Secrets to Great (Guilt-Free) Grilled Cheese

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Forget the cellophane-wrapped cheese slices and spongy white bread. It's time for a grown-up grilled cheese! Even if you're tracking calories and eating healthier meals, there's still room for this comfort food.

So how can you guarantee that this classic sandwich turns out just as good as you'd imagine? Follow these tips:
  • Use good bread. Choose bakery bread, one that's firm not spongy. This isn't a time for a pita, sandwich thin or flatbread, which won't grill as easily. Whole-wheat is best; avoid seeded whole-grain breads, as the nuts and seeds can sometimes burn.
  • Use shredded cheese, which melts more evenly. A little bit goes a long way--use about an ounce. Grate it yourself for even better results.
  • Coat the bread evenly with non-stick spray or butter--just a little won't add many calories, but it will taste amazing. One teaspoon of room-temperature butter should be enough to coat both sides of bread, for 34 calories. (Don't use margarine; it's more likely to burn.)
  • Keep heat medium-low. Start out on high and you'll end up with burned bread and cold cheese.
  • Use a non-stick skillet so the cheese doesn't stick to the pan. You also won't have to use as much fat, which is not only healthier but can prevent a soggy sandwich.
  • Choose gooey cheese--mozzarella, jack, provolone, cheddar and fontina are all great grilling cheeses. Hard cheeses like Parmesan and Asiago and creamy cheeses like goat and feta don't melt as well.
  • Cook two minutes per side, then cover until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts. Covering it helps the cheese melt before the bread burns.
A traditional diner grilled cheese can have 900 calories and 46 grams of fat for two slices of white bread, a lot of processed cheese, and way too much margarine. You can reinvent grilled cheese at home, with whole-wheat bread, cheese of your choosing, and plenty of add-ons that add flavor for few calories.

For under 500 calories, you can turn grilled cheese into a real meal!

The basics:

2 slices whole-wheat bread
1 teaspoon butter
1 ounce shredded cheese
=331 calories, 17 g fat, 13 g protein
 
Our favorite grilled cheese combos:

1/4 avocado
2 tablespoons sliced red onion
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
+ 84 calories, 7 g fat
 
3 slices tomato
1 tablespoon pesto
+ 82 calories, 6 g fat
 
2 slices cooked bacon, cut in half, excess fat blotted away
4 sauteed mushrooms
+ 78 calories, 6 g fat
 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 pear or apple, sliced thinly
+ 46 calories, 0 g fat
 
3 ounces white-meat turkey
Handful arugula
1 tablespoon all-fruit spread
+ 133 calories, 1 g fat
 
