are many ways to upgrade your grilled cheese, relying on a few classic items will allow the simple essence of each sandwich ingredient to shine. Beyond pungent veggies, fresh herbs, and honey mustard, there's also the sandwich's namesake ingredient to consider.

The best cheeses to pair with honey mustard are often soft and have a buttery texture, like Brie and Camembert. These cheeses' mild flavors allow the honey mustard's sweet and spicy notes to shine through. That said, even a sharp cheddar or another bold variety can be balanced out by the spread's sweetness. Softer cheeses melt more easily and offer that sought-after cheese pull. Therefore, using various kinds of cheese in your sandwich can create the perfect flavor and texture combo for your grilled cheese. Plus, the honey mustard, vibrant herbs, and spicy vegetables perfectly elevate the cheeses' subtleties, creating a professional-style grilled cheese with just a few simple ingredients.