Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey, Cheddar, and Apple Butter
If I’m ever stranded on a desert island, I hope it’s with a panini press. As long as I can cook myself an Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey, Cheddar, and Apple Butter, I’m reasonably confident I will survive.
I realize a panini press is probably not the wisest survival tool one could choose. For all the busy nights that grown-up grilled cheese recipes like this cheddar-apple number have come to our dinner rescue, however, I’ll make the case that it deserves some consideration.
What’s that you say? The desert island doesn’t come with electric outlets to plug in my panini press? I’ll use a cast-iron skillet instead. This is survival mode after all.
Silly though it may sound, this apple grilled cheese recipe is one of the first meals that convinced me that I might actually be able to cook. I realize that sounds like an overreaction to a GRILLED CHEESE—a recipe that toddlers eat and college students successfully prepare without going to the emergency room every single day—BUT this is no ordinary grilled cheese sandwich.
If I ever run a café (or a grilled cheese food truck), this Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese will never leave my menu. Each ingredient pairs harmoniously with the others, and together they make a sandwich whose tastes far exceeds its individual parts. When you taste it, you’ll feel as if you can cook like Julia Child, even though a child could make it. Your secret is safe with me.
Here’s what’s happening between the (buttery, fluffy sourdough) bread:
- Sweet, sliced tart apples: I like Granny smith or Fuji, but any lightly tart apple you love (or pick!) will do nicely.
- Apple butter: FABULOUS when paired with grilled cheese. It’s the whole sweet-savory thang that makes my heart flutter.
- I’ve started making my own homemade Slow Cooker Apple Butter, and now I’m never going back to store bought because it is so easy and so darn good. If you prefer to purchase apple butter, you can usually find it either by the applesauce or jelly.
- Sage: Adds depth, undeniable fall flair, and pairs beautifully with apple.
- Turkey: Choose a good-quality turkey meat purchased directly from the deli counter (no prepacked meats, please). I prefer a low-sodium variety to keep the sandwich from becoming overly salty.
- Sharp cheddar: Cheddar and apple are flavor BFFs. Think cheeseboard, come to life in epic sandwich form. I strongly encourage purchasing a good-quality block of cheddar (I like sharp white) and grating it yourself versus the prepacked slices. The cheese is the star, so this isn’t the place to skimp.
I’m often asked if I cook dinner every night, and my answer is…
At the end of a long day of recipe testing, I rarely have the energy to make another meal. At the same time, however, Ben and I almost never order takeout or delivery. My secret? Panini and grilled sandwiches like today’s Turkey Apple Grilled Cheese.
Grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches take minutes to throw together and are unquestionably easier, healthier, and more delicious than anything that comes in a cardboard box. For a fast dinner, Ben and I each assemble our own, then I serve them with an easy side, such as Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Tools I used to make this recipe:
- We own and love this combo panini press and griddle.
- A cast-iron skillet like this one or a nonstick skillet like this one make fantastic grilled sandwiches also.
Apple Butter, Turkey, and Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Melty cheddar, sweet apple butter, granny smith apples, and healthy turkey. DELICIOUS fall flavor. Perfect for quick dinners!
- 4 slices whole wheat bread (I used a bakery whole wheat sourdough)
- 1/4 cup apple butter
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage ( or 1 scant teaspoon dry rubbed sage)
- 2 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (I love using white cheddar)
- 1 firm tart or semi-tart apple (thinly sliced, such as Granny Smith, Fuji, or Honeycrisp)
- 6 ounces good-quality deli turkey meat
- 1 tablespoon light butter spread (plus additional for grilling sandwich)
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium low or preheat your panini press to medium high.
- Spread all four slices of bread with 1 tablespoon apple butter each. For each sandwich, layer one of the slices with half of the sage, half of the cheese, a layer of apple slices, and the turkey. Place the remaining bread slices on top, apple-butter-side down.
- Butter the outsides of the sandwich, then once the skillet is warm or the panini press is preheated, grill on stovetop (cooking each side for 2 to 4 minutes until the bread is toasty and golden—low and slow will guarantee the most melty, perfectly cooked grilled cheese) or place in the panini press, using additional butter or nonstick spray as needed to prevent sticking. Slice and enjoy hot.
- To make gluten free, use gluten-free bread.
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