Gooey, creamy, and with a buttery crunch: Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese? It’s a shame that it often gets relegated to lunch and the kids’ menu. Especially since it only takes a few simple tweaks and additions to turn a grilled cheese sandwich into a satisfying meal for the whole family. Case in point: These seven delicious grilled cheese recipes that are perfect for dinner.

And by the way: Think of these as more than just recipes. Each can serve as a guide for how to add to or put a twist on grilled cheese using veggies, added protein, various cheeses, alternative breads, and more. The sky’s the limit.

Related: 8 delicious, unexpected grilled cheese recipes beyond the ordinary. 

 

1. Add fruit to your grilled cheese.

Apple season is here and one of the best ways to use up all those delicious apples is to add them to a grilled cheese sandwich. The Honey, Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Panini (above) at Half Baked Harvest takes it to another level with bacon and honey. Try it Tieghan’s way just once and you’ll be hooked.

Other fruit (and fruity things) you can add to grilled cheese: Pears, figs, fruit jam (or pepper jelly), dried apricots, and avocado.

 

2. Add animal protein to bulk up (and add major flavor) to your grilled cheese.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy grilled cheese for dinner: Ground Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese | Dinner Then Dessert

I’ve seen a lot of cheesesteak-style grilled cheese sandwiches, but the Ground Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese at Dinner Then Dessert is the one of the easiest to whip up, replacing traditional sliced steak with ground beef. A bonus: It’s not just easier to make, but also easier for my little kids to eat.

Other meat you can add to grilled cheese: Sliced steak, ground turkey, sliced chicken breast, and sliced deli meat.

 

3. Serve your grilled cheese with soup.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy grilled cheese for dinner: Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons | Sue Bee Homemaker

To get kids excited about eating, sometimes it’s enough to just play around with the shape of their meal. Keep the sandwich filling classic (ie, just melty cheese), but cut it into triangles or squares like Sue does to make her Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons at Sue Bee Homemaker. The soup is also a great make-ahead meal to have stashed in the fridge.

Other soups to serve with grilled cheese: Pretty much any! I suggest keeping it vegetarian and simple, though, if you plan on eating it with bread and gooey, melted cheese.

 

4. Pack your grilled cheese with veggies.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy grilled cheese for dinner: Spicy Smashed Avocado & Asparagus with Dill Havarti Grilled Cheese | Foodie Crush

The Spicy Smashed Avocado & Asparagus with Dill Havarti Grilled Cheese at Foodie Crush is my personal pick. I know that asparagus isn’t always a kid favorite, but that’s kind of the point: to make it more appealing by sandwiching it between crusty bread with melty cheese. The good news is, you can still serve something like this even if you don’t think it’ll work. Just use asparagus for yours and go with another simple veggie for the kids.

Other veggies to tuck into your grilled cheese: Spinach, chopped kale, roasted tomatoes, sliced raw tomatoes, mashed peas, thinly sliced sweet potato, shredded carrots, and red peppers.

Related: All the easiest, best dinners you never knew you could make on a waffle iron. 

5. Switch up the cheese you use.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy grilled cheese for dinner: Chicken & Spinach Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich | Kleinworth & Co.

Using a Panini grill takes the guesswork out of making this mouthwatering Chicken & Spinach Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich at Kleinworth & Co (though you can make it in a pan, too, if you don’t have a panini press). Using leftover chicken or store-bought rotisserie makes this a fast and impressive weeknight dinner.

Other cheeses to use to make your grilled cheese (and don’t forget that you can combine them!): Gruyere, gouda, smoked gouda, cheddar, feta, fontina, swiss, provolone, muster, and pepper jack.

6. Switch up the bread you use too.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy grilled cheese for dinner: Zucchini Crusted Grilled Cheese | Kirbie Cravings

I’ll admit that I have never tried a version like this Zucchini Crusted Grilled Cheese at Kirbie Cravings, but I am downright intrigued. Bread is replaced with an easy recipe for zucchini “crust,” giving you both flavor and nutrition without all those carbs and plenty of extra veg. A double whammy.

Other bread and bread-like options for your grilled cheese: Tortillas (hello, quesadilla), rolled up sandwich bread, and cauliflower crust.

7. Turn your grilled cheese into breakfast-for-dinner.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy grilled cheese: Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich | The Baker Upstairs

And when you really can’t with the whole dinner thing, make the simple and always satisfying Bacon and Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich at The Baker Upstairs. Beer goes with breakfast, right?

Other grilled cheese breakfast-for-dinner ideas: Grilled cheese waffles (like these Pepperoni Pizza Waffles), a leftover pancake grilled cheese sandwich, or just a grilled cheese with sliced hard boiled eggs (which we always keep on hand) and sliced bacon.

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