The 2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Pageant

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Pageant!

From traditional cheese-and-bread to cheese-stuffed bison burgers, from sourdough to gluten-free lemon pound cake…more than 30 food bloggers and other grilled cheese fans submitted grilled cheese sandwiches comprised of all types of ingredients in this year’s Pageant. Prepare to be allured, intrigued and inspired as you observe the procession of grilled cheese interpretations. And be sure to click the photos to view the recipes!

In the spirit of “cheesy-ness”, I’m handing out 11 different pageant-themed titles this year – seven from last year plus four new ones. Go with it…these aren’t easy to come up with! The list of sashes is as follows (click the links to jump ahead):

Harvest QueenBest PersonalityBest SwimsuitBest TalentClassic BeautyInner BeautyMiss CongenialityMost Chic
Sweet & SassyTiny Miss

Our (randomly selected) Grand Supreme winner will be receiving a Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Panini Press & Skillet Grill Set, courtesy of Le Creuset. The winner is announced at the end of the procession.

Let the show begin – bring on the cheese!

* * *

An interesting trend emerged among the Grilled Cheese Pageant entries last year: sandwiches featuring fruit. The Harvest Queen sash is awarded to those sandwiches that celebrate the classically delicious combination of fruit and cheese. From apples to pears to mangoes, Harvest Queens abounded once again this year.

Caramelized Apple Grilled Cheese ~ by Kevin, Closet Cooking
Grilled Cheese and Pear Sandwich ~ by Maria, Two Peas and Their Pod
Grilled Apple, Smoked Gruyere and Lowfat Mozzarella Sandwich ~ by Scott, Fight the Fat Foodie
Toasted Whole Grain Apple Cheddar Panini ~ by Jenny, Picky Palate
Mango-Cheddar Grilled Cheese ~ by Ginny, Just Get Floury
Grilled Provolone with Pear and Arugula ~ by Ellen, St. Paul, MN
Grilled Brie with Bartlett Pears ~ by Joanna, Go Ahead and Snicker

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Everyone knows that to truly understand someone’s personality you’ve got to peel back the layers. These two sandwiches are especially notable for their layers. Michael’s features a cheese crisp (aka frico) “welded” to the bottom of his grilled cheese sandwich. Christine’s are actually comprised of many thin, crispy layers, forming grilled cheese wafers.

SuperFrico Grilled Cheese Sandwich ~ by Michael, Herbivoracious
Grilled Cheese Wafers ~ by Christine, Kits Chow

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As I put it in last year’s Pageant, “It’s debatable whether adding healthy vegetables into a grilled cheese sandwich will help us to look good in our swimsuits but it’s a nice thought to have as you digest these…vegetable-laden contestants.” Just in time for bikini season, these sandwiches with asparagus, peppers, eggplant and onions are definitely worth diving into. Jenn’s is even gluten-free! [NOTE: Just because I happen to be showing a sandwich in this category does not in any way mean that I’m swimsuit ready yet.]

Eggplant, Bell Pepper & Asiago Grilled Cheese ~ by Jenn, Jenn Cuisine
Roasted Red Pepper Panini ~ by Dawn, What's Cookin'?-hamms kitchen
Asparagus Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette Grilled Cheese ~ by Shane, imagine a different world of grilled cheese
Grilled Gruyere with Marinated Onions & Whole Grain Mustard ~ by Kathy, Cooking On the Side

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Last year’s “Best Talent” recipients adorned their grilled cheese sandwiches with their own condiment spreads. This year’s talent was all about homemade bread. Fresh-baked cornbread, semolina bread, wild rice and onion bread, challah – even a gluten-free lemon loaf – gave these sandwiches impressive flair.

Grilled Cheese on Homemade Semolina Bread ~ by Michelle, Big Black Dog
Cornbread Grilled Cheese with Roasted Jalapeno Mayo, Sharp Pimento Cheddar and Bacon ~ by Mallory, A Sofa in the Kitchen
Grilled 7 Cheeses on Homemade Wild Rice and Onion Bread ~ by Bryan, Arlington, VA
Challah Grilled Cheese ~ by Risa, Sweet Oven Lovin'
Grilled Lemon Loaf with Mozzarella ~ by Vicky, Sweets at Vicky's

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There are many different interpretations when it comes to one’s notion of a “grilled cheese sandwich”. But, of course, the classic version is comprised simply of cheese and bread. Each with their own delectable three-cheese blends, the following contestants are the purists.

The Perfect Grilled Cheese ~ by Dax, Simple Comfort Food
Triple Threat Grilled Cheese with Havarti, Mozzarella & Pepper Jack ~ by Maggie, Hayward, CA
Grilled Three Cheese Sandwich ~ by Noerah & Talia, innBrooklyn

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True beauty resides on the inside. This is definitely the case for the next two sandwiches, which are particularly notable for what’s hidden inside. The cheese (and chutney) in Laurie’s sandwich is actually ensconced within a bison burger! Meanwhile, Emilie offers a tuna surprise amidst the Emmental and Raclette on her baguette.

Teeny Weeny Cheezy Do-ninis ~ by Laurie, Donut Taste Good
Emmental, Raclette, Tuna and Tomato Sauce on Baguette ~ by Emilie, Minneapolis, MN

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I just had to bring back my favorite title from last year’s Pageant, Miss Congeniality: “The title of Miss Congeniality is bestowed upon contestants who are especially congenial and charismatic. The next sandwiches feature bacon – and bacon sure is nice.” This year, I’m qualifying all pork products in the niceness category.

