- I tried grilled-cheese recipes from Kylie Jenner, Chrissy Teigen, Joanna Gaines, and Antoni Porowski to see which was best.
- While Jenner’s was the most classic of the bunch, Gaines’ was the gooiest and most impressive, in my opinion.
- I think Teigen’s recipe is a fun way to elevate an otherwise simple grilled cheese.
- Both of Porowski’s sandwiches, however, would have benefited from a more savoury bread.
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Celebrity chefs love to share recipes, and we love to try them out. But it’s not just famous professional foodies like Ina Garten and Martha Stewart who are making their favourite dishes available to the world.
Kylie Jenner, Chrissy Teigen, Antoni Porowski, and Joanna Gaines have each shared numerous recipes with fans, but none are quite as free-spirited as their individual takes on the classic grilled-cheese sandwich.
Whether you’re a purist who sticks mostly to cheese and bread, as Jenner and Teigen do, or whether you’re looking to step it up a notch with fresh herbs or cured meat, like Gaines and Porowski, there’s sure to be a celebrity who has a tried-and-true recipe for your particular palate.
Though I found the recipes from Jenner, Teigen, and Gaines to each be perfect as-is for their own special occasions, I thought Porowski’s recipes could use a little tweaking when it comes to his choice of bread.
Kylie Jenner, Chrissy Teigen, Joanna Gaines, and Antoni Porowski have each claimed to know a thing or two about grilled cheese.
I put on my metaphorical cheese-eating hat and got to work on each of their recipes.
While Teigen’s and Gaines’ recipes come from their respective cookbooks, I found Jenner and Porowski had shared theirs on social media.
First, I tried my hand at the simple recipe shared by Kylie Jenner.
Jenner shared a YouTube tutorial of her simple grilled-cheese recipe back in 2016.
In the video, she acknowledged this recipe’s simplicity. With just American cheese, butter, sourdough bread, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, I knew this would be the most classic grilled cheese of the bunch.
Jenner’s first step involves a lot of butter because, as she says, “butter is life.”
The beauty mogul said she thought sourdough bread tasted the best, so I followed her lead and grabbed two slices.
Then came the step that makes this recipe different from all of the others: She butters the pan instead of the bread.
What I’ve seen with recipes from Ina Garten and Martha Stewart, and what I saw with each of the other celebrities whose recipes I sampled in this taste test alongside Jenner’s, is that they all slather their bread in butter or mayonnaise and then place an already-assembled sandwich into a dry skillet.
Jenner’s was the only recipe that seemed to build the sandwich in the pan as it was cooking rather than on the cutting board.
Next, I layered my cheese on one of the bread slices before adding salt and pepper.
While there was nothing new to me about using American cheese and even hot sauce in a grilled-cheese sandwich, the addition of salt and pepper was a surprise.
This step felt a little sophisticated, though I’m not sure I was even able to taste the seasonings in the end.
After about two minutes, I closed the sandwich and flipped it over to cook for another two minutes on the other side.
The reality-TV star opens her finished sandwich to put hot sauce inside.
I couldn’t wrap my head around Jenner’s final step in her grilled-cheese process. She said she would open the cooked sandwich and put hot sauce on the inside before closing, cutting, and serving it up.
I thought the idea of opening up an already-cooked cheesy sandwich was bizarre. Why would anyone want to ruin the gooeyness of perfectly melted cheese by ripping open the bread?
Though I still can’t get behind it, I did really appreciate the flavour of hot sauce on the inside.
Jenner’s recipe is a great step-by-step for a traditional grilled cheese.
“You know, it’s really nothing special, guys,” Jenner said in the video. “I just thought I’d share.”
She’s right – her recipe isn’t anything fancy. But it is tasty, and that’s what really matters here.
While I felt strange buttering the pan rather than the sourdough, this practice actually made for simultaneously crispy and soft pieces of bread – though they cooked unevenly.
Hot sauce on the inside definitely offers a different flavour application than hot sauce outside the sandwich would. Putting it between the bread slices allows each bite to be cheese and bread-forward with a hint of sauce rather than hot-sauce-forward followed by only textures of cheese and bread.
In my opinion, Jenner’s recipe is great for anyone who wants a simple, classic, easy-to-make grilled cheese that feels just a little bit more elevated than the white bread and melty cheese of childhood.
Next up was Chrissy Teigen’s jalapeño Parmesan-crusted grilled cheese from her book “Cravings: Hungry for More.”
For the model’s recipe, I used a box grater to get thick shreds of extra-sharp cheddar and a Microplane to get finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
I brought my butter down to room temperature so I could easily spread it on the sourdough bread Teigen’s recipe called for.
