Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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This grilled cheese sandwich with spicy vegetable relish is rich, savory, and irresistibly delicious. Pair this melty grilled cheese with a warm bowl of tomato soup for the ultimate lunch or dinner to satisfy the whole family.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Is there anything better than a classic grilled cheese sandwich? Well, yes. This grilled cheese sandwich with spicy vegetable relish combines the mouthwatering simplicity of the iconic dish with an easy homemade spread that elevates it to the next level. I know everyone thinks theirs is the best grilled cheese sandwich recipe, but I’m prepared to change your mind with this one. 

This fantastic grilled cheese sandwich is inspired by the Chakalaka and Cheddar Braaribroodjies recipe from Hawa Hassan with Juila Turshen In Bibi’s Kitchen Cookbook. When I was thinking of the perfect recipe to bring to the Juneteenth celebration, this one immediately came to mind. 

A few years back, I was a New Orleans ambassador in Durban, South Africa, and I connected with the culture instantly. Since Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery, I know that my South African brothers and sisters would love to share in this meal to celebrate the end of Apartheid.

This perfect grilled cheese combines grated gouda and fontina cheeses with smoked sausage, tomato-based vegetable relish, and crispy artisan bread for an explosion of rich and savory flavors in every bite. Anyone who doesn’t think of grilled cheese as a gourmet dish has never tried this one. 

Serve it up alongside a bowl of tomato soup for a classic pairing, or mix things up with any of your favorite side dishes. Save the relish to enjoy with sandwiches, burgers, grilled chicken or fish, and hot dogs all week long. Now, who’s ready for a seriously impressive cheese pull?!

What’s Juneteenth?

Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with 18 other Black culinary creators. This year, we are honoring 19 Black American cookbook authors by recreating their recipes, amplifying their work, and sharing our connections to Freedom Day. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. Share these recipes with your family and help us continue the legacy of celebrating progress. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2022 on Instagram.
This collaboration is brought to you by Eat the Culture.

Key Ingredients

Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients you’ll need to bring this perfect grilled cheese sandwich to life. 

  • Artisan Bread: I use the golden age boule bread from Whole Foods because it’s made fresh and looks amazing from the poppyseeds. You can use your favorite bread like a French Bread, Italian loaf, or Texas Toast. 
  • Cheese: I find that the best grilled cheese sandwiches have at least two types of cheeses, which is why I went with a smoked gouda and fontina. The gouda is creamy with a sharp and smoky flavor, while the fontina is mild and creamy. 
  • Mayonnaise: My South African friends taught me to use mayonnaise to get a beautiful golden brown crust on the outside of this incredible grilled cheese sandwich. If you don’t like mayonnaise, feel free to use butter instead.
  • Spicy Vegetable Relish: This grilled cheese sandwich is topped with a homemade relish made from canned tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, bell peppers, carrots, and cabbage with some lovely spices for added flavor.
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How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Are you ready to learn how to make grilled cheese that your friends and family are guaranteed to line up over at your Juneteenth cookout later this month? Let’s get into it.

Step 1: Prepare the Spicy Vegetable Relish

Preheat the grill to 400-450°F. In a food processor, add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger. Pulse 7 times until vegetables are finely chopped. Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat and add oil. 

Once hot, add vegetables and cook until the vegetables soften. In a small bowl, combine curry powder, salt, cumin, and coriander. Add ½ of the spice mix to the vegetables. 

While the vegetables cook, add bell peppers, carrots and coleslaw to a food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped. Add the vegetable mix, tomatoes, and the remaining spice mix to the vegetables in the skillet. 

Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat, occasionally stirring until the vegetables are tender and the majority of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Step 2: Make the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

While the relish cooks, rub the smoked sausage with oil. Cook over direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side until slightly charred. Let the sausage cool for 5 minutes, then slice into four parts and split down the middle. 

Once relish is ready, combine the cheeses in a medium bowl. Spread a tablespoon of mayonnaise on each slice of bread. On one piece of bread, add ¼ cup of cheese, 1 heaping tablespoon of relish, ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper, 2 slices of onion, ¼ cup of cheese and top with a slice of bread with mayonnaise side facing up. Repeat until all sandwiches are prepped. 

