Is there any snack food more sacred than the humble toasted sandwich? Easy to make and even easier to eat (after they’ve cooled down, of course), there’s really no limit to how far you take the fillings-between-bread concept – just so long as it’s extra cheesy.
From Australia and around the world, here’s a taste of our all-time favourite toasties. Whether you’re in a mood for the original and the best or something a little more adventurous, you’ll find the jaffle, grilled cheese or toastie to suit.
NB: Thursday, April 18 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich day in the US. Get ready.
The US has spoken
Ahh, the OG grilled cheese sandwich. Rustic bread, good cheese and a hot grill – few things in life are as simple, more comforting, or easier to whip up in a matter of minutes. No one is too culinary challenged to make a toastie.
Our tip? Use the right cheese. Danish Harvati, a beautiful halfway point between spreadable and hard is an underrated option that melts really well, and you certainly can’t go wrong with a sharp cheddar for extra ooze.
Honourable mention goes to the famed mac and cheese toastie, a carb fiend’s idea of pure rapture. If there’s a god, surely it’s in the first mouthful of this sandwich.
For an unusual take on a tried-and-tested idea, look no further than Japan. Not only have the Japanese created this masterpiece, where crispy square patties of sushi rice replace bread (gluten-free!), but they’ve also given the world a sandwich loaded with baked Japanese sweet potatoes, cream cheese, almonds and homemade lemon peel. It really is the cuisine that keeps on giving.
Starting from scratch? Learn how to make Japanese candied sweet potatoes before you use them to conquer the toasted sandwich world.
A Sichuan riff
Sometimes we all just crave the original spag jaffle. We’re fairly sure tinned spaghetti exists purely to smoosh between bread. Looking to go next-level? Try this Sichuan riff on the much-adored tinned spaghetti jaffle, with dan dan noodles and peanut butter instead of SPC spaghetti cans and tomato sauce. It’s salty, spicy, sweet and sour all at once. Genius! Here’s the recipe.
India wants a slice
Who says Indian comfort food has to be curry? British Indian food writer and chef Anjum Anand makes a strong case for putting ingredients in our jaffles that we otherwise may have overlooked – tangy herb chutney, mustard seeds and even mayonnaise – in the interest of forging a new toasted sandwich tradition, one that incorporates Indian and western culinary influences. See what all the fuss is about– make Anjum’s Indian jaffles for yourself.
Slabs of the sourdough, butter and cheese all scream France. The classic sandwich, croque monsieur, is a Parisian toasted cheese sandwich typically cooked in a frying pan. This Matthew Evans' recipe takes the original OG and tops it with a fried egg turning it into this croque madame.
Venezuelan street snack
Arepas are small round fried cornbreads, which can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, from simple cheeses to slow-cooked meats. Preheat a barbecue chargrill or hotplate to medium. Brush a little butter over the chargrill plate and cook the arepas, in batches, for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Get this recipe here.
Whoever figured out that kimchi and cheese go spectacularly well together, the world owes you a collective thank you. Next time you’re making a grilled cheese, throw some kimchi – fermented cabbage and chilli – or some fresh green cabbage in the mix for a spice hit and a boost for your gut health. Get your hands around these pan-fried white bread toasted egg sandwiches right here.
Macedonians walk the walk
Adam Liaw wants you to think of przeni lepcinja as cheesy French toast – very cheesy. While technically a breakfast food, we wouldn’t say no to gorging on a few of these as a midnight snack. Unlike traditional French toast, przeni lepcinja is a savoury dish topped with crumbly feta rather than maple syrup. Here's one Adam Liaw prepared earlier - last year during his own Eurovision party.
Britain's got talent
It wouldn’t be British without the addition of baked beans. This recipe for bacon, baked beans and cheese jaffles will please even the most homesick Brit, and might just become your new favourite, too. In this version, bacon is wrapped on the outside of the bread to replace butter.
Arguably the best thing about the toasted sandwich is the near endless creative license they allow: if it fits between bread, it belongs in a toastie. Shane Delia's truffle fava and crayfish toastie is a testament to that freedom. Chock full of ingredients (coriander, Macedonian cheese, cured beef and crayfish, to name a few), this is a toastie of the supercharged variety. Find the recipe right here.
Africa's nutty addition
Whether you take things sweet or savoury, our rich 'n' nutty friend delivers in the delicious stakes. A seemingly crazy combination for a sandwich, you'll just have to trust us on this one and bite into Sudan's delicious beef toastie!
Kaya is a very sweet coconut jam, considered a staple throughout Singapore and parts of Malaysia. It is best served on unseeded wholemeal toast with a soft boiled egg and washed down with strong black coffee. Breakfast is served, Singapore-style. Here is the recipe.
And of course, Oz weighs in
Sydney’s cafe scene is proof enough of Australians’ love affair with truffles. We love them in just about any form they come in, but when they’re enveloped in melted cheese and cased in good quality bread, it’s enough to make us pay $10 for a toastie at any time of the day.
Go back to shroom basics with this steaming hot toastie, laden with butter and cheese.
This recipe turns the humble jaffle into a full meal - stuffing two slices of bread with spicy Mexican chilli and melty cheese has never looked so good.
These scrolls combine the richness of cream cheese with apple and cinnamon to create a moreish bite. Don't let the long resting time scare you - this recipe just requires time, not effort!
This really is the ultimate meatball sandwich: juicy pork and fennel meatballs, a rich tomato sauce, crunchy sweet fennel pickles and a nutty, dreamy pesto. My meatballs and tomato sauce are adapted from recipes in The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual, the must-have cookbook from the two chefs behind the popular NYC Frankies Spuntino restaurants.