The Best Bread For A Crispy Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Crispy, crunchy, and stuffed with oozing melted cheese, a grilled cheese sandwich is top-tier comfort food. But when it comes to making the best grilled cheese sandwich, the simplicity of the components means there's nowhere to hide; the ingredients have to be good quality and perfectly suited to the job at hand. And this starts with choosing the right kind of bread.

While you can technically make a grilled cheese with most types of bread, from a simple sliced loaf to buttery brioche, for the ultimate sandwich you need something that offers the right taste and texture, as well as being able to withstand the cooking process, retaining its crispiness against the onslaught of gooey dairy. Sourdough is a bread that ticks every box.

Made from just three ingredients — flour, water, and salt – real sourdough (as opposed to sourfaux) is deliciously chewy, with a slight tang which perfectly complements a variety of cheeses or extra fillings such as meats or vegetables. And the robustly structured bread also stays firm when cooked, developing a delightful crispiness that contrasts beautifully with the soft filling. After all, the last thing you want with a grilled cheese sandwich is for a flimsy, fluffy bread to start disintegrating or falling apart, either in the pan or in your hands as you begin to eat it.

Sturdy sourdough makes grown-up grilled cheese

Sourdough has good structural integrity, perfectly keeping its shape when spread with butter or mayonnaise, loaded with cheese, and griddled. Just make sure that the slices are not too thick, so the cheese within has a chance to fully melt.

When it comes to the filling, sourdough can handle all the best gooey, meltable cheeses, so feel free to pick your preferred type. Or mix things up with a blend; Gruyère and extra sharp cheddar is the flavorful combo Alton Brown swears by for grilled cheese, and the nutty Swiss cheese goes especially well with tangy sourdough. Comté, taleggio, or creamy brie also work nicely for a gourmet grown-up flavor and texture.

As with other breads, there are a couple of caveats when it comes to sourdough. If it has too many holes rather than a tightly packed crumb, you may find that some of the cheese slides out into the pan as it melts. And some people feel that the bread can become too crunchy and even on the sharp side when toasted, especially if it's heated for too long, so the crust becomes hard. If you prefer something softer, try the enriched yeast bread challah, which is also Ina Garten's favorite bread for French toast. Otherwise, stick with sourdough for a satisfying sandwich with the perfect balance of crispiness and chewiness. It's an easy way to elevate any grilled cheese sandwich and make it extra special.