Martha's Secret to the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Her secret ingredient might seem like an unexpected addition, but it's the best way to achieve a perfect golden crust.

hands holding grilled cheese
Photo: Sidney Bensimon

For something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich, it seems every home cook has their own special recipe, with endless combinations of toasted bread and melted cheese. Martha, on the other hand, likes to keep it really simple—a blend of American and cheddar cheeses on thick slices of sourdough. But her secret to creating the perfect crust isn't just butter in a hot skillet. Martha uses an everyday condiment to toast her bread, and it's probably sitting in your fridge right now.

Our founder took to social media back in 2016 to teach Kevin Sharkey, the executive vice president and executive design director of Martha Stewart Brand Management for Sequential Brands Group, how to make the perfect grilled cheese in a Facebook Live stream. Kevin's favorite iteration of this sandwich is a little more complex than Martha's—he incorporates bacon, tomatoes, and pickles on a bed of shredded Gouda cheese—but Martha made it even better by slathering the bread in mayonnaise.

"[Mayo has] supposedly fewer calories, and it's very tasty, and the bread doesn't burn," Martha says.

But Martha doesn't omit butter altogether. She later tells Kevin that she'll smear a small amount of butter on the inside of her bread before adding the rest of the ingredients. It adds a smoothness to the melted cheese and makes the interior of the sandwich much softer, regardless of which bread you choose. "They're all good for a grilled cheese sandwich," Martha says.

After you watch Martha and Kevin make an impressive grilled cheese sandwich, try your hand at Martha's favorite grilled cheese with our recipe. As Martha says, any combination of cheese and bread will make for a great grilled cheese—but Martha's mayo-first approach is what makes your sandwich that much more toasty.

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