Photo: Karl Gustafson

The phrase “reinventing the wheel” gets thrown around a lot, but honestly, this method is a revelation—for grilled cheese, anyway.

Granted, I have had more conversations about mayonnaise over the past few months than I’ve had in my entire life. It was either during the mayonnaise/ketchup taste test or the mayonnaise/peanut butter taste test when my coworker Bryan stated that he fried his grilled cheese in mayonnaise, not butter.

As with other mayo things I had heard about but never tried before, I was instantly intrigued. Bryan was steadfast about this method’s efficacy. I loved his idea because, with kids, I make a lot of grilled cheese, and the worst part is always spreading that soft-but-likely-not-soft-enough butter on the bread without piercing it. Mayonnaise? Spreads like a dream, obviously.

Then Takeout editor Kevin Pang turned the whole thing on its head and suggested frying your grilled cheese in aioli or a flavored mayonnaise. What would that taste like? Besides heaven, that is?

Photo: Karl Gustafson

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So I picked up some peppercorn and chipotle mayo to go along with the sriracha mayo and plain mayo I had at home, and started frying. A few details immediately became clear. First, just about a tablespoon’s worth will do to coat each slice of bread, otherwise it gets gloppy. Also, mayonnaise seemingly cooks faster than butter, so it’s a little tricky to not singe the edges while still cooking long enough for the cheese to get nice and melty. Bryan suggested flipping often; I also used a lower heat than I usually do for frying grilled cheese, medium instead of a medium-high.

While the plain mayo deliciously encased the grilled cheese in a comforting blanket of fat, the flavored mayo definitely took things to a new level. The pepper version was compellingly mustardy, the sriracha added some heat, but the chipotle also had some flavorful herbs and spices now nicely dotting the exterior of the bread. By coating the grilled cheese in mayo, you get the mayo’s full flavor without getting bogged down by goopy condiments.

I kind of can’t believe how good it was. You can still add whatever you like to your grilled cheese—tomato, bacon, turkey—but the flavored mayo on the outside turns even your plain grilled cheese into a gourmet option. Try whichever one you like—the sriracha and chipotle ones are definitely for people who like things on a spicier level, but you could also try garlicky aioli or thicker Japanese ones. Or, make your own flavored mayo, maybe with an herb component, and fry in that. The possibilities—for grilled cheese at least—are virtually endless. You’ll thank me later, and you’re welcome.

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