If a good grilled cheese is a work of art (and trust me friends, it is), then Air Fryer Grilled Cheese is a masterpiece!

Easy air fryer grilled cheese

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The bread must be golden and deeply toasted, but not burned. Sturdy enough to hold up to the cheesy interior but still soft enough to sink your teeth into with delight.

The cheese must be properly melted. It sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever experienced a grilled cheese that’s charred outside with bits of solid, room temperature cheese inside, you know it’s more nuanced than it seems.

It should be buttery but not greasy, ooey-gooey but not soggy.

In short, a grilled cheese should be perfect.

While you can achieve grilled cheese excellence on the stovetop (I share the secrets in my cookbook—also available for order here—which has three creative, delightful Grown-Up Grilled Cheeses), using an air fryer (this is the model I purchased and recommend) to make grilled cheese streamlines the process and is much more handsfree.

Cheesy air fryer grilled cheese

An air fryer is essentially a stovetop convection oven.

It is a masterful appliance when it comes to making your favorite foods crispy with very little added oil or fat, like these Air Fryer French Fries and Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts.

The air fryer is also phenomenal for toasting sandwiches, like grilled cheese.

Below, I’m giving you my go-to method to make grilled cheese in the air fryer.

I also have a key air fryer toasted sandwich tip to make sure your grilled cheese doesn’t fall apart in the air fryer.

How to Make Grilled Cheese in an Air Fryer

Like all seemingly simple recipes, you need to pay careful attention to the ingredients in your grilled cheese. Since there are few, each has a big impact on results.

Tip!

Every air fryer is cooks food a little differently. I tested air fryer grilled cheese in a Ninja air fryer oven.

Be sure to check your grilled cheese often to gauge its progress.


The Ingredients

  • Bread. Don’t skimp here. I like to use a good-quality sourdough or whole grain artisan-style bread. While you can make air fryer grilled cheese with standard sandwich bread, picking up a higher-end loaf is 100% worth it here.

Ingredient note

  • While I love to pick up a loaf of bread at a bakery, don’t feel like you need to make a special trip. You can find great quality bread at most grocery stores these days. Check the bakery section.
  • If you don’t go through a lot of bread and thus are more hesitant to pick up a slightly pricier loaf, consider freezing it in portions, then only thaw what you need.
  • Cheese. Grate it yourself right from the block or use deli slices. I do not recommend bagged, pre-shredded cheeses. They are usually coated with a powder to keep them from clumping together, and thus won’t melt properly.

The Best Cheese for Grilled Cheese

The best cheeses for grilled cheese melt easily and have a substantial flavor of their own.

  • Sharp cheddar, gruyere, swiss, gouda, and fontina are all excellent choices for grilled cheese.
  • Avoid pre-shredded cheeses, which do not melt well, or hard, aged cheeses that don’t melt as easily (such as Parmesan), unless you are combining an aged with a different, melty cheese.
  • Create a combo. For a unique twist, try a combination of two or more cheeses. My favorite is to use a nutty cheese like gruyere and a classic sharp cheddar.
  • Butter. A light swipe of softened butter (or a buttery spread) is necessary to make sure your grilled cheese crisps nicely and doesn’t taste dry.

Using Mayo

Air fryer grilled cheese with mayo is an old-fashioned trick. Many swear it does a better job toasting. To give it a try, combine 2 tablespoons of mayo with 1 tablespoon of unsoftened butter. Spread it on the outside of the bread.

  • Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sauce. While optional, I adore spreading the inside of my grilled cheese sandwiches with a combo of Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard. It makes the sandwich taste extra lush.

The Directions

Two pieces of bread slathered in mayo and bowls of cheese
  1. Prepare the yogurt Dijon spread (if using). Spread on one side of each piece of bread. Butter the opposite side of each slice of bread.
Shredded cheese on a piece of bread
  1. Lay the cheeses on the Dijon side of a slice of bread, then add the other slice of bread on top (butter side up).
Two slices of bread held together with toothpicks
  1. Pierce two opposite corners of the sandwich with toothpicks.
An uncooked sandwich in the basket of an appliance
  1. Cook the air fryer grilled cheese at 360 degrees F for 4 to 6 minutes.
A grilled cheese sandwich in an air fryer
  1. Flip the sandwich over, and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Slice and DIG IN!

TIP!

To keep your grilled cheese sandwich from falling apart, secure it with toothpicks while toasting on the first side.

