The solution to those many, many days a week when I stand in front of the open refrigerator hungry and impatient, is always bread and cheese, toasted. It is as reliable and satisfying as it is timeless. We can all agree that a recipe for a “classic” grilled cheese sandwich is simply 2 parts whatever bread you have on hand (it’s ok it that’s a hot dog bun, we’ve all been there), to 1 part whatever cheese you have on hand (feta is difficult but it’s been done).
Now the “perfect” grilled cheese sandwich is a bit more subjective. I like mine filled with fancy things like roasted tomatoes, pesto, bacon, and gimme those caramelized onions. But perfection also comes from that diner grilled cheese made with American cheese and Bunny bread.
This round of fanciness is inspired by the half jar of pesto I stared at in the refrigerator on my last trip to the fridge. Turns out store-bought pesto is a very fine way to elevate a grilled cheese situation.
Here are my very best grilled cheese sandwich recipes to date:
Lasagna Grilled Cheese – do it for the roasted tomatoes and ricotta alone.
French Onion Grilled Cheese – these onions are basically candy.
Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese – cream cheese and spice and everything nice.
Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese – so savory, so delicious!
Serve, of course, with Creamy Tomato Soup.
Here’s the ingredients need for these Pesto Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
• softened butter – I use unsalted butter because there’s plenty of salt from the additional pesto.
• whatever bread you’d like – I chose a crusty loaf of white bread from the bakery department at the grocery store, though regular sliced bread or any sort of gluten-free bread would also be great!
• cheese, please – I am a sucker for muenster cheese slices because I love the way they melt but you might also try Monterey jack, gruyere, gouda, fontina sharp cheddar, American cheese, or a combo of your very favorites. (Have I named all the cheeses yet?) It’s your preference!
• pesto – I used a small jar of pre-made basil pesto though if yours is homemade that’s pretty great.
In a small bowl mix together a few tablespoons of softened butter with a few tablespoons of basil pesto.
We’re enriching our butter with flavor so when that bread and butter hits the hot skillet, those pesto flavors will sizzle up loads of flavor on the outside of our sandwich!
Spread the outside of each slice of bread with pesto butter.
I added a smear of basil pesto to the inside of each bread slice. Make this a thin layer or a generous layer depending on how intense you’d like your sandwich. Me? I really go for it.
Grill each sandwich, butter sides out, in a hot skillet or pan over medium/medium-low heat.
The trick with grilled cheese is to toast the outside to golden while the cheese melts. If the heat is too high, the bread will burn before the cheese melts and what fun is that? Flip the sandwich and repeat this delicate process on both sides
I mean… look at that melt.
Allow the freshly grilled sandwiches to rest on a cutting board for 3 minutes or so. This will allow the cheese to settle and keep you from burning your mouth to the high heavens.
Additions to your grilled cheese sandwich should include: bacon (obviously), ham, apple or pear slices, or caramelized onions.
Go forth and get your sandwiches. xoPrint
Pesto Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Total Time: 12 minutes
- Yield: 2 sandwiches 1x
- Category: Lunch
A light twist on the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Just add pesto!
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon store-bought basil pesto, plus more for spreading
- 4–6 slices gouda, muenster, or Monterey Jack cheese
- 4 slices thick sliced bread, I like sourdough
- In a small bowl mix together 1 tablespoon pesto and softened butter. Spread pesto butter on one side of all four slices of bread.
- Flip the bread slices butter side down and spread each slice with more plain pesto. Top two of the slices of bread with cheese. Sandwich the bread, butter side out and fry in a skillet over medium heat. Flip when golden brown and fry on the other side. Cook until browned and melty.
- Remove to a cutting board and allow to cool for 3 minutes before slicing in half and enjoying warm.
The combo sounds very yummy! I’m going to pin this for later. Just today as I stared at my open frig on what sandwich to make I too thought, grilled cheese! I took mine in a different direction loosely based on croque mosieur. Ham, grueyere, and sliced apples on toasty bread. Great for warming up on a grey cold PNW Winter day.
My go-to snack every afternoon!
definitely a grown-up grilled cheese, love this, pesto and even the pear pairing is a great idea, and thank you for the other grilled cheese recipes too
Perfect idea for my night on the sofa!
Yum! Had a grilled cheese this week with goat cheese, spinach, provolone, and a mango jalapeño jelly. Divine. Yours is next!
Basic staple elevated to gourmet status. Love it! Thanks, Joy
I like to use Mayo on my grilled cheese sammies. I think that would work here too.?
Yes, I will be trying this one. I received sourdough starter as a Christmas present, so always open to new ways to use sourdough bread. This looks pretty easy, and definitely comfort food for those of us living in New England!
I have never been big on grilled cheese But, however, after viewing these grilled
cheese sandwiches that you have prepared, I am ready to rethink the grilled cheese sandwich again. They all look absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe and other additions that can be added to a grilled cheese like artichoke and spinach. All great ideas. Thank you.