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The Ultimate Cheese Toastie

We are here to dish the secrets behind the perfect crispy and gooey cheese toastie. We use a blend of cheese for the melt and flavour, stuff in sauteed leeks and finish the golden, burnished toastie with a drizzle of honey. This is our Ultimate Cheese Toastie.

the ultimate cheese toastie

This recipe comes together with just 7 ingredients in under 30 minutes. Serve it alongside your favourite soup (we love it with slow-roasted tomato!) or inhale one (or a couple) after a fabulous night out, lying on the sofa. 

Grilled cheese or cheese toasties are one of our favourite quick and easy meals. They bring back comforting memories of childhood and can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion. 

Simple recipes are brilliant, but as with all simple meals, execution is key! When a simple recipe goes wrong, there’s no place to hide.

This how-to guide is a culmination of personal experience, slinging hundreds of toasties out for late-night eats at private events, my own homegrown experiments and a visit to Kappacasein, Borough Market, makers of London’s best cheese toastie. 

Tips for Success

Use Mayonnaise Over Butter

Mayonnaise is the best coating for your toastie. It spreads more easily than butter, preventing the bread from pulling and tearing. Mayonnaise also has a higher smoking point than butter, so it won’t burn as easily. Finally, the combination of eggs and oil in mayo will yield the best crust.

Squishing is key

You don’t need a panini press or special equipment to make a great toastie. A non-stick pan over medium heat is perfect. When using a frying pan, press the toastie down with a spatula for a minute or two on each side. This pushes the bread evenly into the surface of the hot pan, creating an even golden crust. 

Use great white bread

The basic white sandwich loaf has its place – it’s nostalgic and readily at hand. However, it is very light and spongy and doesn’t usually stand up well to being squished, which is key to an even golden crust. Opt for a loaf with a more substantial crumb, like a country loaf, or (my ideal) your favourite sourdough. Both are readily available from your local supermarket. The chew and taste of sourdough are the perfect complements to the gooey, rich filling. 

This is not the place for a granary or seed loaf. Let’s not even go there. 


For the ultimate cheese toastie, you need to choose a great stringy, melty cheese (like mozzarella) for that classic, drool-worthy cheese pull and a cheese that will add loads of flavour. Cheddar, Comte, ogleshield, gruyere, provolone and smoked cheese are all fantastic here. Mix it up with whatever you have on hand.

Always add more than you think you need, then give the uncooked toastie a little squish to help compact and stabilise the filling. 

Medium Heat – ALWAYS

Cook your toastie on medium-low heat for the best crispy, golden crust. Achieving a deep golden crust takes time, so go slow, and give the heat enough time to reach the cheese. Cook your toastie on too high a heat and the crust will be too thin or burned, and the cheese inside unmelted. 

Balance is key

Cheese alone can get a little heavy so use condiments and fillings to balance the dish. For saltier cheeses, add sweetness by using chutney or relish. For more mild cheese, Lao Gan Ma (widely available in-store and online) chilli crisp is a personal favourite. Finely sliced leeks, onions, and garlic are all also great at adding depth to the final toastie. 

Finish with Honey

My favourite tip of them all. A very light drizzle of honey turns any toastie into something really special. Rich, crunchy, sweet-savoury – it’s addictive and you have to try it. 

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. You can also view the video here. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this gluten-free?

Sure. Use your favourite brand of gluten-free bread. Be sure the bread is similar in texture to traditional sourdough for best results.

Can I make this on the braai/BBQ?

Yes! This is hands down the best way to savour the ultimate toastie. We call these braaibroodjies in South Africa. Cook the toastie over medium/low coals. Serve as part of the BBQ or cut into portions to serve as an appetiser.

Can I make this vegan?

Absolutely! Choose vegan-friendly cheese and mayonnaise for your toastie. 

Any flavour combinations to suggest?

My recipe below is inspired by all the tips and tricks above and the cheese toastie at Kappacasein, Borough Market. It’s a classic. Here are a few more creative ideas:

  • Mozarella, thinly sliced spring onion and Lao Gan Ma chilli crisp
  • Pickled red onion, mature cheddar and mozzarella
  • Raclette, charcuterie and pickles.
  • Sauteed baby spinach, mozzarella, chilli flakes


the ultimate cheese toastie
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the ultimate cheese toastie

Ultimate Cheese Toastie

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: < 30 Minutes
  • Yield: Serves 1
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Savoury, salty, sweet and crispy, this is our version of the ultimate cheese toastie. View the video here.


  • 2 medium-thick slices of bread (sourdough, or country loaf)
  • 20ml mayonnaise
  • 1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
  • 30g mozzarella, grated
  • 40g mature cheddar, grated

For serving

  • honey
  • chilli flakes (optional)


  1. Place a non-stick pan on medium heat, add a little oil, and then add the thinly sliced leeks. Saute for 2 minutes until softened. Set aside until needed, then wipe the pan down with paper towel.
    Alternatively, slice the leeks very finely, give them a good wash to remove any grit, and add them raw into the cheese mixture.
  2. Spread the mayonnaise evenly on both sides of the sliced bread.
  3. To one side add the cheeses, then pile on the sauteed leeks. Place the remaining slice of bread on top of the cheese and leek mixture then push down slightly to compact the filling.
  4. Slide the uncooked toastie into the warm pan, then turn the heat to medium. Use your spatula to press the toasty lightly into the surface of the non-stick pan, to ensure the crust browns evenly.
  5. Cook the toastie on one side until it forms a thick, deeply golden crust, then flip and repeat on the other side.
  6. Slide the finished toastie onto a plate, lightly drizzle with honey and chili flakes and serve

Alternatively: cook your toastie on the BBQ! It’s the absolute best way to have them, especially when cooked over coals or wood. The smokey taste is unbeatable. Cook the toastie over low-medium coals and enjoy.


  • Prep Time: 5-10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10-15 Minutes
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: South African


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 604.14kcal
  • Sugar: 17.63g
  • Sodium: 901.23mg
  • Fat: 34.89g
  • Saturated Fat: 13.27g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 18.38g
  • Trans Fat: 0.58g
  • Carbohydrates: 51.67g
  • Fiber: 2.09g
  • Protein: 23g
  • Cholesterol: 59.1mg
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