Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Turkey, Apple, and Fig Jam

Recipe Pin
30 minutes
4 sandwiches

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Uncover the ultimate gourmet melt with this Grilled Cheese Sandwich featuring smoked Gouda, lean turkey, crisp apple slices, and luscious fig jam. Whether it’s for a game day snack or a delightful lunchtime indulgence, this sandwich is a winning play.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with apple and turkey stacked up on a cutting board.

Looking to upgrade your lunch? Try a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with smoked turkey, apple, and fig jam. This sandwich, inspired by a meal at a downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama eatery, features ultra-melty smoked Gouda cheese and the sweet flavor of fig jam. It comes with their homemade tomato soup, topped with croutons and Parmesan crisps. The key to this sandwich’s magic lies in its texture—crisp bread, crunchy apples, and gooey cheese griddled until it reaches golden brown perfection. For a unique and tasty browning agent, I combine equal parts unsalted butter and mayonnaise when adding my bread slices to a skillet for grilled cheese. Enjoy it as a single serving or whip up a batch for game day or poolside get-together. For the best experience, let it cool for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors meld, and the textures shine. This sandwich delivers “Monte Cristo vibes” while satisfying that classic grilled cheese craving!

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Put that sleeve of plain white bread aside and get into this method using sourdough, whole grain and seed, focaccia, or another savory loaf that stands out. Think buttermilk bread, sourdough, or even beer bread. My images feature bread made with feta and Parmesan cheese, which bakes up like focaccia. It’s a bonus because it features a spinach pesto, which adds to the flavor intrigue of any sandwich melt or grilled cheese I make. You will need a second slice of bread for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, but going open-faced means all those gorgeous ingredients will be visible!

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe!

·         Gourmet Flavor – The combination of smoked turkey, apple, and fig jam creates a sophisticated taste that elevates the classic grilled cheese sandwich.
·         Perfectly Griddled – Browning the bread with mayo and unsalted butter combination ensures a golden brown, crispy exterior that holds up well to the gooey interior. It’s nutty, buttery, tangy, and entirely umami!
·         Versatile Bread Options – Quality bread like sourdough or homemade spinach and feta loaf enhances the sandwich’s texture and flavor.
·         Delicious When Cooled – Allowing the sandwich to cool for 10 minutes enhances the texture and flavor, making it even more enjoyable.


Ingredients for This Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The secret to a great grilled cheese sandwich lies in every detail, including the pan. While smoked Gouda is my top cheese choice, any melty cheese will do. Use an electric skillet or flat-bottomed pan for even browning and to make multiple sandwiches at once.

An image displaying all ingredients required to make a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich to include fig jam, artisanal bread and gouda cheese.
  • Quality fresh bread – opt for something rustic and savory, such as sourdough, or use a homemade loaf; my spinach and feta loaf yields amazing texture and flavor. 
  • Smoked Gouda cheese – known for its excellent melting properties and smoky, nutty flavor. 
  • Apple slices – add a refreshing crunch and natural flavor. 
  • Fig jam – offers a complex but overall sweet flavor that complements the savory sandwich components. 
  • Frisée – also known as curly endive, this type of chicory with a slightly bitter taste and delicate, feathery leaves is a shockingly delicious ‘perfect contrast’ in this melt.  
  • Smoked turkey slices – smoked turkey slices offer a lean, smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with creamy cheese and sweet fig jam.
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See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

An electric skillet filled with grilled cheese sandwiches melting.

Substitutions and Variations

When making substitutions, remember that texture and flavor will likely change, so choose substitutions thoughtfully.

  • Fruit Bread and Soda Bread – offer a surprisingly refreshing taste in place of savory sliced bread.
  • Using Brie or Smoked Gruyere – these melty cheeses go especially well with fruit bread and soda bread, so don’t be afraid to reverse the flavor profiles.
  • Fresh pear slices are a great substitute for apple, and while caramelized onions with a sprinkle of fresh minced thyme also work well, they do not provide the same texture.
  • Use raisin chutney with fontina or extra sharp cheddar for a quasi-Euro version.
  • For some serious crunch, pile on pickled veggies or sweet and savory red onions.
  • Use peach preserves or quince paste – in place of fig jam; both offer a similar puckery flavor. 
  • Baby kale leaves deliver the bitter flavor characteristic of frisée.
  • Thinly sliced coppa, Black Forest ham, or porchetta are AMAZING on this sandwich, or choose to go meatless!
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Tip: Mayo, Butter, or Both?

Both butter and mayonnaise create sandwiches with a crisp, well-browned exterior. As expected, butter imparts a rich, buttery flavor, while mayonnaise adds a subtle tang. For THIS sandwich recipe, we will use a combination of mayo and softened, unsalted butter creamed together to make a spreadable browning agent for the bread.

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This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!

Step By Step Instructions

Process images demonstrating the correct way to assemble a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with apple and fig.

Griddle the Bread and Begin Assembling

Step 1. Before beginning, cream the softened butter with equal parts mayonnaise until well combined. Spread a thin layer of the mixture on both sides of each slice of bread. Place the bread into an electric skillet (or griddle) over medium heat. Griddle the bread on both sides until golden and crisp but not fully browned. Reduce the heat to low to avoid burning the bread while you build your sandwiches.

Step 2. Butterfly the bread slices so they can be easily joined along their long edges once assembled. Spoon a thin layer of fig jam on one slice of bread while piling 2 to 3 ounces of smoked Gouda on the other.

