The Grilled Cheese Hack You've Been Missing Your Whole Life

Grilled cheese are something most people start eating as kids, and, if they have good taste, never stop. While memories of this sandwich probably call to mind thickly buttered bread and your trusty skillet, for the crispiest grilled cheese, it turns out you should actually be using your air fryer. 

It may sound like blasphemy to grilled cheese traditionalists, but hear us out. 

Have you ever tried making grilled cheese only to have the bread turn soft, oily, and totally not-crispy? Or, have you ever started toasting your sandwich in the skillet, only to have it somehow burn before the cheese inside is melted? 

That might be the butter's fault (and why some people prefer to use mayo to make grilled cheese). Butter is made up of three things: milk fat, milk solids, and almost 17 percent water (via Web Exhibits). The sizzling milk fat is what fries your bread to a crisp, but things can go awry. If the temperature is too low the water in the butter keeps your bread from getting crisp. If the temperature is too high the milk solids can burn. If you don't use enough butter your sandwich might not get crisp, and if you use too much, it could taste oily (via Bon Appetit). Who knew there were so many potentially bad outcomes to a basic grilled cheese?

Air fry your grilled cheese with ease

Instead of the skillet, look to your air fryer. Air fryers cook your food by whipping super-hot air around your ingredients at high speeds. You only need a tiny bit of butter to crisp up your bread when you use the air fryer, and since your bread isn't sitting directly in the puddle of butter in the air fryer's basket like it would be in a skillet, the whole sandwich cooks more evenly (via Newair). You get the delicious butter flavor without all the culinary drama. No soggy beige bread, no random burned spots. By the time the cheese is gooey and melted, the bread is evenly golden-brown and perfectly crisp.

Making air fryer grilled cheese is simple. Preheat your air fryer to 350-400 degrees (via My Recipes). (Do a test run if you're not sure if yours runs hot or not.) Sparingly butter one side each of two slices of bread. Put a slice or two of your favorite cheese between them, then place the sandwich in your air fryer. Cook for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy outside, flipping once after the first seven (via My Recipes). Just make sure not to use too much butter (via Vegetarian Mama), or things could get smoky.

There are things you can do if you don't have an air fryer

But if you don't have access to an air fryer (because, well, price), there are a few things you can do to turn out a better than decent grilled cheese sandwich with the basics like a toaster. Bustle recommends you toast both sides of the bread you intend to grill or throw it into the panini maker to give your sandwich more of a snap. Another top tip for a grilled cheese sandwich you'd stake your reputation on involves shredding the cheese you plan to use, especially if it comes in a block because shredding gives your cheese the chance to melt more quickly and evenly. 

While you might be tempted to stuff your sandwich with an old cheese friend like a good old Kraft single, there's no reason why you can't tap the cheesemonger for his thoughts on other cheeses that you might add, to create your own multi-cheese blend. If you're really feeling adventurous, adding slices of fresh fruit like apples and avocados or vegs like broccoli and spinach will go a long way in turning this childhood classic into an instant adult favorite.

Coating a sandwich with Parmesan and butter is an option

If you've got some grated Parmesan to add to the sandwich, you might consider adding it to the outside of your grilled cheese sandwich to give it a bit of crunch. To do this, brush melted butter on the outside surfaces of your sandwich, sprinkle on the Parmesan, then toss down a slice of bread onto the pan, cheese side down. Build your grilled cheese sandwich then cover the fillings with the second slice of bread that's been coated with butter and Parmesan and flip when the bottom has been cooked and crisped (via Brit+Co). 

The best part about adding the Parmesan on the outside is that you get to enjoy an additional bite of cheese but you also avoid loading your sandwich down with filling, which could keep the cheese from cooking through (via Eat This, Not That!).