How to Macgyver a Grilled Cheese Sandwich in Any Situation

Bacon Fat Grilled Cheese
Grilled Cheese Social

No matter how you're living there is always a way to make grilled cheese. This article will tell you exactly what you need to make this classic whether you're in a dorm room, out in the woods, or even without electricity!

Using a Pan

We'll begin this article by starting with the grilled cheese sandwich method that most of us started out with—the classic pan approach!

Whether you choose nonstick, cast iron, or stainless steel, the method is still the same old easy thing. Once we've got this covered we'll move onto the more fun and exciting ways to cook up everyone's childhood favorite! Here's how to do it:

  1. Begin by stacking two slices of American cheese onto one piece of white bread. Add the other piece of bread and then butter both sides of the sandwich.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, add the buttered sandwich and turn the heat to medium. Let the sandwich cook for a few minutes on one side until the cheese begins to melt and the bread starts to crisp up and turn golden in color. Once it reaches that point, gently flip the sandwich using a thin spatula and cook the other side so that it's equally golden-brown in color. Remove from heat and serve. 

Using a Panini Press

Using a panini press is one of the fastest and easiest methods for creating the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. The heat is evenly distributed from both sides, the weight from the top of the grill presses the sandwich perfectly, and most importantly there's no flipping involved. However, there are some things to consider:

  • If your press has a temperature gauge, turn it to medium-high so that you can get a nice "sear" on the crust.
  • If you overload your sandwich with cheese, the weight from the lid will smash it out and the cheese will ooze out. This is fine but keep this fact in mind. 
  • Use a plastic spatula to remove the grilled cheese sandwich—most panini presses have a nonstick coating that will get messed up if metal scratches it.   
  • If your press has the ability to hinge open at a certain height—just make sure that both sides of the sandwich are touching the heated grates. 

Now you're ready to make your own. Here are the steps:

  1. Allow your panini press to heat up for about 7 minutes. In the meantime, assemble your sandwich. The most basic way consists of using two slices of cheese between two slices of buttered bread, but you can totally get creative here!
  2. Once the sandwich is made, gently place it in your panini maker and press the lid down—gently enough so that it doesn't completely smush your sandwich but also enough that both sides are touching the heated grates.

Using a Jaffle Maker

There are two types of jaffles—a circular one that uses actual fire as a heat source and one that is an electronic sandwich toaster. For this recipe, we'll be focusing on the latter—an electrical sandwich press that seals the grilled cheese shut so that it almost creates two grilled cheese dumplings. 

When making a jaffle, it is completely normal to have the cheese ooze out and crisp up on the outside of the bread—it's actually one of the defining characteristics and is what makes jaffles so much fun. Here's how to do it:

  1. Plugin the jaffle and allow it to heat up for about 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, assemble the sandwich by placing the cheese in between two slices of bread and butter the outside.
  3. Place the sandwich inside the jaffle maker and gently close the lid. Allow the sandwich to cook for about two minutes and then press the jaffle maker completely shut so the ends get sealed and the sandwich can cook through.
  4. After about 5 minutes, you'll want to carefully check the crust on your jaffle to see how much longer it needs to cook. Again, if you see the cheese oozing out, do not be alarmed—you're doing it right! When the sandwich is all crispy and golden, then you know it's time to take it out of the maker.
  5. Allow it to sit for a few minutes because it will be super hot. The maker basically cuts the sandwich in half for you, so serving it is a cinch. Enjoy!

Using a Toaster

There's been a ton of buzz on the internet about making grilled cheese in a toaster. Although it is not the safest way to make everyone's favorite sandwich, it is doable when you take the proper precautions. Here are some basic rules for creating a grilled cheese in a sideways toaster.

  • You must have an older toaster—one that doesn't "clamp" the bread when you push the lever down. 
  • Older toaster's don't have a heat sensor or an automatic stop function so you need to be sure that you don't leave it unattended. 
  • Make sure that you are using square pieces of bread so that it cooks evenly in the toaster and do a test-run to make sure that it can work when it's on its side. 
  • Do not use too much cheese—if it melts off the bread it could start a fire and that could be very bad. 
  • Make sure to clean out your toaster beforehand in case there are crumbs.
  • Definitely make sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand. 

Now that we've got that covered, here how you do it:

  1. Take two slices of bread and put one slice of cheese on top of each one.
  2. Turn your toaster sideways and gently push the lever in so the bread goes inside.
  3. Watch carefully as the cheese starts to melt and the bread starts to taste. If you start seeing smoke carefully eject the sandwich and find another cooking method. If everything goes as planned, it will take a few minutes and the cheese will be all melty and the bread will be toasted.
  4. At this point, gently eject the two slices of cheese toast and carefully smush the two melted cheese sides together—creating a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Using a Campfire

Sure you can spend hours looking on Pinterest for some fun camping food recipes but does anything really beat a perfect grilled cheese?

Make your next camping trip even more special by grilling up some tasty bacon and cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches! All you need are sandwich ingredients, a cast iron pan (or a jaffle iron), and a fire. It's even better if you have some sort of mesh lid, like a grease splatter screen or a large sifter, so that it will help keep the ash off of your food. 

As for fillings, you can totally get creative here, but we always recommend using leftovers or bacon because then you can use the bacon grease, rather than the butter, to cook the sandwich in. You can even pre-make the sandwiches at home, wrap them in tinfoil, and throw them in a bag so that they're ready to cook whenever you get hungry. Here's how you do it:

  1. When your fire is burning low, you'll want to start assembling your sandwiches—a couple of slices of cheese between two pieces of buttered (or bacon-greased) bread, along with whatever fillings you have on hand. Next, carefully place a grill rack over your fire.
  2. Place your bacon on the cast iron and fry until cooked. Remove the bacon and add your sandwich and carefully put it on top of the grill rack. Depending on how big and hot your fire is, allow the sandwich to cook until the bottom is golden and crispy. Carefully flip the sandwich and repeat until the other side is toasted and the cheese has melted. 
  3. Remove from heat and allow to sit for a few minutes so the cheese can thicken up and the flavors can meld. Slice in half and serve!

Using an Iron

You've probably seen the iron method for making grilled cheese sandwiches in a movie or have seen it on Pinterest, so let me reassure you, this is the easiest method ever! There's not much to it, so let's do it!

  1. To begin, plug in your iron and put it in a safe spot. I know you probably don’t have a lot of room, but this is very important, burns are the worst. If it has a steaming option, turn it off and set it to the highest heat setting (which is usually labeled cotton). 
  2. Assemble your sandwich—2 slices of bread wrapped around two slices of cheese, butter the outside and wrap in tinfoil. Heat an iron to high and place the tinfoil wrapped sandwich on a heatproof surface. Like you're ironing a shirt, gently go back and forth on each side of the sandwich for a few minutes until the exterior of the sandwich is crusty and the cheese has melted. 

Using the Oven

Using the oven to create a grilled cheese sandwich is super easy, and great if you have to create a bunch of sandwiches at once without a supergiant panini press. The recipe below only deals with one sandwich, but just double, triple or quadruple the recipe to fit your needs. Here's how you do it:

  1. Begin by cranking your oven to 400 F.
  2. Butter two slices of bread and place them, butter side down, onto a baking sheet. Top each slice of buttered bread with cheese and place in the oven; rotating the pan every few minutes.
  3. Let the toasties cook for a few minutes until the cheese has melted and the bottom of the bread is a beautiful golden brown. Depending on your oven this should take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.