You Can't Have The Best Bacon Grilled Cheese Without Maple Syrup

Few meals are as nostalgically satisfying as a golden brown, gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Everyone has their preferences regarding which cheese — or combination of cheeses — makes the best sandwich, and whether spreading butter or mayonnaise creates an extra crispy exterior. Moreover, there is no shortage of tips and tricks for making the best grilled cheese. But regardless of how you choose to assemble and prepare the sandwich, few can deny that adding a bit of bacon to the mix will make it better — however, maple syrup is the often overlooked component that takes things to the next level.

Bacon is a well-established grilled cheese add-in that people love for the complexity of flavor and the increased satiety the extra protein provides. While most people happily stop there, content with their sandwich's elevated deliciousness, pulling out the maple syrup from the pantry is a simple extra step that brings a touch of sweetness to the dish you didn't even know was missing.

The perfect grilled cheese flavor combos

The queen of comfort food, Ina Garten, adds a few slices of bacon to her perfect grilled cheese, so you know this ingredient is tried and true. But while the decadence of cheese and smoky, savory bacon are an outstanding combo on their own, adding a touch of maple sweetness to the mix will make your sandwich truly sing. You could simply drizzle your bacon grilled cheese with maple syrup to keep things straightforward, albeit a bit sticky. However, the ultimate move is to cook your bacon in a homemade maple syrup sauce.

Not only does this make the eating experience less messy, but it also offers the opportunity to add complexity to the maple glaze by incorporating zingy flavors like Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, or cayenne pepper in the same step. Combine your desired components in a saucepan over low heat, brush the finished sauce on both sides of your bacon, and bake or fry it until crisp and caramelized. This extra step is quick, easy, fully customizable, and will feel well worth the effort when your finished grilled cheese delivers a harmonious balance of rich, sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors all at once.

If the flavor of maple syrup isn't to your liking, this may not be the grilled cheese upgrade you're dreaming of. Instead, explore adding sweetness to the mix with sriracha and brown sugar-glazed bacon, or candied jalapeños.