I hope you’re ready with a big glass of water because today, we’re diving into the irresistibly spicy realm of Gochujang Grilled Cheese.
I’ve had plenty of grilled cheese sandwiches in my time - but this one tops the list!
It’s a culinary adventure that blends East and West and the comforting, gooey delight of a classic grilled cheese with the bold, umami-packed punch of Gochujang.
One bite and you’ll never make plain old grilled cheese again.
Gochujang Grilled Cheese Sandwich
You’ve probably bitten into plenty of crispy, golden-brown sandwiches oozing with melty cheese. But have they ever had the distinctive, sweet-spicy flavor of Gochujang, too?
Yeah, this spicy grilled cheese is a show-stopper.
It’s a celebration of flavor and one of my favorite ways to use Gochujang.
Whether you’re a grilled cheese fanatic looking to spice up your routine or a lover of all things fiery, this Gochujang Grilled Cheese recipe is here to ignite your taste buds.
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a beloved Korean chili paste. **It’s a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment widely used in Korean cooking and beyond. **
It’s thick, sticky, and made from red chili pepper flakes, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.
The unique flavor of Gochujang lies in the fermentation process, which traditionally takes years. This allows the starches in the glutinous rice to convert to sugars - hence the light sweetness.
The chili peppers add heat, while the fermented soybeans contribute a rich, umami flavor.
Add all that up, and you have one helluva complex and versatile ingredient.
Gochujang adds depth and a spicy kick to a variety of dishes, from traditional Korean recipes to a few more familiar dishes.
Here are a few of my favorite Gochujang recipes:
- Gochujang Bibimbap: Bibimbap is a warm rice bowl served with seasoned vegetables, a fried egg, and sliced meat. Add Gochujang, and it’s suddenly spicy and loaded with depth.
- Gochujang Stir-Fry: If you want to make your average stir-fry sing, add a spoonful of Gochujang. It pairs well with tofu, chicken, or vegetables and coats noodles like a dream.
- Gochujang Marinade: If you’re making grilled meat or fried chicken, add a dollop of Gochujang to the marinade to give it some oomph.
- Gochujang Salad Dressing: Mix Gochujang with vinegar, oil, and a touch of honey to create a unique salad dressing.
Gochujang Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ingredients
Since this is an elevated grilled cheese recipe, there are a few extra ingredients. But it’s nothing you likely don’t already have.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sourdough Bread: Sourdough has an unmistakable tangy flavor that I adore with grilled cheese. It’s also nice and sturdy, which is what you need with a melty filling.
- Gruyere Cheese: This is my top choice for any grilled cheese because it’s a smooth-melting cheese known for its nutty and slightly sweet flavor.
- White Cheddar Cheese: Gruyere is expensive, so I like to make it go further with some decent white cheddar. Get a block of aged cheddar for the best flavor.
- Fontina Cheese: This is optional, but I love the nutty flavor. Plus, it melts beautifully, so the filling has a lovely velvety texture.
- Garlic: Grate some garlic into the mix for a kick of aromatic flavor.
- Fresh Parsley: Roughly chop it for a hint of freshness beyond the bold flavors.
- Red Onion: I like to slice it and lay it over the filling, but you can dice it into the filling if you prefer.
- Mayonnaise: For the filling and the bread. If you need to mellow the spice, add mayo to the filling mix. If not, leave it out. As for the bread, mayo is the best way to get a golden crust.
- Gochujang (Korean Chili Paste): This is the key ingredient and it’s how you get that unique sweet and spicy flavor. Add as much or as little as you like.
- Olive Oil and Butter: To help fry the bread. Use this mix to get the best texture and rich flavor.
How to Make Gochujang Grilled Cheese
This recipe is so easy, you can have it ready in minutes. It’s more than just slapping cheese in a sandwich, though.
Having said that, the only added work is mixing a few ingredients in a bowl. But it’s so worth it in the end.
Here’s how to make it:
- Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl until well-blended.
- Cut thick sourdough slices and spread mayo over one side of each.
- Place two sandwich ‘bottoms’ in a skillet over medium-low heat.
- Spread the filling mixture over the bread and add red onion slices.
- Top with the other sandwich slice, mayo side up.
- Cook until golden and toasted, then carefully flip and cook until the filling is gooey.
When the sandwiches are perfectly toasted and the cheese is melted, remove from the heat, cut, and serve immediately.
Not a fan of mayo? Or maybe you think there are too many ingredients? Okay, I got you!
Check out these easy recipe swaps and variations:
- Gochujang Bacon Grilled Cheese: Add crispy bacon strips to the sandwich for a smoky, savory crunch.
- Vegetarian Gochujang Grilled Cheese: Include sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, onions, or mushrooms for added flavor and texture.
- Kimchi and Gochujang Grilled Cheese: Add chopped kimchi to the sandwich for a tangy, spicy kick.
- Extra Cheesy Gochujang Grilled Cheese: Use a combination of sharp cheddar, Gruyère, and mozzarella for a more complex and rich cheesy flavor.
