Update on a Classic: Grilled Cheese with Tomato Jam

Classic recipes hold this status for a reason.

They are the ones that we know and love. The ones that we’ve grown up with. The recipes that we embrace when we need a little bit of something familiar or comforting in our lives.

For me, grilled cheese is one of those cherished recipes.

Vertical image of two halves of a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato jam and basil stacked on a white plate, with basil and tomatoes in the background, and orange and white text.

Gooey cheese, sandwiched between pieces of bread that have been toasted golden brown. It’s a sandwich that we’ve all had time and time again, and if you are anything like me, it holds a special place in your heart.

Grilled cheese always evokes childhood memories for me, particularly ones of staying home from school as a kid when I had a cold. Alongside a bowl of tomato soup, it was one of my favorite things to eat.

This particular combination of flavors is one that I still fall back on when I need something to make me feel a little better. Whether I am sick or just had a rough day at work, a grilled cheese with tomato soup is just the thing to cure what ails me.

Overheat shot of a grilled cheese sandwich on a white plate, with a bunch of basil, a small jar of tomato jam with a spoon stuck into it, and five red tomatoes on the vine in the background.

As I got older, I started experimenting with my grilled cheese sandwiches. From using pepper jack or brie to adding meat or fruit to the mix, I love making different creative spins on this recipe.

This particular variation is actually quite genius, since it hits all of my favorite flavor notes, no soup required.

It takes that classic soup and sandwich combination to new heights, all sandwiches between two slices of golden brown bread. You get the cheese and the tomato, but without having to make two recipes.

Instead, you’ll experience all the flavors you know and love in every crisp, gooey, cheesy bite.

How do we accomplish this? With homemade tomato jam!

Two halves of a grilled mozzarella and tomato jam sandwich on a white plate, with fresh herbs and produce in the background.

This may strike you as a bit unusual, but it’s actually quite delicious. If you have never tried this combination, it’s time to go for it.

In fact, cheese and jam sandwiches are actually quite popular in England, and I fell hard for the recipe during my travels there. Among enthusiasts around the world, you’ll find a wide variety of options, both cold and melted, made with different types of hard or soft cheese that contrasts nicely with a sweet fruit jam.

Think of a Monte Cristo sandwich, with layers of savory sliced meat and melted Swiss cheese, dipped in sweet raspberry preserves. The combo of sweet and savory isn’t really that odd – it’s delicious!

Two halves of a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato jam and basil are stacked on a white plate, with red tomatoes on the vine and a bunch of basil, on a checkered pastel blue and white cloth with a brown background.

The tomato jam used here offers a nice balance of sweet and savory, so it’s the ideal intro to the whole jam with cheese concept. (We could debate whether tomato jam qualifies as a fruit or vegetable jam – it is, in fact, a fruit!)

When put between two slices of bread, it’s absolutely divine, with an irresistible tangy sweetness. You won’t be able to stop yourself from devouring it in mere moments.

The mozzarella gives you all the perfect ooey-gooey goodness you need to make this sandwich ultra decadent. It’s just right for melting with a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower the other stars of the dish.

The layer of fresh basil brings a nice herbaceous note to top it all off. If you have any fresh basil growing in your garden, this is a fantastic way to use it. I like to keep an eye out at the farmers market for new varieties as well.

Ready to experience a whole new take on the comforting meal you love? Let’s dig in!

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Side view of a grilled cheese sandwich on a plate, with basil, a small jar of red jam, and tomatoes in the background, on a blue and white checkered cloth.

Grilled Cheese with Tomato Jam


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 sandwiches
  • Category: Grilled Cheese
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Sandwiches

Description

The classic grilled cheese sandwich you know and love gets an update with gooey mozzarella, basil, and homemade tomato jam.


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Butter one side of each of the pieces of sourdough bread.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If your pan is large enough, you can make two sandwiches at a time. Otherwise, proceed with steps 3-4 for one sandwich, and then repeat the process.
  3. Once the pan is hot, place two slices of bread in the pan, buttered side down. Top each slice of bread with half of the mozzarella, half of the chopped basil, and half of the tomato jam. Place another slice of bread on top of each, buttered side up.
  4. Cook until the bottom of each is browned, approximately 2-3 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, cooking again until the bottom is browned and the cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from the pan, and slice in half with a serrated knife if desired. Serve immediately.

Keywords: grilled cheese, tomato jam, summer, comfort food, basil

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Slice, Chop, and Measure

Drain if necessary, and slice the ball of mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.

Remove basil leaves from the stems. Chop the leaves until you have about 1/4 cup.

A small glass jar of homemade tomato jam and three glass bowls of sliced fresh mozzarella, chopped basil, and two pieces of butter, with a stack of sliced sourdough bread in the background, on a brown wood surface.

Measure the remaining ingredients as listed.

