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A Garlic & Herb Grilled Cheese with Mozzarella is as Perfect as It Gets!
Grilled cheese is one of those foods that instantly makes me happy. It always makes me feel like a kid again, since gooey grilled cheese was one of the first foods I fell in love with as a kid. (Can you tell I grew up in Wisconsin? 🧀🥰)
The grilled cheese sandwiches of my childhood were as simple as it gets – melty American cheese on toasty white bread – so this particular garlic herb mozzarella grilled cheese recipe is slightly more elevated. But I’d even go as far as to say that is my IDEAL grilled cheese sandwich.
This mozzarella grilled cheese recipe is so special because of its layers of flavor. The sandwiches are stuffed with a blend of mozzarella & fragrant basil for a filling that’s just as flavorful as it is ooey-gooey. To take it up a few more notches, the bread is slathered in parmesan garlic butter, which turns perfectly golden as the grilled cheese toasts. Lastly, an extra touch of grated parmesan creates a crispy frico effect for even more crunch.
It’s everything a grilled cheese sandwich should be – buttery, crispy, golden, & gooey. I mean – does it get much better than that?!
Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe Highlights
This gooey mozzarella grilled cheese is the BEST. You’ll love it because it’s…
MELTY & FLAVORFUL. A mix of melty mozzarella & fresh basil creates an especially flavorful & gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Prepare yourself for an epic cheese pull!
GOLDEN BROWN & CRISPY. Parmesan garlic butter turns the mozzarella grilled cheese brown & crispy as it toasts. Add extra parmesan for a deliciously crispy frico effect! The parmesan crusted grilled cheese is the perfect contrast to its melty center!
PERFECT FOR DIPPING. These sandwiches are built for dunking & dipping! Serve your mozzarella grilled cheese with a big bowl of soup or warm tomato sauce to bring it all together.
Seriously the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Gooey Garlic Herb Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Like most grilled cheese sandwiches, this recipe comes together with just a handful of simple ingredients. In addition, a few flavor boosters like fresh herbs & garlic butter are what really take this mozzarella grilled cheese over the top.
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
To make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich you need…
- Sliced bread of choice – I prefer a softer sliced bread for making grilled cheese because it can stand up to all the fillings & also easily crisps up in the pan. My go-to is Dave’s Killer Bread (especially DKB White Bread Done Right – my fave!). If you want to try something a little fancier, fresh brioche bread or sourdough bread are also fabulous choices!
- Mozzarella cheese – I suggest using low-moisture mozzarella for an especially crispy grilled cheese. Fresh mozzarella cheese is so moist that it inhibits the crispiness of the sandwich, so I recommend buying a block of cheese & grating it fresh for optimal meltiness.
- Fresh basil – I love adding fresh herbs into this mozzarella grilled cheese for even more flavor. Pick fresh basil leaves from your herb garden or grab some from the store.
- Parmesan garlic butter – This blend of unsalted butter, finely chopped garlic, fresh basil, & grated parmesan cheese is amazing for slathering all over the outside of your grilled cheese. Don’t skip it!
The Secret to Next-Level Crispy Grilled Cheese: Garlic Butter
This garlicky parmesan butter is key to a perfectly crispy & golden brown grilled cheese. Slathering the butter on each slice of bread adds extra flavor & helps the parmesan crusted grilled cheese turn nice & golden as it toasts. It’s SO simple but takes the whole grilled cheese experience to new heights.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Is mayo or butter better for grilled cheese? ⇢ While there’s some debate out there about butter vs. mayo for a grilled cheese sandwich, I’m team butter all the way. I’ve tested both options side by side & found that mayonnaise browns a little too quickly, can leave a greasy texture, & adds a cooked egg odor that I’m not all that into. IMHO, butter yields a better-tasting grilled cheese sandwich, hands-down.
Garlic Parmesan Butter. ⇢ To make the parmesan garlic butter, mix softened unsalted butter with finely chopped garlic, fresh basil, & finely grated parmesan. The parmesan makes a big difference in a nice & crispy parmesan crusted grilled cheese. Why? ⇢ Parmesan turns golden & beautifully crispy as it cooks, creating a deliciously crispy frico effect on the outside of the sandwich. It’s absolutely delicious!
How to Make Italian-Inspired Grilled Cheese with Mozzarella
While the flavors in this basil mozzarella grilled cheese may be fancier than the grilled cheese sandwiches of your childhood, don’t worry – the method is still very simple. A few flavor-boosting ingredients make mozzarella grilled cheese extra delicious, all while keeping prep quick & easy.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Like most grilled cheese sandwiches, it’s best to eat your parmesan crusted grilled cheese right out of the pan. Give the cheese a second to cool before slicing, then watch as the ooey-gooey mozzarella center perfectly melts.