1 poached or "fried" egg
1 slice bacon
+ 106 calories, 8 g fat

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Comments

LOSER05 8/6/2020
thanks Report
JAMER123 7/26/2020
Hadn't thought about using shredded cheese on the sandwich. Thanks! Report
TURQUROISE 6/23/2020
Thank you for the idea of adding an avocado to my toasted cheese! Report
FISHGUT3 5/16/2020
thanks Report
2DAWN4 5/12/2020
Thanks for the recipes Report
SISTERPRETTY 5/12/2020
Yummy...thanks... Report
RREDFORD5 4/16/2020
Yum! Thank you-grilled cheese is my go-to when DH is not home for supper, and here are some great ideas, a few of which I've not yet tried. Report
MUSICNUT 2/26/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
KOALA_BEAR 2/8/2020
I made this the other day but used provolone & colby slices on whole wheat. Muenster & cheddar is another good combo & we like cranberry sauce in it or hubby does pickle relish.
I heat up my cast iron skillet, melt the butter in the pan then place the sandwich in it, easier than spreading the bread. Serve w/ V8 or tomato juice & cucumber slices or jicama in the summer; in winter alongside tomato soup, chili or baked beans.
Most of the time I settle for a plain quesadilla w/ salsa cuz it's quick & easy, & saves calories so having the old fashioned grilled way was a treat. Report
KOALA_BEAR 2/8/2020
I made this the other day but used provolone & colby slices on whole wheat. Muenster & cheddar is another good combo & we like cranberry sauce in it or hubby does pickle relish.
I heat up my cast iron skillet, melt the butter in the pan then place the sandwich in it, easier than spreading the bread. Serve w/ V8 or tomato juice & cucumber slices or jicama in the summer; in winter alongside tomato soup, chili or baked beans.
Most of the time I settle for a plain quesadilla w/ salsa cuz it's quick & easy, & saves calories so having the old fashioned grilled way was a treat. Report
DEE107 1/7/2020
thanks Report
I've never felt guilty about anything I have eaten. I don't know what that means Report
THANKS! Report
Hmmmm, grilled cheese Report
thanks Report
i love grilled cheese in any way shape or form Report
Delicious. Thanks Report
Sodium is in almost everything..... Report
OUTstanding ideas. A couple sounds horrible, but a few sound wonderful and I will try those. Report
Thank you. Report
Grilled cheese and tomato soup on a cold day - you just can't beat it. Report
There are some thinking that I can change when making grilled cheese sandwich thanks for this info. Report
Delish, Thanks! Report
I like avocado and dijon mustard on mine! Report
NASFKAB
great ideas thank you love grilled cheese so to get it with fewer calories is good Report
looks awesome. I'll have to try it Report
Guilt-free Grilled Cheese sounds amazing! Report
Great ideas! Report
Great ideas Report
A small amount of butter is so much better than the spray! Worth it for taste, hence comfort. Report
NASFKAB
great idea Report
CD16571910
I can only eat real natural cheese. There is a non dairy feta cheese that comes in 2 varieties I can eat and real Parmesan cheese that are both expensive, they have no additives in them. I have trouble with not tolerating food that is not real, most dairy, eggs, most beans, soy, high acid foods,corn,gluten,sugar etc. I think the parmesan would work with gluten free bread, I also can not have artificial margarine or vinegar, I can have real butter and olive oil. So I make my own salad dressings, I can use non dairy yogurt & olive oil in them. Report
This sounds so good. I need to find a good low carb bread Report
Love grilled cheese but my sone doesn't so I don't make it Report
4LMHJCR
When I make grilled cheese, I don't even bother to add the butter to the bread and it isn't even missed! Report
This is great to read. I love grilled cheese and I almost always starve myself because of all this weight on me. Thank you so much. Report
I eat the same thing for most meals for quite awhile before moving onto something else. Right now it IS a grilled cheese !!! I do use a hearty bread (Try to find for 90 or below per slice) quite awhile ago I had read how bad american cheese is,,, it's NOT even "cheese" it's proceed crap (hence the name "proceeded" american cheese. I use cheddar. I buy the cabot cheddar slices. YUMMY !! I need as much calcium as I can, so I use 2 slices. Yes it's higher on calories, but there are days I do not hit my min cal allowance,, so this one meal being high I am fine with. I also do as said here,, use butter,, I do as it suggests and cook it on a med low temp. OH YUMMY OH YEAH ! My calories for it is 419. Report
YES! Grilled cheese and tomato soup. I like to dunk each bite of the sandwich into the soup. Yummy. Report
grilled cheese with tomato soup is awesome. A comfort food combo. I do however prefer Velveeta. But, am always open to new ideals, so, I will have to give this one a try. :~) Report
CD3409143
Velveeta and yeah I know it's "processed" still makes one of the best and easiest grilled cheese sandwiches in my opinion. Still have memories of my Mom cutting slices from the brick of cheese with a cheese slicer. I don't think its hurts me for all the times I have them. Not to mention I think Velveeta is better than other chess slices at least its made mostly from dairy. Actually I don't think the cheese slices without milk are allowed to be sold in Canada.
Report
I'll be making this for lunch tomortow Report
I do love me some grilled cheese, but I do agree with the people who prefer the more 'classic' white bread and fake cheese slices. Ah, memories.

(I'm also a little concerned about the post from three years ago where the poster said 17 grams of fat was more than she ate in two days. I hope she's alright...) Report
452134
these all look yummy. Report
Lol I guess I'm the only one who just thought "but I LIKE cellophane wrapped cheese and spongy white bread!" :P This is a great way to have something comforting, but it's just not the same for me. I'm not saying I'm gonna eat grilled cheese everyday... I have it probably less than 5 times a year, but when I do, I want spongy white bread and some form of gooey processed cheese :P Report
NANAJAMES2
all good commits. anxious o start. Report
I don't normally eat grilled cheese, but I sometimes make them for my daughter by using whole wheat bread and shredded cheese. Sometimes, instead of making grilled cheese, we will sort of have a quesadilla by taking either flatbread or a tortilla and putting shredded cheese on it. I think your ideas will work for these as well.

We eat a lot of cheese... thank you for this AAA+ rated article! Report
I use 4oz lite cheeses on ww or lite rye 380 cal 14g fat, Very YUMMY Report
SUSANWARD7551
I eat grilled cheese sandwiches made with whole grain wheat bread, mozzarella, thin slice of tomato and some fresh basil. Also sometimes I just have the bread with cheddar and jalapeno relish. All of your ideas sound really good. I will be trying some of them. Report
ON-THE-GO-GIRL
17 is more grams of fat than I consume in 2 days! ! ! ! ! NO WAY! Report
This sounds wonderful. Thanks. Report