  • It is safe to put a toothpick in the air fryer at lower temperatures, such as 360 degrees F, the best temperature for cooking air fryer grilled cheese.
  • When you are ready to flip, simply remove the toothpicks, turn, and keep cooking.

This trick is especially important if you are using thinner, softer bread, which is more prone to falling apart.

Crispy air fryer grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese Variations

You can toast a variety of sandwiches in the air fryer. Here are a few of my favorite ways to jazz up your grilled cheese.

  • Air Fryer Grilled Cheese with Bacon. Add a few slices of crisp, cooked bacon (recommended: easy Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon).
  • Air Fryer Grilled Cheese and Ham. Make your own spin on croque monsieur by layering on thinly sliced ham (extra delicious served with a fried egg on top!).
  • Air Fryer Grilled Cheese and Tomato. Thinly slice tomatoes, then lay them on a paper towel and pat dry (this will keep the grilled cheese from becoming watery). Add to the grilled cheese and air fry as directed.
  • Pesto Air Fryer Grilled Cheese. Instead of the grilled cheese “sauce”, spread the insides of your bread with pesto (my favorite is the Creamy Basil Pesto in my cookbook). Use any combination of fontina, provolone, or gouda.
The best air fryer grilled cheese

Storage Tips

  • To Reheat. Grilled cheese is best enjoyed right away, but it can be re-toasted in the air fryer at 350 degrees F. 

What to Serve with Grilled Cheese

Gooey air fryer grilled cheese

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Air Fryer

With an array of functions, this air fryer is worth the investment. It gives you delicious, crispy food in no time!

Easy air fryer grilled cheese

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Warm, toasty air fryer grilled cheese. Wouldn’t that just hit the spot?

Easy air fryer grilled cheese

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

How to cook perfect air fryer grilled cheese. Golden, crispy bread and gooey, melty cheese, plus a special easy Dijon sauce to take it over the top!

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins

Servings: 1 sandwich

Ingredients
  

FOR THE SANDWICH:

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter softened (or butter spread)
  • 2 slices good quality whole grain bread
  • 1 ounce shredded sharp cheddar cheese about 1 heaping tablespoon or 1 deli slice
  • 1 ounce shredded gruyere fontina, gouda or similar melty, nutty white cheese (about 1 heaping tablespoon) or 1 deli slice

FOR THE YOGURT DIJON SPREAD (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon nonfat plain Greek yogurt or 1 tablespoon mayo if you insist
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Pinch kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the spread ingredients: Greek yogurt, Dijon, and salt. Spread a thin layer over one side of each of the two pieces of bread.
  • Place the bread on a plate, and butter the opposite side of each slice, making sure the butter reaches all the way to the edges.
  • Assemble the sandwiches: Place the cheeses in an even layer on top of the Dijon side of the bread slice (it will look like a lot of cheese, but go with it). Place the second slice of the bread on top of the cheese, Dijon-side down. If you are using cheese slices (vs. shredded cheese) and any of the cheese pokes out around the outsides of the bread, trim the extra cheese away (to avoid waste, stack the trimmings in the center of the sandwich).
  • Secure the sandwich by sticking a toothpick into two of the opposite corners of the bread.
  • Slide out the basket and place it on a steady, heat-proof surface. Carefully lower the sandwich into it, then slide the basket back into the air fryer.
  • Place in the air fryer and cook on the first side for 4 to 6 minutes, until toasted and deep golden on top (the amount of time you need will vary based on your air fryer model).
  • Slide out the basket and place it on a steady surface once more. Remove the toothpicks and with a spatula or tongs, carefully flip the sandwich over. Return the basket to the air fryer and continue cooking for 3 to 4 additional minutes, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is hot and melted.
  • Transfer to a plate or cutting board. Let cool a few minutes, then slice and enjoy.

Notes

  • TO REHEAT: Grilled cheese is best enjoyed right away, but it can be re-toasted in the air fryer at 350 degrees F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 457kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 25gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 83mgPotassium: 227mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 812IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 576mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. I don’t have an air fryer but I’ll pass this recipe along to my daughter – it sounds like a nice blend of cheeses. I love gruyere on anything ! Last week I made the Blue Ribbon Chili from your cookbook along with the Cheddar Rosemary Cornbread. This made a great meal. We liked it alot. My husband isn’t a fan of sweet potatoes so I used a little less than called for and just diced it very small. He never noticed it. It added a nice richness and a tiny bit of sweetness. It’s a great recipe that I’ll make again and again – great seasonings, too.

    1. I’m SO happy that you enjoyed the recipes you tried, Chris! Thank you for sharing your results with me! :)