Best Cheeses for Grilled Cheese

Ever stop and think, “What cheese should I get to make that ultimate grilled cheese sandwich?” Don’t worry – you are not alone!

The grilled cheese is a comfort food classic that’s hard to mess up and never lets you down, even when all you have left in your fridge is a slice of – oh no! – American cheese. However, basic doesn’t necessarily mean best, so if you’re craving the most satisfying grilled cheese you can get your hands on, we’re right there with you!

Start by spreading your sliced bread with either butter or mayo (yes…mayo!) on one side.

Then, on the other side, add a shredded or thinly sliced cheese that melts easily. That way you get a drool-worthy cheese pull. Want more flavor? Add another cheese into the mix to create more complexity. Perhaps a fresh cheese like a fromage blanc. Or grate in a bit of hard, aged cheese for a bit more drive. Toss it in the pan and crisp up on both sides.

No matter how you choose to cheese, just remember that there isn’t really a wrong way. Experiment until you find the best mix for you! After all, it is cheese and bread; who could ask for more? (Although we do recommend you up your grilled cheese game by taking it with a side of tomato soup!)

Here are some California cheeses that make a great base for your next grilled cheese sando.

San Geronimo by Nicasio Valley Cheese Company

“This washed-rind -which means it has a bit of “funk” – is like a cross between a Fontina and a Raclette. A good melting cheese, it stands up well to other bold flavors.

Finished 2nd in North America in the American Cheese Society Raclette category. San Geronimo has won multiple State and National Awards.”

St. Jorge by Joe Matos Cheese Factory

St. George is made from a recipe from the Portuguese Azores. Owner Mary recalls that it was frequently used as a method of payment in lieu of money, to pay, for instance, the doctor or some other unforeseen expense. As such, cheeses in the Azores were often made in a loaf shape, whereas those that are made in California are formed in circular molds. Mary will still make a batch of loaf shaped cheeses upon request.

Matos St George is like a cross between cheddar and Monterey Jack. It is a wonderfully unpretentious, honest cheese with a bit of a tang. “

Wagon Wheel by Cowgirl Creamery

“Wagon Wheel’s rosy-hued rind surrounds a delightfully supple center. Luxurious in its natural state, the paste becomes irresistible when melted. The flavor has a slight tartness balanced with richer notes of brown butter and cream. “

Wrapping Wedges Like a Pro

Let’s get started – Photo Courtesy of Fromagination

I’m constantly trying to figure out how to wrap those leftover wedges of cheese in my fridge so they don’t dry out before I have time to eat them.

I also want the packages look as pretty (and intact) as I see in the cheese shops.

Thanks to an instructional video from the famed Neals Yard Dairy of London, it seems to be all about the angle of the fold! Check it out.

Although this video uses cheese paper, I use wax paper. Works just as well, and it’s much cheaper.

Remember not to use plastic wrap to seal your cheese. Because cheese is alive! Don’t want to suffocate it.

Another day, perhaps I’ll find one on wrapping differently-shaped cheeses. Or you can find out how yourself by doing your own YouTube search.

Happy wrapping!

9 Leftover Cheese Ideas

Gather up those bits of leftover cheese and feast again.
Check out the recipe and serving suggestions below.

Mac n’ Cheese – Because who said it’s only supposed to contain cheddar?
Fallen Cheese Souffle – You probably have all these ingredients already.
Ecuadorian Stuffed Potato Pancakes – For something different.
Cheese and Spinach Baked Egg Pots – British inspiration.
Cannolis – For that leftover ricotta – courtesy of Sierra Cheese.

Fromage Fort (i.e. Cheese Spread)- Put ’em all in the blender and get out the toast.
Grilled Cheese – It always tastes better with a combo of cheeses.  A nice spreadable cheese, like a fromage blanc or cream cheese is a great addition.
Flavor your Soup – Throw those Parmesan rinds in for a cheesy flavor. (take out before eating).
Or simply
, slice a walnut/cranberry baguette, put out the leftover cheese, a bit of wine, and invite your friends/neighbors over.

Cheese By Mail

Sneak your way to into someone’s heart by sending them cheese. Each package listed below is carefully selected and perfectly paired by a California cheesemaker, so you don’t have to think about anything except pushing a button.  (Note: shipping may be extra)

Send one as a gift, bring it along to a party, or, just save it for yourself.

For a full list of cheesemakers who ship, click here


So Gouda – $34
A delicious gift basket from the Burroughs Family Farms that each member of the family will surely enjoy this holiday!

