When it comes to combining bread and cheese, you can't go wrong.

By Nina Friend
April 12, 2018
© Con Poulos

Whether cheddar on sourdough, fontina with sage, or gruyère and caramelized onions, there are a number of ways to make a great grilled cheese. But the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich? The requirements for such a feat are simple, at least according to Spencer Rubin, the founder and CEO of Melt Shop, the comfort food haven that specializes in — what else? — grilled cheese sandwiches.

Rubin says the key to the ultimate grilled cheese is room temperature salted butter.

“The better the butter, the better the sandwich.”

As far as ingredient selection, Rubin suggests blending cheeses, opting for a mix of semi-soft, like Havarti or muenster, with medium-hard, like Emmental or gouda.

“If you want to have more fun with it,” Rubin says, “you can always add cheese curds — just shred them and spread them.”

In addition to their locations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, Melt Shop has expanded across the world to Kuwait. In an effort to adapt the menu to local preferences, the Kuwait outpost uses halloumi cheese and Za'atar in a best-selling rendition of the classic sandwich.

While spinoffs of the American grilled cheese can be found all over the map, other countries have their own unique ways of combining bread and cheese. Some places, like France and South Africa, make sandwiches that resemble grilled cheese in appearance but not necessarily in taste. Other s, like India and Argentina, focus less on the cheese-between-bread aspect and more on incorporating ingredients in a way that fits with their culture’s culinary style.

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Day, here are 13 grilled cheese-like dishes from all over the globe:

France: Croque-Monsieur

Sometimes called a grilled cheese for grown-ups, the croque-monsieur is indulgent, decadent, and has that certain je ne sais quoi. There’s cheese, ham, and bechamel sauce tucked elegantly within crusty bread. To crank it up a notch, #putaneggonit and turn this monsieur into a madame.

India: Paneer Naan

Paneer is the ideal accompaniment to naan. While sometimes this dish can take on the look of pizza, stuffed versions give off more of a grilled cheese vibe. If you want to make your own naan but don’t have a tandoori oven, try grilling the bread instead.

South Africa: Braaibroodjie

It’s fun to try and say “braaibroodjie” fast 10 times, but it’s even more fun to translate the word, find out it means barbecue bread, and then eat one. These South African sandwiches are traditionally composed of sharp cheese, tomatoes or onions, and chutney. They’re often cooked over open coals and served at the end of a barbecue.

Switzerland: Cheese Fondue

In the United States, we might call this deconstructed grilled cheese, but in Switzerland, it’s just fondue. Dipping toasted bread cubes into a bastion of creamy, gooey cheese sounds like heaven — and tastes like it, too.