This is the ultimate gourmet grilled cheese sandwich! It’s stuffed with chopped fresh tarragon, Bourbon caramelized shallots and melted, extra-sharp white cheddar cheese. And if that weren’t enough, the cheese is mixed with ground yellow mustard seeds for extra punch!
Why make this recipe?
Grilled cheese is a classic for good reason. Melted cheese sandwiched between buttery and crispy fried bread simply can’t go wrong. But grilled cheese gets even better when you add a touch of gourmet!
- unsalted butter – you need half of the butter to caramelize the shallots and the other half to spread on the outside of the sandwiches. I always recommend unsalted butter simply because you can never know how much salt is in salted butter; the amounts differ from brand to brand.
- shallots – try to slice the shallots more or less evenly so they caramelize evenly.
- Bourbon – arguably the most important ingredient in this recipe, Bourbon takes the caramelized shallots from pedestrian to spectacular by adding its signature oak and caramel flavors.
- sourdough – large, thick slices of a dark and rustic loaf work best in this recipe.
- extra-sharp white cheddar cheese – I recommend to get a block of cheddar and grate it yourself, rather than buying already grated cheese, which is usually coated with corn starch to keep it from clumping.
- ground yellow mustard seeds – yellow mustard seed is one of the best spices for grilled cheese, in my opinion. The seeds have a sharpness that intensifies the sharp flavor of the cheddar without adding the acidity that actual mustard would add. If you start with whole seeds, you need to grind them in a mortar with a pestle into a powder. Or, you can use already ground seeds.
- fresh tarragon leaves – the flavor of tarragon works absolutely great with the Bourbon and the cheddar in this recipe.
How to make the sandwiches:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Peel, then thinly slice the shallots crosswise.
Step 2. Melt butter in a nonstick pan or a cast iron pan.
Step 3. Add the sliced shallots to the butter and cook uncovered over medium heat until browned (about 13 minutes). Turn the heat off, add the Bourbon to the pan, turn the heat back on and cook until all liquid is evaporated, then set aside.
Step 4. Mix cheese and ground mustard seeds together in a bowl.
Step 5. Spread butter onto one side of each of the 4 slices of bread.
Step 6. Turn 2 of the bread slices over and top the unbuttered sides with tarragon.
Step 7. Add the cheese mix on top of the tarragon.
Step 8. Add the shallots onto the cheese.
Step 9. Top with the remaining slices of buttered bread, keeping the buttered side on the outside.
Fry the sandwiches:
- Heat an empty nonstick or a cast iron pan until hot.
- Fry each sandwich on both sides until the cheese has melted and the outsides of the bread slices are browned.
Recipe notes & tips:
- The bread slices I used here were about 7 inches long. If you use slices much smaller than that, you may want to make 3 sandwiches instead of 2.
Frequently asked questions:
Extra-sharp white cheddar is the best cheese for this particular grilled cheese sandwich recipe. The Bourbon and tarragon flavors are strong and need a strongly flavored cheese for balance.
I recommend a crusty sourdough bread for this recipe.
For this particular recipe, I recommend that you use butter. Mayonnaise adds its signature tanginess and while that’s often a good thing, here it clashes with the flavor of the Bourbon caramelized shallots.
This recipe works well as a stand-alone, complete meal and really doesn’t need any condiments. But, if you want to serve a pickle with it, I recommend these cinnamon clove-flavored homemade refrigerator pickles.
More delicious comfort food:
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Full Printable Recipe
Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tarragon and Bourbon Caramelized Shallots
- cheese grater
- measuring spoons
- knife and cutting board
- nonstick frying pan or cast iron pan
- mixing bowl
- mortar and pestle (optional) – if you don't have them, use already ground mustard seeds
- 3 shallots
- 4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon Bourbon
- 4 large slices rustic sourdough bread*
- 6 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground yellow mustard seeds**
- 30 tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
- Peel the shallots, then thinly slice them crosswise. Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a pan.
- Add the shallots and cook uncovered over medium heat until brown, about 13 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, then add the Bourbon to the shallots. Turn the heat back on and cook for another minute.
- Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
- Mix the cheese and the mustard seeds together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Spread butter onto one side of each slice of bread.
- Turn 2 of the slices over and sprinkle with the chopped tarragon.
- Sprinkle the cheese/mustard seed mix onto the tarragon.
- Evenly divide the shallots on top of the cheese.
- Top the sandwiches with the remaining 2 slices of buttered bread, keeping the buttered side on the outside.
- Heat an empty nonstick frying pan or a cast iron pan large enough to fit one sandwich comfortably on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Fry each sandwich on both sides until the cheese has melted and the outsides of the bread are browned (3-4 minutes on each side).