Package includes:
Burroughs Grass to Gold Gouda Cheese
Rustic Bakery artisan crisps
Jar of Whipped Honey
Burroughs Family Almonds


Truffle Tam Home Kit – $75

The cheesemongers at our Cowgirl Creamery Ferry Building cheese shop create a delicious and decadent truffled Mt Tam in collaboration with their neighbors at Far West Fungi and sell it during the holidays. Due to a loud demand from out-of-town visitors, it’s been decided to offer this do-it-yourself kit to our customers to prepare at home.


Package includes:
Mt Tam
Black Truffle Pate
Cowgirl Creamery Sea Salt & Olive Oil Crackers

Holiday Shipping Schedule:
For delivery before Christmas, orders must be placed to ship the week of December 17. The cut off time to place orders shipping the week of Dec 17 is Dec 19 at 8am Pacific Time.
For the week of Dec 24, we will only be shipping on Dec 26.
For the week of Dec 31, we will only ship on Jan 2.



Cheese and Cookies for Santa – $50

The perfect gift set for the cheese-loving kid at heart. If you’re trying to get on Santa’s good list and just aren’t sure what to do, mix up the cliche “milk and cookies” with a spread chock-full of delicious cheeses, decadent butter cookies, and divinely rich drinking chocolate. Naughty to nice in ten seconds flat!

Humboldt Fog and Sweet Dreams are the perfect pairing companions for Rustic Bakery’s vanilla butter cookies and Dick Taylor Chocolate’s Drinking Chocolate, a rich and velvety European style drinking chocolate, handcrafted using ethically sourced cacao beans from the Maya Mountain Co-op in Belize. Sweet, salty, and decadent, this set makes a fabulous gift for friends, family, or yourself (trust us, you deserve it!).


Package includes:
Humboldt Fog Mini
Fresh Cup, Sweet Dreams
Belize Drinking Chocolate
Box of Snowflake Cookies



3-Wheels Variety – $32

The 3-Wheels Variety makes a great gift for coworkers, clients, friends or family.  It includes 3- 8 oz wheels of Traditional Brie, Triple Crème Brie, Camembert, plus a cheese knife.


Package includes:

Camembert (8oz)
Traditional Brie (8oz)
Triple Crème Brie (8oz)
Wooden Cheese Knife


Family Favorites Gift Box – $48.50

This collection sparks lively debate when our family discusses which cheese is the “best.” Foggy Morning embodies the cool quiet mornings shared at the Lafranchi  family ranch. Nicasio Reserve is assertive, yet refined and luxurious. The sentimental favorite, Nicasio Square features the stronger aromas and flavors achieved in washed rind cheeses.

Package includes:
Foggy Morning
Nicasio Reserve
Nicasio Square



Holiday Cheese Sampler – $68

When you’re planning a get-together and need a festive board or a special delight in seasonality, this selection of six farmstead cheeses—all handmade in small batches at the farm—will bring a unique taste of place to the table!


The Holiday Cheese Sampler includes:
Laychee with Fennel Pollen & Pink Peppercorn 
Velvet Sister
Boont Corners, Two Month
Boont Corners, Vintage 
Boont Corners, Reserve



Taste of Point Reyes – $75

Share the taste of West Marin expressed in farm fresh cheese with this cheese bundle from Point Reyes Cheese.

Package includes:
Original Blue
Bay Blue
Aged Gouda
Bonnie Bee Honey 
Wooden Honey Dipper
Rustic Bakery Blue Cheese Coins
Soft Pack Logo Picnic Cooler (not shown in photo)
Wooden Logo Cheese Knife



Gift Box – $65.00

This mix comes with Wm. Cofield’s signature cheeses that will surely brighten up your holidays!

Package includes:
Mckinley Cheddar
Bodega Blue
Fresh Willie’s Curds

For a full list of cheesemakers who ship, click here

Why No Pig Milk Cheese?

Theoretically, pig’s milk should make great cheese. It’s got the fat (8.5%!), lactose and water as needed. 

But they only produce a gallon and a half of milk per day (as opposed to cows that give about eight). It takes a gallon of milk to make a pound of cheese. And then, pigs can’t become pregnant while they’re lactating; an economic downside.

But the real problem? Pigs have fourteen teats – yes 14! – as opposed to four for a cow and two for goats or sheep. 

And milk only comes out in fifteen second blasts (as opposed to 10 minutes for a cow).

So a fancy contraption that works in fifteen second intervals with fourteen attachments would need to be designed for a very small amount of milk.

