Grilled cheese sandwiches are a beloved comfort food. The ooey-gooey cheese and crispy toasted bread create a simple yet craveworthy snack or meal.
This pesto grilled cheese sandwich takes the classic up a notch with the addition of homemade nutty basil pesto. The pesto adds a creamy, herby flavor that perfectly complements the melted cheese. Keep reading for tips on how to make the ultimate pesto grilled cheese!
What is Pesto Grilled Cheese?
Pesto grilled cheese sandwiches take the traditional grilled cheese up a notch by adding a schmear of pesto sauce. The herb pesto adds so much fresh flavor and color to the sandwich. It perfectly complements the melted cheese and crispy bread.
Why Try Pesto Grilled Cheese?
There are several reasons why you should give this sandwich a try:
- It’s an easy way to make a basic grilled cheese more exciting. The pesto elevates the flavor from plain to gourmet with little effort.
- The pesto’s bright green color looks beautiful against the melted cheese. Each bite is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
- The herbs and garlic in pesto pair wonderfully with cheese. Basil, parsley, pine nuts, parmesan, and garlic—these flavors are made to go with melted cheese!
- You can use up leftover pesto in a delicious way. Got leftover pesto in the fridge? Smear it on bread and add cheese for an instant flavor boost.
- It’s customizable based on your tastes. Don’t like basil? Use spinach pesto instead. Prefer sun-dried tomatoes? Add those too. Get creative!
If you’re looking for an easy, flavorful twist on a classic comfort food, pesto grilled cheese is a must-make! The dynamic flavors will turn an average sandwich into something sensational.
Cooking Tips for the Perfect Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Butter the bread well. This helps create a nice crispy exterior.
- Use medium-low heat. This prevents the bread from burning before the cheese melts.
- Use a panini press. These sandwich presses help the bread get super crispy and the cheese melt evenly.
- Add sliced tomato for a fresher flavor contrast to the rich pesto and cheese.
- Play with cheese combos. Try mixing sharp cheddar with mozzarella or fontina with parmesan.
- Make grilled cheese dippers. Cut into strips for easy dipping into tomato soup or marinara sauce!
Pesto Grilled Cheese Recipe Variations
One of the great things about pesto grilled cheese is that it’s endlessly adaptable to different tastes and ingredient preferences. Here are just a few of the possible variations you can try:
Greek Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Olive tapenade pesto
- Feta cheese
- Cucumber slices
- Red onion
- Fresh oregano
Bacon Jam Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Bacon jam pesto
- Cheddar cheese
- Caramelized onions
- Dijon mustard
Caprese Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Tomato pesto
- Fresh mozzarella
- Balsamic glaze
Croque Monsieur Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Dijon mustard
- Gruyere cheese
- Bechamel pesto
Apple and Brie Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Apple pesto
- Brie cheese
- Sliced green apples
Mix and match different pestos, cheeses, and fillings to invent your own signature pesto grilled cheese. Feel free to get creative!
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of bread is best for pesto grilled cheese?
The best breads for pesto grilled cheese are sourdough or rustic Italian white breads like ciabatta.
The tang of sourdough pairs perfectly with the pesto and cheese. Whole-grain breads can also work well. Avoid breads with a very soft texture that will get mushy when grilled.
What cheese works best?
Good melting cheeses like cheddar, gruyere, and fontina are perfect for pesto grilled cheese. Their creamy, gooey textures mix well with the flavors of pesto. Cheese choices are flexible; mix and match your favorites for a custom blend!
Can I use store-bought pesto?
Yes, you can absolutely use store-bought pesto for convenience. Look for a quality jarred pesto made with mostly olive oil and real parmesan cheese. However, homemade pesto is worth the small effort and tastes much fresher.
What’s the best way to grill the sandwiches evenly?
Using a panini press or sandwich grill helps the bread get crispy and the cheese melt evenly on both sides. If cooking in a skillet, use medium-low heat and press down lightly with a spatula to promote even browning.
Can I make pesto grilled cheese in advance?
You can assemble the sandwiches ahead of time and keep them refrigerated for a few hours before cooking. Don’t cook them fully in advance, or the bread will get soggy. Just grill them fresh right before eating!
Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 4 slices of your favorite bread
- 2 tablespoons of butter, softened
- 4 tablespoons of basil pesto
- 8 slices of mozzarella cheese
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- Butter the bread: Spread butter or oil on one side of 4 bread slices. This helps them brown evenly in the pan.
- Assemble the sandwiches: On 2 of the bread slices, spread a layer of pesto. Top the pesto with cheese slices or shredded cheese. Place the 2 remaining bread slices on top, buttered side up.
- Cook the sandwiches: Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place the pesto-grilled cheese sandwiches in the pan. Grill for 3 minutes on the first side until golden brown. Flip and grill for 3 more minutes on the second side.
- Slice and serve: Remove the sandwiches from the pan and slice diagonally. Enjoy immediately while the cheese is still gooey.
- Make sure to let the pesto come to room temperature so it can spread evenly on the bread.
- If using basil pesto, look for a variety with pine nuts or walnuts to add texture.
- Freshly grated parmesan or mozzarella can be added on top of the sandwiches right before grilling for extra flavor.
- If you want an extra punch of pesto, spread some on the insides of the top slices too.
- Sourdough bread tends to make the crispiest grilled cheese.
- Leftover pesto grilled cheese sandwiches can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.