Process images demonstrating the order of ingredients layered atop a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with apple and fig.

Finish Assembling and Cover to Melt

Step 3. Layer apple slices atop the Gouda, followed by 2 to 3 slices of smoked turkey. Increase the heat once again to medium. 

Step 4. Add frisée atop the fig jam and place a lid on the skillet or griddle. Turn the heat off after 1 minute, but do not remove the lid. The heat from the pan’s surface is helping the Gouda to melt. Remove the lid after another minute or two and use a spatula to ‘mate’ both sides of the sandwich; the griddled bread’s outsides are perfectly crispy and help the cheese to finish melting fully. Carefully remove the sandwiches from the pan and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. This sandwich tastes best when slightly cooled.

Grilled cheese sandwiches stacked on top of each other.

How to Serve and Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You don’t need to serve the best grilled cheese sandwich with anything, but if you want to enhance the presentation, offer sweet pickles and hot mustard as additional condiments.

Serving Occasions

  • Game Day – Great for feeding a crowd.
  • Lunchtime Treat – An upscale option for a midday meal.
  • Brunch – Pair with mimosas for a festive touch.
  • Picnics – Easy to pack and delicious cold.
  • Soup Pairing – Perfect with tomato soup for a cozy meal.

Wine Pairings

Believe it or not, we assembled these for an adults-only pool party and passed sandwich halves via a tray! It’s how I know to pair this sandwich with a crisp Chardonnay or a light Pinot Noir. The acidity in these wines complements the cheese’s richness and the fig jam’s sweetness.

Beer Pairings

A Belgian Dubbel or a malty Oktoberfest beer would pair well, balancing the smoky and sweet flavors of this grilled cheese recipe.

Jenny’s Recipe Pro Tips

  • Butter-Mayo Mixture – For an incredibly delicious and perfectly browned exterior, cream together a softened tablespoon of unsalted butter with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and spread it on the bread slices.
  • Moderate Heat – Grill the sandwich over medium heat to achieve a golden-brown exterior without burning the bread or leaving the cheese unmelted.
  • Pressing the Sandwich – Use a spatula to gently press down on the sandwich while grilling to ensure even browning and better contact with the heat source.
  • Cooling Time – Let the sandwich cool for at least 10 minutes after grilling to allow the flavors to meld and the textures to set, making it easier to handle and more enjoyable to eat.

Recipe FAQs

Should I toast my bread before making grilled cheese?

No. Griddle the bread slices on both sides before adding the sandwich components for an extra-crispy experience.

Is mayo or butter better for grilled cheese?

Both butter and mayonnaise create sandwiches with a crisp, well-browned exterior. For this sandwich, cream together mayo and softened butter to create a spreadable browning agent for the bread.

What is the secret to a good grilled cheese?

Even Fat Application spread evenly over both sides of the bread promote a crispy, golden-brown exterior. Having two hot surfaces also helps to quickly melt the cheese.

Stacks of melty grilled cheese sandwiches on a cutting board.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Smoked Turkey, Apple, and Fig Jam

Jenny DeRemer
For a unique and tasty browning agent, I combine equal parts unsalted butter and mayonnaise and apply to my bread slices for this unique grilled cheese sandwich!
No ratings yet
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Sandwiches
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 505 kcal

Equipment

  • electric skillet pancakes, French toast, sandwiches…I could not manage without this skillet

Ingredients
 

  • 8 thick slices rustic loaf bread day old works even better than fresh; I am using my homemade Cheese Bread for this sandwich
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened but not melted
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons fig jam more for serving; I am using my own easy Fig Jam
  • 8 ounces smoked gouda cheese slices; 2 ounces per sandwich
  • 1/2 small apple thinly sliced
  • frisée leaves
  • 8 ounces deli turkey slices; 2 ounces per sandwich

Instructions
 

  • Before starting, cream softened butter with equal parts mayonnaise. Spread a 1/2 tablespoon layer on both sides of each bread slice. Place in an electric skillet (or griddle) over medium heat and cook until golden and crisp but not fully browned. Reduce heat to low to avoid burning while you build your sandwiches.
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 8 thick slices rustic loaf bread
  • Butterfly the bread slices for easy joining. Spread 1 tablespoon of fig jam on one slice and add 2 ounces of smoked Gouda on the other.
    4 tablespoons fig jam, 8 ounces smoked gouda cheese
  • Layer apple slices over the Gouda, then add 2 ounces of smoked turkey. Increase the heat to medium.
    1/2 small apple, 8 ounces deli turkey
  • Add frisée on top of the fig jam and cover the skillet. Turn off the heat after 1 minute but keep the lid on. The residual heat will help the Gouda melt. After 1-2 minutes, remove the lid and use a spatula to press the sandwich halves together. The crispy bread and melted cheese will combine perfectly. Carefully remove the sandwiches from the pan and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving, as they taste best slightly cooled.
    frisée leaves

Notes

Begin with Room Temp Components – the cheese melts quickly and the fig jam gets bubbly if the components are at room temperature when you begin the process.
To Store Leftovers – Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate.
To Reheat – heat oven to 350°F, unwrap sandwich and place foil and sandwich atop a baking sheet. Heat for 10 minutes or until warmed through.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 505kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 23gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 1243mgPotassium: 226mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 688IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 412mgIron: 1mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!

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