Making a User-Generated Grilled Cheese

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New York Times food writer Kim Severson tells us about a series of food sites that apply the wikipedia approach to recipes. Wikia, Foodista and others allow anyone to post and edit all sorts of recipes, from cold curried crab soup to chicken parmesan. We also hear from Barnaby Dorfman, founder and CEO of Foodista. Call it the crowdsourcing of dinner.

We want your help with a recipe! Our dish is simple: a grilled cheese sandwich. But we want you to help us make it interesting.

Here's the initial recipe. What would you add to it, and how would you prepare it? Bonus points for outlandish ingredients! Let us know in the comments. We'll pull together your contributions and create a full listener-created recipe:


  • 2 slices of bread [please specify]
  • 2 slices of cheese [please specify]
  • [Add your extra ingredients below]


  • Put the cheese between the bread
  • Put the sandwich on a skillet
  • Cook until both sides are brown.
  • [Add your preparation suggestions below]


Barnaby Dorfman and Kim Severson


Matt Lieber

Comments [21]


grape or strawberry jam on top (bc my mom always burned them - but great that way)

Sep. 28 2009 05:07 PM

Here are two essentials to making a great grilled cheese sammie: first, use that butter canola oil spread and an off-set spatula for the bread. It's fussy, I know but it gives the perfect butter to bread distribution. Next, grate the cheese the more random the varieties, the better. We just scrounge the left-overs that aren't irredeemibly fuzzy. In our house we've grilled on BBQ grills, waffle irons, even clothing irons (just wipe first before applying to your shirts)

Sep. 24 2009 09:08 PM

We put ours in the waffle iron, it makes crisp little squares with puffy waffle like goodness!

Sep. 23 2009 06:29 PM
Patty Rasberry

two slices white bread. Buttered with real butter one side. 1 slice american cheese( real cheese not that soybean stuff). A hot grill or cast iron skillet. Assemble sandwich toast buttered sides.Serve with cream of tomato soup sounds great for lunch,doesn't it?

Sep. 23 2009 11:44 AM

I like to sharp cheddar cheese sliced from a block and stoneground whole wheat bread. Sprinkle cumin on the cheese, add a few slices of pickled jalapeno, and spread butter on the outside of the bread before cooking. I use a cast iron griddle.

Sep. 23 2009 07:09 AM

Grilled cheese with the addition of roasted jalapenos! But on cornmeal bread to make it extra delicious.

Sep. 23 2009 05:38 AM

Open-faced English Muffin "grilled" Cheese:
Grate some good cheddar. Place one slice of tomato on each half of muffin. Sprinkle the cheddar on top of the tomatoes. Add several drops of Worcestershire sauce to each half, place both in a toaster over and toast until browned.

Sep. 23 2009 05:09 AM
Rachel COwit

I have some great ideas for gourmet grilled cheese. One can be BBQ Pulled Pork with Gouda Cheese on Brioche Bread. Make the Pulled pork to your liking and melt in the sandwich with Gouda Cheese. It is delicious!

Another idea which is great in the winter time would be Goat Cheese & Fig Jam on Raisin Walnut Toast. This is a bit sweeter, but I have never had anyone ever complain about it. Spread the Goat Cheese on one side of the bread and the Fig Jam on the other and then toast in an open pan in some butter. YUM!!

Sep. 22 2009 07:14 PM
Adam Ogushwitz

I prefer to add this delicious spin to my grilled cheese sandwiches.

Take 4 slices of Wonder Bread, 6 slices of American cheese, bacon, tomato and butter. Make two grilled cheese's with bacon and tomato. While doing this prepare a hamburger and cook to your liking. Take each of your sandwiches and place your hamburger between them. Now you have a hamburger with Grilled Cheese Tomato and Bacon Buns. Warning to listeners: Do Not Try This at Home.

Sep. 22 2009 06:57 PM

I like a grilled cheese sandwich made with lightly buttered sourdough bread, a couple slices of tomato, and a few leaves of cilantro. Use gruyere or mild cheddar cheese to make it truly yummy!

Sep. 22 2009 04:38 PM

I cookie-cut mine to look like the Virgin Mary.

