Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by burnt grilled cheese. For me, that's been, oh, only about a thousand times! I can never get the interior melted just right, or the exterior perfectly golden, without burning the whole thing to a crisp. The number of times I've scraped off blackened crumbs in order to salvage a sandwich is too many to count. So recently, instead of turning to my not-so-trusty skillet, I popped my grilled cheese in my air fryer, and wow. Call it culinary genius, or call it a cooking rut, but after air frying grilled cheese, I'm never going back. The cheese melts within minutes, the bread gets crispy, and it's almost impossible to burn. When I was recipe testing, I left my sandwich in for 20 minutes, and it was still perfectly golden brown!
There is one weird trick that this recipe calls for in order to get the bread a nice toasty brown. If you're satisfied with grilled cheese that's crispy on the outside but not necessarily brown, you can skip it. However, I know that I love toasty flavor in addition to crunch. If you make this grilled cheese on the air-fryer grate, it will get crispy, but it won't brown very much. To solve that, I first cook it on the bottom of my air fryer — I have a Ninja Foodi 2-Basket Air Fryer, so the grates are removable — then flip it and finish cooking on the grates. Cooking the grilled cheese at the bottom of the air fryer traps moisture within that slice of bread, which makes it brown faster when it's flipped and exposed to heat from the heating element at the top. All air fryers are a little different, so I hope this trick works for you. Regardless of whether you have removable grates or not, you'll still get a crispy, perfectly melted grilled cheese — it just might not get as brown.
Other than the air-fryer trick — and again, if you don't mind crunch without a toasty color, you can just pop this sandwich in your air fryer for a few minutes — this grilled cheese is super simple to make. I sliced up a block of cheddar on whole wheat, because that was what I had on hand, but feel free to use your favorite sliced cheese and bread pairing. You can also add whatever add-ins you like to this grilled cheese. The beauty of the air fryer is that even the thickest slice of ham or crispiest veggie still gets piping hot.
Once it's assembled, brush one side with butter, and place the sandwich (buttered-side down) at the bottom of your air fryer (removing the grate, if possible). Butter the side that's facing up, and cook for five minutes.
Next, return the grate to the air fryer, and flip the sandwich, so the side that was touching the bottom of the air fryer is now facing up. Cook for three to five more minutes, or until the top is browned and crispy.
Remove from the air fryer, serve warm, and enjoy!
Feel free to add whatever ingredients and add-ins you like — the air fryer will heat them perfectly!
- 2 slices of your favorite bread
3-4 slices cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese for grilled cheese)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Remove the grate from your air fryer, and preheat it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (or the lowest heat setting). If your air fryer doesn't have a removable grate, no worries, just preheat it. (There's no need to spray the air fryer for this recipe.)
- Assemble your grilled cheese by placing the cheese between the two slices of bread. Then, brush about half the melted butter on the outside of one piece of bread.
- Place the sandwich, butter-side-down, in the bottom of your air fryer. Brush the remaining butter on the side that's facing up. Close the air fryer, and cook for five minutes.
- After five minutes, remove the grilled cheese from the air fryer. The cheese should be starting to melt, and the bread should be slightly crispy but not browned.
- Put the grate back in the air fryer, and put the sandwich on the grate so the side that was touching the bottom of the air fryer is now facing up.
- Air fry for 3-5 minutes, or until the top is brown and crispy. Serve warm.
- Main Dishes
- 1 sandwich
- Prep Time
- 5 minutes
- Cook Time
- 10 minutes
- Total Time
- 14 minutes, 59 seconds