It was one of those afternoons where I really wanted a sandwich. I took quick inventory of my fridge: bread, cheese, onions. So, I thought, “Grilled Cheese Sandwich.” But the onion looked so inviting, I thought, why not add some grilled onion to the sandwich, as well? After all, I love onions.
So, you start out this recipe by chopping up or “julienning” an entire onion. If you don’t like onions as much as I do you can cut that amount in half. The onions don’t need to be particularly thin or terribly uniform–this is meant to be a “rustic” (aka, “I’m hungry so I don’t need it to look pretty”) sandwich. I also buttered up some whole wheat bread for this. On thing to keep in mind–it’s better to use thicker slices of bread, so that the sandwich doesn’t become overly soggy from the juicy onions.
Now, the hardest part about this recipe is the amount of time it takes for the onion to get sweet and caramelized. Onions contain a lot of natural sugar, but it takes time and heat to really draw it out. I once tried caramelizing onions from start to finish and it took over 30 minutes. If you desire that kind of sweetness and texture (they can be a little mushy) and you have the time to wait for it–go for it. I did not have that kind of time because, as I said, I was starving. So, I cooked them down for about 7 to 8 minutes, and when they were just starting to turn brown around the edges, I did this:
Yup, I added some soy sauce to help move things along AND to add extra flavor. A flavor I love. Now, the kind of soy sauce you use here can make a difference. Since you’re going to be adding cheese to this sandwich already, you may want to use a low sodium soy sauce to cut down on the saltiness. But, if you’re like me and love salty foods, just use whatever regular soy sauce you keep around the house. After about 1 to 2 minutes of more cooking, your onions should look like this:
That makes me smile.
Afterwards, you just add some cheese on top of your onions, because, we all know, cheese melts better the closer it is to the heat–particularly vegan cheese. Here, I used both a slice of Chao cheese, along with a couple tablespoons of Violife’s shredded cheese (links in the recipe card below). My goodness, vegan cheese has come such a long way, hasn’t it? When I first went vegan, the options were few and, well, not great. The options now actually taste and act like real cheese!
You let that cheese cook down for a bit until it gets nice and melty. I even added a few of the hot onions on top of the cheese to help with the melting. Afterwards, I added both slices of buttered bread (non-buttered side down) on the cheesy onions, with the idea that I would flip the whole thing and allow both slices of bread to cook on the pan:
This was a sandwich “hack” I learned from TikTok. However, it didn’t work out this time–mostly because the onions are all over the place (probably because I used so much!). You can give it a try if you want, but you can also just add one slice of buttered bread, flip the whole thing, and then top it with the second slice of bread.
Either way, the two pieces of bread will be sandwiching the above gloriousness.
Continue cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes until the bottom is nice and brown and flip and repeat. And that is how you end up with this:
Recipe Tips Recap:
Ok, so just to recap, here are the things to remember as you make this recipe:
- Use thicker slices of bread to prevent sogginess
- Use up to an entire onion, but cut back if you want less onions
- You’ll have to cook the onions for longer than you want in order to really get some color on them (remember, color = deliciousness)
- Use low sodium soy sauce if you want to guard against saltiness
- Add the cheese directly to the onions so they can be as close to the heat as possible (you can even top some of the cheese with the hot onions)
- Don’t worry if your sandwich gets a little messy–this isn’t a beauty contest!
Grilled Cheese and Onion Sandwich
- Butter one side of each slice of bread and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a non-stick pan and add the julienned onion. Cook for about 3 minutes, and then add salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until they start to brown.
- Add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until they get really dark.
- Shape the onions into a rough rectangle using a silicone spatula. Add a slice of cheese, together with the shredded cheese on top of the onions. Allow this to cook for one minute, until the cheese starts to melt.
- Add the bread over the top of the cheese, NON-buttered side down (so that the buttered sides are facing you). Flip the entire thing, so that both pieces of bread are now on the pan.
- Flip one piece of bread over the top so that you have a sandwich. Cook for about 2 minutes and then flip. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.