French Onion Grilled Cheese

Check out my beloved Grilled Cheese Pinboard!

My apologies: it’s the second to last day of January, and I’ve yet to post about grilled cheese. It doesn’t mean that 2012 isn’t a year of eating and writing about my favorite sandwich, er, meal.

Fortunately, it’s a good one, a classic inspired by the rich French soup, and perfect for winter. It’s also incredibly simple. Just two ingredients make this sandwich, a red onion jam created by Merrill over at Food52 and first seen on BGSK in another simple dish, a fried egg sandwich.

When I re-made this jam recently, the sweet onion smell that permeated my kitchen reminded my of a wintry favorite, French Onion Soup. Which in turn led me to think about how it would be acceptable nix the broth part of French Onion Soup (no offense to soup) and stick with just the crispy bread and cheese part. Without much ado, I spread some of the extra jam on my toasted bread before piling it with nutty Gruyere and toasting it in melted butter. Voilà: a fantastic new sandwich to add to my repertoire.

From my kitchen, starting the 2012 grilled cheese season off right, to yours,



French Onion Grilled Cheese
Serves 1

Since the red onion jam keeps for a while in the fridge, you can make it up to 2 weeks in advance and keep it on hand for your grilled cheese-making pleasure.

2 slices good whole-grain bread
4 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons Red Onion Jam (recipe follows)
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere (pretty tightly packed, but you don’t have to smash it in)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Lightly toast both slices of bread. Spread one side with the red onion jam, then pile on the shredded cheese. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Press the second piece of bread on top.

Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Carefully place the sandwich in the pan and cook, pressing down occasionally with a spatula, until the cheese has started to melt and the bread is golden and crispy, 4-5 minutes. Lift it out of the pan with the spatula and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter. Flip the sandwich and return it to the pan. Cook another 4-5 minutes until the cheese is gooey and the second side is golden.

Place on a plate, cut in half, and eat immediately.

Red Onion Jam
Adapted from Food52

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Combine the onion, butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan with a lid. Saute over medium-low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, add the wine and vinegar and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring slightly more frequently, until there is no liquid left and the onions are soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Let the jam come to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.


    • The alcohol will cook out in about 30 seconds, if not faster.  It DOES NOT remain in the finished product, and the wine lends a subtle hint of the grapes used, similar to using any spice for a flavoring agent.

  1. My wife really loves French Onion Soup, and other than when in Paris, only –I– can make good soup for her.  But I’m going to try this, it REALLY sounds good.  @154ffdd154e4e8785c7d25d1ee24c67a:disqus the wine will cook out, it’s only 1/4 cup, try it once, it shouldn’t affect you.

  2. also, food needs to cool before u put it in the fridge to avoid bacteria growing in ur food, it causes a food borne illness called listeriosis 

  3. I love this recipe, but could it be adapted to an easy tart, or into a breakfast/brunch bake similar to the mango crumble breakfast bake recipe, which could be made (at least the bread cubes and egg/milk mixture) the night before the get together ?

  4. Wow! The onion jam is great! Next time though, I will be slicing the cheese instead of shredding. What else do you use the onion jam for?

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