Fig and Gruyere Grilled Cheese Is a Sweet and Savory Flavor Explosion

The first time I tasted fig jam, I was living in Rome for a study abroad program in college. It was in a little bowl, on a giant charcuterie board.

Vertical image of two halves of a grilled cheese sandwich with dried figs and a jar of jam, on a wood surface.

I wasn’t sure about it at first, because including something so sweet on a charcuterie board seemed totally weird to me.

(Note that I was about 20 years old at the time, so my culinary education had barely started at that point.)

With the encouragement of my Italian roommate, I dove into a slice of bread with the jam and a slice of prosciutto. The explosion of salty and sweet was a game changer for me.

I had never encountered the combination before, and it really sang to me that day. As I experimented more with the fig jam, I found that it went with so many other flavors as well, like goat cheese and salumi.

A whole new world was opened up to me. And ever since then, fig jam is one of my favorite ingredients to use when I’m looking for something complex and a little sweet to pair with other items that are more on the savory side.

Fig jam has been a staple in my pantry ever since that day. I love to keep it on hand for charcuterie boards, but it also serves a ton of other purposes in various recipes.

Grilled cheese sandwich on a wood display board that is a slice of a wooden log with bark around the perimeter, with a jar of fig jam in the background, on a folded cloth.

Case in point: this gorgeous and flavorful fig and Gruyere grilled cheese.

The combination of fig jam with Gruyere and goat cheeses is pretty stellar. And by “pretty stellar,” I mean it’s absolutely divine, and you would be crazy to wait another minute to try this sandwich.

The sumptuous and sweet fig jam really adds a warming element to the sandwich that will open your mind to forever alter everything you thought you knew about grilled cheese.

When you combine something sweet with tangy goat and salty Gruyere cheeses, there’s a whole other element that your taste buds experience in every single bite.

Two halves of a grilled sandwich stacked to show the cheese and jam filling, on a wooden board with tree bark around the edge, on a folded cloth with fringe, with a jar of jelly with a spoon sticking out of it in the background, against a striped brown backdrop.

And don’t forget about texture. It’s easy to get distracted by the many layers of flavor in this sandwich, but there’s also a variety of textures that go beyond the simple crunchy versus soft pairing that you’re probably used to.

The smooth and creamy goat cheese literally melts in your mouth. The gooey Gruyere is slightly chewy, and gets all runny in the best way. Then you have the golden toasted slices of sourdough bread, and the warm oozing fig jam washes across your tongue in a wave of flavor.

The truth is, you deserve a fancy grilled cheese in your life. I know that everyone loves the traditional grilled sandwich and tomato soup combination, but there are so many more ways to enjoy the whole gooey dairy and sliced bread combination.

Experimenting with new spins on traditional recipes is all the rage lately, so jump on the bandwagon already!

A fancy sandwich like this one is a treat for the senses, and really brightens up an average lunch hour any day of the week. It’s the little indulgences in life that make the days more interesting, so go ahead and treat yourself.

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A golden brown grilled cheese sandwich, cut in half and stacked on a wooden log slice serving board, on a wood background with a jar of fig jam and dried fruit.

Fig and Gruyere Grilled Cheese


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 1 sandwich
  • Category: Sandwiches
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Lunch

Description

Forget cheddar or American – the best fig and Gruyere grilled cheese is going to blow your mind. The sweet, savory flavor combo is a whole new way to lunch.


Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 slices of your favorite crusty bread (I used sourdough)
  • 1/4 cup homemade fig jam (or your favorite store bought variety)
  • 1 1/2 oz goat cheese, softened enough to spread
  • 2 oz Gruyere cheese, sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat skillet on medium-low.
  2. Butter one side each of both slices of bread, then spread the opposite side of one slice with fig jam, and the other slice with goat cheese.
  3. Place jam-covered slice of bread butter-side down on the heated skillet. Top with slices of Gruyere, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the other slice of bread on top, goat cheese side down.
  5. Cook until the browned on the bottom, approximately 4 minutes. Carefully flip the sandwich and continue to cook until the opposite side is browned and the cheese is melted, about 4 more minutes.
  6. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Keywords: grilled cheese, fig, fig jam, gruyere

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Slice Cheese and Measure Ingredients

Slice the Gruyere, and set aside. Slicing it thinly will help it to melt faster. If you want, you could even get out your box grater, and use the largest holes to shred it instead.

Measure the remaining ingredients as listed in the ingredients list.

Top-down shot of two slices of sourdough bread, a jar of jam with a spoon stuck into it, a block of gruyere, a small bowl of goat cheese, and another small bowl of two chunks of butter, on a brown wood background.

When fresh figs are available, I like to make my own jam at home. It’s easier than you might think! But this delicious spread is also available in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it with the other jams and jellies, try the gourmet cheese section.

Fresh figs would also make a lovely addition to this sandwich. Remove the stems, and slice them thin. If you go this route, they can be added in step 3, after the Gruyere.

Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat.

