Toasted Cheese vs Grilled Cheese: What’s the Difference?

You may have read the title and really wondered if the article is redundant. Aren’t toasted cheese and grilled cheese the same thing? The answer is a solid “no”!

Toasted and grilled cheese come from totally different backgrounds. They use roughly the same ingredients but taste different due to different methods of preparation.

Want to know the difference between toasted cheese and grilled cheese? The name itself actually offers part of the answer to your question, but we’ll give you a big hint. Toasted cheese is toasted.

What is grilled cheese?

The idea of grilled cheese has been around since humans thought to pair heated bread with a slice of cheese. This is also keeping in mind that on a very basic level, grilled cheese is literally a sandwich.

Grilled cheese is a food unique to North America. You might remember having grilled cheese and tomato soup, which is an absolutely perfect dipping combination. The warm, gooey grilled cheese and the somewhat salty, warm soup was sure to fill your belly especially after a day out in late fall or winter weather.

How do you make grilled cheese?

We are going to start this by saying that there is more than one way to make grilled cheese. Butter is used in more than one step, but you could use vegetable or canola oil to make it a bit healthier.

You’ll need 

  • 2 pieces of bread per sandwich you want to make
  • At least 2 slices of cheese per sandwich
  • Butter or canola oil
  • A frying pan
  • A spatula

Grilled cheese is really quiet basic to make, but we’ll describe this in case you are used to make toasted cheese instead.

  1. Butter one side of each slice of bread that will make the sandwich. You don’t need to use much as this is primarily used to add flavor to the bread and keep it from sticking to the pan
  2. Place slices of cheese on the bread. Note that yes, you can use shredded cheese in a pinch but it’s not as smooth and it generally makes a much bigger mess. It’s just not the same.
  3. You can also preheat your frying pan to slightly shorten cooking time.
  4. You also have the option to put a little butter in the frying pan to further prevent bread and cheese from sticking.
  5. Once the pan is ready, put the first grilled cheese in the pan. In many cases, your pan will be big enough to put two or three grilled cheese sandwiches in the pan.
  6. You’ll likely only need 3-5 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the grilled cheese because bread burns relatively quickly. The goal is to get both sides golden brown.
  7. Flip the grilled cheese over with your spatula after inspecting the grill side of the bread you are currently looking.
  8. Wait about the same amount of time for the other side. You’ll also certainly start to see the cheese starting to melt into gooey goodness.
  9. Once both sides are done, flip the grilled cheese from the spatula to a plate.

So what is toasted cheese.. And the difference between toasted cheese and grilled cheese?

Toasted cheese is more prevalent in Britain and parts of Europe. Toasted cheese is more of a breakfast item rather than lunch or dinner (or supper in some parts). 

Toasted cheese tends to use only one piece of bread, so it’s not a sandwich. It’s also prepared differently.

So to get ready to make toasted cheese, you’ll need

  • Bread, one per service
  • Sliced cheese
  • Butter
  • An oven safe pan
  1. Butter one side of each piece of bread
  2. Place the sliced cheese on the piece of bread
  3. Place the sliced cheese covered bread on an oven safe pan
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (some also might put the oven on broil if they want the cheese toasty)
  5. Put the oven safe pan with bread and cheese in the oven.
  6. Let the cheese have a few minutes to melt
  7. Remove from the oven. This doesn’t require flipping.

So the difference? Obviously the toasted cheese doesn’t go in the frying pan, and only one side really needs to be buttered. Toasted cheese also tends to come out a bit chewier than crispy.

The British toasted cheese method also has less variety in most cases, in part because it’s a breakfast item and isn’t considered an attempt at a full meal. So let’s break this down.

Grilled cheese is made in a frying pan with two slices of bread making a sandwich. The grilled cheese tends to use more butter and is often heavy enough to be considered a meal in itself. The grilled cheese is also crispier from being made in a frying pan and buttered in both sides. Grilled cheese is also known to have additions, like tomato, slices of meat, and anything else the cook wants to throw in.

Toasted cheese is not a meal in Britain. It’s part of a meal and is basically considered to be cheese on toast with heat applied. Some restaurants have been known to add chopped onions or dressings, but the serving isn’t considered the highlight and not much substance is added.

Which is healthier?

Probably the toasted cheese. Adding butter makes the grilled cheese taste very good, but compared to baked toast with cheese, the toasted cheese is certainly at least a little healthier. 

Grilled cheese also tends to go well with tomato soup, which can have lots of sodium.

Conclusion

Toasted cheese and grilled cheese come from different parts of the world. They also different methods of cooking and tend to taste a little different. They are also oddly similar minus the use of butter and their typical serving situation.

Most Americans have fond memories of grilled cheese and don’t tend to eat much bread or cheese for breakfast, minus cheese on eggs. Toasted cheese in a sandwich has also become more popular in Britain for restaurant eaters seeking heavier food. We suggest you try to make toasted cheese and see how you like it.