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16 Best Breads To Use For Your Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches
Grilled cheese sandwiches - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Grilled cheese rightfully deserves a spot in the classic American sandwich hall of fame. It has a uniquely homestyle quality to it and never fails to make me feel better when I'm battling an illness or just want a quick, energizing lunch to get our day back on track. But life is too short to settle for lackluster grilled cheese.

There are so many ways to improve your sando. Add a different type of cheese -- rather than the Kraft singles that have been sitting in your fridge for who-knows-how-long -- or add a swipe of something from your condiment shelf. But one of the often-forgotten ways to make your grilled cheese gourmet is to get rid of that cheap, awful, white sandwich bread it's sitting on.

While Wonder Bread may serve its purpose, it's not doing your grilled cheese any favors. Not only does it taste like the color eggshell looks, but it also isn't very satisfying to eat. I've rounded up some of the best sandwich bread substitutes you can use instead, along with my recommendations for delicious, flavorful sandwich extras to pair with them.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Garlic Naan

Garlic naan in basket
Garlic naan in basket - Food Shop/Shutterstock

When most people think of sinking their teeth into a grilled cheese, the thinness of a naan doesn't come to mind. Regardless, you should consider this swap for your next grilled cheese. Naan is much different than sandwich bread in more ways than one. Instead of being baked in a conventional loaf pan, this Indian bread is made in a tandoor oven and contains ingredients like yogurt, milk, and eggs to give it a distinct pull. The cooking method and ingredient additions also separate naan bread from pita.

To make your naan grilled cheese, you'll want to stuff the cheese into the bread like a taco. Buttering both sides of the bread with plain salted butter or ghee will give it an even better flavor and ensure the edges achieve that iconic grilled cheese crispiness. You'll want to pair your naan with a robust cheese to help moderate the flavors and make for a well-balanced, sandwich-esque treat. A Havarti or fontina cheese is a great option here because both of these cheeses have strong flavors with buttery notes. The garlic in the naan, along with the ghee, will offer a really balanced bite.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon raisin bread
Cinnamon raisin bread - Cislander/Getty Images

Do people actually willingly buy this bread from the grocery store? We've only seen cinnamon raisin bread as the base for morning toast, where it's usually just topped with butter and served. But there's so much more that it has to offer, and it may make you think twice about adding a loaf to your cart.

You can swap in cinnamon raisin bread for a delicious Brie grilled cheese. Brie is a naturally fatty cheese with moderately buttery notes. Since most people serve a fruit jam or other sweet accompaniment with Brie, making this sandwich with a fruity bread type is already a win-win. Plus, the cinnamon-sugar flavors that often accompany the raisins are a great pairing with this creamy cheese.

Besides Brie, cinnamon raisin bread can also be used as a base for other buttery, smooth cheeses. Butterkäse, for example, is another cheese that can benefit from the bread's sweetness and make for a decadent grilled cheese.

Garlic Bread

Garlic bread on plate
Garlic bread on plate - New Africa/Shutterstock

You can amp up the comfort level of your grilled cheese sandwich with this garlicky bread swap, and the best thing is that it works for almost any type of salty or savory cheese. There are two ways to go about swapping your standard bread for garlic bread. The first is to pick up a pre-made loaf of bread from the store; it usually already has the butter, garlic, and herbs needed for a successful (and delicious) sandwich. You'll likely find it in the frozen section, or you can take a walk through the bakery aisle to see if they have a freshly baked loaf in stock. Alternatively, you can start with Italian or French bread and garlic-ify it yourself. You'll want to tuck garlic, fresh herbs, and spices in between each slice before baking the entire thing in the oven so that the flavors can meld together.

There's no hard-and-fast rule for what cheeses pair best with garlic bread. But we'd recommend something especially cheesy with the perfect pull factor, like a mozzarella and cheddar duo or a Colby jack. You can also dress it up with a schmear of marinara sauce or a drizzle of pesto.

Multigrain Bread

Whole grain bread on board
Whole grain bread on board - Ya-Moz/Shutterstock

If you're a fan of seeded bread, using this type of loaf for grilled cheese is a great, flavorful option. It's important to note that this multigrain (otherwise called whole grain) bread is not the same as wheat bread. The latter is made from the starchy endosperm of the bread, so it lacks the beneficial nutrients (like B vitamins) of eating whole wheat bread. Plus, you won't get those perfectly crunchy seeds that add a bit more of a textural element to your sandwich.

You can find sliced, multigrain bread in the bread aisle of your grocery store. Select a brand that has all of the flavors and seeds you enjoy. A go-to is Dave's Killer Bread 21 Grains and Seeds, which has pumpkin seeds, oats, barley, and more. Plus, this bread really holds up well to the weight of the cheese, as well as any extra toppings. Select a cheese for this sandwich that really craves earthy notes, like a creamy gouda or a provolone and cheddar mash-up.