Step 2 – Prepare Bread

Spread one side of each of the two slices of bread with butter.

Top-down vertical shot of two slices of sourdough bread, spread with butter.

Spread the opposite side of one slice with the fig jam, and spread the other with goat cheese.

Step 3 – Assemble and Grill

Place the slice of bread that is spread with fig jam in the pan, butter side down.

Top with slices of Gruyere. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Sliced gruyere cheese on top of a piece of sourdough bread slathered with fig jam, in a frying pan.

Place the other piece of bread with the goat cheese side down on top of the sandwich.

Cook until the bottom is browned, approximately 4 minutes. Flip the sandwich carefully and continue to cook until the opposite side is browned and the cheese is melted.

A grilled cheese sandwich being cooked in a frying pan.

Serve warm.

What Are the Best Cheeses to Use for a Grilled Sandwich?

When it comes to making the best ooey-gooey grilled sandwiches, it’s all about using the right dairy element to make it truly stand out.

The key is to focus on melting cheeses like Gruyere, cheddar, and swiss. These are fantastic in flavor, and they melt really easily, so they make a great base.

There’s also something to be said for the classic American – it’s a favorite that has stood the test of time for a reason. After all, it’s perfect for melting!

A golden brown grilled cheese sandwich, cut in half and stacked on a wooden log slice serving board, on a wood background with a jar of fig jam and dried fruit.

Then you can go wild with the flavorful additions. You can add goat cheese, Asiago, or Parmesan for an extra tangy or savory, umami element. Add sweet ingredients like fig jam, fresh fruit, or sliced tomato. Fresh herbs like basil and dill add grassy, fresh notes. And adding crisp bacon or ham will bump up the savory flavor.

There’s no end to the possibilities when you’re aiming to improve upon the humble grilled cheese. When you’re ready for the next adventure, don’t forget to check out our recipes for Peach and Basil Grilled Cheese, and Grilled Cheese with Homemade Tomato Jam. And once in awhile, it’s okay to serve up a few slices of the gooey orange stuff on white bread – we won’t tell anyone.

What’s the fanciest grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever eaten? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on April 6, 2010. Last updated: September 26, 2018 at 15:35 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

Forget cheddar or American – the best fig and Gruyere grilled cheese is going to blow your mind. The sweet-savory flavor combo is just what you need to change up your lunch game. Rich, tangy, and fruity, this pairing is a match made in heaven. Get the recipe now. #grilledcheese #fig #cheese #easylunchrecipes #foodal

28 thoughts on “Fig and Gruyere Grilled Cheese Is a Sweet and Savory Flavor Explosion

  1. I just saw a recipe for grilled cheese using pinot laced strawberry jam, ham and gruyere. It was on my list to try!

  2. Remakes of the classic are the best. I really like a grilled cheese with a good sharp cheddar and slices of granny smith apple or brie with some cranberry sauce.

  3. I can totally appreciate where you’re coming from with the ambivalence towards being on-line — I often find myself in the same place. Grilled cheese definitely makes it all better though! 🙂

  4. I love grilled cheese with thinly sliced tomato inside. I’ve done them with slices of roasted eggplant and zucchini too (and those veggies add a delicious twist to a BLT as well). Brie and sliced apple make a wonderfully elegant sandwich, especially if you add in some crushed candied pecans.

  5. ah, yes, every so often i think about chucking the blog and abandoning the internet altogether. and someday, i probably will.

  6. yeah, I had the same push/pull with the internets and all that too when I came back from Westcliffe. Part of why it took a week to post anything about it:) Balance

  7. Stumbled across your blog a while back and always enjoy your photos, recipes, and musings. I too battle constantly with giving up the internet, and running to it as a way to connect. Convinced that balance is out there…so, let us know if you find it first!

  8. I love grilled cheese but haven’t made it in ages. My trick is to use a good chutney like Major Grey. And back when I was a vegetarian, I’d make a grilled cheese with pickles and onions to replicate the taste of a hamburger! Yum.

  9. I usually opt for slices of avocado, tomato, whatever cheese closest, and a healthy smear of horseradish sauce. I’d love to try this recipe though and have a jar of fig jam that’s been neglected for far too long. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. I spent, most the weekend away from the computer and enjoying simpler things too. It was wonderful. And I can really appreciate a good re-make on a classic grilled cheese sandwich. Love the addition of fig jam to yours!

  11. i cannot make a grilled cheese sandwich to save my life. the bread always turns out brown but then the cheese isn’t melted. or the bread is burnt and the cheese is stuck to the pan. who knew there was such an art to grilled cheese — and patience! the patience involved kills me. that’s why i’m so glad murdo makes a killer sandwich. love that you’re experimenting with yours — variation is key! i love avocado on mine, and tomatoes, and of course, a fried egg. YUM.

  12. I usually make mine on sourdough, with sharp cheddar, sliced tomato, fresh basil, and a sprinkling of lemon pepper. Add a cup of creamy tomato soup on the side and you’ve got my favorite comfort food.

