Grilled Cheese Trick: Cheesy and golden-crisp with half the fat. How’d we do it?

NME-grilled-cheese-trickMaking an iconic grilled cheese—complete with gooey, melty goodness contrasted against golden-crisp bread—is no small feat for a nutrition-minded cook. An impeccably creamy interior is easy to achieve with several ounces of hearty cheddar, and even easier with American. Fry it (let’s not kid ourselves by calling this a sauté) in a chunk of butter, and you’re in 400-plus-calorie territory, double-digit sat fat, and nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium for a three-ingredient meal.

Reduced-fat cheese would be an obvious swap, but meltability is a problem. We found it worth using a few more ingredients to duplicate the irresistible texture of the original. Reduced-fat shredded cheddar combines with light cream cheese and canola mayo for a mixture that has 40% less saturated fat than regular cheddar. When slathered on whole-grain bread and sautéed in olive oil, the mixture melts into the gloriously silky, ultracheesy filling you see here. As for swapping olive oil for butter, it saves an additional 7 grams of sat fat.

Combine ½ ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1 teaspoon canola mayo. Add 1 ounce 2% reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese. Spread between 2 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread. Heat a small skillet over medium heat; sear each side in ¼ teaspoon olive oil until bread is browned and crisp.
CALORIES 288; FAT 13.8g (sat 5.8g); SODIUM 556mg


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  5. Joyce

    Stephanie Louise, maybe use plain greek yogurt instead of mayo? I don’t think you’d actually notice mayo in the mix (1 tsp? come on!) but yogurt or a tsp. of sour cream might work as options. Remember, good mayo is oil, egg and lemon (or most is). Nothing to be afraid of.

    March 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm
  6. Kathy Shaw

    Until I was married, 38 years ago, I had never had a grilled cheese from a skillet. Mom taught us to put some cheese on both slices of bread, then put it under the broiler.

    March 7, 2014 at 2:29 am
  7. Kristen

    Could I just use fat free mayo instead of canola mayo?

    March 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm
  8. SAM

    What is the cholesterol count?

    March 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm
  9. Carole

    What is it with canola oil based products/recipes? Canola oil has become the ‘answer’ to everything, and honestly, not everyone can tolerate it (I liken it to msg).

    Melting has never been an issue w/ the brand of low fat jack that we use (and the cheese is incredibly flavorful), but that does of course vary by brand, and by cheese. Using a little bit of extra sharp cheddar adds a little bit more. And if using a panini press or grill, forgo the slathering of butter or olive oil, and you save even more fat and calories, and still get a nice crispy bread.

    March 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm
  10. Stephanie Louise

    Is there anything else you can use besides mayo? No one here eats it!

    March 6, 2014 at 2:38 pm
  11. Robin

    It’s ironic y’all posted this today – I actually tried the “toastabag” today and it actually worked really well – now, I’m going to use it with your wonderful idea for a filling – thank you!

    March 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

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