For most of us, a grilled cheese sandwich consists of a few simple ingredients. Typically, we’re looking at a pretty straightforward recipe of butter, bread, and American cheese, but it’s easy to up the ante by choosing a fancier cheese, like fontina or white cheddar instead of classic American. You can also opt for different types of bread, with brioche, sourdough, and focaccia being some much-loved options. However, if you’re looking for some fun upgrades to try out, you’ve certainly come to the right place.

It’s no surprise that our favorite celebrity chefs — like Food Network star Guy Fieri, culinary icon Gordon Ramsay, or food truck hero Roy Choi — have a few tricks up their sleeves to seriously upgrade the classic sandwich. From additions of extra cheese, bacon, and tomatoes to using an air fryer, we’ve rounded up some of the best and most interesting ways to elevate a grilled cheese.

Claire Robinson: Heirloom tomatoes and pancetta

Food Network icon Claire Robinson has a simple yet effective way of upgrading grilled cheese. Nicknamed the "grown-up farmhouse grilled cheese," Robinson adds a hefty helping of thin pancetta slices and heirloom tomatoes. This is a fun take on adding bacon and tomato soup to the timeless sandwich. She also opts for fluffy brioche bread, contrasting the sweetness of the carbohydrate with the tang of sharp white cheddar.

When it comes to construction, she advises baking the pancetta slices in the oven for a little over 15 minutes to crisp them up. From there, she toasts the brioche, uses half the cheese to cover the bread, and adds a slice of tomato, salt, and pepper. She then adds the crispy pancetta, the rest of the cheese, and tops it off with the other piece of bread. Using a tablespoon of butter, Robinson cooks her grown-up grilled cheese as normal, then cuts it diagonally once done.

Erin Greenspan: Dried apricots, capers, and dijon mustard

Eric Greenspan made a name for himself after appearing on iconic cooking shows "The Next Iron Chef" and "Iron Chef America." In 2008, he won the Grilled Cheese Invitational with what he dubs as "The Champ," a sweet and salty twist on your classic sammy (via CBS News).

The key ingredients to his upgraded grilled cheese? Dried apricots, dark raisin bread, and capers. He also adds other tasty ingredients like dijon mustard and arugula and uses room-temperature taleggio as his cheese of choice.

Greenspan starts off by doing the unexpected: He places the apricots in a saucepan and adds water to cover them before bringing them to a boil. He then removes them from the heat, adds the capers, mustard, and olive oil, and blends it all together to create a chunky jam that gets spread onto each side of dark raisin bread.

To finish things off, he adds the arugula and taleggio, toasts the entire sandwich, and just like that, it’s done.

Bobby Flay: Brie, bacon, green tomatoes, and watercress

wheel of brie cheese

Bobby Flay likely needs no introduction, and neither does his unexpected recipe for grilled brie and goat cheese. As the name implies, he uses a blend of creamy brie and soft goat cheese to create a tangy flavor profile. He then adds thick-sliced bacon — ½-inch-thick, to be precise — and green tomatoes (tomatoes that haven’t quite ripened yet, so they’re more acidic than classic red), and tops everything off with watercress, a peppery-tasting vegetable (via Food Network). The result is a grilled cheese with a decidedly grown-up taste profile that’s sure to please even the most aristocratic tastebuds.

To build his sandwich he layers the brie, tomato slices, watercress, goat cheese, and pieces of broken-up bacon between two slices of bread before grilling the whole thing.

Notably, Flay uses Pullman bread, a loaf that’s commonly used for sandwiches and is similar to white bread, but has a softer crust.

Antoni Porowski: Mayo and leeks

leeks on black background

Antoni Porowski is most well-known for starring on Netflix’s "Queer Eye," where he serves as the group’s food and wine expert. Porowski has published several cookbooks and is known for his fancy takes on classic foods, like hot dogs, chili, and omelets. Case in point: To amplify his grilled cheese, Porowski explains that he adds mayonnaise, an acidic alternative to butter, and leeks for a fresh bite.

Porowski dubs his recipe "Grilled Cheese for a Crowd." This sandwich appears in Season 1, Episode 2 of "Queer Eye," although he’s not specific about certain parts of the recipe. For instance, he uses a type of white cheese and white bread, but doesn’t define which kinds, and doesn’t state how he incorporates the mayonnaise … but it’s safe to assume that he uses it to coat the bread in place of standard butter. He also cooks the leeks in a ton of butter and grates the cheese, rather than using slices. So go ahead and use his outline, but feel free to get creative with cheese and bread varieties to make it your own.

Roy Choi: Gruyere, Parmesan, yellow cheddar, and white cheddar

cheeses on cutting board

Roy Choi’s take on the grilled cheese is relatively simple, but super rich — he doesn’t add any fruits, vegetables, or jams, but he does opt for an incredibly lush mix of cheeses. (Lactose intolerant folks will need to look away for this one.)

Choi, who is famed for being the founder of the food truck phenomenon, uses sourdough bread and a blend of four kinds of cheese: gruyere, Parmesan, yellow cheddar, and white cheddar (as stated by Hallmark Channel).