For the ultimate casual weeknight meal, enjoy your mozzarella grilled cheese with a side for dunking & dipping. These sandwiches are fantastic dipped into Roasted Tomato Soup or Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup. In a pinch, a cup of warm tomato sauce also works great!
If you’d like to add a bit more, feel free to pair your mozzarella grilled cheese with another Italian-inspired side. This Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad & this simple Burrata Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto are both delicious. You can also never go wrong with a fresh green salad tossed in our tangy All-Purpose Vinaigrette, bringing a nice bit of freshness to balance all the cheesy goodness.
I can’t wait for you to try this Gooey Garlic Herb Mozzarella Grilled Cheese! As a lifelong grilled cheese lover, it’s really the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich, & I think you’re going to be just as obsessed as we are!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
Built for Dunking!
Must-Try Soup Recipes
I’ve had a lifelong love affair with grilled cheese, & this Gooey Garlic Herb Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich is what I consider to be the ideal grilled cheese sandwich.
It’s just as simple to make as a classic childhood grilled cheese, but 3 well-considered additions take it completely over-the-top:
- For the most epic cheese pull, we’ve opted for naturally melty & ooey-gooey mozzarella. Be sure to use low-moisture varieties instead of fresh mozzarella cheese, & it’s always a good idea to buy it buy the block & grate it yourself vs using pre-shredded bagged cheese. Since mozzarella is pretty mild, tossing the grated cheese with an abundance of fresh basil helps amp up the flavor.
- For an especially toasty & golden sandwich, we opt for slathering the bread in garlic parmesan butter. Not only does it build another layer of rich flavor, it ensures crispy, golden-brown results.
- To double down on the cheesiness, each side of the sandwiches is finished with a sprinkling of grated parmesan, which creates a crispy frico parmesan crust as the sandwiches toast. It’s absolute perfection!
For the ultimate grilled cheese experience, be sure to pair your sandwich with a warm bowl of soup – you can’t go wrong with Roasted Red Pepper Soup or Roasted Tomato Soup. Next-level comfort food, for the win!
- 8 pieces sliced bread of choice
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened & spreadable
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan
- 12 ounces part-skim mozzarella, freshly grated (see Recipe Notes)
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Prepare the herbed mozzarella & garlic butter: To a small bowl, add the softened butter, garlic, & grated parmesan. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Mix with a spatula to combine well & set aside. To a medium bowl, add the freshly grated mozzarella & finely chopped fresh basil. Toss to combine well & set aside.
- Assemble the mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches: Generously spread the prepared garlic parmesan butter over 1 side of each slice of bread. Place ¼ of the grated mozzarella cheese (about ¾ cup) on the unbuttered side of 1 slice of bread, then sandwich a second slice over top such that the buttered side faces out. Repeat 3 times to build 4 total sandwiches.
- Cook the grilled cheese sandwiches: Working in batches as needed, place the sandwiches in a preheated nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Grill 1-2 minutes per side & flip halfway through, or until the cheese is melted & the bread is as golden brown as desired. If the sandwiches brown before the cheese completely melts, either reduce heat to slow cooking or cover the skillet with a lid to create steam & help the cheese melt.
- Serve: Slice & serve the mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches immediately. I love to pair these sandwiches with Homemade Roasted Tomato Soup for dipping; jarred marinara is also a great option – just be sure to heat it slightly before serving. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Butter vs mayo for a grilled cheese sandwich: After conducting side-by-side tests, it’s my opinion that using butter yields a hands-down better grilled cheese sandwich. Mayo browns a little too quickly, lends a greasy texture, & leaves behind the odor of cooked eggs. If you like a nice crust on your grilled cheese, the use of parmesan in this particular recipe helps a ton as it creates an absolutely crave-worthy parmesan frico effect on the outside of the sandwich as it melts. Feel free to grate extra fresh parmesan over top of the buttered bread before cooking to double down on this crispiness!
- Mozzarella cheese: For the ultimate gooey & melty mozzarella grilled cheese, be sure to use low-moisture mozzarella (vs fresh mozzarella, which has such a high moisture content that it prevents the sandwich from getting golden brown & crisp). Since store-bought pre-shredded cheese is almost always coated with an anti-caking agent to prevent it from clumping (which in turn prevents the cheese from melting beautifully – the ultimate goal of a gooey grilled cheese sandwich!), I highly suggest buying a whole block of cheese & grating it fresh. Organic Valley Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella is my personal favorite.
Keywords: mozzarella grilled cheese, grilled cheese recipe, fancy grilled cheese, adult grilled cheese recipe
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.