Grilled Cheese with Spicy Pickles, Pepper Jack & Garlic Aioli


One of the reasons I make so many grilled cheese sandwiches is that they solve an essential cooking dilemma: what do I feed myself when there’s not much around to eat? The behind-the-scenes truth about the various tasty fillings come from the fact that there are often condiments in the fridge that I think will pair well with melted cheese. (Not much doesn’t.) Spicy pickles and pepper jack are a perfect match, even though they came together from hungry desperation.

So, delicious and gooey and indulgent as they may seem, grilled cheese sandwiches actually serve a boring function in my life: regular old sustenance. Not to undermine all their exuberant qualities.

When Big Girls, Small Kitchen began, reasons to cook were at the forefront of our minds–and reflected in our categories. Were we early twenty-somethings cooking for ourselves, for others, for potlucks, or for the fun of baking? The type of cooking done in each situation is slightly different, to be sure, and the dishes posted here reflected that in their serving size, time or energy required, and money spent.

As the site and I grew up, I expanded the categories to reflect some of the different reasons I was finding to cook. Dinners for two. Lots of brunches for friends. The category situation got out of hand as I experimented with different formats. So I’m here today to tell you that I still think reasons to cook are as good an organizational schema for a blog like this, and that I’m updating the archives and creating some slightly revised categories, ones that touch on single servings, packed lunches, snacks, sweets, party contributions, weeknight dinners, and projects. This batch covers more terrain than plain old breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I think they still stand up for those of you who are here because you want to make home cooking your main source of food.

To keep all those categories going, I’ll be bringing in a few more contributors in the near future. (It seems like you’ve been enjoying Natalie’s posts, so I’m really excited about this change!) As I’ve been pushing my career beyond the boundaries of this site, it means everything to me to have some help in the kitchen here.

And, in the spirit of spring cleaning and updates: I’m also planning on making a few functionality tweaks to the site soon. Is there anything you’d like to find here, or a way you’d like to use Big Girls, Small Kitchen? Please let me know in the comments!

For now, I offer you this incredibly delicious pickle grilled cheese. Enjoy! 


Grilled Cheese with Spicy Pickles, Pepper Jack & Garlic Aioli
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 1 tablespoon mayo
  • 1 small clove garlic, turned into paste with some salt
  • 2 slices good bread, lightly toasted
  • 2 ounces pepper jack cheese, sliced
  • 1 small half sour pickle, preferably spicy, thinly sliced on the vertical into planks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayo and the minced garlic. Spread the bread with this "garlic aioli." Layer the cheese on the mayo, then top with the pickle planks. Layer on the second piece of bread.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat for 4 minutes. Add half of the butter, and when it melts, place the sandwich in the pan with a weight on top for best results. I use this Lodge weight, but you could try a second frying pan, or just press down occasionally with your spatula.
  3. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the bread is golden and the cheese starts to melt. Lift the sandwich up, add another ½ tablespoon of butter to the pan, flip the sandwich, and cook about 5 minutes on the second side. Let rest for a moment, then cut in half and serve.

**Sensational Sides**

This post is part of Food Network’s Sensational Sides collaboration. Today’s theme is CHEESY! Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts below:

Weelicious: Mexican Rice Balls
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Cheesy Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes
Cooking With Elise: Parmesan Noodle Bake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cheese and Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas
Red or Green: Cheddar Cheese and Red Chile Potato Soup
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Asparagus with Tomato Salad and Goat Cheese
Domesticate Me: Parmesan Quinoa Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
The Sensitive Epicure: Easy Cheesy Puffs (Gluten-Free)
Dishin & Dishes: Baked Herbed Ricotta Spread
Taste With The Eyes: Shrimp, Haricots Verts and Garbanzo Beans with Feta
FN Dish: Cheesy Brunch Sides

  • caitlin

    Amazing grilled cheese. I’d love to see recipes that were easily to browse on my phone. Thanks for asking!

  • Sammi Sunshine

    Yummy, I love a good spicy sandwich! And garlic is always a plus. You have me drooling!

    Sammi Sunshine
    A Food Blog

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Loving the spicy pickles in this recipe! Plus, there can never be enough grilled cheese recipe on one blog! xx

    • BGSK

      I’m so glad you’re on board the grilled cheese train, Katrina!

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