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Pesto grilled cheese makes one mouthwatering sandwich! Pair the herbaceous spread with melty mozzarella and Monterey jack cheese.

Pesto Grilled Cheese

It’s the time of year when our basil plant is big and bushy, and that means all things pesto. Here’s one of our favorite ways to use this herbaceous spread: in pesto grilled cheese! It gives the best garlicky, herby flavor to the gooey melty cheese, making it one irresistible sandwich. It’s quick to put together and almost impossible to put down.

Ingredients in pesto grilled cheese

Pesto grilled cheese is simple to whip up, but since there are only a few ingredients you’ll want them to be as high quality as possible. Homemade basil pesto has the best flavor and tastes so much fresher than store-bought: it’s a must if at all possible! Here’s what you’ll need for pesto grilled cheese:

  • Basil pesto
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • Italian bread
  • Butter
Basil Pesto Recipe

For the pesto: homemade vs storebought

This pesto grilled cheese tastes best with homemade basil pesto made with fresh basil! Of course, we know that’s not always possible. But if you’re using purchased pesto, keep this in mind: the flavor and quality of jarred pesto varies greatly between brands. Many jarred brands taste intensely acidic or have an odd aftertaste. Here’s what to know:

  • Homemade pesto has the best flavor! Basil Pesto is best homemade. Or, try you can try Arugula Pesto or Kale Pesto, which have a slightly spicier flavor, or even Sun Dried Tomato Pesto.
  • Purchased pesto brands vary greatly in flavor: some are very acidic. Brands all have a different salt and acid level. Some brands we have stopped using altogether because of the bitter and acidic notes can overwhelm the dish.
  • Some brands of refrigerated fresh pesto are now on the market (in the produce section). This type of pesto tends to have better flavor than pesto in jars. Experiment to find one you love!

Best bread for pesto grilled cheese

What’s the best bread for a grilled cheese sandwich? We have some opinions! Here are a few pointers:

  • Use an artisan bread. Wonderbread or mushy wheat bread just don’t work well for grilled cheese. Use an artisan bread like a crusty loaf or sourdough if you can.
  • Make sure the bread is not too crusty. Artisan bread that’s too crusty can make for very tough crusts, which can be hard to bite. Here we used a store-bought sourdough bread which had just the right texture.
Pesto Grilled Cheese

Adders for pesto grilled cheese

There are lots of ways to step up this pesto grilled cheese sandwich (you probably have lots of ideas). Just keep in mind, if you’re adding a tomato make sure to slice it very thinly: adding a tomato can make it harder to melt the cheese! Here are a few ideas for adders to this pesto grilled cheese sandwich:

What else would you add to your pesto grilled cheese? Let us know in the comments below!

More recipes with pesto

There are so many delicious ways to use pesto in your cooking! Here are some more recipes with pesto we love:

This pesto grilled cheese recipe is…


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Pesto Grilled Cheese

Pesto Grilled Cheese

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 sandwiches 1x


Pesto grilled cheese makes one mouthwatering sandwich! Pair the herbaceous spread with melty mozzarella and Monterey jack cheese.


  • 2 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 4 slices sourdough bread (or other artisan-style loaf)
  • 4 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into slices and patted dry
  • 2 slices (1.5 oz) Monterey jack cheese


  1. Place a skillet over medium low heat and melt the butter. Add two bread slices to the pan and toast until one side is golden.
  2. Flip the bread slices and layer them with the pesto, fresh mozzarella cheese, and Monterey jack cheese. Top with the other slice of bread.
  3. Cook until the bread is golden brown and toasted, then flip and cook a few minutes more until the second bread slice is toasted and the cheese is warm. Return to low and cover until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. 
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pesto grilled cheese

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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