Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich

What do you eat when you’re home alone? (Remember this book?) There’s something freeing about eating by yourself. So this month, just for fun, we’re asking five food bloggers to share their go-to solo dinners, and we’ll be featuring one every Wednesday. First up, Kelly from Just A Taste has a grown-up grilled cheese…

A Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich
By Kelly Senyei of Just A Taste

By some magic, two ordinary pieces of bread, a slice of cheese and a slathering of butter have the ability to transform into one of life’s best culinary indulgences. The grilled cheese sandwich is a weeknight meal in a pinch, a late-night meal in a hurry, and an any-night-and-every-occasion meal for parties of one or 100. When reinvigorated beyond the basics, it leaps from childhood favorite to adult mainstay, without losing an ounce of its ooey-gooey appeal.

The real star of this recipe is every child’s enemy: onions. But thinly sliced and cooked in sugar, little ones may just believe that vegetables, too, can be candy. We have the balsamic, and all its tangy strength to thank for erasing any hint of cloying sweetness, while sharp cheddar cheese and hearty greens balance the palate and leave the door wide open for other additions (think crispy bacon, sliced tomatoes or mashed avocado).

Recipe: Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Balsamic Onions
Serves 2

You’ll need:

For the caramelized onions:
• 2 tsp. vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, thinly sliced
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/8 tsp. black pepper
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

For the grilled cheese:
• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 4 slices bread (such as sourdough or brioche)
• 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
• 1 cup kale leaves

What to do:

Make the caramelized balsamic onions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and continue cooking the onions for 5 more minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until they are very soft and dry.

Assemble the grilled cheese:

Slather one side of all four slices of bread with the butter and set them aside.

Assemble one of the grilled cheese sandwiches by stacking one slice of cheese atop one slice of bread (the non-buttered side) and topping it with half the caramelized onions, half the kale leaves and a second slice of cheese. Top it with another buttered slice of bread (buttered side on top).

Repeat the assembly process for the second grilled cheese sandwich.

Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Place each sandwich on the skillet and cook until the bread is toasted and golden and the cheese begins to melt. Flip each sandwich once and continue cooking until the opposite side of bread is toasted. Slice and serve immediately.

Thank you, Kelly!

P.S. More best recipes, including an egg sandwich and the best French picnic dish.

(Photos and recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just A Taste. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)

  1. janet says...

    Thank you for this incredible sandwich. I have made it three times since I found it. I use my own sourdough bread and pick the baby kale from the garden. It is SO good. Thank you again.

  2. I finally made these tonight and they were absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing! xx

  3. Oh god that grill cheese looks AMAZING. I have an intense craving right now.

  4. oh my this looks delicious..

  5. I tested they are delicious thank you.

  6. looks sooo good!

  7. Yummy yummy for my tummy ha ha ,looks so Delicious …..want to make it now ….i am a good cook myself i have recently started my own blog on the funny side of husband and wife relationship ,where i have made comic of husband and wife relationship based on every day true events and it is also a place where you can help really poor women,please do visit my blog Its

  8. This looks so yummy– they had a similar recipe in Cooking Light recently!

  9. CC says...

    When I worked at the hospital, the caf had the best grilled cheese called “Not your mother’s grilled cheese”. It was mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and pesto on Texas toast. It was absolutely amazing! And that’s not something you can usually say about hospital cafeteria food.

  10. Amazing!! I switched out the Cheddar for Emmantaler and the kale with arugala…delicious any way you have it!!

  11. I made this last night!! I was going to make chicken, but saw this and had to try it. I added avocado and baked my grilled cheese in the oven (no butter) and it was seriously AMAZING. The best grilled chs of my LIFE. The onions made this thing, thnx for sharing! :D

  12. It looks so goood!! Gonns try it some time!

  13. I tried it tonight. : ) Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  14. Oh my that looks delicious.

  15. Ai says...

    Mmmmmm it looks AMAZING! I can’t find any kale where I live so I’ll try this out with some spinach! It looks sooooo good….♥

  16. Wow. That looks absolutely divine. Substitute regular bread with gluten free bread and I’m IN!

    Jules of Canines & Couture

  17. What can I say other than yum! This looks delish!

  18. Holy grilled cheese!!! I’m (mostly) gluten and dairy free BUT I definitely splurge for a good grilled cheese. It is my favorite food- the BEST on a chilly Fall/Winter day, cozied up on the couch in sweats. Oh, so, good.