The last piece of prep work I did was slicing my jalapeño to create thin rings as per the “Cravings” author’s instructions.
Getting the jalapeño to stick to the bread wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
Teigen recommends slicing the hot pepper into thin slices. Her instructions say to butter one side of each piece of bread, arrange four or five jalapeño rings on each of the buttered surfaces, and then press down on the peppers to make them stick to the buttered bread.
At first I tried lightly pressing down, but I had to use my nails to really push hard until I felt the pepper rings break through the surface of the bread and integrate themselves within the soft loaf. I also found that the thicker pieces of pepper I sliced were easier to force into the bread.
I think this step would have been easier if my bread were slightly softer. I had stored it in my refrigerator to keep it fresh, and it wasn’t quite at room temperature by the time I was ready to make this sandwich.
Then, it was time to add both of the cheeses.
After pressing the buttered, jalapeño-covered sides of each bread slice into the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, I piled my shredded extra-sharp cheddar onto both of the dry sides.
The shredded cheese inside made it hard to close the sandwich before loading it into the pan. I think it would have made more sense to just put all the cheese on one side and close up the sandwich, but I followed the recipe and topped each slice with cheese before stacking the bread.
Teigen’s recipe instructs home cooks to put a lid over the pan.
The recipe calls for a two- to three-minute cook time on each side, but I’d recommend simply keeping an eye on your sandwich and flipping it when the cheese starts to bubble and the bread starts to brown.
Covering the pan seemed to help the cheddar melt faster, which meant I was less likely to burn my Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Teigen’s was the only recipe out of the five that called for covering the pan.
This was a seemingly simple yet super-tasty sandwich, in my opinion.
I think Teigen’s sandwich is a great way to raise the bar slightly on your grilled-cheese game and impress a guest. This recipe is to grilled cheese what the colour black is to jeans – it holds onto its casual identity while presenting itself as slightly more sophisticated.
The Parm formed a flavorful crust and complemented the cheddar really well.
Though my jalapeño slices added more flavour than they did heat, that may have been because my particular pepper wasn’t that hot to begin with. If you want to make sure you get some spice on your sandwich, I’d suggest buying a few peppers and tasting them for heat while raw.
Joanna Gaines’ recipe was less conventional than the first two I tried.
Gaines wrote up her recipe for grilled Havarti, tomato, and basil sandwiches in her cookbook, “Magnolia Table.”
I was a little surprised that a tomato and basil sandwich called for Havarti cheese instead of mozzarella, but I put my trust in the “Fixer Upper” star, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Gaines has a precise layering process that really works.
I followed the lifestyle guru’s instructions to slather both sides of each country-loaf slice with mayonnaise before layering the Havarti, sliced tomato, torn basil, and final cheese slice on top, in that exact order.
Gaines says to slice the tomato thin and use two slices per sandwich, but I’m so glad I cut my tomato slices in half.
Her instructions say to thinly slice a vine-ripe tomato and use two of the slices for each sandwich.
After arranging the slices, I saw there were some empty spots left at two of the corners. I went with my gut instinct and strayed from the recipe, cutting each slice in half.
As pictured above right, I was then able to cover the surface area of the bread more evenly. This helped me get a piece of tomato in every bite – I would highly recommend this little hack.
The finished product was overflowing with both flavour and cheese.
When I was slicing my tomatoes, I looked at the photo in Gaines’ cookbook to see how thick the slices should be. That was a mistake.
I’d recommend cutting the slices thinner than they look in the picture to prevent them from sliding around in the cooked sandwich.
Regardless of my slippery, too-thick tomato slices, I thought this sandwich was phenomenal. I was so impressed with how well the Havarti complemented the fresh basil and tomato, and I loved the sturdiness of the country-loaf bread – typically, I prefer sourdough for grilled cheese.
The cheese melted into a gooey, drippy, stringy mess that was a true joy to eat.
I’ll never complain about a strong cheese pull, and this one seemed to be never-ending.
Next, I moved on to one of two recipes from the “Queer Eye” star Porowski.
As the Fab Five’s resident foodie, Porowski uses a portion of each episode to teach his protégé-of-the-moment a simple new recipe.
During the second episode of season one, he turned to grilled cheese as a crowd-pleaser for Neal Reddy’s party.
After I watched the episode and checked out the star’s Instagram post about the dish, it became clear that he actually made two types of grilled cheese with Reddy. First, he made a vegetarian-friendly leek-and-Gruyere melt.
This sandwich called for brioche bread (a soft, sweet variety of French bread).
