What do you call a sandwich with cheese (and ham) that you put in an iron to make the bread go crispy and the cheese go melty?
It depends on where in the world you are.
Familiar names are: toastie (UK), grilled cheese sandwich (US), jaffle (Australia), panini (Italy), and croque monsieur (France).
The toasted sandwich is not limited to these countries, however. You will find this popular snack, lunch, or dinner in every corner of our planet. Here is an overview of the toastie and its relatives from all over the world. For fun’s sake we’ll include some of its distant cousins, too.
Toasties: United Kingdom
The classy classic toasted sandwich with cheese is called a toastie in the UK. Toasties in Great Britain can have a variety of cheese on them, but often most common are cheddar-like cheeses.
The type of bread can vary from a traditional slice of white bread or a savory chunk of sourdough bread, depending on your style and class.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich: United States
On the other side of the ocean you’ll find that the grilled cheese sandwich is growing in popularity. Originally a cheap, and soggy alternative to an ordinary sandwich, the grilled cheese sandwich now comes in many shapes and forms. Actually, they’re all square, but you’ll find different ingredients depending on the state or city.
Strictly, a cheese sandwich only has cheese and some cooking grease as their ingredients (and the bread of course), which are grilled, in either a pan, panini grill, or toaster. Adding more ingredients to the Grilled Cheese Sandwich will officially turn this beauty into a melt.
Crossing another ocean you will find our cheese-loving friends down under making jaffles. The jaffle comes from a sandwich press called the Jaffle, designed to make jaffles.
The most logical chain of thought is that the jaffle comes from the word waffle, and the idea that if you can put dough into an iron to make a waffle, you can do the same with bread and cheese, to make a… ehh… Jaffle!
Jaffles have this beautifully unique shape that is so characteristic for a toasted sandwich… YOu know, sides sealed off and airy with gooey cheese on the inside. It is for this shape-resemblance that we will claim that jaffles and toasties are close relatives.
Nevertheless, our Aussie friends are not limited to cheese when it comes to their sandwiches, and you can find countless recipes that include both sweet and savory jaffle variations.
One of the classic Australian recipes is the vegemite jaffle, with cheese and… Yes, vegemite.
Panini in Italy literally means small bread. Commonly, you’ll find these bread rolls with cheese and a type of meat (like mortadela, ham, or salami) grilled or toasted. The big difference with toasties or toasted sandwiches is the type of bread that is used for a panini, which isn’t a sliced, soggy sandwich slice, but real italian bread like ciabatta (uncut).
Panini’s have made a world-wide breakthrough and for a good reason. A classic recipe you’ll often find on any menu in the world is the panini caprese with mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil.
Croque Monsieur: France
Bonjour, mesdames et messieurs, I would like to introduce you to what is possibly the fanciest name for an ordinary toasted sandwich: le croque monsieur.
Now, we can all guess where the name comes from as croque sounds pretty crunchy to me, and indeed, we’ll have to thank the French for their input in the toastie world.
The Croque Monsieur is in its turn different from the other toasties because it requires some more sophisticated preparations than the sliced family members. The french actually make a creamy cheese sauce (similar to bechamel) that goes on top and/or inside the sandwich.
The sandwich can only be prepared in an oven, as the top layer is covered in more cheese.
Tosti’s: the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, a sandwich that has (typically) ham and cheese on it and is toasted in a toastie-iron is called a tosti. It’s a simple, quick, and easy sandwich that people in the Netherlands will eat for lunch and sometimes for dinner.
It is typically served with ketchup or curry gewürz. Supermarkets have “tostibrood”, “tostikaas”, and “tostiham” (toastie bread, cheese, and ham) readily available, so that the perfect toastie perfectly fits the toastie maker.
Ham and Cheese (Sandwich): World-Wide
Another overarching name for the toasted sandwich is a Ham and Cheese/Grilled Ham and Cheese/Ham and Cheese Sandwich. It is simply made by putting ham and cheese between two slices of bread. There you go.
Meet the extended toastie family.
What follows are the very close relatives to toasties: different types of bread with different styles of cheese. All melted, of course!
Cheese on Toast: United Kingdom / New Zealand / Australia
Very similar to a grilled cheese sandwich, cheese on toast excels in its simplicity: it is a slice of bread covered in cheese. It is then placed in a grill, so that the cheese melts. Close enough to be a toastie based on its ingredients, the method is slightly different as it doesn’t have the crucial toplayer to make it a sandwich.
