Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Balsamic Onions from

Everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to what exactly makes for the best grilled cheese sandwich. Do you slather the bread with butter or mayo? Do you double up on cheese or go for a single slice? Do you start with a hot griddle or a cold skillet?

Life is full of questions. Do we really have to turn making a sandwich into a war of do’s and don’ts? You could sous vide it for all I care, just as long as the end result doesn’t lose an ounce of its ooey-gooey appeal. And ooey-gooey appeal is one thing this grown-up grilled cheese sandwich is not lacking.

This recipe, which stars tangy caramelized balsamic onions, was a custom creation for Joanna Goddard, a fellow blogger who asked if I’d share my take on an easy weeknight meal on her popular blog, A Cup of Jo. I was thrilled to dream up this spin on a classic grilled cheese, which has become my go-to dinner on nights when there’s no time for the slow cooker and no patience for takeout. And in the spirit of no rules, I will refrain from telling you what else you could tuck between those two toasty slices of bread. (Cough … bacon … cough … avocado.)

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Balsamic Onions from

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Balsamic Onions from

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Balsamic Onions from

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Balsamic Onions from

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Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 40 min


For the caramelized onions:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

For the grilled cheese:
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
4 slices bread (such as sourdough or brioche)
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup kale leaves


Make the caramelized onions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and continue cooking the onions for 5 more minutes.

Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until they are very soft and dry.

Assemble the grilled cheese:

Slather one side of all four slices of bread with the butter and set them aside.

Assemble one of the grilled cheese sandwiches by stacking one slice of cheese atop one slice of bread (the non-buttered side) and topping it with half the caramelized onions, half the kale leaves and a second slice of cheese. Top it with another buttered slice of bread (buttered side on top). Repeat the assembly process for the second grilled cheese sandwich.

Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Place each sandwich on the skillet and cook until the bread is toasted and golden and the cheese begins to melt. Flip each sandwich once and continue cooking until the opposite side of bread is toasted. Slice and serve immediately.

Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.


37 Responses to “Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich”

  1. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — October 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Any grilled cheese with caramelized onions sounds just perfect to me!

  2. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — October 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I love grilled cheese and your grownup version looks wonderful!

    I created some brownies for Joanna last spring and seeing your post reminds me of that project :)

  3. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — October 13, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Oh goodness, this looks amazing!! I love the balsamic onions!

  4. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — October 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

    This is definitely my kind of grilled cheese!!

  5. #
    Tieghan — October 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I love the caramelized onions and baby kale! Looks like my kind of grilled cheese!

  6. #
    Becca @ Crumbs — October 13, 2013 at 9:20 am

    WOW this looks delicious! I like the idea you can still have a childhood favourite but make it applicable to adult life

  7. #
    nhora — October 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

    This looks fantastic. Just the perfect creative meal for fall/winter and on a budget. And it looks yummy too!

  8. #
    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — October 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Caramelized onions in grilled cheese is always the way to go! This looks fabulous, Kelly!

  9. #
    Rachel @ Bakerita — October 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    This looks AMAZING! Love those balsamic caramelized onions…yummy.

  10. #
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen — October 13, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I. DIE. Kelly, your grilled cheese sandwich definitely looks THE BEST! Divine. Love the caramelized onions with the balsamic and kale. Thanks for sharing. Pinning!

  11. #
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) — October 13, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    ahhhhhh you have hit me right in the middle of my first ever grilled cheese phase!!! I LOVE IT!

  12. #
    Marly — October 14, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I had to add this to my Best Vegetarian Sandwiches board! And a simple replacement of vegan cheddar cheese could make this a delicious vegan treat too. Love it!

  13. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — October 14, 2013 at 10:09 am

    caramelized onions are everything!!! I’d prob throw some arugula on here, just cause I’m not the kale type, but hot damn these look fabulous!

  14. #
    Ari @ Ari's Menu — October 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

    OMG–the onions, the kale, the cheese. This looks like the most incredible grilled cheese I’ve ever seen!

  15. #
    Allie — October 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Anything with caramelized onions on it has my vote! And, I’m sort of a grilled cheese addict. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. #
    Megan {Country Cleaver} — October 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Grilled cheese is one of the best comfort foods any way your slice it! Who can say “no” to a grilled cheese loaded with caramelized onions? I mean, C’mon!!

  17. #
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry — October 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Caramelized onions with sharp cheddar smushed into a sandwich and grilled sounds like heaven.

  18. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — October 14, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I would totally make out with this grilled cheese! Dang girl, this looks sinful!

  19. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — October 14, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    I really wish this was tonight’s dinner!

  20. #
    Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor — October 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Kelly, I think this sandwich is calling my name! I love the combination of caramelized onions, cheese and kale.

  21. #
    Rebecca @ Fieldhouse Kitchen — October 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I love, love, love caramelized onions! They’re so simple and add such great flavor to any dish. I’ll definitely be trying them on a grilled cheese next time. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Rebecca

  22. #
    ashley - baker by nature — October 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Heck yes! Today is a good day to be a grown up ;)

  23. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — October 17, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I’m completely numb.

  24. #
    Anna @ Garnish with Lemon — October 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Why, oh why do I torture myself with amazing food pictures like this sandwich when my stomach is growling for lunch? It looks sinfully delicious!

  25. #
    Kim — October 17, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    This recipe reminds me of a ‘wichcraft inspired grilled cheese I used to make. Love the combo of grilled onions, balsamic vinegar, and cheese in a sandwich. I have done it with gruyere cheese and rye bread – so delicious!

  26. #
    Gaby — October 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I’m just going to have to have one of these at least every day for a week!

  27. #
    Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat — October 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    This is gorgeous! Anything with caramelized onions wins me over!

  28. #
    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen — October 23, 2013 at 12:10 am

    The balsamic onions sound delicious sandwiched between all the cheesey goodness!!

  29. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — November 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I could eat those onions with a spoon!

  30. #
    Emma — December 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Made this for lunch today! Yummiest grilled sandwich ever!!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — December 23rd, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Emma!

  31. #
    Janette R. — February 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

    My picky husband and my experimental palate BOTH ADORED your grilled cheese recipe! He said “This is the best damn grilled cheese EVER.” Mission accomplished.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 2nd, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

      Awesome! So glad to hear you both enjoyed it, Janette!


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