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I enjoy both toasted and grilled cheese sandwiches, but I generally only alternate between havarti and muenster cheese. I would like to branch out but don't know where to start. These are the factors I think are important in melted cheese sandwiches:

  1. Melt well and fairly quickly
  2. Fairly mild taste and texture
  3. Generally available
  4. Be a natural, dairy cheese (aka not Cheeze Whiz or American cheese)

What cheeses fit these requirements? Are there other components that are vital to the cheese element of melted cheese sandwiches?

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Confused about #4: I thought the whole point of Whiz and American cheese is that it melts without oily separation. –  benzado Sep 20 '11 at 18:08
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Yeah, good point. I've edited - I think those aren't good options because they taste chemically and bad to me. –  Katey HW Sep 20 '11 at 18:12
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That is the price we pay for neatly melting cheese. :-) –  benzado Sep 20 '11 at 20:47
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I like a nice smoked gouda in my grilled cheese, and I'm only half only saying that to bug you. –  abby hairboat Sep 20 '11 at 23:01
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I can't agree about #2. A strong cheddar makes for a wonderful cheese on toast. –  slim Sep 21 '11 at 14:03

10 Answers 10

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Gruyere is DELICIOUS. It melts without getting too gooey or soupy, and it is the traditional cheese component of a Croque Monsieur (if you're into that ham thing...). You could actually probably use any of the cheeses in that "variations" list, but I love Gruyere so that's my recommendation. It's widely available but tends to be kind of pricey here in the US.

Brie is also a good choice; since it is soft to begin with, it melts nicely. (Just make sure to cut off the rind before putting in the sandwich - that would be a weird texture combo.) It's great in grilled or toasted cheese sandwiches because of the richness and slightly buttery flavor.

As a local reference, check out Gorilla Cheese's menu for some tasty ideas; they do classic grilled cheeses with cheddar, American, gruyere or mozzarella, but they make others that have additions of other non-cheese components.

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+1 for Gruyere and Brie. Also, Camembert! –  abby hairboat Sep 20 '11 at 23:00
    
I grabbed a package of fontina last night, will report back. –  Katey HW Sep 21 '11 at 15:55
    
+1 for Gruyere... Expensive (in the states) but delicious! Also, in the same vein of fondue cheeses is Ementhaller (spelling) –  Rikon Sep 22 '11 at 21:05
    
Cutting rind off Brie sounds like a terrible waste :( –  Benjol Feb 7 '12 at 12:09

Manchego. Went to a nice restaurant in San Diego, and as an appetizer they served grilled cheese sandwiches with (what I think was) creamy vodka sauce for dipping. The sandwiches used Manchego cheese on Sourdough bread. And they used truffle butter, but I haven't been able to find that at the store. But in recreating it, the sourdough/manchego dipped in vodka marinara sauce is the best grilled cheese sandwich I've had, and it's wonderfully simple.

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My kids love a take on aa sandwich they saw on food network. When you butter the bread dip it in some fresh grated parmasean. And in the sandwich. Lotsa cheese american swiss mozzerella monterey jack a slice of each! Enjoy

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It shouldn't be a surprise, but, the fattier the cheese, the better it melts. Cheddar is a good example.

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My favorite combo is swiss and american. I know you said no processed cheeses but those two compliment each other really well. A lil pepper and mustard and hmmm thats damn good.

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I'm not sure if this counts as 'natural' - but you can transform nearly any cheese into a melting cheese transform nearly any cheese (a better version!) into a melting cheese. Wondra flour and a little cream go in with your crumbled/shredded cheese into the steamer and steam till its gooey - it forms a stable emulsion. Then you can pour and cool it into slice, a burger, or into a delicious toasted cheese sandwich.

Other natural good choices include Gruyere and Comte.

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No matter what cheese you end up using (cheddar with a little mustard is my favorite), if it is semi-hard like cheddar or provolone, it will melt more evenly if it is grated.

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Mimolette is my favorite. It melts extremely well and has a nutty enough taste that it complements other flavors quite nicely, rather than just adding texture or fat/calories. :-)

It's also great on its own in a toasted cheese sandwich.

Of course, the appearance, the story about its appearance, and its history are all nice as well if you're in a pedagogical mood when presenting it.

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Provolone and mozzarella fit your spec, although I find them frankly too mild for grilled cheese. Brie separates slightly, but is otherwise excellent in grilled cheese (particularly if you add sweet notes to the dish. I've not tried Camembert, but it should work about as well as Brie, I would think, and be slightly more flavorful.

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You should try Provolone piccante then. Very tasty! ;) –  nico Sep 20 '11 at 18:53
    
+1 For Provolone –  Marco Ceppi Sep 20 '11 at 22:00
    
If you don't want too mild, try a smoked provolone. Or add something like a little pesto on the inside. –  Joe Sep 23 '11 at 2:38

colby cheese? Wisconsin cheddar? i always like pepperjack, but if you want a mild taste that may not work (its slightly zingy)

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