  19. Funny that you’ve posted this now. My boyfriend’s out of town this week and I think cooking for one is so boring! This got me excited for dinner tonight. :)

  20. This looks AMAZING. Nothing beats a grilled cheese, especially when it’s amped up with fun additions like caramelized onions and kale!

  21. My version of grown-up grilled cheese is sauteeing artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and chopped spinach. Layer that on top of a great whole-grain bread plus whatever cheese you love, and grill with mayo.

  22. this looks deeelicious!
    xo, cheyenne

  23. You just can’t go wrong with caramelized onions and kale with sharp cheddar! yum…would be good with gruyere too!

  24. Oh I love the looks of this sandwich! Adding this to my recipe bookmarks ASAP.

  25. I’m dieting and starving right now. You are a cruel, cruel woman for posting this, Joanna ;)

  26. Whenever I’m home alone I eat the avocado toasts you recommended!!! They are super easy and kind of healthy, right? :) This sandwich looks delicious, though. Totally comforting!
    Looking forward to the other recipes!!!

  27. Have you read “What We Eat When We Eat Alone” ?

    I read it when I first moved to a Wisconsin, after leaving NYC, for my first job. I read most of it sitting alone in my hotel kitchen or in restaurants at tables for one, so it holds a very dear place in my literary heart. I think you’d really enjoy it. It’s humor remind me of a lot the illustrator who your feature from time to time. It also has some really great recipes.


    (I’m not yelling, just squealing in delight).

    Thanks for the recipe!

  29. This reminds me so much of one of my all time favourite pizza’s from the Vegie Bar in Melbourne. It was grilled haloumi cheese, caramelised onion and arugula. Caramelised onion, has to be one of the best tasting veggies ever!!


  30. gotta love a grilled cheese.. sauteed mushrooms are good too!

  31. good lord that looks fantastic. i’ve been eating paleo for about 3 months now and the food i miss the most is grilled cheese! so now i’ve licked my screen.

  32. Yum! I would suggest that instead of adding unnecessary sugar to the onions, simply cook them low and slow with olive oil and s&p and add the splash of balsamic at the end just like the recipe. Proper caramelized onions take upwards of 45 minutes, but are so worth the time and energy… and you could make extra to keep in the fridge for soups, topping homemade pizzas, salads, etc.

    • A pinch of baking soda will caramelize them in 10 minutes. Hooray for chemistry!

    • tks rachel! nice tip.

  33. Kale on a grilled cheese? No. I like(d) kale but I’m tired of seeing it on every recipe on the internet. Sub bacon?

    • Everything tastes better with bacon…

    • Maybe we should start replacing kale with bacon in every recipe out there right now! Brilliant idea. You should create a website called “Kale for Bacon” that translates recipes in this way. I would be your loyal reader!

  34. Hi- I’m looking forward to this series, but noticed that we’re talking about cooking when we’re alone, right? But the recipe serves 2? This is one of my biggest challenges as a single gal living alone! All recipes serve more than one person. Jus’ sayin’!

    • Yeah, it can be hard cooking for one, luckily it’s super easy to simply use half of the ingredients in this case.
      • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
      • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
      • 1/2 tsp. salt
      • 1/16 tsp. black pepper
      • 1 tbsp. sugar
      • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

      For the grilled cheese:
      • 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
      • 2 slices bread (such as sourdough or brioche)
      • 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
      • 1/2 cup kale leaves

    • Hey…I would totally eat two of these if I was all alone with nobody watching! ;)

    • Ditto on the single gal / cooking for one quandary! I recently signed up for The Fresh 20’s weekly meal plans for singles, which are supposed to be based on just 20 ingredients a week, lots of seasonal produce, etc…. we’ll see how it goes!

  35. I’ve added caramelized onions to grilled cheese, but never thought to add balsamic vinegar when caramelizing them. We’ll have to try this on our next grilled cheese night!