Your grill should be between 325-350°F degrees. Place each sandwich close to the heat but not directly over it; cover and cook for 2 minutes per side. Use a spatula to press the sandwich down to smash everything together until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately with smoked sausage on the side. 

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Recipe Tips & Tricks

Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you make the best grilled cheese sandwich: 

  • Want to load up on toppings? Try making an open-faced grilled cheese and piling on your favorite vegetables, meats, and cheeses.
  • Make sure to avoid burning your sandwich by keeping it away from direct heat as it cooks on the grill. Ideally, the grilled cheese should cook close to the heat source without being directly over it. Rotate your sandwich if you notice one side is browning faster than the other.
  • Not confident with your grilling skills? No worries. You can cook this dish on a cast-iron skillet over the stove and still make a great grilled cheese sandwich.
  • If you want to switch up the bread, try using Texas toast, sourdough, brioche, ciabatta, or baguette. Any fresh bread that you prefer will work here. 

Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Toppings

Wondering how to elevate a grilled cheese sandwich to take it to the next level? As you may or may not know, grilled cheese sandwiches are wildly versatile dishes. Because melted cheese and bread work well with just about anything, there are plenty of ways to switch up this dish to suit your flavor preferences. 

Here are some of the best grilled cheese sandwich toppings to try out:

  • Bacon
  • Sliced avocado
  • Fresh tomato
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Fruit compote or jam
  • Caramelized onions
  • Thinly sliced pears or apples
  • Fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, parsley, etc.)
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Grilled Cheese FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about this perfect grilled cheese sandwich recipe: 

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Because of the nature of the dish, it’s best served right away. That being said, you can easily store leftover grilled cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. To reheat, simply reheat the sandwich one side at a time on a cast iron skillet until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasty. 

Is mayo or butter better for grilled cheese?

This is a matter of personal preference, but in my opinion, mayonnaise reigns supreme when making a classic grilled cheese sandwich. Butter makes the sandwich greasy and sometimes soggy, while mayonnaise helps achieve that perfect golden brown exterior. You don’t even have to like mayonnaise to love the way your grilled cheese tastes when it’s made this way!

Grilled Chesese and spicy Relish1
Which cheese is best for grilled cheese sandwiches?

You can use just about any creamy cheese you like to make a classic grilled cheese. I highly recommend using at least two different cheeses for the best results, but feel free to use any kind you prefer. More great options include sharp cheddar cheese, American cheese, Monterey jack, mozzarella, and havarti. 

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Latest Recipe Video:

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More Delicious Juneteenth Cookout Recipes

Looking for more great dishes to serve at your Juneteenth cookout? Try these next:

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A Love Letter To The Authors

Dear Hawa and Julia, 

I genuinely thank you for writing this book. Ever since my first time landing in Africa, I’ve always felt a special connection to the land. Whether from a layover in Dakar and Joburg or spending weeks in Durban. This book opened up the entire Africa one bite at a time, and reading the stories makes me eager to return so I can try all these delicious meals passed down through the generations. 

Thanks, 

Kenneth

Full Participant List

Purple and White Potato Salad prepared by Big Delicious Life from the book Sweet Potato Soul

Jam Cake prepared by Britney Breaks Bread from the book Jubilee 

Mini Red Velvet Cake by Chenée Today from the book Life Is What You Bake It 

Soy Lime Beef Stir Fry by Coined Cuisine from the book Cooking Solo

Pinto Beans with Smoked Neck Bones by Cooks with Soul from the book Bludso’s Bbq Cookbook

Black Pepper Strawberry Slab Pie by Dash of Jazz from the book Watermelon and Red Birds

Buffalo Cheezy Sweet Potato Fries by Flights and Foods from the book Unbelievably Vegan 

Grilled Pork Porterhouse Steaks  by Food Fidelity from the book Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day

Barbecue Baked Beans with Red Spice by Geo’s Table from the book Son of a Southern Chef

Jamaican Beef Patty by Her Mise En Place from the book My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Spicy Vegetable Relish by Kenneth Temple from the book In Bibi’s Kitchen

