A grilled cheese or grilled cheese sandwich is a basic sandwich generally made with one or more varieties of cheese on any sort of grilled or toasted bread, such as flat bread or wheat bread, that may include spreads such as butter or mayonnaise.
Cheese sandwiches can be grilled so that the bread toasts and the cheese melts. A grilled cheese is often heated by placing the buttered slices of bread, with the cheese between the slices, on a frying pan or griddle.
Another form of cooked cheese sandwich is the cheese toastie or toastie, a dish particularly popular in the United Kingdom that is prepared by either baking or grilling a cheese sandwich in an oven, or toasting bag in an electric toaster, or using a pie iron in order to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Cheddar is the most common cheese used in a toastie. It is usually served as a snack, or as a (usually lunchtime) meal, in most cases with a side of salad.
Cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food according to food historians, popular across the world in many cultures. Evidence indicates that, in the U.S., the modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became readily available. The cheese dream, an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, became popular in the U.S. during the Great Depression.
U.S. government cookbooks describe Navy cooks broiling "American cheese filling sandwiches" during World War II. Many versions of the grilled cheese sandwich can now be found on restaurant menus across the U.S. and internationally.
A grilled cheese sandwich is assembled by creating a cheese filling between two slices of bread, which is then heated until the bread crisps and the cheese melts. It is sometimes combined with an additional ingredient such as peppers, tomatoes, or onions, though many other ingredients may be used. Several different methods of heating the sandwich are used, depending on the region and personal preference. Common methods include being cooked on a griddle, grilled, fried in a pan or made in a panini grill or sandwich toaster. This last method is more common in the United Kingdom, where the sandwiches are normally called "toasted sandwiches" or "toasties", and in Australia, where they are called "jaffles".
Some restaurants, food carts and food trucks in the United States specialize in the grilled cheese sandwich. The Grilled Cheese Grill restaurants are a combination of reclaimed vehicle and food cart restaurants that focus on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in Portland, Oregon. The Grilled Cheese Truck is an American food truck company serving gourmet "chef driven" grilled cheese sandwiches. The company started in Los Angeles, California in 2009, and has since expanded throughout Southern California, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Austin. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is a restaurant in San Francisco, California that specializes in the sandwich.
During the Depression, when Sunday Night Suppers became a popular way to entertain, the cheese dream began to appear on dining tables from coast to coast.