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.
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