DIY Grilled Cheese Night

Grilled Cheese Bar

Don’t have it in you to pull together a “real meal,” but aren’t up for take out, either? Well, it’s easy to set up a DIY Grilled Cheese Bar and check dinner off your to-do list. You probably already have the two key ingredients that can serve as a springboard for supper: bread and cheese. Plus, this is a meal that hits all the right buttons for family-friendly eats: fun, delicious, easy, and wholesome.

DIY Grilled Cheese Night.

Here’s how it works: You gather all the fixings, everyone else custom designs their own dinner. Pair it with a generous salad or veggie side. It’s just right for a weekday meal or can be a fun way to entertain. Line up your grilled cheese goodies, invite friends, pop open a bottle of wine.

That’s it.

grilled cheese sandwich made in the waffle iron

How to set up a Grilled Cheese Bar

1. Pull out whatever bread you have on hand and set it out on one end of your grilled cheese bar: Sliced whole wheat, levain, walnut bread, English muffins, German rye, bagels, cinnamon raisin, pita, crusty French, you name it.

2. Set out the cheeses. Grate firm cheeses such as Cheddar, Gruyère, Parmesan, and Monterey Jack.  Crumble or spread softer cheeses such as feta and chevre.  Any variety of cheese will do. Even a wedge of Brie can be sliced and grilled into oozy deliciousness.

3. Rummage through the fridge and fruit bowl for grilled cheese-friendly produce: spinach, cucumber, mushrooms, broccoli raab, tomato, avocado, pear, and apple. Sauté those that demand it, slice the rest up raw.

4. Set out any cold cuts you like: ham, turkey, and prosciutto work well here.

5. Arrange any number of condiments and flavorful extras: mustard, pesto, sliced pickles, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, roasted red peppers, olive tapenade, fresh basil or thyme.

6. Invite family or friends or both to pick and choose among the offerings and assemble their sandwiches. A little guidance is good with younger kids. Littler appetites may do just fine with a half sandwich.

12 Grilled Cheese Combos that Work 

Here are 12 grilled cheese sandwiches that work deliciously or make up your own. It’s all good.

  • Caramelized onion, Cheddar, and sun-dried tomatoes
  • Tomato, basil, Mozzarella
  • Goat cheese, fig, and arugula
  • Olive tapenade and Gruyere
  • Turkey, Havarti and sliced cornichons
  • Grilled vegetables and Fontina
  • Sliced apple, ham, and Swiss
  • Sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and Gruyère
  • Turkey, pesto, Provolone
  • Pepper Jack and pickled jalapeños
  • Sliced pear and Brie
  • Tallegio and sautéed broccoli raab

Grilled Cheese Sandwich in a Skillet

For more sandwich ideas, check out

Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese

Rotisserie Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Muhammara

Hanoi Chicken Banh Mi

Waffle Iron Ham, Cheese, and Spinach Panini

Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Broiled Tomatoes by Sara Haas

DIY Grilled Cheese Bar

This DIY Grilled Cheese Bar can be scaled up or down depending on how many are in your crowd. Figure you'll need 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of cheese per sandwich (depending on personal preference and what else you are piling on there). Make a generous crunchy green salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette to serve on the side.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword diy grilled cheese, grilled cheese bar
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Author Katie Morford


  • Favorite sliced bread , such as levain, pullman's, sourdough, or walnut
  • Favorite sliced or grated firm cheeses , such as Cheddar, Gruyere, or Havarti
  • Favorite soft cheese , such as goat cheese, Brie, or feta
  • Sandwich-friendly vegetables , such as roasted red peppers, fresh or sautéed leafy greens, roasted vegetables, or sliced tomatoes
  • Sandwich-friendly fruits , such as sliced apple, pear, or figs
  • Sliced cold cuts , such as ham, turkey, or salami
  • Little extras , such as sun-dried tomatoes or sliced cornichons, pickled jalapeños, chopped kimchi, sauerkraut
  • Condiments , such as mustard, pesto, or tapenade
  • Butter or olive oil for greasing the skillet


  1. Set up your grilled cheese bar by arranging your ingredients on the counter, from bread through condiments.
  2. Take turns having everyone assemble their sandwiches using the ingredients of their choice. Be sure the cheese covers at least one side of the bread
  3. Put a large cast iron or other heavy skillet on the stove over medium. Grease the skillet lightly with butter or olive oil and cook each sandwich on both sides until the bread is golden and the cheese oozes.
  4. Alternatively, use a panini press or waffle iron to griddle the sandwiches.



04.02.2013 at8:38 AM #

Hari Chandana

Nicely composed shot.. looks great !!

04.02.2013 at8:38 AM #

Katie Morford

Hard to go wrong when it comes to grilled cheese!

04.02.2013 at10:56 AM #

Margaret-Ellen Jeffreys

My roommates Lauren and Tia were just married a couple of weeks ago. In the process of planning the wedding and our just living together for a few months, our groups of girlfriends are starting to merge, which is a fantastically fun thing, and it’s always helpful to have as many allies as you can in NYC. 🙂 We have talked about doing a wine and cheese night at our place, but this post decided for us–we’re doing BYOB/BYOGC night, and you should see the likes it’s already getting on facebook, especially from all the jealous guy friends who want to be a part of it too. A giant pot luck DIY grilled cheese bar may be the best party idea anyone has had in a long time! 🙂

04.02.2013 at10:56 AM #

Katie Morford

So fun! Send a photo if you think of it to [email protected]. I’d love to see the line up of goodies. Enjoy!

04.02.2013 at3:31 PM #


One of our favorite dinners of last resort, though really it should be more frequent – nutritious if done thoughtfully and easy!

04.02.2013 at4:36 PM #

Margaret-Ellen Jeffreys

Katie, we definitely will! Everyone’s already getting excited about it. 🙂

04.04.2013 at10:07 AM #

Trina Robertson

Katie, great idea for a dinner bar activity. I’m borrowing a suggestion from one of your earlier blogs. In addition to the cast iron pan, set out the waffle maker and you’ll have twice the sandwiches cooking in half the time! Plus little ones will find it very fun!

04.04.2013 at10:07 AM #

Katie Morford

So smart to think of that! Thanks for chiming in.

04.09.2013 at8:21 AM #

Lisa | With Style and Grace

we love doing something similar – sure makes for a fun and easy dinner!

04.13.2013 at5:07 PM #


Great combos. I like pickles on mine. May have to try the sun dried tomatoes. Pesto may add some extra flavor.

07.18.2013 at8:18 AM #

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01.11.2014 at9:41 PM #


I started using a waffle iron for making grilled cheese. It works well-quicker than using a pan and makes the bread crunchy and extra good.

01.11.2014 at9:41 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Denise. That’s a cute idea…to set out a waffle iron on the DIY grilled cheese “bar”.

01.08.2016 at2:09 PM #


What a fun idea! Love this, I’d probably do a pot-luck grilled cheese night with friends! & great photos

01.14.2016 at7:52 AM #

Meal Makeover Mom Janice

Caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms on my grilled cheese, please! Fabulous photo. 🙂

01.14.2016 at7:52 AM #

Katie Morford

Yes, please. That sounds like a delicious combo, Janice. Thanks for the comment.

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