We honestly believe that cheese can make almost anything better. And unless you’re a vegan or are lactose intolerant, you likely agree. Cheese can be paired with almost any bread, meat, vegetable, and even some fruits. In fact, sometimes we forget exactly how versatile this dairy delight truly is. In honor of National Cheese Lover’s Day on January 20, we decided to make a list to celebrate its many uses. Here are our 32 favorite foods to put cheese on.
As promised in the title, we simply had to include apple pie as one of our favorite foods on which to put cheese. It’s a divisive issue, whether or not to throw a slice of sharp cheddar (or anything from Gouda to Gruyere) on top of the classic American dessert, but when faced with the option of cheese or no cheese, we’ll always opt for the former. This practice is not only centuries old, but it even comes with its own saying: “Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.” Keep your squeeze, and just give us the dairy deliciousness.
Alternately, you could take a page from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network and bake the cheese right into the pie!
When thinking about types of cheese, let’s not forget our spreadable friend, cream cheese! And with all the options at the grocery store (and breakfast joints), we are now blessed with chive, veggie, honey, and a variety of other flavors. Looking to step up your bagel game? Check out this bagel with smoked salmon recipe from Genius Kitchen. We like it a lox.
Sure, you could settle for just butter on your baked potato... or even butter, sour cream, chives, and bacon bits... but why would you deny yourself of throwing some melted cheese on top too? In fact, if we had to choose just one topping for our potatoes, we’d nix the butter the go with the cheese. Luckily, we never have to choose only one. In fact, this recipe from Delish has even more than we just listed! (Honorable mention: au gratin potatoes.)
Doesn't matter if it's a side of spicy pinto beans or smoky baked beans, we like a little extra cheese to finish off the whole affair. Heck, don't tell anyone, but when we're home alone a bowl of beans with cheese is more likely to be our dinner than a bowl of cereal.
Parents these days sneak vegetables into their kids food by making them seem healthy, but we like the old-fashioned way: covering veggies with delicious melted cheese to tempt us into eat them. And when it's as simple as a cheddar sauce that you can make in minutes, why skip the cheese on your broccoli? (That has to be better than sneaking broccoli into a cake.)
If putting cheese on a cake or cupcake sounds weird, then you’ve obviously already forgotten about our good friend cream cheese (we just talked about this!) By adding this ingredient to a frosting recipe, you’ve created the best exterior for red velvet cake, carrot cake, or any other dessert treat. Heck, it even tastes great by the spoonful! Never made red velvet cake before? Sally’s Baking Addiction has a layered version that you’re sure to get hooked on.
Much like broccoli, it takes some cheesy love for us to get into cauliflower, but Genius Kitchen has a recipe for cauliflower covered in cheese sauce that tempts us.
Chicken sandwiches can only be improved with the addition of cheese, but for the best pairing of the two foods, order (or make, using this recipe from Martha Stewart) the chicken parmesan. After all, with both parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, you’re doubling your fun!
There are a lot of ways to make and serve chili – like with/without meat or over spaghetti (just ask our friends from Cincinnati) – but there’s one ingredient we never forget about: cheese. In fact, one of our favorite parts of making chili is serving it up hot in a bowl, sprinkling some cheese on top, and watching it melt.
Curious about that chili-over-spaghetti dish? This recipe from Culinary Hill will blow your mind (especially when you add cinnamon!)
Speaking of cinnamon, have you ever noticed the subtle differences between the icings on top of cinnamon buns? There’s the traditional kind, buttercream, and cream cheese, among others. Pillsbury’s easy-to-make buns even come with all three choices. If you’re looking for a recommendation, you already know which one we’d pick.
Not down with buns from a can? Here’s how to make them from scratch in just an hour, courtesy of Creme de la Crumb.
The rest of America is slowly discovering the beauty of the grilled street corn already embraced by the southwestern states, which is a win for cheese lovers. You can now find roasted corn with salty cojita cheese making its way onto more restaurant menus across the country, and with cojita becoming so common place you can find it in most grocery stores, it's easy to make your own cheesy, spicy street corn at home, especially with this simple recipe from Serious Eats.
No fancy recipes are needed to consume cheese; you can simply slice off a piece, slap it on a cracker or piece of bread (we prefer French), and enjoy! Whether you go for standbys like cheddar and jack or opt for a fancier variety like a Brie, Gouda, Stilton, or Brebirousse d'Argental sheep cheese, this is the quickest and most efficient way to get cheese into your belly (other than eating it straight, of course.) Looking for something sweet to offset the sharpness or saltiness? Put a little dollop of fig jam on top.
And of course we can’t close out a section on bread and cheese without a shoutout to our old friend, grilled cheese, who has always been there for us. Visit Creole Contessa for a version made with mozzarella sticks!
To be honest, we rarely eat eggplant (or aubergine, for our foreign readers) that isn't topped with cheese. While eggplant parm and eggplant lasagna are our go-to dishes, we’re also big fans of these pizza bagel substitutes from Eat Good 4 Life, which top thin, baked slices of eggplant with tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and mozzarella or provolone cheeses... or both!
Whether you take your eggs scrambled, over easy, sunny side up, fried, or in the form of an omelette, adding a little (or a lot of) cheese on top is always a solid suggestion. Us? We usually ditch the silverware and throw both the egg and cheese on an English muffin, bagel, or biscuit for a bangin’ breakfast sandwich... bacon, ham, or sausage optional.
Wondering when to add cheese to sunny-side-up eggs? Snapguide makes it a snap with this recipe.
Digging into a burrito or quesadilla packed with cheese is one of our favorite pastimes, but with enchiladas, you often get cheese both inside and on top. And as we always say, the more the merrier.
Vegetarian times has a meatless recipe here, which also teaches you how to make your own mole sauce!