Sep. 22 2009 04:32 PM

While, not an enormous fan of grilled cheeses, I do love spinach and onions and can use the sandwich a vehicle to deliver the veggies. So, adding on some slow cooked, caramelized onions and sauteed spinach in between the cheese produces a scrumptious sandwich.

Sep. 22 2009 04:31 PM

While this cornerstone of American cuisine has been reinvented time and again and now more than ever, to best experience the grilled cheese sandwich one must keep it simple and keep it American: plenty of butter, white bread, American cheese. The addition of one other ingredient is fine – bacon or tomato – but too many flavors can ruin the otherwise perfect marriage of these basic ingredients. I will add that I once have a deep-fried grilled cheese that was amazing, but then again, anything deep-fried is pretty terrific.

Sep. 22 2009 03:04 PM
Ten Miss

I use a panini press. Because spreading cold butter on bread is difficult, and plopping butter in a panini press is weird, I drizzle olive oil on it.

Jewish Rye
Baby Spinach or Arugula
Available Mustard
Any cheese works... the sharper, the better

Insert sliced kosher pickle, grated carrot

Back to Musts:
Serve with sliced apple and chocolate milk

Sep. 22 2009 02:12 PM

My favorite grilled cheese involves adding pickles for crunch and extra saltiness.

Sep. 22 2009 02:09 PM

Start with two slices of Honey baked ham-grill just until browned on both sides.
take two slices of German whole wheat bread.(If you don't know what it is, think of the bread that the Outback steakhouse brings out)
Two slices of Pepperjack cheese.
Put olive oil in a spray bottle, and spray one side of each bread slice.
Interchange ham slice and cheese slice.
Cook like you have always cooked your Grilled cheese sandwiches.

NOTE-It's the olive oil that makes the sandwich, do not substitute.

Add Dijon Mustard.

Sep. 22 2009 02:06 PM

Add avocado and bean sprouts. Put them between two layers of cheese, so both slices of bread are exposed to melted cheese. So it looks like this:


(you can reverse the order of the avocado and the sprouts, or add an additional layer of sprouts if you want to make this sandwich a palindrome)

Sep. 22 2009 02:01 PM

The secret to an excellent grilled cheese is to add mayonnaise and mustard. Just spread on the bread, add cheese, and tomatoes or roasted red peppers. Throw into a pan of melted butter and cook to golden perfection. Putting a lid on the pan helps the cheese melt, too.

Sep. 22 2009 01:55 PM

The key is in the apples. Get a good Mcintosh apple, slice is up, and use a cheese that isn't very strong. Fry it on both sides on a frying pan and you'll never go back to an apple-less sandwich again!

Sep. 22 2009 01:49 PM
Natalie Davis


2 slices of whole-wheat/whole-grain bread
2 slices of provolone cheese
I 1/2-in. slice of tomato
1/8 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
pinch of basil
salt, pepper to taste


Unless you plan to fry your sandwich, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the cheese between the bread. Top with the tomato slice. (Be sure the filling items are not larger in size than the bread!) Sprinkle on the seasonings.

Put the sandwich directly on the oven rack. Bake for three minutes, flip the sandwich, and bake for approximately two minutes more. If you insist on the skillet (less healthy) version, coat a frying pan lightly with nonstick spray and place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Place the sandwich into the skillet and allow it to cook for about four minutes (check often to see how the browning progresses). When the side is golden brown, flip the sandwich and continue cooking for about two minutes more, or until both sides should be golden brown. Yummy!

Serves one.

Sep. 22 2009 01:43 PM

My variation: The two slices of bread should be multigrain and/or whole wheat. Something with a little toothiness to it. The cheese should be a firm, sharp cheddar with a definite tang... or if I'm feeling like something indulgent and gooey, muenster. And for my money, a slice or two of tomato adds to the sandwich without distracting from the other ingredients. My cooking tip? Melt the butter ahead of time and brush the outsides of the bread with it before putting them in the skillet (or in a panini press, if you've got one). It helps make sure the bread cooks evenly.

Sep. 22 2009 01:41 PM

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