This is the ultimate fancy grilled cheese sandwich! Buttery and crispy sourdough bread is stuffed with chopped fresh tarragon, Bourbon caramelized shallots and melted, extra-sharp white cheddar cheese. And to make it even more fancy, the cheese is mixed with dry mustard for extra punch! This recipe is a delicious new take on the classic comfort food.
What goes into fancy grilled cheese?
This recipe is made with the classic grilled cheese ingredients (bread, butter, cheese), plus tarragon, Bourbon, shallots and dry mustard.
- 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 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. (If shallots are not available, you can use onions instead and make this grilled cheese with caramelized onions. I prefer shallots because they have a more complex and slightly sweeter flavor.)
- 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 – Rather than the traditional white bread, this recipe uses large, thick slices of a dark and rustic sourdough loaf. (NOTE: 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.)
- extra-sharp white cheddar cheese – Classic grilled cheese may be made with American cheese but for the gourmet recipe here you have to use extra-sharp white cheddar. It's the only cheese that has the right tang to balance the sweetness of the caramelized shallots. I recommend to get a block of cheddar and grate it yourself, rather than buying already grated cheese. Pre-grated cheese is usually coated with corn starch to keep it from clumping.
- dry mustard (mustard powder)– This is a fantastic spice for grilled cheese. Dry mustard has a sharpness that intensifies the flavor of cheddar without adding the acidity that actual prepared (wet) mustard would add.
- fresh tarragon leaves – Fresh tarragon is often sold in small plastic packages (called clamshells) with a net weight of about 0.66 ounces. Once such clamshells holds about 10 large sprigs of fresh tarragon. You only need 1 large sprig to make this recipe. Use the remaining fresh tarragon to make these glazed turnips or this tarragon cream sauce!
How to make it:
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, then 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 dry mustard 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.
To fry the sandwiches, heat an empty nonstick pan or a cast iron skillet until hot. Fry each sandwich on both sides. (Fry on the first side until the cheese melts and the bread starts to brown, then flip and fry on the other side until golden brown and crispy.)
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 sweet pickles.
Serve this grilled cheese sandwich by itself or with a bowl of tomato soup.
More delicious sandwich recipes:
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Full Printable Recipe
Fancy Grilled Cheese with Bourbon Caramelized Shallots
- cheese grater
- measuring spoons
- knife and cutting board
- nonstick frying pan or cast iron pan
- mixing bowl
- 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 dry mustard (also called mustard powder)
- 30 roughly chopped tarragon leaves (you need about 1 large sprig of fresh tarragon for that)
- 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 dry mustard 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/dry mustard 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 or 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 bread is browned (3-4 minutes on each side).
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.