The debate continues whether to toast the bread first, or not. What do you think?
Croque Madame: France
Even the name says that they’re family! The Croque madame is obviously the female counterpart of the Croque Monsieur. You’d echt a silly light version of it, now right?
Think twice, the Croque Madame is really the queen of all toasties: it follows the same recipe as Mr. Croque, but is topped with an egg. So delicious!
True story: The egg reminded people of a woman’s hat, which is where this toasted sandwich got its name from.
Croque Forestier: France
For the vegetarians out there, the French, sophisticated as they are, have also added a meatless version of their toasted sandwich: The croque forestier. Instead of ham, it has sauteed mushrooms (with the classic emmentaler cheese and bechamel sauce).
THANK YOU, ITALY! For this delicious variation of a toasted sandwich recipe. Forget gouda, cheddar, and emmentaler… Say hello to mozzarella!
Like french toast, the carrozza is made with slices of bread (either from a regular loaf, or a fancy Italian bread), dipped in egg wash, and sometimes covered in breadcrumbs or flour.
Of course, the mozzarella goes in and the bread is fried. Like a real toasted sandwich, but italian style. Yes, you will have to use olive oil.
Bagel Toast: Israel
It doesn’t sound very exotic, but the isrealian version of a toasted sandwich is definitely worth a spot in this list. Different from our “common” bagels (which inevitably have a hole in them), the bagels in Israel do not.
Which, obviously, makes them perfect for a grilled cheese sandwich. (Oooh imagine all the wasted cheese if you’d try to make a toastie out of a regular bagel…)
So, here’s your answer: take cheese (yellow, white, feta or real Israelian sheep’s cheese), green olives, corn, tomatoes, and onions, and grill it on a sandwich toaster or panini press.
Barros Jarpa: Chile
Chile… The land where they also eat a classic toasted sandwich. It’s nothing but the classic recipe in a very interesting name: the Barros Jarpa, named after a president who always asked for a sandwich with melted cheese and ham on a either sliced white bread, Chilean bread rolls, or buns.
Instead of ham, sometimes sliced steak is used (churrasco), in which case the sandwich is called a barros luco.
Cuban Sandwich/Sandwich Cubano: United States & Cuba
OK, a little bit more labor intensive, but HOMBRE, this is a good lookin’ toasted sandwich. With both boiled ham and roasted pork, this sandwich will cover your meat cravings.
Then, there’s cheese and butter to make sure this toastie lives up the creamy expectations, too. And finally, there are pickles and mustard to boost the sandwich to a higher level.
Makes you want to go to Cuba, right? We found an awesome recipe here!
Grilled Cottage Cheese Sandwich: India
It says grilled cheese, so we had to add it to the list. And honestly, I need to try this! Like, NOW. So, this sandwich uses cottage cheese with flavorful indian spices.
They’re mixed together, put on a sandwich and they are toasted. You can even serve it with ketchup on the side! The flavor bomb comes from adding mango powder and coriander to the cottage cheese.
For them spicy-lovers among us, you can also add chile and/or green peppers. Instead of buttering the outside, ghee is used to grease up the toastie maker a little.
The Francesinha is the Portuguese cousin of the Croque Monsieur, but taken to a more Southern level, to Porto, to be exact.
The ingredients are similar to other toasted sandwiches: bread, ham, pork sausage, chipolata sausage/steak/other meat, covered with melted cheese, and a tomato and beer sauce.
Oh yes, and they eat french fries with it. I would personally recommend going to Porto and try one in the city where the sandwich originated. Want to try one at home?
Try this Francesinha recipe!
Hot Brown: US
From Southern Europe to Southeast USA. The Kentucky version of a toasted sandwich is called a hot brown. And dang, hot it is!
It is an open faced grilled sandwich with ham and turkey, and a cheesy, creamy sauce. You don’t really see the bread anymore, as it is covered in sauce, but trust us! We think this one is definitely part of the family!
Get inspired to DIY:
Guess when the Cuban’s eat this pretty toasted sandwich, huh? Exactly…. Round around midnight, mostly in Cuban bars in La Havana. Gotta tell you, dancing salsa all night makes you hungry and this is the best idea I’ve ever heard to help with that.
It’s pretty similar to the Cuban sandwich (which hit us all as a huge surprise…) Slices of cooked ham, another type of sliced, cooked pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mayonnaise and mustard on a bread roll. You grill it with butter, you enjoy it and you continue dancing the night away.
