Your breakfast special is served. Crispy, toasted bread with warm, ooey-gooey cheese inside. While we’ve grown to love the butter and cheese combination in grilled cheese, it comes at the cost of hundreds of calories.
If you are looking for a butter substitute for grilled cheese, maybe for health reasons, or you’ve run out of butter, we’ve created this post for you. Some of these butter alternatives reduce the calorie count in your grilled cheese.
Is Grilled Cheese Unhealthy
A typical American-style grilled cheese calorie count can be as much as 490 calories per serving. And up to 800 calories when you add bacon, jams, fruit, and other extras.
When you use lots of butter and cheese, your sandwich’s saturated fat increases, which means it’s not heart-healthy.
Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients in grilled cheese.
Two slices of white bread make up 134 calories. Double the calories if you are making it with four slices of bread. Each piece contributes 67 calories along with 15-30% of daily allocated calcium. However, white bread is fortified with iron for a healthy immune system.
If you use wholemeal bread, you get dietary fiber making it a good swap for the white bread since it is a complex carbohydrate.
A tablespoon of butter contains 102 calories and 11 grams of fat. This complex dietary fat has different types of fats. Saturated fatty acids make up 70%, and monosaturated fats about 25% of butter.
Butter also contains about 2.3% polyunsaturated fats, cholesterol, and phospholipids.
Although butter contains 80% fat, it has high amounts of vitamin A, D, E, B12, and K2.
However, butter causes weight gain when eaten in large amounts. Saturated fat in butter has also raised concern because it increases bad cholesterol (LDL). It puts you at risk of heart disease.
Two slices of American Cheese add 102 calories per piece. That’s a whopping 204 in a classic grilled cheese.
Though loaded with calories, cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and fat. It also has high amounts of phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin, vitamins A and B12.
Because cheese is calorie-dense, it tends to cause weight gain when eaten in high amounts. Cheese also has lots of sodium which can cause high blood pressure.
Not to mention, cheese contains zero fiber. It may cause constipation if you eat it excessively.
Best Substitute for Butter on Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Butter gives you a crispy crust. And that’s what you want when looking for a substitute for butter in grilled cheese.
Here are some alternatives for butter in grilled cheese.
While butter gives grilled cheese its richness, you don’t really need it for flavor. Go for mayo instead of butter on grilled cheese.
Mayo is one of the best substitutes for butter. It makes the crust crispier while maintaining a moist and soft interior. Mayo-covered bread is never dried out as you may experience with buttered bread.
Another advantage of mayonnaise is that it doesn’t burn as easily. If you can’t look away for a second lest your bread burns, it’s more reason to use mayo instead of butter on grilled cheese.
Looking for a healthier alternative to butter in your grilled cheese? Use olive oil to make your sandwich healthier than butter.
Olive oil does not necessarily bring down the calorie count in grilled cheese. But it saves you around 5 grams of saturated fat while adding the lovely flavor of olive oil.
Olive oil for grilled cheese goes along with something sweet like caramelized onions or fruit chutney.
If you like French toast, you will love eggs as a substitute for butter in grilled cheese. Just beat an egg and brush a thin coat onto one side of toast as you would with butter.
Eggs give you an extra crispy grilled cheese with a protein punch from the egg. Not to mention Omega 3, which aids the immune system.
If you want to lower the calorie count even further, egg whites are the way to go!
Margarine is created from plant oils. It is a 100% butter substitute for grilled cheese. More so, if you want flavors that remind you of your childhood.
Margarine contains monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy.
Choose No-Trans-Fat Margarine. Trans fat decreases good cholesterol and increases bad cholesterol. It’s worse than saturated fat.
No-Trans-Fat Margarine is a healthier alternative to butter since it does not have saturated fat and cholesterol.
Yes! Bacon grease is just as wonderful as butter or better. That salty, pork-flavored grease can do wonders to your grilled cheese. Whether you pour it directly from the frying pan or a can in the fridge, your grilled cheese will taste just as good.
Just slather the bread with bacon grease and toast it until it’s golden brown. Then you can proceed with the cheese and have a bacon-flavored grilled cheese.
Note that bacon grease contains more calories than butter and no nutritional value. You’ll just be using it for the flavor and hello! as a butter substitute for grilled cheese.
Use a Panini Press
You can make grilled cheese without butter. It’s like one of the fastest ways to make grilled cheese. The hot surface allows the bread to crisp naturally. It distributes heat evenly from both sides, so you don’t have to flip the bread.
A panini maker comes with a few rules like; use sturdy bread and the right number of add-ons so that your sandwich doesn’t fall apart in the panini press.
You also don’t want to smoosh the bread, so be gentle as you push the lid such that the heated grates are touching, but not pressing the bread.
How about Butter Flavor without Butter?
We are talking about PAM cooking spray.
If you are looking to make healthier grilled cheese, using PAM is faster and delicious than using butter or margarine.
Spray one side of a slice of bread with PAM like you would with butter and place the bread on a hot pan. Fry the bread until crispy and proceed with the cheese and the other slice of bread.
A rare, but loved substitute for butter in grilled cheese is coconut oil. It’s a great change-up from butter, but you lose some of the butter richness.
Coconut oil is for those looking for a healthier alternative since it contains medium-chain triglycerides. This type of fat is burned directly instead of being stored in fat cells.
Grilled Cheese Butter vs. Mayo
Most people who use mayonnaise as a butter substitute swear it is fool-proof because it does not burn easily.
But what about the old nostalgic taste, aroma, and flavor of butter?
Here’s a comparison between grilled cheese butter or mayo.
A mayonnaise grilled cheese yields a better and nicer texture than butter-grilled cheese. Another plus is that the bread feels fluffier, and it gives you a nice bite. With butter, you can expect perfect crispness, though it may feel crumbly on the inside.
As for the taste, you will notice the absence of buttery flavor in mayonnaise grilled cheese. The flavor is replaced by a slightly tangy mayonnaise taste.
For those who like prominent butter and cheese flavors, you may not like the mayonnaise version.
Butter gives has a rich, dairy flavor that is slightly salty if you are using salted butter. It also comes in handy to cover up any processed flavors you don’t like in American cheese or the nutty notes of sharp Cheddar.
Here’s where mayo has an advantage over butter. First, mayo is ready to spread, straight out of the fridge. Unlike butter where you have to soften it to room temperature before spreading.
How to Make a Healthy Grilled Cheese
Classic grilled cheese has only three ingredients. It’s no doubt an easy food option for any time of day. Though tasty, grilled cheese is not healthy food. But you can make healthier choices to cut back on the calories and get more nutritional benefits.
Pick Healthier Bread
If you often treat yourself with grilled cheese, it’s better to do it with whole wheat bread instead of white bread. Although whole wheat bread packs more calories, it has more fiber than white bread.
Consider the Cheese
Flavorful cheese with a satisfying taste like low-sodium Swiss cheese allows you to use less than you would with regular American cheese. You can also opt for low-sodium versions of Cheddar, or whichever cheese you choose.
Skip the Butter
The only way to bring the calorie count down is to make grilled cheese without butter. You can use a panini press or toaster oven to get a satisfying crunch and melt the cheese at the same time.
Power up with Veggies and Fruit
From tomatoes to mashed beans, spinach, apples, etc., you can spruce up a classic grilled cheese. Not to mention the nutrition advantage that comes with it.
Grilled cheese is an American classic. It’s so popular that you can have it with any meal of the day. Finding a good butter substitute for grilled cheese like mayonnaise changes everything from the taste to the texture. It’s one of those things you must do to cut back on the calories without compromising the texture and taste.