Step 2 – Cook

Butter one side of each of the slices of bread. I like to use softened butter, which makes it easier to spread. For an extra touch of seasoning, feel free to use salted butter if you prefer.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, arrange two slices of bread side by side, buttered side down. If you do not have a pan that is large enough to cook two sandwiches at once, you can prepare one at a time instead.

Closeup of a nonstick frying pan with a piece of sourdough bread with large slices of fresh mozzarella on top.

Layer the bread with half of the mozzarella slices, sprinkle with half of the basil, and top with half of the tomato jam.

A piece of sourdough bread in a nonstick pan, with slices of fresh mozzarella and chopped basil on top.

Top that with another slice of bread, buttered side up. Press lightly with a spatula.

A piece of sourdough bread topped with slices of mozzarella and spread with tomato jam, in a nonstick frying pan.

Cook the sandwich until the bottom slice of bread is golden brown. This will take about 2-3 minutes.

Carefully flip the sandwich, cooking again until golden brown and the cheese is melted. If anything falls out, stick it back in there!

Side view of a grilled cheese sandwich on a plate, with basil, a small jar of red jam, and tomatoes in the background, on a blue and white checkered cloth.

Transfer to plates, slice in half, and serve immediately.

Why Local, Seasonal Ingredients Are Key

When it comes to cooking at home, seasonal ingredients are the key to making your meals shine, no matter what month it is. And at least where I’m from, summer is the best time to take advantage of the bounty of backyard gardens and farm stands.

Fresh basil is growing at full power in my herb garden right now, and I’ve been trying to use it as much as possible so none of it will go to waste. But you can only eat pesto so many days in a row!

Bright, sweet tomatoes with their pure, garden-fresh flavor concentrated into jam form will make your taste buds exceedingly happy as you bite into this sandwich.

To halves of a grilled cheese and tomato jam sandwich stacked on a white plate, on a blue and white checkered cloth surface, with basil and red tomatoes in the background.

And locally made dairy products and bread contribute to this dish as well, making it something extra special.

When summer winds to a close and fresh, local tomatoes are no longer ripe for the picking, I won’t hesitate to pull this recipe out of the drawer and whip up a batch of tasty jam when tomatoes are on sale at the grocery store. But there’s just something about that pure, delicious flavor of produce harvested close to home, maybe even with your own hands, that makes it that much more delicious.

Are you growing tomatoes and basil in your garden this summer? 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 June 22, 2012. Last updated: September 1, 2018 at 19:19 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.

49 thoughts on “Update on a Classic: Grilled Cheese with Tomato Jam

  1. I’ve been saving a tomato jam recipe I clipped maybe 15 years ago and *still* haven’t made it–you have now convinced me to try this recipe!! It looks luscious and perfect for summer meals. And I am thrilled that it contains no added sugar!! Thanks so much Shanna! 🙂

  2. The site revisions are lookin’ lovely! As is this jam. I’ve seen recipes before for tomato jam, and though I’ve been thoroughly compelled, I have not followed through and made any — I cannot tell you what has kept me away. Perhaps this is the summer! xo

  3. Oh man – this looks like something that I would LOVE. I currently have 14 (!) tomato plants that are ‘children’ of the volunteer tomato plants that grew in our yard last summer. Hopefully I’ll make some of this tomato jam with my own tomatos later this summer 🙂

  4. you have me sold! we have not seen any good tomatoes at our fave farmer’s stall, crossing fingers that tomorrow’s csa stash will have some.

  5. Everything comes later here in the UK, but I’m glad the tomatoes are here, hooray. This looks just gorgeous. And in a grilled cheese sandwich, a winner! Tomato gold’s a nice way of describing it. I must give this a go.

    • Viktoria, I have always felt the same way and, for that exact reason, I have always left the skins on my tomatoes when I make homemade sauce (contrary to what everyone says!). However, the method I used here, where you bring water to a boil, core the tomatoes and cut little x’s in the bottoms; plop them in water for eight seconds; take out and let them cool; and then the skin comes right off — it’s crazy easy and took maybe 10 minutes total, I kid you not. It’s honestly transformed my view of the process.

  6. Everything else can wait their turn, tomato jam comes first!!! I was going to make your carrot risotto this week, but we’re going camping and I’m thinking making this tomato jam for our sandwiches would be so cool!!! You’re putting me in an impossible situation to have to choose between the risotto and the jam! Thank you for that 🙂 Always loving those tough choices…

  7. It’s winter here in Australia right now and this post makes me long for summer – there is no better smell than freshly cut grass on a summer morning. And one of my favourite sandwiches is sharp cheddar, butter lettuce, thickly sliced tomato and tomato jam. Yum! I’m bookmarking this for when the tomato season arrives.

  8. I have wondered about making tomato jam. Would it be worth the time spent or will it languish in the fridge? Your compelling post has convinced me to give it a go this summer! Now all I need is tomato season!