Although fondue – the Swiss practice of dipping foods into a communal pot of melted cheese – involves multiple foods like veggies, meats, bread, potatoes, and mushrooms, we grouped them together because it all falls under the same umbrella. The same delicious, cheese-covered umbrella. To make your own pot of gold at home, try this recipe from Tyler Florence of the Food Network.
Still dipping your french fries in ketchup? That’s totally fine, unless you’re out at a restaurant and there’s an option to add chili and cheese. If that’s the case, you better upgrade! The chili and cheese combo is the perfect condiment, and unlike ketchup, it’ll keep your fries warmer longer.
Of course, you could also go a different route when adding cheese to your fries. Instead of a shredded variety, use cheese curds, and instead of chili, use gravy. Now you’ve got poutine, a Canadian specialty. Interested? Seasons & Suppers has you covered.
We like our grits as cheesy as they come; doesn't matter if we're topping them with short rib, shrimp, vegetables or even more cheese, the first thing we do to our cheesy grits is cover them with more cheese, just as Alton Brown taught us.
Is it even possible to have a ham sandwich without cheese on it? We hope we never find out. While we'll always melt cheese on our ham sandwiches at home, sometimes we decide to go all-out and make the ruler of all hot-ham-and-cheeses: a Cuban sandwich. Can't forget the cheese there.
According to basic food math, a hamburger + cheese = a cheeseburger. It also equals a much tastier upgrade to the traditional meat and bun. Plus, with cheese, the possibilities are endless. There’s traditional American, sharp cheddar, spicy pepper jack, a number of imported options, or combos like this bacon and blue burger from Rachael Ray.
Whether you call it a hoagie (Pennsylvania), a hero (New York City), a grinder (New England), or a submarine sandwich (most other places), the best types of sandwiches all have cheese. But while cold sammies stick the cheese inside, most of the hot sub varieties – especially meatball, sausage, or chicken parm – are served open with plenty of mozzarella melted on top.
Never attempted a meatball sub at home before? Chowhound will show you the way, including how to make the meatballs and the sauce.
It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to hot dog toppings, but we think folks from New York City’s Coney Island really nailed it when they designed the chili cheese Coney. As it sounds, this dog is topped with hearty, meaty chili and melty cheese, and tastes best when consumed on July 4... because America! Curious how to make the chili? Visit Allrecipes for Grandpa’s Classic Coney Sauce.
Not only should lasagna be topped with both parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, it should be stuffed with heaping scoops of ricotta. Some people (like a certain grandmother-in-law that we know) rebuke the ricotta, but we wouldn’t dream of it. And, for the record, we dream of delicious lasagna – like this amazing recipe from The Stay-at-Home Chef – on a nightly basis.
We love putting tomato sauce and cheese on our pasta, but sometimes it’s just better to skip the tomatoes and let the cheese be the sauce. It’s called “macaroni and cheese.” Heard of it?
Although we love lots of different types of mac and cheese, we rarely go for the boxed varieties. Instead, we prefer the homemade kind, like this timeless baked version from Southern Living.
Strangely, some folks opt to skip out on adding cheese to nachos in favor of more salsa, veggies, or meat. We think these folks are totally loco. Cheese binds together the chips and other toppings, and there’s so many options from which to choose. When in doubt, pass on the orange “nacho cheese” and instead go with a multi-cheese blend, as suggested in this recipe from Food Republic.
Of course, sharing a pile of super-cheesy nachos brings up the age-old question once posed by the 2001 comedy “Saving Silverman:” If the nachos are stuck together, does that count as one nacho?
Whether it’s classic mozzarella, mozzarella di bufala, ricotta, goat, or even cheddar, to us, the best part of pizza is the cheese. The crust can be thin and crispy or thick like a Chicago pie –and the base sauce can be made from tomatoes, barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, or even just garlic and olive oil – as long as it’s topped with ooey, gooey goodness. When all is said and done, we don’t even care about the toppings! Wait, scratch that; make our topping extra cheese, like in this recipe for New York-style white pizza from Serious Eats.
Our go-to snack at the local pub? A warm, soft pretzel, which pairs perfectly with an ice-cold beer. And when the server asks if we want cheese dip or mustard dip, we always ask for both. (Even if it’s an extra 50 cents, we’ll shell out those hard-earned coins.) And if the cheese is of the beer variety, well then bless you, dear barkeep.
Fox and Briar takes it to another level by adding beer not just to the cheese, but also to the pretzels.
In other another shoutout to our college days, putting cheese on top of ramen noodles was a way to convince ourselves we were actually cooking (while also on a strict budget). Still, we’re not ashamed of this food combo. Once you try it, you’ll agree. Genius Kitchen once again has our back with the recipe here.
It’s one of the simplest and most satisfying comfort foods around: melted cheese on top of rice. While you could just mix some cheese and asparagus on top of some leftover rice (remember college?) let’s spice things up with this Southwestern version from the Food Network, which also invites corn, sour cream, scallion, peppers, and paprika to the party.
You know how when you have a salad out and the waiter comes by to ask if you would like some fresh parmesan cheese on your salad? Well, it's only polite to say "yes" based on how much we like cheese – even if our blue cheese and pecan salad recipe already has cheese on it.
Most soups can benefit from some cheese sprinkled on top, especially if it contains potatoes, broccoli, or tomato. Still, when it comes to cheesy soups, the best is still French onion. After all, no one really cares about the onion soup itself; it’s all about the cheese-slathered piece of bread on top. Make your own at home with some tips from Epicurious.
You can't have an old school, hard shell crunchy taco night without copious amounts of shredded cheddar cheese. Skip the drive-thru though and make these classics at home with ground beef (or beans if you prefer) and top with all the cheese you like – and then some – with this recipe for hard shell tacos from the New York Times.