NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day


            Don’t miss the celebration!  April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! Cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food, popular across the world in many cultures.  Grilled cheese sandwiches in America started showing up in roadside diners during the 1920’s. Inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese were readily available and a short order cook in a diner could quickly prepare a grilled cheese sandwich alongside other grilled foods.

             A crispy golden-brown crust with a melted cheese center is the common standard of perfection for a grilled cheese sandwich.  We assume the first bite will be into a gooey filling. We also assume grilled cheese sandwiches hold lots of calories.  A grilled cheese sandwich at Starbucks has 580 calories, of which 260 are from fat, and also 1110 mg of sodium – which is almost half of the recommended amount of sodium per day.

            There are though, a few simple changes that can change your home-prepared sandwich to a lower fat, lower calorie version but with lots of flavor.

            Pick the Right Cheese - when it comes to grilled cheese, not all cheese is created equal. Cheese is a healthy snack that is rich in calcium and protein, but it is also high in fats.  So skip mild-flavored cheeses and opt for ones with a stronger flavor—like sharp, or even extra-sharp, Cheddar. Choices that are big on flavor mean you won’t have to use as much, which helps cut fat and calories.

            Add Flavor Beyond Cheese – Name your favorite sandwich fixing and someone has probably added it to a grilled cheese sandwich.  Veggies and other sources of protein –including low-fat bacon and even scrambled eggs – stretch the flavor of the cheese. Onions, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and red peppers are all flavorful additions which bring valuable vitamins with them.

             Choose A Better Bread – Cheese can melt between many varieties of bread – not just white. Whole-grain breads are great for grilled cheese too. Whole-grain bread contains the outer bran or germ of the grain, which is rich in fiber. MayoClinic.com says that whole-grain bread is a complex carbohydrate that will help to balance your blood sugar levels and give you long-term energy. If you upgrade to a slightly fancier, country-style loaf, you’ll get better flavor, more bite and a crisper crust—not to mention added fiber.

             Master a Crispy Crust - Butter does play a role in creating that nice golden outer crust, but you can get that without adding fat.  The hot surface of a panini maker compresses the bread, helping it crisp up naturally. You can also mimic a panini press at home by heating 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place a sandwich in the pan. Place another medium skillet on top of the sandwich, then weight it down with two cans of canned vegetables, soup, etc. Cook until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, remove top skillet and cans, flip the sandwich, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more.

            Substitutes for Butter -The butter on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich not only crisps up the crust, but gives it richness as well. To save calories, experiment with creamy spreads that are lower in fat, such as reduced-fat mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon or reduced-fat sour cream or a light dusting of a butter spray.  


All- Canadian American Grilled Cheese



  • 2 slices of bread whole-wheat, stone-ground bread
  • 2 slices of pineapple, fresh or canned
  • 3 slices low-fat Canadian bacon
  • Shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
  • Spray butter
  • Oregano and parsley, optional


  • Spray butter one side of each slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley and oregano to taste
  • On non-buttered side of bread place the shredded cheese, then the Canadian bacon, pineapple, and top with the other slice of bread, buttered side facing up.
  • Cook sandwich on stove top on a griddle or frying pan. Once bread is toasted on one side flip the sandwich to toast the other side. Cook on a low heat to allow the cheese to melt while the bread is toasting.
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