Before I built my sandwich, I had to caramelize my leeks.
In the episode available on Netflix, Porowski cuts the dark ends and the white roots off of a fresh leek, slices it in half, and cuts half-discs about half an inch thick.
He warned Reddy – and all the viewers – that leeks are filled with sand, so it’s important to wash them really well. I separated the layers, tossed them all into a colander, and ran them under a strong flow of cold water, rubbing the sand away with my hands until I couldn’t see any remnants of it.
After draining out the water, I added the leeks into a pan of melted butter over low heat to caramelize, a process in which the sugars in a food are broken down through lengthy and intentional cooking. I knew the leeks were done when they’d turned translucent and developed a sauce-like texture that held them together.
Building this sandwich was a bit messier than building the others.
I spread both sides of each bread slice with mayo before topping the base slice with grated Gruyere, then my caramelised leeks, and finally more Gruyere.
While Porowski didn’t publish each of the steps for his grilled-cheese sandwiches, I went off of what I was able to see on the “Queer Eye” episode and improvised the rest. I had the best experience with Gaines’ double layer of cheese, so I decided to do the same here.
Representatives for Porowski didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for recipe clarification.
I cooked the sandwich in the same pan I used for my leeks.
Though I loved the combination of savoury Gruyere and buttery leeks together, I thought the sweetness from the brioche threw the whole flavour profile out of whack.
In my opinion, Porowski nailed it with the interior ingredients, but I’d encourage any curious home cook to try this out while swapping brioche for something more savoury – like the country loaf used for Gaines’ sandwich.
The Netflix star said he also showed Reddy how to make a grilled cheese with sharp cheddar and prosciutto, so I gave that a try as well.
It looked in the episode as if Porowski added prosciutto to the leek grilled cheese. But he clarified in a 2018 Instagram post that he actually made two varieties of the sandwich. While the first was vegetarian-friendly, the second was strictly for meat lovers.
This sandwich features sharp cheddar and prosciutto, also on brioche bread, according to Porowski’s post.
As with the previous sandwich, I decided to layer the cured meat between two mounds of shredded cheese.
I saw in the episode that Porowski was a fan of grating the cheeses, so I stuck with that method here. I also put the prosciutto between two layers of cheese to help the halves of the sandwich melt cohesively together.
While the prosciutto was exciting, I felt as if this was the weakest sandwich of the bunch.
The flavours of the beautifully cured meat and the extra-sharp cheddar were noticeably competing with each other rather than working together. On top of that was a sweet bread that had its own narrative to contribute, too.
The amalgamation of flavours seemed confusing and far too busy.
Simply put, I felt as if the other sandwiches in this experiment had a tastier payoff for all the work they required. I wouldn’t make this sandwich again.
Overall, I think Jenner, Teigen, and Gaines each have recipes that deserve their own time and place in the spotlight, while Porowski’s two recipes have room for improvement.
In my opinion, Jenner’s grilled cheese is best for a last-minute or lazy-day lunch at home. It’s reminiscent of childhood sandwiches, but the hot sauce and the sourdough bread give it a much-needed boost.
Take the at-home scenario described above, add a lunch guest into the mix, and you’ve got the perfect occasion for Teigen’s recipe. It’s delicious and simple enough to not be pretentious but intricate and exciting enough to make you feel as if you’re really serving your guest something special.
If you’re looking to indulge yourself with slightly more nuanced flavours, I think you should go for Gaines’ recipe. Whether you’re cooking for one or for 10, this gooey, melty, flavorful sandwich is sure to be a hit among grilled-cheese lovers. The bread keeps its integrity while the double layer of cheese melts around the tomato and basil, allowing it all to become one big flavorful mess.
Gaines’ recipe has a note encouraging cooks to serve the sandwiches immediately, and I think that’s the only way to go here. Otherwise, the cheese starts to harden and it loses the magic.
Unfortunately, the brioche bread ruined both of my attempts at a tasty grilled cheese from Porowski. The bread was simply too sweet to properly complement the beautiful aromatics of the Gruyere and leeks in the first sandwich, and it competed too much with the other strong flavours of sharp cheddar and prosciutto in the second.
My main takeaway from this entire experiment: Save your brioche for French toast.
- Read more:
- Ina Garten and Martha Stewart’s grown-up grilled cheeses are both delicious but the easiest to make has the edge
- I made Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura’s 5-ingredient grilled cheese and it was the best quarantine snack I’ve had
- I made Gordon Ramsay’s iconic scrambled eggs and it’s the only way I’ll eat them from now on
- I made scrambled eggs using English, French, and American methods and was shocked by how different they all tasted
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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