Rye Bread

Loaf of rye bread
Loaf of rye bread - Smith Collection/gado/Getty Images

If you're craving a boldly flavored grilled cheese, your go-to bread needs to be a hearty deli rye. This type of bread has a very strong flavor because it's made with a bread spice flavoring, which includes ingredients like anise seeds, caraway seeds, and fennel. This combination of licorice-like flavors gives deli rye a pungent aroma that fills the Jewish delicatessens it's often found in and also imparts a uniquely strong flavor to this bread. Another key aspect that makes this bread a solid choice for your grilled cheese is the fact that it can hold up to the weight of your fillings without breaking. After all, have you seen a piled-high pastrami sandwich?

You can't do your sandwich a disservice and pair it with a sub-optimal cheese. Creamy gouda or Swiss are both solid options for deli rey, while pepper jack cheese could counter some of the dominant spices in the bread. Plus, in keeping with tradition, don't forget to add a drizzle of mustard on your bread before diving in.

Texas Toast

Buttered Texas toast on pan
Buttered Texas toast on pan - Tin Can Man/Shutterstock

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the bread. Texas toast is a thick-cut slice of bread that is about double the thickness of a standard slice of sandwich bread. It's most often found in the frozen section of your grocery store, but there are some retailers that will also have fresh options available in the bakery and bread aisle.

The biggest benefit of using this type of bread for your grilled cheese is its sturdiness. Each slice can easily withstand the weight of your cheese and filling without breaking apart, like the flimsy Wonder Bread of generations past. Its large size also means that you can generously slather each slice with your favorite grilled cheese condiments without fear.

Texas toast does admittedly lack some flavor, so your best bet is to add some herbs and spices to give it an edge. Many frozen Texas toast pieces already come covered in garlic, but you can also add a bit extra to give it a uniquely savory bite. The best cheese for this sandwich varies, but a sharp cheddar, colby, or nutty fontina all work.

Sourdough

Sourdough bread slices
Sourdough bread slices - Eva-katalin/Getty Images

Sourdough offers a flavor that cheap white sandwich bread never could. That's why using it as the base for a fig grilled cheese topped with a delicious fruity spread and shredded Gruyère is the tastiest grilled cheese combination you could ever come up with. The sourdough's flavor helps balance any residual sweetness from the fruit spread and the fattiness of the cheese, making for a balanced and well-rounded lunch experience.

There are two potential drawbacks to using sourdough for this type of sandwich. The first is that sourdough needs an equally robust cheese to help stand up to the flavor, which is why a Gruyère, a strong cheddar, or a fontina could do wonders. You'll also want to pick a sourdough bread that has minimal holes in it because a bread that resembles Swiss cheese could mean that your cheese melts through and burns on the pan.

English Muffins

English muffin toasted on board
English muffin toasted on board - Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

No, this isn't a breakfast sandwich. Although, when you really think about it, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is just a grilled cheese with breakfast food. English muffins are the best type of bread for grilled cheese on the go. Structurally, these little rounds offer a ton of crevasses for the cheese to drip down into. Plus, English muffins are relatively small and compact, so they're great for feeding the kids.

Rather than eating the English muffin as nature would have intended, with cornmeal crust facing outwards, butter the inside of the English muffin and flip this sandwich inside out. Then, you'll get a perfectly toasty exterior and a flat surface to place your cheese on. Almost any cheese will work for this type of bread since it doesn't have a particularly strong flavor. Cheddar is certainly kid-friendly, and you could even get creative with a schmear of apple butter or a few slices of ham.

Croissant Toast

Thomas crossaint bread in bag
Thomas crossaint bread in bag - Thomas

Croissant toast from Aldi is ideal for grilled cheese and is perfect for people who cannot decide whether to eat a pastry or bread. This loaf was popularized online after grocery store chain Aldi started to sell bags of it in its stores. But you can still find brands that carry this product, including Thomas, which sells its bags in Northeast grocery chains. The best part about croissant bread is that it has the perfect flaky layers that hold the cheese and toppings. You can enjoy pairing the layered, buttery bread with smoked gouda, prosciutto, fontina cheese, and tomato. There's not a more adult grilled cheese than that.

If you can't find a loaf of croissant bread, fear not. You can skip the bread entirely and make your next grilled cheese on a croissant. You can maximize its flaky layers even more by flipping the croissant inside out and getting the perfect color with a schmear of butter or mayonnaise.

Brioche

Sliced brioche bread
Sliced brioche bread - Photos and vectors/Shutterstock

Brioche is one type of bread that everyone should incorporate into their eating routine. An authentic brioche has a uniquely sweet interior, thanks to the addition of ingredients like milk and eggs that make the dough extra spongy and soft. The other critical ingredient for a good brioche is butter -- and a lot of it. You can find this bread shaped into sandwich loaves, bagels, and burger buns at most grocery stores.

Since brioche is an enriched bread, it's much more pliable and robust than a standard piece of sandwich bread. The sweet taste also plays well with both savory and sweet sandwich ingredients, like a couple of slices of ham paired with a sharp cheddar or a fruit jam atop a wheel of Brie. But there may perhaps be no better pairing than pulled pork slathered in barbecue sauce and brioche. Add a couple of slices of your favorite cheese to make a porky twist on a classic American sandwich.

