Old-fashioned Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwich on Plate

I often make toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch (actually I make grilled cheese sandwiches, but I call them toasted cheese sandwiches), so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches.

The old recipe called for toasting the sandwiches in the oven (or over a coal fire!). It also called for making a cheese filling that contained grated cheese, dry mustard, and paprika – rather than just using slices of cheese.

The sandwiches turned out well. The Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches were crisp and toasty, and nice and gooey in the middle. The cheese filling had just a hint of the spices.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches
Source: Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books (The North American Newspaper, Philadelphia, Winter, 1921)

The recommended way of softening the grated cheese by putting it in a bowl that is then placed over another pan containing hot water seemed very old-fashioned, but I followed the directions and it worked well. The cheese softened quickly so that the spices could be easily stirred into the cheese, and it was very spreadable.

Since I know that cheese contains a lot of salt, I skipped adding salt when I made this recipe. Also, I used a level teaspoon of dry mustard instead of a rounded one that was called for in the recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

  • Servings: 3 Sandwiches
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese. American would also work well.)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon paprika

6 slices bread


Put grated cheese, dry mustard, and paprika into a bowl; stir to mix. Put the bowl in a shallow pan of hot water for 2-3 minutes (or put in the microwave for a few seconds). Once the cheese has begun to soften, stir again to get the spices evenly spread throughout the mixture.

In the meantime, butter the bread on one side. Place three slices on a baking sheet with the buttered side down. Spread the slices with the cheese mixture. Top with the remaining bread slices. The buttered side should be up.

Put under the broiler in the oven, and toast until the bread is lightly browned. Flip the sandwiches and return to broiler. Toast until the second side is lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve.


67 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Hot Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

  1. It sounds like a version of traditional Welsh Rarebit (spelling is correct, but people pronounce it ‘rabbit’) but that is cooked in a saucepan on the hob. I’ve always found it too much of a palaver to cook and these days mustard and I don’t entirely get on, alas!

    I love melted cheese sandwiches – I bought a little machine for it some years ago, as I no longer have a grill or working oven.

    1. I’m going to tell Hubby I’m “too much of a palaver to cook,” and that he can take over the “hob.” Thank you for enriching my vocabulary, Val!

    2. This recipe also reminded me of Welsh Rarebit. I’ve noticed that hundred-year-old cookbooks generally spell rarebit correctly – though I’ve noticed the more modern ones sometimes spell it the way it sounds.

    3. We used to have the oven-toasted cheese sandwiches every Friday in my high school lunchroom. If you got the reheated leftovers on Monday, you got double portions. They were so delicious!

  2. Reaching backward, I believe we called them “toasted cheese” in early childhood, but they became “grilled cheese” when my mother started taking me out to lunch (every Monday, in the summer) and enjoying them at the Pomeroy’s Department Store tearoom. I think I will try this, because I’m loving the idea of the softened grated cheese. Thank you, Sheryl! Happy New Year

    1. Your comment reminds me of how my mother and I often ate lunch at a department store tearoom when we went shopping. It alway seemed so special when compared with today’s food courts.

  3. The best version I’ve ever had was a toasted pimento cheese on homemade bread. Of course, traditional pimento cheese is grated, and has a bit of onion, pimento, and such stirred in for good measure, so it’s at least a cousin of this.

  4. This is taking me down memory lane. We always called it toasted cheese when I was growing up. I remember visiting my aunt and going to Pomeroy’s. I was a small town girl and it was exciting to see escalators in the bigger city. My husband will love the spiced up toasted cheese recipe.

    1. I don’t think that I ever even saw an escalator until I was well into my teens. Remember the elevator with the double doors and elevator operator at Stearns Department Store – or maybe it was Carroll’s (or maybe they both had elevators with operators. After I’ll these years I’m a little foggy on the specifics).

        1. Maybe . . . and, when I was small I wanted to be a telephone operator. Good thing we ended up going in other directions since I don’t think there’s been a demand for people to fill either elevator or telephone operator positions for many years. 🙂 We often ate at a cafeteria when we went shopping in Williamsport. I don’t remember the name of the cafeteria. A little later I remember often eating at the restaurant at Britt’s Department Store in the mall at Montoursville.

          1. Yes, probably good life choices. I remember Britt’s also. It is sad that so many things are gone. Most of the stores have closed and the mall is empty. It is hard to go home to a dying town.

    1. I like how you describe your favorite grilled cheese sandwiches. Now that I think about it, I also like greasy grilled cheese sandwiches – though I probably wouldn’t have described them that way. 🙂

  5. My mom also called them “toasted cheese” sandwiches, and I believe she may have used the oven broiler. Before cheese came out in handy slices, she used Velveeta brand “cheese food.” It has suspect ingredients, of course, but does melt very nicely! Now eating vegan, I would use Chao slices, which are very tasty.

    1. I haven’t had Velveeta in years, and like you have concerns about the ingredients, but your mention of Veleeta brings back warm memories of a different time and place.

  6. Love the addition of the mustard and the paprika. We always call the sandwich cooked on top of the stove in a grill or frying pan a grilled cheese, in the oven it is a toasted cheese, and usually has just a bottom bread, not top, so the cheese gets crusty. I think every family has their own names for all these things!

  7. I remember Welsh Rarebit being on the menu at Bullocks Café in Droitwich Spa back in the 70s-80s our regular Saturday treat, Dorothy was the waitress, good times.

  8. We had open-face toasted cheese sandwiches just the other day. I use a toaster oven, because I need to watch the toasting carefully. One of us likes limp toast. The others like it crisp. One of us loves mustard. I think I’ll try spreading a little mustard on his bread, and I’ll sprinkle paprika on the cheese for the others. No recipe is simple in our house.

  9. Wonderful toasted cheese sandwiches! The dry mustard is a great idea ,going to have to give it a try… years ago when I was growing up ,we couldn’t afford butter so we used bacon grease instead that gave it a different taste but was good.

    1. I never would have thought of speading bacon grease on the bread used to make toasted cheese sandwiches – but now that you mention it – I think I may give it a try. I like to put crumbled bacon in toasted cheese sandwiches, and I’m guessing the bacon grease would give the sandwiches a similar flavor.

  10. This harkens back to Home Ec. – no toasters so all of it was done in the oven! We made this and added a slice (very thin) of tomato on top of the cheese…

    1. The tomato slice (very thin) would be a nice addition to this recipe. 🙂 I remember that we learned how to make Tang and toast (made in the oven) during our first class in 7th grade home ec. I thought that the teacher was treating us like little kids.

  11. We called them toasted cheese sandwiches too! I liked to dip them into a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup for each bite. And I’m happy to spice up anything! Happy New Year, Sheryl!

  12. This sounds yummy! I’m going to make it right now. I was looking to have cheese and crackers but my sons ate all the crackers. I just happened to make homemade bread today. Thanks!

  13. How interesting! I’ve only used pain old american cheese for my toasted cheese sandwiches, although I do like provel/mozzerella with tomato on a piece of french or italian bread in the toaster oven.

  14. Got to admit I’m horrendously lazy and use the toaster for the bread and the microwave to melt the cheese. Though after watching Adam Ragusea on youtube I may have to try his version. He has it with tomato soup but I’ll skip that, too much acid for me and a cheese sandwich of any kind is a full meal. Mmmm, now I’m thinking of cheese and tomato sandwiches, a favorite summer sandwich!!

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