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, 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 the Balsamic Blackberry Brie in my cookbook, this cheddar-apple number, or a BLT 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 cinnamon 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.
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 Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
5 Star Review
“My husband said this was the ‘Best sandwich (he’s) ever had,’ and my 9-year old said ‘huh, surprisingly good.’ It was wonderful and enjoyed by all!”— Peggy —
How to Make Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey
If I ever run a café (or a grilled cheese food truck), this apple grilled cheese with turkey 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.
- Apples. I like Granny Smith (the green apple grilled cheese you see pictured here) or Fuji, but any lightly tart apple you love (or pick!) will do nicely. Since apples are rich in fiber and vitamins, they add valuable nutrition to the sandwich.
- Turkey. Choose a good-quality turkey meat purchased directly from the deli counter. 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.
For the best ever grilled cheese, I strongly encourage purchasing a good-quality block of cheddar (I like sharp white) and grating it yourself.
- Freshly grated melts better and is usually better quality than prepacked slices.
- The cheese is the star, so this isn’t the place to skimp.
- DO NOT use preshredded cheeses, which are coated with a starchy substance to prevent clumping. That substance causes the cheese not to melt as smoothly.
- Apple Butter. FABULOUS when paired with grilled cheese. It’s the whole sweet-savory thang that makes my heart flutter.
- Sage. Adds depth, undeniable fall oomph, and pairs beautifully with apple.
- Spread apple butter onto the bread slices. Top with sage, cheese, apples, and turkey. Place the other bread slices on top.
- Butter the outsides of the sandwiches. Grill each sandwich in a skillet or panini press for 2 to 4 minutes per side. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover grilled cheese in an airtight storage container for up to 1 day.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or with a panini press.
This sandwich is best enjoyed the day it is made, as the bread will become soggy in the refrigerator. If you have leftovers, however, they will still be delicious!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Panini Press + Griddle Combo. The ultimate sandwich-making machine.
- Skillet. For those not wanting a panini press, a cast-iron skillet like this one or a nonstick skillet like this one make fantastic grilled sandwiches also.
- Apple Corer. If you love apples, this is a gadget worth having.
Frequently Asked Questions
While I love this as a cheddar and apple grilled cheese, you could experiment with making it a Brie and apple grilled cheese instead. I also think a gouda apple grilled cheese or apple mozzarella grilled cheese could be tasty, but the overall flavor of the sandwich will be different.
Apple grilled cheese can easily be made gluten free by using a gluten-free bread.
Apples and cheese complement each other well in recipes like this. The salty, savory notes in the cheese are elevated by the sweetness and juiciness of the apples and vice versa.
Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey
- 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 the 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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