To start, he heats olive oil on a grill, butters his bread, then puts the slices down on the pan. He adds the cheeses (the amounts and ratios of the cheeses aren’t stated, so it’s your choice) and moves the bread around on the griddle as everything melts and toasts. When the bread is golden brown, top each cheesy half with a second slice of grilled bread.

Gordon Ramsay: Kimchi, asiago cheese, and romano cheese

grilled cheese with kimchi

Ah, Gordon Ramsay. He’s most known for his aggressive television personality and an array of shows, like "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Hell’s Kitchen." However, Ramsay is clearly a talented chef in his own right, filled to the brim with ideas on improving classic recipes like scrambled eggs, steak, and, of course, grilled cheese.

According to his website, Ramsay uses a blend of romano and asiago cheeses to level up the classic ‘wich. Romano boasts a harder texture and saltier taste, while asiago is creamy and leans toward a slightly sweeter and nuttier flavor.

His secret weapon, though? Kimchi, which is a traditional Korean side dish that consists of salted and fermented vegetables like napa cabbage. Ramsay adds his kimchi between the layers of cheese and uses country bread to mellow out all the flavors. Notably, he also butters his bread slices but cooks them in olive oil on a cast iron pan.

Guy Fieri: Hawaiian bread, Italian sausage, and mac and cheese

grilled cheese with macaroni

If you know anything about Guy Fieri, his grilled cheese recipe is likely no surprise. The famous TV personality is notorious for his taste for quirky and diverse foods. His take on grilled cheese — which he calls his "Sausage Mac n Cheese Camping Sandwiches" — features a few hearty, comfort-food-like twists thanks to his additions of Italian sausage and homemade macaroni and cheese.

As detailed by Forbes, Fieri uses King’s Hawaiian sliced bread as his base, followed by sliced provolone cheese, a good-sized scoop of macaroni and cheese (which is made with four other kinds of cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce … so you know it’s delicious), and a couple of spoonfuls of cooked Italian sausage. He also uses a camping press to create more of a panini-type sandwich, but you can always cook yours on a griddle and smush it down with another pan to produce a similar effect.

The end result is a gooey, cheesy, crispy, and salty sandwich featuring cheese on cheese on sausage on cheese. Could it get any better?

Alton Brown: Grilled over charcoal with mustard powder

toast over charcoals

In the case of Alton Brown, it’s not so much the ingredients that make his grilled cheese stand out, but the technique. He opts for timeless white bread, extra sharp cheddar, gruyere, and smoked paprika. He also adds a bit of dry mustard powder to give a hint of extra tang to the sandwich.

Here’s where it gets crazy, though: Unlike any other grilled cheese on our list, Brown cooks his on a charcoal grill. It may seem like a bit much for an easy lunch, but if you’re in the mood to experiment, Brown swears by this technique. Once he gets the grill ready with heated charcoal, he grates the cheeses in separate bowls, and adds the dry mustard, paprika, and black pepper to the mixtures.

Then, using two foil-wrapped spatulas, he places the individual cheese blends on each one and places them on the grill. As soon as they start to bubble and melt, he removes them, grills the bread slices until they’re toasted, and adds the cheeses. He covers the bread with foil, grills it again, and removes it. Just like that, you have a truly grilled, grilled cheese sandwich.

Carla Hall: Uses an air fryer

air fryer and bread

Cooking icon Carla Hall has a ton of suggestions on how to amplify your grilled cheese (for instance, using mayonnaise is one of them), but she raves about using an air fryer to cook up the standard sammy. She test-drove this trick during the pandemic and noted that she tried it when cooking a "taco grilled cheese," which features taco meat and crumbled tortilla chips.

Hall explains that the best way to do it is to place the grilled cheese in the air fryer and set it to 300-325 F. As stated by South China Morning Post, Hall notes that the exact timing depends on the type of air fryer you have, but it’s typically done in around 7 minutes.

She loves this hack because it provides a crispy texture all around. Each bite is filled with a delectable crunch, so she suggests using this trick when you plan to dunk your grilled cheese in a bowl of soup.

Jamie Oliver: Encases the entire sandwich in cheese

Now, a cheese toastie differs slightly from a grilled cheese sandwich, but the two are very similar. Toasties are typically consumed in Europe as a breakfast, lunch, or snack, and in addition to cheese, include ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, herbs, or mustard. Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a cheese toastie is relatively simple and still boasts those classic comfort flavors.

He starts off by buttering two slices of bread (he doesn’t specify which type, so you can choose your favorite), then adds shredded cheddar and red Leicester cheeses to one side. He then adds the second piece of bread on top and plops the sandwich onto a cast iron pan to grill it up (it should take about 3 minutes per side).

After that, he removes it and adds a layer of grated cheese and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the pan. He places the whole sandwich on top of the grated cheese for about a minute, allowing the cheese to get bubbly. Lastly, he uses a spatula to lift it out of the pan so the cheese hangs down and melts around the edges of the sandwich.