5 Levels of Grilled Cheese to Make This Month

We've got a cheesy challenge for you.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

If you've been feeling an absence of grilled cheese in your life, now's the perfect time to turn that around – it's National Grilled Cheese Month! While we're not sure when this annual homage to the easy, cheesy sandwich first started, we can report that we've found grilled cheese to be perfectly satisfying around the clock, at breakfast, lunch, dinner and as a midnight snack. To help get you started on your celebrations, we've gathered 5 levels of grilled cheese dishes to try this month, from the easiest 10-minute recipe to the ultimate cheesy mash-up.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Level 1: The Perfect Grilled Cheese (pictured at top)

Let's start with the basics. Considering how many kinds of bread and melty cheese are out there, the grilled cheese is actually endlessly adaptable. So rather than focus on the parts, our test kitchen's "perfect" recipe breaks down the process of turning plain bread and cheese into foolproof grilled cheese in 10 minutes or less: combine one of three cooking techniques (panini press, skillet, baking sheet) with one of three cooking fats (butter, mayonnaise, oil) and there you have it. Feel free to try all nine to find the one that works for you.

In this take, Ree Drummond adds a few more ingredients to the mix that elevate and complement her rye, provolone and cheddar combo. Roasted poblano chiles, red onions, tomato and a mayonnaise-Dijon mustard sauce complete the package for a grilled cheese sammie that one reviewer calls "magic in your mouth."

Food Network Kitchen’s Giant Grilled Cheese for a Crowd for One-Off Recipes, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Gather a few cheese-loving friends and think big, like whole loaf of bread big. This recipe only calls for few ingredients, but on a scale that's appropriate for a recipe with "giant" in the name. For this grilled cheese challenge (quest?), a pound of bread is coated with a quarter cup of mayo, filled with a pound of cheese (a mix of sharp cheddar, Monterey jack and mozzarella), and baked until it's gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Level 4: Croque Monsieur

Think classy and classic with a French ham and cheese sandwich that's Ina-approved. What makes this dish extra special (and a bit more advanced than your basic grilled cheese) is a bechamel cheese sauce that goes over the sandwich, which is then baked and broiled until it's golden brown and beautiful.

JeffMauro_MacAndCheeseGrilledCheeseWithBaconTwoWays_V,JeffMauro_MacAndCheeseGrilledCheeseWithBaconTwoWays_H

JeffMauro_MacAndCheeseGrilledCheeseWithBaconTwoWays_V,JeffMauro_MacAndCheeseGrilledCheeseWithBaconTwoWays_H

Chef Name: Jeff Mauro Full Recipe Name: Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese with Bacon Two Ways Talent Recipe: Jeff Mauro’s Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese with Bacon Two Ways, as seen on Sandwich King FNK Recipe: Project: Foodnetwork.com, Back to School/Sandwich Central/Dinner and a Movie/Sides Show Name: Sandwich King Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network,Chef Name: Jeff Mauro Full Recipe Name: Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese with Bacon Two Ways Talent Recipe: Jeff Mauro’s Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese with Bacon Two Ways, as seen on Sandwich King FNK Recipe: Project: Foodnetwork.com, Back to School/Sandwich Central/Dinner and a Movie/Sides Show Name: Sandwich King Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Yes, that is made-from scratch easy mac and cheese in the middle and yes, it is worth it. This mash up of two ooey gooey, indulgent foods plus bacon is the ultimate cheesy satisfaction and will have you saving any leftover mac and cheese in the future for another taste.

Though we've reached the end of this list, the potential for grilled cheese tributes is really, only limited by your imagination. Make it sweet, make it spicy or stack a double-decker — do whatever you want and keep things cheesy.

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