| Side-by-Side |

Back-to-School Grilled Cheese

Photo Credit: Sina Mizrahi

A grilled cheese sandwich seems like a straight-up, easy endeavor, and it is. But I found out that some belong to Team Butter and others belong to Team Mayo. Um, mayo? I was intrigued.

Perhaps you’re Team “Seriously? It’s grilled cheese. Chill,” and that’s perfectly rational. But I had to try them side by side to determine the best course of smearing the sandwich.

Important note: I believe that a good grilled cheese is made with rye bread and over-processed, bright-orange American cheese. It’s classic.

Authentic Grilled Cheese


  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 1–2 tsp softened butter (preferably salted) or mayonnaise

(Same for Both Versions)

Layer cheese in between bread slices. Smear the outer sides of the bread generously with butter or mayonnaise. Heat a skillet over medium heat for 2–3 minutes.

Fry the sandwich until deeply golden, pushing down with a spatula to get a nice sear, 60–90 seconds. Flip and repeat on the second side.

My Verdict

I wrote the conclusion to this experiment in my head before I even tasted each version. It seemed natural that mayonnaise would take the back seat. But I was pleasantly surprised. The mayonnaise gave a subtle, tangy kick and was very convenient to use because it’s always in spreadable condition.

On the other hand, butter is a classic. It has its unique flavor that enhances every food. And it’s much easier to add more of it as the sandwich cooks, which yields a softer, moist bread.

I love the butter version (especially salted butter!), maybe because the flavor feels nostalgic, but mayo is a credible substitute.


Kitchen Quandary? I’d love to solve your cooking conundrums in this column. Feel free to email me suggestions and questions at recipes@mishpacha.com.

(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 757)

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