Ultimate Grilled Cheese ~ by Joelen, What's Cookin, Chicago...Joelen's Culinary Adventures
Triple P Panini with Pulled Pork, Provolone and Pickles ~ by Cookie, Workout Then Cook

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The following bold-flavored sandwiches all feature chicken. Chic… chicken…get it? That doesn’t really make any sense, does it. Don’t worry, I’m not quitting blogging for a stand-up comedy career anytime soon. 🙂 Anyway, the sandwiches all look really tasty – enjoy!

Tandoori Chicken N Cheese Panini ~ by Rachana, Sizzle N Spice
Chicken Parmesan Grilled Cheese ~ by Leah, Wine Imbiber
Grilled Tuscan Sandwich ~ by Shanan, The World as Seen by Shanan (Shef Shanan)
Smoked Mozzarella & Chicken Panini ~ by Valerie, Don't Forget Delicious

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Spreading on flavorful condiments is an excellent way to kick up grilled cheese. The inclusion of such mouthwatering spreads as strawberry-cabernet jam, orange marmalade and pesto earned these sandwiches the title of Sweet & Sassy.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese ~ by Sandy, EatLoveTravel
Grilled Farmer's Cheese with Black Forest Ham and Orange Marmalade ~ by Mary, Lakewood, CO
Pesto Grilled Cheese ~ by Jote, Bless her heart...

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For the very youngest pageant competitors there is a crown for “Tiny Miss”. Two of our grilled cheese contenders feature eggs – work with me here – it doesn’t get much younger than that!

Egg Battered Grilled Cheese ~ by Marla, Family Fresh Cooking
Scrambled Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich ~ by Amy, Streaming Gourmet

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And now to award the most-esteemed title of the Grilled Cheese Pageant -the Grand Supreme tiara!

Ooooh…ahhhhh… did the honors, and the winning entry was…

Congratulations to Entrant #1 – Cookie from Workout Then Cook. A gorgeous new Le Creuset Panini Press (in Kiwi) will be on its way to you shortly!

A big round of applause for all of this year’s participants – you shared some pretty incredible grilled cheese sandwiches. And a big thanks to the audience for stopping by to share in the celebration.

Happy Grilled Cheese Month, everyone!


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. These are truly mouthwatering!

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  2. HoneyB wrote:

    They all look so yummy! I’m cutting down on my bread right now and boy am I ever having a craving for bread now!
    .-= HoneyB´s last blog ..Bambi’s Peanut Butter Cookies – a Family Recipe =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  3. yIPPEE! All the grilled cheese-a-holics unite!
    .-= Sweets By Vicky´s last blog ..Afternoon Delight =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  4. Maria wrote:

    Great round up post. They all look wonderful. I love the creativity too! Thanks for including my entry. What a fun pageant!

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  5. Joanna wrote:

    Holy crap. I need to go stock up on some more cheese. I think I’ll be having at least three of these this week for dinner! Thanks for the great feature!
    .-= Joanna´s last blog ..Yo! It’s another giveaway! =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  6. Valerie wrote:

    Yum! So much cheese, so little time… Clearly, I need to go home and have a grilled cheese right now!
    .-= Valerie´s last blog ..Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  7. What a collection! I am truly impressed. Nice job with the categories too. I’m honored just to be a contestant. 🙂
    .-= StreamingGourmet (Amy)´s last blog ..Scrambled Egg Grilled Cheese with Leeks =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  8. I missed out on the deadline but still decided to post my ultimate grilled cheese sandwich with asparagus pesto..very Spring-like. It is great to see so many delicious and inspiring grilled cheese sandwiches all in one place!!
    .-= bellini valli´s last blog ..Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Asparagus Pesto =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Your sandwich looks so yummy – not to mention seasonal! 🙂

      Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  9. lo wrote:

    Look at all those delicious sammiches! We totally missed the deadline too… but grilled cheese sandwiches are regular favorites around our house, especially when you “stretch” the definition a little bit 🙂
    .-= lo´s last blog ..Gifts and Bread and Delightfully Runny Eggs =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      We missed you too! Glad you were able to join us in the “audience” this time 🙂

      Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  10. Cookie wrote:

    Thanks so much for the Press! I can’t wait to use it!
    .-= Cookie´s last blog ..Another Batch of Barefoot Contessa Crackers =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  11. Amy wrote:

    I ? grilled cheese. I want to make every single one of these. Nom nom nom.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Southwestern Salad =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  12. Rachana wrote:

    Thanks for the great roundup. They all look delicious.
    .-= Rachana´s last blog ..Goan Dal – Toi =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  13. Esi wrote:

    People are so creative! I just did not have time to think about coming up with something great this year, but glad so many other people did. It all look AMAZING!!
    .-= Esi´s last blog ..Halibut over Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes =-.

    Posted 4.20.10 Reply
  14. Robin Sue wrote:

    This was great fun to read, so many creative chefs out there. This will be a great resource when I am up for a great grilled cheese!
    .-= Robin Sue´s last blog ..Modern v. Mike’s Cannoli Throwdown Plus more North End Eats =-.

    Posted 4.21.10 Reply
  15. Great roundup! There are so many amazing grilled cheeses to look at!
    .-= Kevin (Closet Cooking)´s last blog ..Pineapple Dak Bulgogi (Pineapple Korean BBQ Chicken) =-.

    Posted 4.21.10 Reply
  16. So sorry that I couldn’t participate this year. Life got in the way last week and I couldn’t manage any grilled cheese sandwiches 🙁

    All of the entries look fantastic!
    .-= Lori @ RecipeGirl´s last blog ..Kumquat Marmalade w/ Orange-Pecan English Muffin Bread =-.

    Posted 4.22.10 Reply
  17. Do-Ho wrote:

    Yay! We love that we won Inner Beauty. Mom was right–what matters most is on the inside. Thanks for your incredibly creative editorial on all the entries. What fun!

    Posted 5.2.10 Reply