PD: For those who weren’t convinced: the difference is the type of bread that is used: the medianoche is typically made on a sweet, soft bun, while the cubano’s secret is a hard, crispy loaf of bread.
Feel like dancin’? Check out this recipe!
Either an open-faced sandwich or a double ‘r up kinda one. The melt can be found in countless variations: the tuna melt being one of the most popular ones. Each melt will have bread with cheese (melted, of course, under or in a grill) and either contains vegetables or meat (turkey, ham, bacon), or tuna and mayonnaise.
Speaking of options: look at this melt restaurants’ options at the bottom of the menu!
Don’t be confused with the spanish type of bread which is grilled and eaten with olive oil for breakfast (sign me up!), but Mexican’s similarly named toasted sandwich: refried beans, cheese and a fresh pico de gallo. Open-faced and delicious.
Check out this delicious recipe: Mollete
Monte Cristo: US
Basically, this is a croque monsieur that made it all the way to the US. It’s also known as French toast or French toasted ham and cheese. It is a classic ham and cheese sandwich, made with egg batter and some versions will include mayonnaise and mustard. Served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!!
Sometimes it’s covered in powdered sugar, which sounds yukky but is truly yummy!
Check out this Monte Cristo recipe!
Toast Hawaii: Germany
Aber naturlich! There had to be a German version of the toasted sandwich: these guys like them open faced, with ham, cheese, and… Pineapple! Which is of course a combination you might have seen on a pizza!
Little did we know, turns out you can also eat this pizza variation as a staple sandwich: toasted in an iron or grill!
Tripleta: Puerto Rico
It’s almost hard to still call it a sandwich at this stage, the Cuban Sandwich has a little brother: the Tripleta from Puerto Rico. Similar in ingredients and bread roll, the Tripleta combines ham, steak, chicken, and cheese with mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup, and some cabbage.
You’ll find of course different variations depending on where you go, but to me, this is the Puerto Rican Toasted Sandwich that made the list!
Not only worth a spot on the Toasted Sandwich hitlist because of its beautiful name, the Zapiekanka is actually a classic toasted piece of baguette (or half: open-faced) with sliced mushrooms and cheese.
It’s a popular street food that will have many different versions available, with fancy names like “diablo”, “Gypsy”, “Greek”, and “Hawaiian”.
Welsh Rabbit / Welsh Rarebit: Wales
The Welsh definitely know how to turn cheese on toast into something special! Bread, and a cheesy beer sauce! This local dish should go viral if you ask me! Check out the recipe below; it’s not even complicated!
Check out this Perfect Welsh Rabbit recipe!
Not really family, but still grilled cheese!
What follows is really not really a toastie anymore, but you know, everything with grilled cheese is quite the family member, right?!
Perhaps not your go-to toasted sandwich if you feel like snackin’ somethin’ easy, but definitely worth making one day to boost a lazy Sunday: this Georgian bread-with-cheese-and-an-egg-in-the-middle is going to be your new breakfast favorite!
OK, I have to admit: we’re no longer in known territory. We’re swapping bread for corn-tortillas… I got hooked when I saw “stuffed with cheese”.
Yep… The quesadilla HAS to be on this list, because there are few ways that give melted cheese on toasted “bread” a more satisfying meaning than the quesadilla.
Thank you, Mexico!
Of course, you can add other fillings, like onions, beans, meat, and tomato.
Arepa: Venezuela / Colombia
If the quesadillas make it to the list, then arepas should be, too. Arepas are different, though. They use cornflour to make cakes, which are then cooked. They are, of course, topped with cheese (and meat, chorizo, ham, veggies, etc.) and are delicious.
They are also a famous snack in Honduras, where they are called pupusas.
When I said similar I meant, NOT THE SAME! You will get a lot of Hondureñas HANGRY if you tell them that pupusas and arepas are the same thing.
Now, they do use the same kind of cornflour, the same shape for the cakes and they’re both grilled until crisp, BUT the pupusa is the real toastie-like deal and has the stuffing in the middle.
Empanada: Peru / Bolivia
The only reason the empanada is on this list is because Jack and I met each other in Peru, where we used to go for romantic dinners and madly fell in love with each other (read: We would stuff ourselves with cheap street-food empanadas).
So, we love empanadas! And YES, they’re often filled with gewy, melty cheese.
An empanada is a turnover (pastry with filling) and depending on the region, they can be fried or baked. And yes, you will also find them everywhere else in Latin America, in Spain, the Philippines, different parts in Asia, and in Russia.