There are thousands of different types of grilled cheese when you consider the numerous bread and cheese combination possibilities. Grilled cheese is a toasted sandwich made by combining sliced bread and sliced cheese. Bread selection plays a large part in the overall taste and structure of a grilled sandwich. The choice of cheese or combination of cheeses that make up the filling are usually melted to contrast with and complement the bread. A variety of cooked meats, thinly sliced vegetables, and fresh herbs are used to add flavor and complexity to the basic grilled cheese sandwich.
Basic cheese, bread, and butter varieties of grilled cheese are simple so the gooey filling is featured. The lunchroom staple is as easy to make, as it is inexpensive to supply the ingredients. White or sourdough bread provide good structure to the sandwich and subtle flavors that complement the melted cheese. American or cheddar cheese slices are the most likely choice for this popular comfort food option. Using more than one cheese or thicker slices of bread are common alterations that keep the toasted cheese sandwich close to the original design.
Vegetarian and vegan grilled cheese sandwiches incorporate vegetables and dairy substitutes into the recipe. Cheese, butter, and bread are very rich flavors that can often benefit from the addition of fresh produce. Slices of tomato, avocado, and squash are sometimes cooked into toasted cheese sandwiches to bring balance and additional nutrition to the dish. Vegan cheese substitutions use soy and other natural products to create slices with similar texture and taste to their real counterpart. Green herbs are usually added raw to steam with the cheese as it melts and impart their seasoning throughout.
Adding meat like cold cuts or bacon to the common grilled cheese makes it a sandwich of a different type. Meat-filled toasted cheese sandwiches are sometimes called melts. Melts are made with more robustly flavored breads like wheat, rye, and pumpernickel. Cheesy melt varieties that are piled high with meat are sometimes served without a second slice of bread on top. The open-face grilled cheese is typically finished in a hot oven or under a broiler instead of on the griddle.
Paninis are a type of grilled cheese sandwich cooked from both sides on a press. Two slices of bread are filled with any variety of meats, vegetables, and cheeses and loaded onto a specialized grill. The top portion of the grill is pulled down onto the sandwich to create the recognizable grill marks on the crust and melt the cheese.