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Onion Ring + Bacon Grilled Cheese (with Zesty Sauce!)

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This Onion Ring + Bacon Grilled Cheese is THE sandwich when you want melty, crispy, crunchy, zesty goodness. Go ahead…pile on that cheese and a couple extra onion rings. I won’t tell!

Two halves of an onion ring and bacon grilled cheese sandwich stacked on each other.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with Bacon + Onion Rings!

Some days you want to throw back to the comforts of childhood, but then again…plain white bread and processed cheese slices just aren’t going to cut it.

You want a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich! One that holds up to that new microbrew you’ve been dying to try. 

This is it, my friend!

A bite taken out of a grilled cheese sandwich next to a glass of beer.

Ingredients for Grilled Cheese with Onion Rings + Bacon

  • Salted butter — adds flavor to your bread.
  • Sourdough sandwich bread — I like a sandwich loaf, or square sourdough, for the surface area and so you end up with sandwiches that are all roughly the same size. 
  • Shredded cheese — I recommend a blend of at least two cheeses. Pick them for their meltability and flavor (I used gruyere and cheddar). 
  • Bacon — whatever cut or flavor speaks to you. This is your sandwich.
  • Onion rings — use store-bought frozen (I used Alexia) or make your own. Just be sure to cook them before putting them in your sandwich. 😉 

You’re also going to make a zesty sauce that goes in the sandwich (+ is great for dunking those extra onion rings):

  • Mayonnaise — the real stuff.
  • Creamy horseradish — or horseradish sauce, as it may be called. This isn’t as strong as prepared horseradish. If you use the ‘prepared’ variety, cut the amount in half, taste and adjust up if you’d like.
  • Smoked paprika — gives a little hint of smoke.
  • Lemon juice — for a little extra tang.
  • Mustard — any variety you like.
  • Ketchup — for a little sweetness and umami.

You just mix all that up in a bowl and you’re done!

A bowl of zesty sauce being mixed with a spoon.

My Grilled Cheese Method

Everyone approaches the making of grilled cheese in their own way. As long as you get toasty bread and melty cheese, how can any way be wrong? This is how I do it. 

  1. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet (or non-stick) over medium heat. I don’t butter the bread. Place one slice of bread in the skillet. Top it with some shredded cheese and cooked bacon.
  2. Add some onion rings and zesty sauce.
  3. Add more shredded cheese, then the second slice of bread.
  4. Once the bottom slice is good and toasted, carefully flip the sandwich over to toast the other side and melt the cheese completely.

Cut your sandwiches diagonally in half for maximum bite-ability!

Collage image of steps for making grilled cheese in a cast iron skillet.

Your Questions Answered…

What kinds of bread can I use for this grilled cheese?

The short answer: any kind. I even toyed with a marble rye for this. Here are some things to consider… 
* Select bread that is sturdy enough to handle the extras (bacon, onion rings + sauce). 
* Slices from a round loaf will all be different sizes, whereas a square loaf will be more consistent. This is important if you’re making sandwiches for a crowd so no-one gets shortchanged with a tiny grilled cheese.
* The success of thick vs. thin slices of bread will depend on its texture. For instance, a thick slice of soft brioche may hold up better than a thin slice. In the end, it’s a matter of preference.

Why did you use shredded cheese?

The gruyere and cheddar I selected is firmer in texture than other cheeses (say, like havarti or brie), so shredding it promotes faster melting (in theory). Also, with the nooks and crannies created by the bacon and onion rings, shreds can really get into those spaces and cling as it melts. At the end of the day…melty cheese is melty cheese. Go with your gut. 

Helpful Tips

  • If using cast iron, remember that it holds temperature really well. After flipping your sandwich, it might be helpful to lower the heat so the cheese has a chance to completely melt before your bread gets too toasty (aka burnt). 
  • After you flip the sandwich, use your spatula to nudge it around into the melted butter that has no doubt pooled around the outer edges of the pan.
  • If you can only make one or two at a time, transfer to a sheet pan and stick that in a 175°F oven to keep them toasty hot.
Two halves of an onion ring and bacon grilled cheese sandwich stacked on each other with more sandwiches in the background.

Are You a Toasty Sandwich Lover? Check These Out…

Two halves of an onion ring and bacon grilled cheese sandwich stacked on each other.

Onion Ring + Bacon Grilled Cheese (with Zesty Sauce!)

Linda Feller
This Onion Ring + Bacon Grilled Cheese is THE sandwich when you want melty, crispy, crunchy, zesty goodness. Go ahead…pile on that cheese and a couple extra onion rings. I won’t tell!
Prep time.5 minutes
Custom time.7 minutes
Total time.12 minutes
Course.Sandwich
Cuisine.American
Number of servings.4 sandwiches

Equipment

  • cast iron or non-stick skillet

Ingredients

Zesty Sauce

  • 6 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon creamy horseradish, aka horseradish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon prepared mustard, flavor of your choice
  • 2 teaspoon ketchup

For the Sandwich

  • 4 tablespoon salted butter
  • 8 slices sourdough sandwich bread
  • 3 cups shredded cheese, (I like a combo of at least 2 varieties)
  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • 16 cooked onion rings, homemade or store-bought frozen (3 or 4 per sandwich depending on size)

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients for the zesty sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
  • If using different varieties of cheese, combine them together in a bowl to evenly distribute.

Instructions for 1 sandwich (adjust if making more than one at a time)

  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan set over medium heat.
  • Place a slice of bread in the pan. Top with about 1/3 cup of cheese, then 1/4 of the bacon pieces, then onion rings. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of zesty sauce over the onion rings, then top with another 1/3 cup of shredded cheese and second slice of bread.
  • Cook until the bottom slice is toasted, then carefully flip the sandwich over to toast the other slice of the bread and allow the cheese to melt completely, lowering the heat if necessary. Remove to a cutting board and slice in half.

Notes

  1. This makes more than enough Zesty Sauce for 4 sandwiches. The extra can be used as onion ring dipping sauce.
  2. If you can only make one or two sandwiches at a time, transfer them to a sheet pan and stick that in a 175°F oven to keep warm.
Keywords.cheese, game day, stove top
Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to share a comment below!

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