When it comes to assembling a delicious grilled cheese, you really can't go wrong. This cheesy party is an easy way to have a fun night with great company. The potluck planning happens in two stages...
The Week Before
Your first official duty as host: Dream up the ultimate grilled cheese menu! Email each person his potluck assignment: a bread, a cheese and the toppings to create one full sandwich. Mention how many people will be there so everyone knows how much they should bring. Finally, make sure you have a griddle or a couple of large frying plans.
The Day Of
Set up a super-simple bar with beer, wine and sodas. Pick up a bag or two of ice, too. People will be mingling in the kitchen and around the table, so make room by storing counter top appliances and dining chairs. Last but not least, put out some basic condiments to round out the spread -- sticks of butter, olive oil, salt, black pepper, mustard and hot sauce.
Line the table with cutting boards, plates and bowls to hold the ingredients your guests bring. Organize the ingredients assembly-line style: breads and butter at one end, then cheeses, fillings and condiments at the other. Write a bunch of different grilled cheese combos on a chalkboard or poster near the buffet table. Your friends can choose their favorites to griddle up -- or create their own.
You Name It!
Leave out a pile of blank tags. As guests arrive, ask them to write a label for each of their signature ingredients.
Try out these killer grilled cheese recipes for your next potluck. Start with the basics: soft white sandwich bread + 3 slices of American cheese.
The Greek Goddess
This is a great way to escape to Athens without the cost.
olive bread + goat cheese + sliced pepperoncini + dried oregano + tomato slices + mozzarella + sliced kalamata olives + black pepper
The Nacho Libre
Try out this fiery sammy if you're looking for something with a kick.
wheat bread + pepper jack + tortilla chips + pickled jalapeno slices + ground cumin + chopped cilantro
The Reuben Cheese
Here's a great twist on the classic hot sammy.
rye bread + swiss + pastrami + sauerkraut + black pepper
In a Pickle
When you're in a rut, have a bite of this!
sourdough bread + sharp cheddar + mustard + black forest ham + chopped scallions + chopped bread-and-butter pickles
The Big Cheddar
A tasty treat for the cheese lovers in the group.
marble rye bread + cheddar + tomato slices + hot sauce
The Don Juan
Put a Spanish spin on your cheese sandwich.
wheat bread + manchego + Serrano ham + sliced jarred roasted red peppers + chopped almonds + smoked paprika
The Blue Boy
Here's a recipe that adds a little tang for the gang.
cinnamon raisin bread + mozzarella + blue cheese + apricot jam + arugula + black pepper
This sammy has a great smoky flavor in every bite.
white bread + gruyére + caramelized onions + applewood-smoked bacon
I Want S'More
Save this dessert sammy for last!
White bread + toasted large marshmallows + bittersweet chocolate chips + dried cherries
Butter the Bread
Instead of adding butter to the pan, butter the bread -- it's the secret to even toasting. It makes your sandwich taste so much better, too!
Turn It Down
A super-hot surface will toast the bread before the cheese has a chance to catch up. Cook the sandwiches on a griddle or in a large skillet over medium-low heat, turn once, until the bread is golden and the cheese melts, about 6 minutes.
Stop the Presses
Keep your spatula in check -- patience, not squishing, is the key to toasty on the outside, gooey-on-the-inside doneness.
When toasting a sammy made with a firm cheese like cheddar or manchego, cover the pan. It traps the heat so you get a better melt.
Make sure your guests can try all the delicious creations: Place a few sharp knives and cutting boards by the griddle so everyone can divvy up the completed sammies into bite-size slices. Try as many as you can humanly eat -- and then maybe just one more!
Make a foodie "photo booth" and display your party's hashtag so guests can upload their images to Instagram. Then join our online party! Share the best pics from your get-together using #RRGrilledCheese.
Sports Night Party
Here's another great party idea for the sports fanatics in your life.