Making grilled cheese sandwiches is something almost every family does on a regular basis and each family has their own favorite recipes. However, cooking cheese directly on the grill outdoor or in a grill pan, is not something in everybody’s repertoire. It is time to get you started!
Content of the Grilling Cheese Guide
- How do we define grilling cheese?
- Different grilling cheeses.
- Overall conclusion.
- How to use these grilling cheeses?
How do we define grilling cheese?
As far as I know there is no official definition of grilling cheese; in all honesty, I don’t even know is the term grilling cheese is a thing. My definition of a grilling cheese is a cheese that stays together, intact if you like, when cooked directly on the grill (indoor or outdoor) without any help from a coating of flour and/or bread crumbs.
Different grilling cheeses
Let’s go over 6 different grilling cheeses that I could get my hands on (in random order):
- Grill and Eat Cheese
- Queso Panela
- Bread Cheese or Juustoleipa
- Cheese Curds
Before we go any further, let me state that this is my opinion, nobody else’s and that I have not been paid to do this. This is not a scientific research study, these are my observations and the sample size is 1, n=1.
In a very simple and practical way I am sharing with you about how the above mentioned 6 cheeses stand the tough love that there is between cheese and a hot burning grill. I will also give my take on flavor. It is not a post will highly styled pictures; it is the information that counts. My criteria for judging these cheeses are:
- does the cheese lose shape after spending time on the grill
- does the cheese develop nice grill marks
When you are happy with a cheese melting through the grill racks, that’s perfectly fine, for me that cheese would not qualify as a ‘grilling cheese’.
When you need to coat the cheese before you can grill it (milk, flour, egg, bread crumbs or any alternative combination), this is again perfectly fine. This approach can be a very delicious meat alternative, but that cheese is not a ‘grilling cheese’ in my book. Each cheese below is grilled without any oil or butter coating,
Halloumi – 1
Halloumi is my all-time favorite. As far as I know, this cheese originates in Cyprus, but it is popular in Greece, Turkey and the entire Levant region as well. It is also gaining in popularity here in the US and Europe.
Halloumi is a cheese that is made from a combination of milk; cow’s, sheep’s milk, and/or goat’s milk. It is semi-hard, brined cheese (and brine often contains mint). It is a very compact cheese that has a high melting point and that high melting point makes it ideal for grilling. A high melting point means that a lot of heat is required to change the solid mass into a liquid mass, in other words to melt the cheese.
Verdict: great all around. Fantastic grilling marks, great in flavor, stays in slices, cubes, however you cut them. Even charring won’t melt the Halloumi.
Grill and Eat Cheese – 2
This is a relatively new cheese to me. At first glance it has a lot of similarities with the Halloumi. Also made from a combination of milk; cow’s, sheep’s milk, and/or goat’s milk. Also semi-hard and it kind-a behaves the same on the grill, however it does not brown as easily as the Halloumi does. More importantly, this cheese is relatively bland in flavor.
Verdict: good grilling cheese, but can use some more flavor.
Kasseri – 3
A Greek cheese that comes in large wheels or in pre-cut slices, similar to Feta slices in weight. Kasseri is a semi-hard, rather waxy, rubbery cheese that does not stand out in flavor at all. It also does not grill very well. Grilled at the same temperature as Halloumi and Grill & Eat cheese, the Kasseri melted into a blob and I had to remove it, before it had time to warm through and through.
I would consider Kasseri more a melting cheese than a grilling cheese. So ideally use this cheese on sandwiches or in pies or salad or to cover meat or chicken.
Verdict: sub-optimal grilling cheese – rather bland in flavor.
Queso-Panela – 4
Panela, a Mexican cheese is a lovely pure cow’s milk cheese that can be grilled, but you need to stay with it. The first time I grilled this, at the same temperature as the first 2 cheeses, it was melting away before I realized what was happening. The second try, at a lower temperature, it became possible to grill it, without much of browning, but the cheese becomes very vulnerable to breaking.
Panela, does become deliciously soft and I can clearly see it in many Mexican dishes or any type of salad in which you want to add some warm cheese. It it not particularly a grilling cheese, but having that said, it is possible to grill it with some dedication. The picture shows, that the cheese stays in shape on the grill.
Verdict: grilling is possible, but needs attention. Lovely creamy flavor.
Bread Cheese or Juustoleipa – 5
Bread cheese is a Finnish cheese also known as Juustoleipa. It is a semi-soft cheese that is also made here in the US. It looks like bread because it is toasted, browned. You could argue that when you grill or cook this cheese, you’ll end up with a grilled cheese without the bread.
Bread cheese is indeed very accommodating when you grill it. The browned crust grills well, the cheese becomes warm and soft in the center without losing it’s shape. The flavor is toasty, slightly chewy.
Verdict: excellent grilling cheese, wonderful soft texture
Cheese curds – 6
Cheese curds, yes I know this is an odd one in this Quick Guide to Grilling Cheese, but these ‘gnocchi of cheese’ were challenging me to give it a try. And so I did. It did not become a pretty picture and that’s because I was munching on these cheese curd before I tossed them in the grill pan, so I only had a few to test. I took my eye of the grill for just a little moment and they were already over the top, starting the break through the nice crust and starting to melt.
I know that cheese curds are often cooked with a batter, but I think you can grill them. May be not straight on the grill racks, because most of them are too small, but in a grill pan or a grill grid on the outside grill. As long as you stay with them and constantly swirl the pan.
Verdict: grilling is possible, but needs attention. When grilled right, great crunch.
My overall conclusion:
My small experiment revealed that Halloumi, Grill & Eat Cheese, Bread Cheese and Panela are good candidates for your next grilling party, as they stay in shape. They develop a crust of varying degrees and don’t necessarily need additional flavor (except for the Grill & Eat Cheese, this one needs to be spiced up).
The Cheese curds are a surprising second as you can grill them into lovely crunch bites. Cheese curds also come in various flavors, so there is a lot of variety possible.
The Kasseri was not a good grilling cheese, but has great potential as a melting cheese.
Of course there are more cheeses that qualify for a test, like Provolone, Kefalotyri, Paneer, but these are not included in this Quick Guide.
One last word is that many cheeses can be used in recipes that you can cook on a grill, like Easy Baked Brie in Bread, or Tomato Cheese Pull Apart Bread. I made both recipes in the oven, but you can also cook them on the grill. Offer grilled or melted cheese on top of grilled vegetables, a burger or a steak.
Last but not least. Try and experiment a little. Cook and serve a good melting cheese, like a cheddar, raclette, gouda as a meat alternative after your coat it with batter (milk, flour, eggs, bread crumbs).