You Should Be Using Mayo (Not Butter) For The Crispiest Grilled Cheese

When it comes to classic comfort foods, grilled cheese is right up there as one of the most satisfying. A textural triumph of crunchy bread and soft, gooey cheesiness, it's simple to make, yet deeply rewarding to eat. But if you rely on butter to get that signature crispy exterior to the bread when making the best grilled cheese sandwich, then you might want to consider switching to another ingredient: mayonnaise. A popular technique among chefs and home cooks alike, spreading mayo over the sliced bread before grilling gives a much crispier finish to the dish. Even Martha Stewart is a fan.

Mayo has a number of advantages over butter, such as being easier and faster to spread evenly across the bread — unlike butter, which needs to be softened or melted first, especially if it's been stored in the refrigerator. Mayo is also able to withstand a higher temperature than butter when cooking. This all means crispier grilled cheese, in less time. That sounds like an all-round win.

Mayo's higher smoke point means extra-crisp results

One of the key differences between mayonnaise and butter when it comes to cooking is that mayo has a higher smoke point. This means the sandwich can be grilled at a hotter temperature when using mayo before it starts to burn, so the exterior of the bread can crisp up while the inside remains fluffy, with less risk of it burning or drying out.

While butter begins to burn at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, mayonnaise — depending on the type and the brand — has a smoke point of around 450 degrees. Clarified butter does have a higher smoke point than regular butter — around 375 to 485 degrees Fahrenheit, but it takes extra time to prepare. Mayo, meanwhile, can be spread straight from the fridge, with no waiting around.

Like butter, mayonnaise contains fats and proteins. But the fact that mayo also contains egg yolks, as well as oil, helps to deliver even better browning and crispiness to the bread, thanks to its extra protein and, again, that higher smoke point.

The best types of mayo to use for the tastiest grilled cheese

While making homemade mayonnaise enhances some dishes, it's not a necessary step when making grilled cheese. Store-bought mayo will deliver the perfect texture, which makes things just that much faster — ideal when you've got a hankering.

But you'll want to steer clear of low-fat or light mayo varieties. Because of their higher water and lower fat content, the grilled cheese will not brown or crisp up in the pan as effectively with lower-fat options. And if you really want to ramp up the flavor, try a flavored mayo, such as garlic or sriracha, or stir a little hot sauce, pesto, mustard, herbs, or spices into your mayo before spreading it on the bread.

Mayo can't replicate the flavor of butter, of course, though it does add a light, tangy taste to grilled cheese. But if you're still craving butteriness, try spreading the inside of the sandwich with butter and the outside with mayo before grilling, for the ultimate texture and taste combo.