French Bread

Slice of French bread
Slice of French bread - Tercer Ojo Photography/Shutterstock

French bread is a relatively large umbrella category for different types of bread. There's the stick-shaped baguette, round boule, and leaf-esque fougasse. The best part about these types of bread is their strength. You can pile it high with different types of cheese without having to worry about it breaking, but some people may not love the crusty edges on the outside of the bread that disrupt the sublime, soft bite.

The best shape for French bread grilled cheese is a boule or some sort of other oval shape. A baguette is niche and fun, but it has too high a ratio of crust to soft interior. Top your French bread grilled cheese with regional ingredients like Dijon mustard or Camembert cheese. With a little bit of garlic and herbs rubbed onto each slice, you'll be well on your way to a great grilled cheese in no time.

Pumpernickel

Pumpernickel loaf sliced on board
Pumpernickel loaf sliced on board - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Pumpernickel bread is easily identifiable for its unique, dark color. It's important to make a distinction here between American and German pumpernickel bread. The former is the kind that you are likely most familiar with; it has a soft crumb with sweet notes. You may also detect molasses and cocoa, which are added to this bread to give it its distinct color and flavor. It can also be infused with caraway seeds to give it a spicy edge. German rye is much denser since the cooking process is finished with a long steam. This process ensures that the dough is kept moist and comes out more cake-like than what we would think of as "bread."

If you get your hands on a loaf of pumpernickel, pair it with punchy, acidic ingredients to play off its sweet flavor. Pickles and sauerkraut are great toppings for a pumpernickel grilled cheese. Swiss is a familiar pairing for pumpernickel, but you can also go for gouda for a creamy twist.

Focaccia

Drizzling oil on focaccia
Drizzling oil on focaccia - Alvarez/Getty Images

Your Italian grandmother will surely roll over in her grave when she hears that you are about to be smotherthing her focaccia recipe in cheese and transform it into a sandwich. But this bread has tons of flavorful qualities that make it an excellent addition to your grilled cheese repertoire. The first is that it is hearty and can hold up to a lot -- but it also doesn't have the same overwhelming density as other types of bread. Plus, you can flavor a homemade focaccia with herbs, garlic, or veggies.

You'll want to start with a thin piece of focaccia or potentially cut one slice you already have in half. This will ensure your ratio of bread to cheese is a bit more reasonable. Since this is an Italian bread, fill it with Italian ingredients like mozzarella (which melts remarkably well), a schmear of pesto, and sliced tomatoes.

Pretzel Bread

Pretzel buns with salt
Pretzel buns with salt - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Pretzel bread is one of those weird food trends that is either in the spotlight or hiding in a dark corner — there's no in-between. If you're lucky enough to find a bag of pretzel bread or rolls at your local grocery store, snag one to make a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. The biggest difference between this bread and other varieties (besides the massive and somewhat obtrusive salt crystals) is that pretzel bread is boiled in a baking soda bath to gelatinize the starch on the outside and impart a subtly malty flavor to the bread. This important step increases the overall strength of the bread -- and also gives it a satisfying pull.

If there was one condiment you should add to this pretzel bread grilled cheese, it would have to be mustard. Whole grain, plain yellow, or even honey mustard can really round out the richness of your cheese and make for a flavorful combination with the malty bread. You'll want to slice your pretzel rolls in half and butter the outside of the bread to ensure it gets perfectly crisp as it toasts.

Cornbread

Cornbread in skillet with butter
Cornbread in skillet with butter - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

Cornbread... grilled cheese? Tasting Table has given a lot of unconventional cooking advice over the past few years, but this might be up there with some of the weirdest. Your first thought is probably, "Well, cornbread is too dry and breaks apart, so why would it work for grilled cheese?" The key is to get the perfect toast on the outside of your cornbread. This can be done by placing your slices into an already buttered pan rather than trying to swipe cold butter on and mutilating the sponge in the process. Moreover, don't poke and prod the cornbread as it is toasting, as it will cause more crumbs to fall off.

Cornbread is rather hearty, so it can take the spice level of pickled jalapenos and tangy barbecue sauce. When it comes to the cheese, you can't beat a shredded cheddar or an American. The cornbread needs to be the star of the show here, which is why you should stay away from a creamier cheese, like gouda or fontina.

Ciabatta

Ham and cheese, ciabatta
Ham and cheese, ciabatta - John Shepherd/Getty Images

Ciabatta is an Italian bread that has been used for sandwiches for a long time. Although it has the same crisp shell as some sourdough bread, ciabatta is different because it doesn't necessarily have a wild yeast culture in it, which means it lacks the same tangy flavor. This is why ciabatta is such a great option for grilled cheese; the flavor of the bread won't butt heads with the cheese.

Its subdued flavor will give you more room to play around with your cheese selection and toppings. Like focaccia, go all-out with Italian flavors for this sandwich — including roasted red peppers, cured meats, pesto, and melty mozzarella. You can also go with a more Americanized take with the help of a good, robust cheddar mixed with a Monterey or pepper jack. This type of bread can take a joke but still make for a savory, grown-up sandwich.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.

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