Kimchi Grilled Cheese

Kimchi grilled cheese on a plate

We are nothing if not great adventurers and when it comes to “find more delicious things to put in grilled cheese”, well, friends…that is an adventure we’re always willing to take.

Thick, crispy, golden brown pan-grilled slices of sourdough. The meltiest of melty cheeses, two kinds because we mean it. An exquisitely caramelized, smoky spicy-sweet, almost jammy kimchi and bacon filling. Lordy loo, an adventure awaits you too!

And if you’re like, “you really missed an opportunity here not calling this “Grilled Kimchi-se”…you’re not wrong.

But let’s get this bad boy on your table, shall we?

Ingredients For This Grilled Cheese

The beauty of grilled cheese is definitely the whole “only takes bread/butter/cheese” thing, but when you want to glam up a sammy, we’ll need just a few other things, but not many. Still pretty dang simple!

  • sourdough
  • American (so melty!) and gruyere cheeses
  • butter (or mayo if you go that route with your grilled cheese-ing)
  • kimchi
  • bacon
  • brown sugar

If you’re not familiar with kimchi, it is a traditional Korean staple dish of spicy fermented cabbage and other vegetables. It has deep ancestral roots in Korean culture and originated thousands of years ago as a way to preserve vegetables during the cold winter months. The prep has changed over time and there are many varieties with different ingredients/flavors/spice level, depending on the region it is made in, but no matter what, it is found on nearly every table and remains to this day an important source of pride in Korean culture.

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Caramelized kimchi and bacon in a pan

Let’s Make The Best Kimchi Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Kimchi on its own will be a little watery, so the key here is to sauté it first with the bacon and a little brown sugar so it gets kind of caramelized and becomes sort of jammy. That’s right, JAMMY. The spicy flavors of the kimchi mixed with the smoky bacon and the speckle of sweet from the brown sugar? So good. So perfect for sandwich filling.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Cook the bacon until it is crisp. Add the kimchi and brown sugar and let it pan fry, undisturbed, for a few minutes to help dry it out and become caramelized. Transfer that to a bowl.
  2. Get your sandwich stacks ready. Bread, gruyere, kimchi mixture, American cheese, bread. Butter (or mayo!) both sides to prepare for crisping.
  3. Heat that same pan over medium low. Lower and slower is better here for optimal cheese meltiness and golden brown perfection!
  4. Get ready to fall in love.

Let’s Discuss The Cheese

Okay, cheese stuff. As you know, always an important topic. Now, before you dismiss it, we really do think American cheese is essential here for its highly distinguished melt factor. It’s just classic grilled cheese 101, and we really don’t want to mess with it. Gruyere also melts really well and for us, it was just another flavor we love. We also have done cheddar on this and it was great, too.

Honestly, we feel like you probably can’t go wrong, but we really really recommend keeping the American, regardless of what other kind of cheese you use, just so you get some of that dreamy silky meltiness.

Sides To Serve

If we’re being honest here, we’d just serve it with a side of ANOTHER kimchi grilled cheese…but there are other things that would work great, too. You could do this simple green salad or maybe a smoother soup like this lush tomato soup or the bright, comforting and delicious golden soup.

But also, we’re pretty serious about just a second sandwich as a side. What an absolute dream. Grilled Kimchi-se forever.

Kimchi Grilled Cheese: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I omit the bacon to make it vegetarian?


Can I try other kinds of cheeses here?

You can kinda play around with what you like, but we recommend keeping at least one of the cheeses as American cheese for its meltiness.

What can I use my leftover kimchi for?

More sandwiches, of course! May we also suggest our Kimchi Fried Rice or piling high kimchi on these tacos?

Kimchi grilled cheese on a plate

Kimchi Grilled Cheese

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


Golden brown, pan-fried Kimchi Grilled Cheese is on the menu! Melty cheese with a caramelized kimchi and bacon filling sit between two thick slices of sourdough bread. Yum, friends. YUM! 



Pan-Fried Kimchi:

  • 2 cups kimchi, chopped (personal preference – you can leave it unchopped too)
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • black pepper to taste

Grilled Cheese:

  • sliced sourdough bread
  • American cheese
  • Gruyere cheese
  • butter or mayo


  1. Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium high heat until crisped and fat is rendered. Add the kimchi to the pan with the brown sugar. Pan fry for a few minutes, leaving it undisturbed for a few minutes at a time so it dries out and gets a little bit caramelized. Season with black pepper. Transfer to a bowl and wipe the pan clean.
  2. Layer your sandwiches: a slice of sourdough, gruyere cheese, kimchi mixture, American cheese, and a second slice of sourdough. Spread butter or mayo over the top and bottom of the sandwich.
  3. Heat the same skillet to medium heat; add the sandwich and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Cut and serve. Magic.


You usually don’t want to use high heat here because the sandwich will burn while the cheese remains un-melted. Medium or low heat will allow the sandwich to stay on the heat longer, which will melt the cheese and give you a golden brown exterior.

I usually use about 1/4 cup of the kimchi mixture per sandwich. If you have some unused kimchi mixture, just store it in the fridge to add to sandwiches throughout the week.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Pan Fry
  • Cuisine: Korean-Inspired

Keywords: kimchi grilled cheese, kimchi recipe, grilled cheese

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