What Are the Different Types of Cheese Sandwich?

Kristin Wood

With a little creativity, cooks can create several different recipes when serving a cheese sandwich. While the traditional grilled cheese is a classic choice, adding a little meat to the mix could transform the cheese sandwich into a tuna or patty melt. Cold cheese sandwiches, such as a ham and cheese or a vegetarian sub, are also filling lunch options. For those looking for a more international cheese sandwich, the Italian cheese panini is not a difficult meal to put together.

An open face havarti cheese sandiwich.
An open face havarti cheese sandiwich.

The grilled cheese sandwich is a lunch and dinner option that gained its popularity in America during the 1960s. It consists of two pieces of bread with cheese melted in between. Although called a grilled cheese, grilling is not the only way this bread can be cooked. The bread is often fried in a pan, or toasted in a toaster oven. Other names for the grilled cheese are toasted cheese or a cheese toastie.

Sharp cheddar cheese is used in many cheese sandwiches.
Sharp cheddar cheese is used in many cheese sandwiches.

Originally, the grilled cheese was on open sandwich, only requiring one slice of bread with the cheese melted on top. Instead of using the traditional slice of American cheese, the open sandwich typically had shredded cheddar cheese melting on top of it. Not all cheese sandwiches require heat, however. A common cold cheese sandwich is the ham and cheese. Mustard and mayonnaise can be added, along with lettuce, pickles or peppers. Ham and cheese typically goes with either sliced bread or sandwich breads — some people might place it in between two buns or on a croissant.

Croissants can be used to make a cheese sandwich.
Croissants can be used to make a cheese sandwich.

To create a more filling cheese sandwich, individuals can put together a patty melt. This meal still uses regular sliced bread, but it also adds a hamburger patty and smothered onions. Cooks then soften the onions in butter in a pan before covering the patty and melted cheese with them.

Panini can be a type of cheese sandwich.
Panini can be a type of cheese sandwich.

Tuna melts are another hot cheese sandwich featuring a meaty filling. This recipe combines tuna and mayonnaise along with the melted cheese on grilled bread. The tuna can also be replaced with chicken salad, roast beef or turkey.

In Italy, a cheese panini can refer to any cheese sandwich, but in the United States, this commonly refers to a specific pressed sandwich. Along with the cheese, a panini can also hold various meats and vegetables. The sandwich is often cooked using a panini press which toasts both sides of the sandwich simultaneously.

Although the majority of cheese sandwiches feature cheddar or American cheese, substituting these traditional choices for an alternative cheese could liven up a typical lunch routine. Pepper jack cheese could suit those looking for something spicy. Provolone cheese provides a sharper taste, and low-fat varieties could make cheese sandwiches an option for those on a diet.

Ham and cheese are classic cold sandwich ingredients.
Ham and cheese are classic cold sandwich ingredients.

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Discussion Comments

In our house, we have a sandwich day every week, where we just have sandwiches for dinner and a side dish like potato salad or soup. The kids love sandwiches and they will eat them without a fuss, so it's also my favorite day of the week for cooking.

But I try to think of a different kind of sandwich for every week so that we don't get bored. Like last week, we had turkey sandwiches and this week, it's going to be toasted cheese sandwich with fresh mozzarella.


I'm very simple and old-fashioned when it comes to sandwiches. I like either grilled cheese or a ham and cheese sandwich, both with sharp Cheddar. I grew up eating these and I still love them. When I'm sick, the only meal I can think of is a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.


A tuna melt is my favorite type of sandwich. I don't know if the classic tuna melt is made this way, but I like mine with tuna salad and melted Provolone, Mozzarella, or Cheddar cheese on top. I also need to have hot peppers in there.

I think it's delicious and it's also very filling. When I have a tuna melt for lunch, I don't get hungry again until dinner. It's a protein packed sandwich.

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