  9. Tomato jam is by far my favorite, then comes sour cherry. But I never made one with basil or spices. Perfect to try since just tomatoes and sugar gets a bit too sweet sometimes. But first I have to make your carrot risotto. I’m getting there.

  10. I have a large garden and an overflow of tomatoes, so I frequently can my abundance. This looks so amazing and so fresh, I’m just wondering if the heat of the canning process would change that fresh “feel” too much. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Christine! Thanks for your question! This isn’t a traditional canning recipe; it’s more like a cooking down, and because of this, the tomatoes don’t taste like they do raw, but they do taste real and tomato-y, for lack of a better term. 🙂 I hope that answers your question!

      • Thank you! Since the recipe is for a single jar, I think I’ll double it and try both. I can imagine that if it’s as good as it sounds, I’ll be craving some “summer” in the winter! BTW, I also live in TN (East) but I saw you in the Publix mailer! Loved it – congratulations!

        • You are the second person to tell me about the Publix piece, and I still haven’t seen it, ha! Hope my copy arrives soon—thanks for the shout-out!

      • Andy, This isn’t a traditional canning recipe like a lot of jams; it’s more of a cooking down. Since I haven’t tried turning it into a heated canning version, I can’t say.

  11. I made this the other day, and we had it on grilled cheese exactly as you described here. The next day, we had it again. We were ooo’ing and aahhh’ing each time. I am going to try it as the sauce for a pizza tonight, topped with veggies and fresh mozzarella.

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I’ve often wondered if I would like tomato jam and the answer is no, I don’t like it, I LOVE it!

    • So good to hear that! And Tim and I were actually wondering how it would be on pizza so I’d love to hear feedback after you try it!

  12. Our tomato plants are really producing this year – this jam is currently simmering on the stove and the whole house smells divine. Can’t believe how easy and foolproof the peeling went – submerged in boiling water for :08 and skins slid right off! Who knew that if you followed directions from people who know what they’re doing – it works! Thanks!

  13. Just wondering if you have tried it with canned tomatoes. Granted fresh is always best, but I am so craving this right now, but can’t get to the store 🙂
    Just wondering. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Denise – It’s so good, I’d give it a shot even with canned tomatoes. Have made this recipe three times – using lots more basil than called for (I have a TON of basil growing!) – and it’s wonderful. Especially on a grilled veggie burger!

    • Thanks for giving that feedback, Lindley! @Denise – I haven’t tried canned, so I don’t know, but if you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  15. I just tried some tomato jam at the farmer’s market yesterday, it was delicious, and I bought a 4 oz jar for $6!!! yikes. I know I could make it myself, and your recipe closely matches the ingredients on the jar I bought… so will be making some soon. Thanks!

    • Tomato jam is an easy thing to fall in love with, so I understand why you still bought the bottle! Hope this version can come close for you! : )

  16. This summer’s must make recipe! The second batch I made was five times the recipe, thanks to our incredible Lancaster County, PA soil and the crop of tomatoes it produced. I played with the recipe a tiny bit by adding some smoked paprika, good in any recipe. It gives it a nice dimension. Now for those sandwiches, I went with homemade goat cheese. Heaven.

  17. I cannot thank you enough for this recipe. Seriously. It is the best dang thing I’ve made and tasted in a long long time. I used fresh from my garden tomatoes and basil and I wanted to eat the entire batch in one sitting. I am a Tomato Jam Junkie. This is my crack. I WILL be doubling, tripling, quadrupling the batch this weekend because I want all of my other friends to discover my Tomato Jam Nirvana. Grow on summer tomatoes – grow on…

  18. This reminds me of a tomato jam my grandma use to make; I just wish our tomatoes had the same flavor as the ones they grew in Maryland. After I make my peach jam today, I’m on to tomato!

    • Suzanne, I can’t say it with the authority of someone who has frozen it, but I would imagine it will work fine. Let us know how it goes!

  19. I’m wondering if anyone has actually tried canning this or is more of an expert on canning safety. I’m looking for a recipe I can can but know that ph and sugar content matters for water-bath canning. Thanks!

    • Hi Twyla, Sorry I can’t be of more help there; the idea behind this jam is that you don’t have to use a water bath or worry about safety concerns. If you’re looking for a good resource on canning, we’d recommend the book “Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar, High-Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves, and More.”

  20. Best. Tomato. Jam. EVER. Thank you so much!!

    The peeling process is not as tedious as it may sound. Once you scald the skins, they easily peel off in 2, maybe 3 pulls per tomato 🙂 In the time it took me to dice the onion, juice the lemon and julienne some basil, the tomatoes were cool enough to handle. I also used a food processor for dicing them (just a couple pulses) – the texture is a little less chunky than after dicing by hand – but saves time and preserves mental wellness 😉 Flavour is out of this world!

    Excellent recipe!

  21. This jam looks great but can you can it to keep longer? I love making stuff to give as gifts and this would be great for that…

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