A family favorite, bacon grilled cheese is the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of homemade soup. The components are simple: bread, bacon, cheese, and fat. It’s important to get them right!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
Bacon Grilled Cheese: The Bread
Most sandwich aficionados would agree that the bread makes the sandwich. I make my own no-knead bread at least once a week. There are super easy recipes out there that produce great results. My favorites are Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread and the method described by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The five minutes a day method is a little simpler, and you create a larger batch of dough that you can store in your fridge for use any time over the next two weeks.
Check out those bread recipes, but if bread-making isn’t up your alley you can still have an awesome grilled cheese. Avoid pre-bagged pre-sliced bread from the aisle, and hit up the bakery area at your grocery store. Look for a fresh-baked sourdough, a Tuscan boulé, or even ciabatta bread. You want a loaf that has visible air bubbles in it when slicing. I like to slice it myself around a half inch thick. Size of the slice doesn’t much matter, if your slices are small just make two sandwiches per person.
Bacon Grilled Cheese: The Bacon
What is the best way to cook bacon? This question is hotly debated on weekend mornings in households across America, and I have a great resource on the site for how to cook bacon. For this recipe, however, there is no argument. Fried in a cast-iron skillet is supreme. You will be using the bacon grease later in the recipe, so do not discard! If you have the option, use homemade bacon as well. It’s amazing – once you start making your own, store-bought will never taste the same. Place your skillet over medium heat and cut bacon pieces in half. Place the slices into the cold pan – the fat will render as it heats and prevent sticking. You’ll want 2-4 half pieces per sandwich, enough to include a generous single layer on a slice of bread. Fry in batches and drain on a paper towel.
Bacon Grilled Cheese: The Cheese
What cheese goes best on a grilled cheese? We prefer a combination of sharp cheddar and pepper jack, but you may substitute what your family likes best. American melts better than any other, but we like the stronger flavor of cheddar. I alternate cheddar/jack/cheddar/jack on a slice of bread, top with bacon, then a second identical layer of cheese and top with bread.
Bacon Grilled Cheese: The Fat
The secret ingredient in a perfect bacon grilled cheese sandwich, is, of course, more bacon. Bacon fat that is. Save the grease from frying your bacon, and use the same skillet to cook the sandwiches. You also need to coat the bread before it goes into the pan, or it will stick. A thin layer of store-bought mayonnaise works best. Spread it on one side of the bread, then place the sandwich carefully into the hot pan (over medium-low) mayo side down. Spread mayo on the top outer side of the pan and watch carefully, browning the sandwich to your desired doneness. If your cheese isn’t melting fast enough, lower the heat on the burner and place a cover over your pan. You may have to cook in batches – I can only fit two sandwiches in my Lodge 10″ skillet. Slice in half, and enjoy.
Bacon Grilled Cheese in a Cast-Iron Skillet
- 8 slices bread homemade or bakery-made
- 8 slices bacon
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 oz pepper jack cheese
- 1.5 Tbsp mayonnaise
- Fry bacon: Place cast-iron pan over medium heat. Cut bacon slices in half, and place 4-6 halves into cold pan to begin to render fat. Fry in batches until brown and crisp without burning. Remove to paper towel-lined plate. Reserve fat.
- While bacon is frying, slice bread to half-inch thickness. Slice cheese, approximately 8 thin slices per sandwich (4 cheddar, 4 pepper jack).
- Assemble sandwiches: Top 4 slices of bread each with 4 slices of cheese (2 of each type), then a layer of 3-4 pieces of crisp bacon. Add 4 more slices of cheese, then the last piece of bread to each sandwich. Spread thin layer of mayo on outside of top piece of bread.
- Turn heat in cast-iron pan down to medium-low. Coat bottom with half of the fat reserved from frying bacon. Place two sandwiches in the pan, mayo side down. Spread mayo on top slice of bread.
- Cook sandwiches, watching closely, until first side has is golden brown. Flip carefully with tongs. Cover pan for two minutes unless cheese has already melted. Cook second side until golden brown and remove to a cutting board.
- Pour remaining fat into the pan and repeat with the second two sandwiches. Slice sandwiches and serve!