- Gochujang Chicken Grilled Cheese: Add grilled or roasted chicken to the sandwich for a protein-packed meal. I have this with leftover rotisserie chicken.
- Spicy and Sweet Gochujang Grilled Cheese: Drizzle some honey or sprinkle some brown sugar into the filling.
- Gochujang Grilled Cheese with Guacamole: There’s nothing like a spicy, cheesy grilled cheese with chunky, salty guac on the side.
- Gochujang Ranch Grilled Cheese: Mix Ranch into the filling instead of mayo. It’ll bring that signature taste, making it almost like buffalo sauce.
- Air Fryer Gochujang Grilled Cheese: For a less oily version, cook the Gochujang Grilled Cheese in an air fryer. Keep the mayo on the outside and cook until golden.
- Easy Peasy Version: Want an even easier way to make it? Simply spread Gochujang and mayo on the inside of the bread, and then add your choice of cheese. Grill as you like.
How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese
If you’ve never made grilled cheese before - or if you’re just looking for tips - don’t fret. I’m here with some tips and tricks to guarantee the perfect sandwich!
- Choosing the Right Bread: The bread is the foundation of the sandwich. And no matter what cheese you pick, you need sturdy bread that will hold up to toasting/grilling without falling apart. The best options are sourdough, artisan bread, or good-quality crusty Italian bread.
- Selecting the Cheese: The cheese is the star of the show. And that means getting a block and grating/shredding it yourself. If you get pre-shredded bags, they won’t melt as well, and your sandwich won’t be gooey. Also, think about the flavor. Some cheeses are cheap, and they taste it! That’s why I recommend aged white cheddar and Gruyere.
- Butter vs. Mayo: I think mayo is the best way to get a crust on the bread. But if you prefer butter, go for it. Butter has a rich flavor but burns in a hot pan. Mayo, on the other hand, spreads easily and browns without burning. Plus, you get more flavor.
- Cooking Method: I like to make grilled cheese in a skillet over medium-low heat. Non-stick skillet or cast-iron pan - it’s up to you. Just keep the heat down. Slower cooking allows the cheese to melt before the crust burns.
- The Flip: When the first side of the sandwich is golden brown, flip it carefully to grill the other side. You’ll need to hold on to the top so it doesn’t fall off. Or, slide the spatula under the sandwich, lift it a couple of inches up, then turn the pan over. Bring the two together, then flip.
- Cover the Pan: If you like your cheese extra gooey, cover the pan with a lid for a minute or two after flipping the sandwich. This traps the steam inside and helps melt the cheese more thoroughly.
- Serve Immediately: Grilled cheese isn’t a make-ahead dish. It’s best enjoyed hot and fresh.
Want to make it a meal? Try one of these easy serving suggestions:
- Soup Pairing: Try something rich and creamy to contrast the heat. I like corn chowder because it’s got sweetness. Creamy chicken or potato soup work well, too.
- Salad Accompaniment: Freshen it up with a tangy salad. Honey mustard cuts through the cheese so well.
- Sweet Potato Fries: We all love fries. But instead of regular, add some sweetness with sweet potato fries!
- Dipping Sauces: Cool things off with extra mayo, aioli, or Ranch. Or take it even hotter with buffalo, spicy aioli, or sriracha.
- Fruit Salad: A light, refreshing fruit salad is a terrific way to cool down after the spicy, bold flavors in this Gochujang Grilled Cheese.
- Cold Beverages: You’ll need something to calm your tongue! Try iced tea, Chick-fil-A iced coffee, or maybe a cocktail. This cucumber margarita would be so incredible with the spicy food.
Gochujang Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- For the Filling
- 1 clove of Garlic (minced or grated)
- 30-60 grams of Mayonnaise (2-4 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon of Gochujang (Korean Chili paste)
- 60 grams of Gruyere Cheese (about 1/2 cup, grated)
- 60 grams of White Cheddar Cheese (about 1/2 cup, grated)
- 30 grams of Fontina Cheese (about 1/4 cup, grated)
- 1 tablespoon of packed Fresh Parsley (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 Red Onion (sliced or diced)
- For the Sandwich
- 4 slices of Sourdough Bread
- 2 tablespoons of Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil (for frying)
- 1 tablespoon of Butter (for frying)
- In a medium bowl, mix the garlic with the mayo and Gochujang.
- Add the grated Gruyere, cheddar, and Fontina cheeses and the chopped parsley. Add the diced red onion, if using, and mix until well blended.
- Warm a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter and oil.
- Divide the 2 tablespoons of mayo over one side of each slice of bread.
- Place 2 slices in the hot skillet, mayo side down.
- Divide the filling between each slice of bread. Add the sliced red onion, if using.
- Add the remaining bread, mayo side up, and gently press down.
- Cook for 2-4 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
- Flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes, until the sandwich is toasted and the filling is gooey.
- Cut the sandwiches, serve, and enjoy!