How to Make the World's Best Guilt-Free Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Diet-friendly grilled cheese sandwich

Think there's no place for a gooey grilled cheese sandwich in your life if you're counting calories? Guess again. Here's how to make a diet-friendly GCS:


  • The bread: Stick with light breads (40-45 calories per slice) with a few grams of fiber. So many brands make these. In addition to classic white, there are varieties like honey wheat and Italian. Try changing it up.​
  • The cheeseWhen it comes to sliced cheese, reduced-fat and 2 percent milk slices are your best bets. These generally have 50-60 calories and 3-5 grams of fat. The ones from Sargento are fantastic, and they have some of the lowest sodium counts around. Go with traditional cheddar, unexpected Swiss, spicy Pepper Jack, or mild Provolone. I'm a huge fan of spreadable light cheese wedges, like the kinds by The Laughing Cow. With just 35 calories and 1.5 grams of fat each, those bring creamy deliciousness without breaking the calorie bank. I like to pair one slice of cheese with one cheese wedge for a smart sandwich.
  • The butter: The key to making a perfectly crispy sandwich is buttering the bread before grilling it. However, each tablespoon of regular butter has around 100 calories and 11 grams of fat. Instead, go with light whipped butter or light buttery spread, which has around half the calories and fat. My favorite kind is Brummel & Brown. Spread a teaspoon on each slice of bread, and you’ll get just the right amount of buttery flavor and crunch, especially when you use this next ingredient...
  • The spray: You might think you don't need to spritz your skillet with nonstick spray since you're using butter, but think about this: You don't want to use more butter than you need. The calorie-free cooking spray will keep your food from sticking to the pan; none of that carefully measured butter will go to waste.
  • The extras: The options are endless when it comes to fun fillings. Add chicken breast, center-cut bacon, and sautéed onion. You can even make a breakfast grilled cheese with chopped turkey sausage. Just cook any meats before layering them on to your sandwich.


  1. Lay two light bread slices flat, and spread with one light spreadable cheese wedge. Top one slice with a reduced-fat cheese slice, followed by the other bread slice. Spread the top of the sandwich with 1 tsp. light butter.
  2. Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Place sandwich in the skillet, buttered side down. Carefully spread the top with 1 more tsp. of light butter.
  3. Cook until bread is lightly browned and cheese has melted, about 2 minutes per side. (220 calories, 10g fat)​

Easy Recipe Ideas 

Turn the classic sandwich up a notch. Try the below options for a fun twist.

  • Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese: Mix the cheese wedge with 1 tbsp. of grated Parmesan. Add your favorite flavor of reduced-fat sliced cheese. (250 calories, 11.5g fat)
  • Fancy Grilled Cheese: Go with reduced-fat sliced Provolone and a wedge of garlic & herb cheese. Then, add jarred roasted red pepper — packed in water, patted dry, and chopped. (245 calories, 11.5g fat)
  • Club-Style Grilled Cheese: Skip the sliced cheese, and instead mix two cheese wedges with 2 tsp. Dijonnaise. Add 1 slice's worth of crumbled center-cut or turkey bacon, a tomato slice, and a few spinach leaves. (250 calories, 10g fat).
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