There might be other cultural or religious reasons that pig’s milk and cheese haven’t made our breakfast table, but the conclusion is clear: Let’s leave that precious milk for the little piggies.

Get more cheese facts HERE.

Discovering Organic Cheese  

When was the last time you searched out organic cheese and what is it? And which cheesemakers in California make organic cheese?

Organic certification of cheese comes down to the animals, the ingredients and the method of processing; all overseen by the USDA National Organic Program. 

Animals must be raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones. All feed must be certified organic (organic pastures, and no pesticides or genetically engineered feeds). Animals must be allowed access to outdoors, including shade and sunlight, clean and dry bedding, and space for exercise (amount of access and pasture required is outlined and determined by region).  

If an animal is sick and antibiotics are the only solution to save the animal, organic regulations require that you save the animal, but then remove it from your organic herd. If this happens, farmers then sell their milk as conventional, or more likely, sell the animal itself.


The ingredients must all be certified organic as well. That includes both the milk and the enzymes (which create the curds). Chymosin, the ingredient produced naturally in the lining of a ruminant’s stomach and solidifies the milk and creates curds, is available as a genetically engineered ingredient. This genetically engineered enzyme is the most commonly used enzyme in cheesemaking.  As it is genetically engineered, it is not allowed in organic cheese. If you care about that, and you’re not sure if your cheese contains a genetically engineered ingredient, contact the company to inquire. Or, simply purchase organic cheese.

In processing, only cleaning agents that do not leave a residue are allowed to touch equipment or ingredients.

California organic cheesemakers include Cowgirl Creamery, Nicasio Valley Cheese, Organic Pastures and Spring Hill Jersey Cheese. Rumiano and Sierra Nevada also have organic lines of cheese. 

Organic cheese sales grew 15% a year between 2012 and 2015 and are now estimated to be around $570 million annually.

Want organic cheese? Look for the USDA Organic label. Questions about organic cheese?  Just ask!



How to Store Your Cheese

You just ate a bit of the cheese you brought home from the store. But what do you do with the rest?

First thing to know is, your cheese is ALIVE! Not like a scary monster, but essentially it does need to breathe. That’s why wrapping that leftover piece in plastic cling wrap is not such a great idea. You don’t want to suffocate it.

The best thing to do is wrap it in Formaticum paper, wax or parchment paper (wax paper is cheapest, so that’s what I use). Then you can actually put some plastic wrap over it OR put it in a plastic tub with a lid.  That way it is wrapped to keep it moist but also has air to breathe. This method works for both hard and soft cheeses. Then pop it in the vegetable drawer (the veggies provide a little moisture).

If your cheese starts to seem a bit dry, wrap it in a damp cloth (a clean one!) and place in a plastic tub. And if it’s too moist, then it just needs a bit more air.  

Keep stinky or blue cheeses wrapped and stored separately.

And, of course, if you have a fresh cheese like cottage cheese or cream cheese, leave it in the tub you bought it in, and re-seal it.  

If it’s a fresh mozzarella, change the water in it every couple of days.

The main thing to remember is to buy only as much cheese as you can eat in a week. Once cheese is cut into, like a wedge or a slice, it’s exposed to other bacteria in your fridge or air, and begins to degrade. So buy less, and eat more!

Next Blog: What to do about Cheese Mold



Should I Eat the Cheese Rind?

“Can I – or should I – eat the rind of my cheese?”  

Great question. And absolutely you can. Of course, it totally depends on preference.

It’s always easiest – and tastiest – to try the white fuzzy rind of a “bloomy rind” cheese like Brie or Camembert.  That’s natural. And believe it or not, that white matted exterior is actually the flower of the mold that helped create your cheese. I happen to love it. But, if you don’t like it, scoop out the interior and leave the rind behind.

The brownish orange of a stinky “washed-rind” is also edible. Go for it.

When it gets to the hard cheeses, it gets a bit more difficult. They can be tough to chew and very hard.  A cheese like parmesan, which has aged for a longtime, can be impossible to eat. But keep those rinds. Don’t throw them away. Toss them in a soup (or freeze them in a ziplock bag for future broths).

Some rinds are just plain tasteless. They may taste like cardboard, or be dusty. Feel free to dislike and discard.

But no rind will make you sick.

There is only one rind that you should avoid. It’s the wax rind of the Gouda and Edam, often glossy and colored red, used to protect the cheese. That’s wax, people! Do not eat it!

Next blog: How to Store Cheese.