    I am intrigued by the fig jam. And I just ate a fig newton. Must be a sign, don’t you think?

  13. I really enjoy your writing style. Its reflective, it makes me think and it always puts a smile on my face. Thank you for doing that for me. This is one of my favorite blogs I read!

  14. I’m embarrassed to say that, at the ripe old age of 23, I’ve never had a grilled cheese sandwich. But your photos, recipe, and everyone’s comments may lure me into trying one!

    I can, however, relate to the pull between sharing your life in a public forum and relishing it privately. I’m an introvert, but I’ve come come to realize that I need a mix of both to feel personal and social fulfillment.

  15. Great ideas for a grilled cheese sandwich. I think it’s really good to unplug from time to time, but it is hard for me to come back too, because there is just so much out there, especially this time of year.

  16. God I love grilled cheese. I’m also very intrigued by how you put pats of butter on the other side of the bread. I don’t have tub butter and always tear the bread. Crazy. I need to try it your way!

  17. I tend to make grilled cheese on whatever bread we have available, with whatever combination of cheddary cheeses we have on hand (which can sometimes get messy when it’s time to flip). I’ll sometimes add salami and tomato.

    But my favorite grilled cheese? My old stand by classic…American cheese on egg bread. I never make it anymore, because I don’t tend to keep American cheese on hand (maybe I should), and while I love egg bread (or challah), it’s not the sliced bread I usually have on hand (that’s usually some sort of whole wheat sourdough, which is also good). And yeah, I spread (tub) butter on the outsides of both pieces of bread.

    Now I’m craving grilled cheese…which I usually serve aside a bowl of hot tomato soup. 🙂

    Also, I’m with you on the technology-free thing. I sometimes want to disconnect altogether, but I can never just do it. I love staying up to date on the goings on of friends I don’t see frequently, and there is so much interesting stuff out there! But it can all be a bit overwhelming, and sometimes I feel a little crazy about it all!

  18. It’s funny b/c I love the internet. Maybe b/c I’ve found a balance b/w technology and the non-techy world. I’d love to try and explain it, but I can’t. I think it’s def for everyone. Even though I use the internet/computer EVERY DAY at work, my work life is very separate from my personal. Keeping distance when I feel the need to or whenI feel my time is spent better elsewhere, helps me be less frustrated w/ all the techy stuff. Which is why I don’t post every day (or every week for that matter, even though I have a good 7-8 things to post…)
    I think you’ve already found a bit of the balance by taking the weekend to focus on the holiday and yourself and non-social media stuff.
    And p.s. none of us want you to leave!!!

  19. I am also very fond of grilled cheese sandwich, any time, even for breakfast. But I am odd–I like mine plain and simple: slices of basic good bread and medium cheddar, butter on the slices. Anything I want to add is on the side (which is often nothing else but pickle)

    George (author of What Recipes Don’t Tell You)

  20. The internet is a funny beast – I am suddenly inspired to blog again after it deserted me for too too long. I love a grilled cheese sandwich but make them in our toasted sandwich maker – not sure if you get these in the US, they make 2 triangles that are sealed around the edges with all of the cheese melted within? My favourite is cheese and ketchup which sounds wrong but works much better than you would think!

  21. I am late to read this also not because the internet is inherently bad, but because I was just away, not online, for a weekend.

    And funny enough – in between spinning a lamb and drinking cups of milky tea and playing dinosaurs with my favourite boys, I was making grilled cheese for breakfast. Mine had sharp cheddar and wisp-thin pineapple – perhaps unorthodox, and it made my littlest sister gag – but it was just delicious. Salty, sweet and buttery, like you say – leaving dangly cheese strings on my chin.

  22. I kid you not…I was cleaning my kitchen this weekend and stumbled upon a jar of fig jam, thinking: hmmm, I need to crack this baby open and use it one of these days. So funny to see your recipe featuring it. O.k., so I’m all over this. And gruyere is my favorite melty cheese of all time–especially awesome with apple.

  23. I definitely know what you mean. I’m online all day at work, so I’ve been trying to limit my time online when I get home. I don’t want to sit in front of a computer from 9am-6pm and then come home and spend another 3 hours or so in front of the computer as well! Have you seen this article in The Onion- “Report: 90% of Waking Hours Spent Staring at Glowing Rectangles”? Hilarious…and pretty true.

  24. Oh yum, grilled cheese sarnies! I just grilled two slices of lemon loaf cake with mozerella and blueberry jam. I’m with you on the yummy jam bit!

  25. Kim, That cracked me up. The Onion is so funny sometimes – and in this case, wayyy too close to accurate.

    JessieV, You too huh? It’s definitely nice to break away now and then.

    Sweets at Vicky’s, Grilled lemon loaf with mozzarella? That’s something I’ve never had. Interesting!

  26. This sounds so delicious! I love all manner of grilled cheese sandwiches — and there is something about dressing them up a bit that makes me feel like more of an adult when I eat them. Great combination of flavors.

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