Red Velvet Cake with Blackberry Frosting by Lenox Bakery  from the book Grandbaby Cakes

Very Strawberry Shortcake by Mekio And The Dish from the book The New Orleans Cook Book

Pig-Pickin’ Cake by My Sweet Precision from the book Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking 

Blackberry Peach Crumble Pie by Peaches2Peaches from the book Carla Hall’s Soul Food

African Soul Rice Salad with Crispy Collards by Savor & Sage from the book The Cooking Gene

Grape-Tarragon Spritzer by Sense and Edibility from the book Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora

All-Green Everything Salad w/ Creamy Sage Dressing by That Green Lyfe from the book Vegetable Kingdom

Rum Rum Punch by This Worthey Life from the book The Red Rooster Cookbook

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Grilled Chesese and spicy Relish

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Spicy Vegetable Relish

Kenneth Temple
This grilled cheese sandwich with spicy vegetable relish is rich, savory, and irresistibly delicious. Pair this melty grilled cheese with a warm bowl of tomato soup for the ultimate lunch or dinner to satisfy the whole family.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 1316 kcal

Ingredients
  

Spicy Vegetable Relish (Chakalaka):

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 small red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 3 large carrots halved and chopped
  • 2 cups shredded coleslaw
  • 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons white vinegar

Grilled Cheese:

  • 8 oz. smoked gouda grated
  • 8 oz. fontina cheese grated
  • 8 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 8 slices artisan sandwich bread
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 thin slices onion
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 12 oz. smoked sausage

Instructions
 

  • Relish: Preheat grill to 400-450°F. In a food processor, add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger. Pulse 7 times until vegetables are finely chopped. Turn the heat to medium in a large heavy bottom skillet add oil, once hot add vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables soften. In a small bowl combine curry powder, salt, cumin and coriander. Add ½ of the spice mix to the vegetables.
  • While the vegetables cook in a food processor, add bell peppers, carrots and coleslaw. Pulse 7 times until vegetables are finely chopped. Add the vegetable mix, tomatoes and the remaining spice mix to the vegetables, cook for 30 minutes, over a med-low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and majority of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Grilled Cheese: While relish cooks, rub smoked sausage with oil. Cook over direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side until a slight char has been achieved. Let sausage cool for 5 minutes then slice in four parts and split down the middle.
  • Once relish is ready. In a medium bowl combine cheese. Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise on each slice of bread, on one piece of bread add ¼ cup of cheese, 1 heaping tablespoon of relish, ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper, 2 slices of onion, ¼ cup of cheese and top with slice of bread with mayonnaise side facing up. Repeat until all sandwiches are made.
  • Your grill should be between 325-350°F degree. Place each sandwich close to the heat but not directly over. Cover and cook for 2 minutes per side, using a spatula press sandwich down to smash everything together before until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately with smoked sausage on the side.

Notes

Recipe Tips & Tricks
Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you make the best grilled cheese sandwich: 
  • Want to load up on toppings? Try making an open-faced grilled cheese and piling on your favorite vegetables, meats, and cheeses.
  • Make sure to avoid burning your sandwich by keeping it away from direct heat as it cooks on the grill. Ideally, the grilled cheese should cook close to the heat source without being directly over it. Rotate your sandwich if you notice one side is browning faster than the other.
  • Not confident with your grilling skills? No worries. You can cook this dish on a cast-iron skillet over the stove and still make a great grilled cheese sandwich.
  • If you want to switch up the bread, try using Texas toast, sourdough, brioche, ciabatta, or baguette. Any fresh bread that you prefer will work here. 
Storage
Because of the nature of the dish, it’s best served right away. That being said, you can easily store leftover grilled cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. To reheat, simply reheat the sandwich one side at a time on a cast iron skillet until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasty. 

Nutrition

Calories: 1316kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 52gFat: 90gSaturated Fat: 34gPolyunsaturated Fat: 20gMonounsaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 203mgSodium: 3823mgPotassium: 1658mgFiber: 13gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 10014IUVitamin C: 150mgCalcium: 998mgIron: 7mg
Keyword best grilled cheese sandwich, grilled cheese
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