Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese

Satisfy a late night craving with this parmesan crusted grilled cheese. This 3 cheese grilled cheese (actually 4!) checks all the boxes with its golden, crispy exterior (hello mayonnaise) and the ultimate cheesy interior. This cheesy sandwich pairs beautifully with creamy tomato soup for a cozy lunch or light dinner.

three triangles of grilled cheese melted all over the sandwich on a dark black background.

On our many frequent trips to and from Indiana University, we got in the habit of timing our stops conveniently at our favorite gas station which conveniently is part of a huge dairy farm and cheese market.

Minutes later, we’d be in the car, bellies full of generous samples of aged gouda, extra sharp cheddar, sweet swiss and more to take home and use in recipes like my homemade mac ‘n cheese.

Also —they sell the most decadent cheesy grilled cheese sandwich that is coated with cheese on the outside. I vowed I would make my own version someday because I just couldn’t get out of my head.

Who knew the perfect grilled cheese used to live in Indiana? 😉 And has a brie, prosciutto and fig grilled cheese cousin?

This post contains links to affiliate websites including Amazon. I make a small commission for any purchases made using these links. Thank you!

Ingredients

a black tiled background with mayo being spread on sliced bread and a plate of cheese slices.

While the cheese selection is important, there are three key ingredients responsible for the crispy, slightly airy and flavorful exterior.

  • Sourdough bread. A sturdy sourdough bread that isn’t too thick (but also isn’t too thin) makes for a top notch grilled cheese.
  • Mayonnaise. A schmear of mayo —yup, mayo —on the outside of the bread is one of the secrets to a crispy flavorful crust.
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese. A heavy handed sprinkling of fresh grated parmesan cheese adds amazing texture and satisfying crunch.

Best cheese combo for grilled cheese

ingredients labeled to make a grilled cheese sandwich with parmesan.

There’s lots of debate about the best melting cheese for grilled cheese. This blend, to me, gives the biggest bang for your grilled cheese buck:

  • New York sharp cheddar. A classic New York cheddar brings tangy flavor and lends that classic bright orange you want to see.
  • Sliced gruyere. A classic fondue cheese, thinly sliced gruyere is perfect for grilled cheese thanks to its nutty flavor and texture.
  • Dubliner. An Irish cheddar style cheese with a sophisticated cheddar flavor, surprisingly great melting properties and a thicker quality.

Equipment needed

The difference between a good grilled cheese sandwich and a great one boils down to one simple tool. A cast iron skillet with a lid.

My favorite cast iron skillet comes from Lodge. And if you’re worried about how to care for cast iron, I’ve got an easy guide to help!

You also can use any lid you have that will fit.

Step-by-step method

The grilled cheese building process as much methodical as it is creative. And don’t let “methodical” scare you. It’s cooking 101 methodical. Not 400 level physics class methodical.

Assemble

  • Heat a 10″ seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until the sides are hot to the touch but the pan shouldn’t be smoking. (For tips on seasoning cast iron, be sure to check out my Cast Iron 101 post.)
  • Stack two slices of bread on each other so that they match in shape (like they are when you pull them out of the package (see? Methodical).
  • Lay them stacked on a cutting board and slather the top slice facing you generously with mayo.

Cook

  • Sprinkle on a good amount of fresh grated parmesan [1]
  • Remove the cheese and mayo coated top slice and set it aside.
  • Layer cheese on the bottom slice in the following order (again: methodical):
    • NY cheddar
    • gruyere
    • Dubliner
  • Flip the whole sandwich over into the preheated pan. Quickly slather over mayo and a sprinkling of parm on the other side and then…cover the pan. [2]
  • Wait a painful five minutes before flipping over for 3-5 minutes more.

You —yes you!—have just made an amazing grilled cheese sandwich. [3]

Helpful Tips

Here are some extra tips to help you successfully make this recipe right from the start:

four triangles of grilled cheese oozing cheese on a black slate and wooden board.
  • If you don’t have a lid to cover the sandwich, use a small skillet that completely covers it.
  • Prefer American cheese? Use it! (Disclosure: My husband would agree with you!)
  • Trust me on the mayo. It makes a great texture

Make ahead, storage, reheating tips

Make ahead

You can make these sandwiches ahead of time and lay them on a rack set in a sheet pan. Refrigerate until you’re ready to make them (no more than 4 hours ahead or so).

Storing / Reheating

Wrap cooked sandwiches in foil and then place in ziploc bags. Store up to two days. To reheat, place sandwiches on a rack set inside a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes or so at 350˚.

Freezing

I haven’t frozen grilled cheese but if you try it, I’d love to hear about your results!


from my gram’s

Grilled cheese + tomato soup and just like that… all’s right with the world

-Josie + Nina

Grilled Cheese Pairings


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


three triangles of grilled cheese melted all over the sandwich on a dark black background.
5 from 5 votes

Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese

Late night cravings will be satisfied with this 3 cheese grilled cheese sandwich and it's crunchy exterior
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:15 minutes
Servings 1

Equipment

  • cast iron skillet with a lid

Ingredients
 

  • 2 slices sourdough bread, preferably from a bakery
  • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese, I use Adam's Reserve from Costco
  • 3 slices gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices Dubliner cheddar
  • 1 Tablespoon real mayonnaise, I use Hellman's; more as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese, no green can please

Instructions

  • Heat a 10" seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until the sides are hot to the touch but the pan shouldn't be smoking. (For tips on seasoning cast iron, be sure to check out my Cast Iron 101 post.)
  • Stack two slices of bread on each other so that they match in shape (like they are when you pull them out of the package.
  • Lay the bread slices stacked on a cutting board and slather the top slice facing you generously with half of the mayo. You might need more depending on your bread size.
  • Sprinkle on a good amount of fresh grated parmesan.
  • Remove the cheese and mayo coated top slice and set it aside. 
  • Layer cheese on the bottom slice in the following order: NY cheddar, gruyere, Dubliner.
  • Flip the whole sandwich over into the preheated pan. Quickly slather over mayo and a sprinkling of parm. Cover the pan.
  • Wait a painful 5 minutes before flipping (make sure the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is starting to melt. Turn over, cooking for 3-5 minutes more while keeping the lid on the pan.
  • Cut and make sure to photograph that big ole cheese pull!

Notes

All measurements are relative to the size of your bread. This recipe is more of a technique and guide than exact ingredient amounts. You might need more or less. Have fun experimenting! It’s just grilled cheese!
Cheese substitutions. If you want to use different cheeses, go ahead and experiment. Just make sure to have one melty cheese (like the gruyere) in the mix. Good suggestions are Monterey Jack and fontina.
No cast iron skillet? That’s ok. Just use a non-stick with a tight fitting lid or use the bottom of a pot sitting on the skillet.
Course: Dinner, late night, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

Leave a Comment or Ask A Question

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

7 Comments

    1. Mayo, believe it or not, doesn’t burn as easily as butter, adds a tangy flavor and creates a super crunchy exterior to the bread. Plus, it spreads way easier and you don’t have to melt butter😊

  1. Ny mouth is watering just reading about this, can’t wait to try using mayo, thanks for the tip.5 stars

    1. Lori, the best grilled cheese positively, undeniably ! The good sour dough bread with mayo and parmesan is what makes it.
      Thank you