There are few food options that provide the nostalgic kick that grilled cheese does. One bite can take you back to your childhood, your mom slicing a piping hot sandwich into triangles (because triangles always taste better) for you on a cool Sunday afternoon or a sick day.
But what goes good with grilled cheese?
Grilled cheese has tons of excellent pairings, the original being a classic tomato soup. You can also serve grilled cheese with fries, chips, salads, slaws, pickles, kimchi, condiments like ketchup or mustard, and any variety of soup.
Now that you’ve got the different kinds of flavors and textures you want in mind, let’s get down to the pairings for items that make the humble grilled cheese a meal to remember.
The classic combo, grilled cheese and tomato soup. It can’t be beaten. Dunking hot, crunchy grilled cheese into smooth, sweet, slightly acidic tomato soup and taking a bite of the delicious meld of flavors: there’s nothing better.
This flavor combo is so popular that it’s roots can be traced all the way back to the Great Depression when grilled cheeses would be eaten with tomato soup during school lunch.
It’s no surprise that this food pairing strikes so strong at the nostalgic hearts of so many generations of Americans. This pairing continues to shine as the gold standard for grilled cheese flavor and texture combos.
Tomato soup can be made in any number of ways. Some folks opt for the classic out of a can, others roast their own tomatoes on the vine before blitzing them smooth and mixing with cream to make a bisque. Any and all variations will scratch the itch for this pairing made in heaven.
With fries we go right to the other edge of the spectrum. Grilled cheeses are greasy, crunchy, and savory. Why try to offset all that goodness when you can double down with fries.
They can be taken right out of the deep fryer for optimal greasy goodness or popped out of the oven or air fryer for a healthier version that still packs a crunch.
Fries pair well with sandwiches, burgers, and grilled cheeses alike because their salty crunch excites the palette and makes you want more. One bite of grilled cheese, one bite of fries, one bite of grilled cheese, and the cycle repeats.
Sticking with crunch but opting for a healthier option, salad can be a perfect pairing for a grilled cheese. The crunch of greens like lettuce or spinach add textural excitement while offsetting the heaviness of a freshly toasted grilled cheese.
Mix olive oil, black pepper, and lemon juice for a light lemon vinaigrette to balance out a grilled cheese, or go for a peppery arugula mix to add some spice to this perfect lunchtime pairing.
When it comes to crunch and acid, pickles are the cream of the crop for sandwich accompaniments.
The vinegar, saltiness, and sweetness of pickles mean that not only do they balance grilled cheeses but they also elevate the palette and make you want more. Add them right into the sandwich or serve up some pickle slices or chips on the side.
It’s salad, but with fruit! Fruit salad is a classic diner side that often goes by the wayside, but a variety of sweet, fresh fruits can do wonders for livening up a hefty meal.
The cool, refreshing sweetness found in grapes, melons, and strawberries alike counteract the greasiness of grilled cheese and freshen up the meal altogether.
While all of the above require some amount of extra purchasing and prep time, you probably have some condiments like ketchup and mustard in the fridge right now.
The sweetness of ketchup and the tanginess of mustard add whole new elements to a grilled cheese and are a quick and cheap way to elevate a basic toasted sandwich.
Grilled cheeses are among the most delicious of lunchtime bites. If you can think of a side to go with one, chances are, it’ll be a tasty addition.
When pairing foods with grilled cheese, try to either add something acidic, smooth, sweet, or crunchy. These flavors and textures pair well with grilled cheese which is why tomato soup, fries, pickles, and condiments are commonly paired with the sandwich.