The grilled cheese sandwich has been around ever since I’ve been around. Though I always called it “toasted cheese” as a kid. The classic version of this popular sandwich is traditionally made with pasteurized process cheese food, sometimes known as American singles. It’s unfortunate since this type of “cheese” is only required to contain 51% real cheese. Yikes!
So here’s my updated version of the classic grilled cheese, accessorized with flavorful ingredients, including a cranberry mustard and fresh arugula, and grilled in a panini press. The highlight is the cheese. I made this recipe with Sargento slices which are 100% real, natural cheese. Enjoy it made with sharp Cheddar, like I did, or pick your favorite variety. (Hint: Sargento has more than 30 delicious sliced varieties.) Hope you savor the panini soon!
Calories saved: 40
Why it’s better for you? It’s best to focus on what goes between the bread. Use natural cheese instead of processed cheese food. That’s where the succulence happens!
Disclosure Note: I teamed up as a paid spokesperson with Sargento® Foods to provide you this blog post. The recipe and opinions expressed in this post are my own.
- 1/3 cup natural whole berry cranberry sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 8 slices whole grain sourdough bread
- 8 slices Sargento® Deli Style Sliced Natural Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 2 cups packed fresh baby arugula
- Stir together the cranberry sauce, mustard, and rosemary in a small bowl. Spread the cranberry-mustard sauce over 4 slices of the bread. Top with the cheese slices. Add the remaining bread slices to form sandwiches. Spritz both sides of the sandwiches with cooking spray*.
- Preheat a panini grill to medium-high. In batches, place sandwiches into the grill. Grill until golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
- Slice the paninis in half, if desired, stuff with the arugula, and serve immediately.
Per serving: 390 calories, 16g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 45mg cholesterol, 620mg sodium, 40g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 13g sugars, 17g protein
FOR MEAT EATERS: Add 1 ounce thinly sliced turkey breast (like roasted holiday leftovers!), generously seasoned with black pepper, or add 2/3 ounce extra-thinly sliced prosciutto between the cheese slices into each sandwich before grilling. Each sandwich will provide 430 calories—and be extra satisfying, naturally.
*Fill a Misto or other culinary spray bottle with extra-virgin olive oil.
The “Before” Version
classic american grilled cheese sandwich
Makes 4 servings: 1 sandwich each
3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
8 slices white sandwich bread
12 (3/4-ounce) slices pasteurized process cheese food (American singles)
- Spread the butter onto one side of each of the bread slices. Flip over four of the slices so that the butter side is down, then top with all of the cheese slices. Top with the remaining four bread slices with the butter side up.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add two of the sandwiches to the skillet and cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted as desired, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining two sandwiches.
- Cut the grilled cheese sandwiches in half and serve.
Per serving: 430 calories, 26g total fat, 14g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 75mg cholesterol, 1190mg sodium, 31g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 6g sugars, 15g protein
- Skip pasteurized process cheese food; always use natural cheese for great taste and quality nutrition
- Pick a sharp cheese for higher flavor without higher calories
- For bonus flavor and flair, add a fruity spread, such as cranberry mustard sauce, to a grilled cheese sandwich
- For a pop of freshness, add greens, such as baby arugula, to a grilled cheese sandwich
- Use a panini press to grill your sandwich; you’ll only need to lightly spritz the sandwich with oil (cooking spray) for rich grill marks instead of using excess butter when made in a skillet