Anyone else grow up heating bread and cheese in the microwave on unsupervised afternoons at home? The results were always terrible, with mushy bread and melted cheese that got everywhere — but hey, you had a hot cheese sandwich to hold you over until dinnertime, and you didn’t have to turn on the stove.
Thinking back on those early ’90s afternoons, I really wish the air fryer had been around. I could have made the perfect grilled cheese sandwiches that my own kids make today, which turn out incredible every single time — even when they use pre-grated cheese and basic sandwich bread.
Suffice it to say that the air fryer is the answer to always crispy, always gooey grilled cheese sandwiches. Here’s how to make them — and maybe teach your kids to make them too.
How to make the best air fryer grilled cheese
One of the very best things about air frying grilled cheese sandwiches is that you can build your sandwich, set it in the air fryer, set the timer, and walk away. When you come back, you’ll have perfectly crispy bread and melted cheese.
Did I mention you can also use any type of bread or cheese? Both classic sandwich bread and slices of sourdough work great, as does everything in between. As for the cheese, a combination of a flavorful cheese like sharp cheddar and a nice melting cheese like Monterey Jack is ideal, but I’ve definitely watched my third-grader make one with a pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend and be perfectly happy with the results. In fact, you’ll want to shred the cheese no matter what variety you use — it helps it melt faster and gives you that delicious cheese pull as you tear into the sandwich.
You’ll build these sandwiches as you would any other grilled cheese, stacking buttered bread slices with layers of shredded cheese. Then, you’ll air fry the sandwich for about 7 minutes, flipping halfway through. In under 10 minutes, you’ll have a golden-brown, fail-proof grilled cheese without dirtying a pan or heating up the oven.
Air Fryer Grilled Cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces Monterey Jack, Gruyere or low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices rustic bread, or white or whole-wheat sandwich bread
1. Let 2 tablespoons unsalted butter sit at room temperature until softened. Heat an air fryer to 375 F.
2. Grate 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese and 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup each). Toss together in a medium bowl.
3. Spread the butter onto one side of each of 4 slices sandwich or rustic bread. Flip 2 of the slices over and divide the cheese evenly over these slices. Close the sandwiches with the remaining 2 bread slices butter-side up. Press the sandwiches slightly to close.
4. Air fry the grilled cheeses: place in the basket (do one at a time if they will not fit in a single layer with some space around them) and air fry for 3 minutes. Flip the sandwich and air fry until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.
(Meghan Splawn is the food editor for Kitchn’s Skills content at TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)