The Best Grilled Cheese Is Made In The Oven

When it was time to make lunch on Sunday I wasn't really feeling anything so I went with the old standby, a grilled cheese sandwich. While a non stick skillet was warming up, I got out a couple slices of bread, a couple slices of cheese, and the butter. As I started to spread the butter onto the bread, I remembered a conversation I had with my mother when she was visiting recently. I don't remember how we got on the topic but she reminded me that making a grilled cheese in the oven, opposed to on top of the stove, produced a more consistent and overall better sandwich. That reminded me of grade school and how crunchy the cafeteria's grilled cheese sandwiches were. They have to make them in large batches, so filling a sheet pan with them is obviously the most efficient way to do that.

I've made hundreds of grilled cheese sandwiches in my life and have made them in the oven before but normally opt for the traditional skillet method. Since I was in no rush, I turned off the burner and started preheating the oven to 400 degrees. After the bread was sufficiently covered with butter, I set one slice down on a baking sheet, layered the two slices of cheese, and then placed the other slice on top (I spelled that out just in case you didn't know how to assemble one 😉). Once the oven beeped, letting me know it was up to temp, I placed the pan on a the middle rack and shut the door. Now to play the waiting game.

Making a grilled cheese in a oven takes at least double the time it does to do it on top of the stove. However, the results are definitely worth it. While you can get a nice even toasting while doing it in a pan, the heat from the oven does a better job. You don't only get crispiness on the face of the bread but also on the crust. So the sandwich that comes out of the oven is a very crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. I also like the look of the bread a lot better, did you look at the picture at the top of this post?!

Make sure to flip it over after one side is golden brown. The wonderful crunchy outside makes the sandwich but another advantage to exposing it to convention heat is what it does to the cheese. Both methods will melt the cheese but a pan can't brown cheese without contact. American cheese with just a little bit of browning adds a level of flavor and texture. I was using standard american cheese food slices like Kraft but I think I might spring for Cooper American the next time I'm at the store. If you've never had it, Bon Appetit has a great article all about it. Christine's family introduced me to it and it's really a top tier cheese.

I think I may start making all of my grilled cheese sandwiches in the oven from here on out. They do take more time but the results are just that much better to be worth it. Oh and here's a little tip for any sandwich or breaded item that you want to keep crispy through the last bite: once it's done cooking, place it on a cooling rack for a couple minutes. The internal heat will keep everything warm but by not placing it directly on a plate, condensation won't form and start soggying up the bread or breading. Thanks for reading and happy eating!

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