Eating out every day gets old quickly when you’re away from home. With some creativity, you can make warm and inviting foods like this grilled cheese sandwich using the ingredients around your hotel room or dorm room. The best part is the time you’ll save by avoiding the dreaded task of wandering around looking for appetizing meals in a foreign place.
Last November, Alex and I lived out of a hotel room for 3 weeks when he traveled back to California for work. We stayed in a modest motel with a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker in our room. Eating out every meal got old quickly. That’s when I brainstormed simple recipes we can make in our room with
no limited kitchen equipment.
That’s how this grilled cheese sandwich emerged. In this recipe, I’ve improved on the haphazard instructions littered around the Web and discovered tips for success to make the best grilled cheese sandwich your hotel room can offer. Let’s dive in!
Where can you make a grilled cheese sandwich with an iron?
This grilled cheese sandwich recipe works anywhere that you can find electricity and an iron while traveling. That includes AirBnBs, hostels, and dorm rooms. Maybe you could even recreate the hot iron over a campfire by using hot rocks. But that’s a post for another day.
Where do you find the equipment?
I found the iron and ironing board in the closet of our room. The motel served breakfast every morning with paper plates and plastic cutlery. I swiped a few plates for cooking on and reused the plastic cutlery after washing it with the hotel bar soap.
The aluminum/aluminium foil was the most challenging. We didn’t want to buy a roll of foil from the supermarket. Thankfully, Alex stumbled on some foil, which worked out well. If you don’t want to buy the smallest roll at the supermarket, you can ask the hotel reception if they have foil. Or pack a few sheets in your luggage, which should be easy to carry considering foil is extremely thin and light.
What kinds of cheese can you use?
Pick your favorite cheese or whatever is available.
Our motel offered bite-sized packages of Tillamook Cheddar and Babybel cheeses, which worked well. We walked to the closest grocery store and bought a wedge of P’tit Basque cheese. The Trader Joe’s sold sliced cheese too, which would save you the hassle of cutting it up.
RELATED: Love melted cheese? Check out how to make raclette without special equipment.
What kinds of bread can you use?
You can use any kind of bread as long as it is thin or already sliced.
You want a thin slice of bread for grilled cheese or else the heat from the iron won’t reach the cheese to melt it. This means sandwich bread, sliced sourdough, flatbreads like pita bread, and any kind of flat or sliced bread work well.
I wouldn’t recommend dinner rolls, ciabatta, or a baguette unless they are already sliced because you probably don’t have a bread knife handy. Thick bread or rolls won’t easily melt the cheese under an iron.
What heat setting on the iron should you use?
I set the iron to its highest heat setting, which is usually the linen or cotton mode. Turn the dial until it won’t go any higher. Be careful not to burn yourself, which is surprisingly easy (for me) to do with an iron.
💡TIP: The most important part of successfully “grilling” your sandwich is to cover the bread with 1 layer of foil. If you wrap the sandwich in a secure parcel like a Christmas present, the overlapping layers create a thick barrier that prevents the hot iron from heating your sandwich adequately.
How do you know when the grilled cheese is ready?
The amount of time you need to press the sandwich depends on the strength of your iron and the thickness of the bread. That’s why this recipe’s timings are an estimate.
What’s worked for me is to check on the sandwich after a few minutes of pressing with the hot iron. I uncover the foil and see whether the bread is crispy and golden. If it’s still pale and cold to the touch, I cover the bread again and press for a few more minutes before flipping over to “grill” the other side.
How do you avoid making a mess?
If you’re not careful, you can end up with a disaster situation like this:
Imagine hand washing the ironing board cover. What a sad use of time. These stains happened because I wasn’t careful with where I put the foil after I placed my buttered bread on it. I got distracted and accidentally turn over the foil which smeared grease on the board. The damage was exacerbated when my hot iron picked up the butter and spread it everywhere.
Here’s what you can do to avoid these greasy stains:
- Add extra layers of foil beneath your workspace: This is the easiest and safest step to protect the covering and avoid leaks. Use paper towels or newspapers if you don’t have extra foil.
- Add a towel under the foil to absorb any drips: This option is kind of bad etiquette. Nonetheless, a towel with one or two grease stains is easier to launder than the iron board covering.
⚠️WARNING: Don’t attempt this recipe if you believe you are clumsy and therefore may damage the furniture or burn yourself with the iron. Get takeout instead!
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a Hotel Room Iron
- ironing board
- aluminium foil
- 2 slices (2 slices) bread
- 3 slices (3 slices) cheese
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, whatever butter you can find, salted or unsalted
- Gather the ingredients.
- Preheat the iron by plugging it in and turning it up to its highest heat setting. While waiting for the iron to heat, butter both sides of your bread. The butter on the outside of the sandwich will prevent the bread from sticking to the aluminium foil when you press it with the iron. The butter on the inside is optional. I like to butter the inside because it makes the sandwich taste richer.
- Place the sliced cheese on one of the slices of bread. If you have a microwave handy, zap the bread with the cheese for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. This gives your sandwich a head start so your iron can do less work. If you don't have a microwave handy, you can skip this step.
- Assemble the sandwich by bringing the two slices of bread together to close the sandwich. Lay the sandwich on one side of the aluminium foil and fold over the other side. Don't wrap the foil around the sandwich like a parcel because the heat from the iron won't be able to reach the sandwich if you have too many layers of foil in the way.
- Carefully press the hot iron on top of your wrapped sandwich for 2 minutes. You should hear a sizzle. Keep your hand on the iron to supervise it. Don't leave the iron unattended. Remove the iron after a few minutes. Peek into the foil and check on the sandwich. If the bread looks grilled to your satisfaction, flip over the sandwich and grill the other side for 2 minutes. If you want to grill the sandwich for longer, fold over the foil and press the hot iron into the wrapped sandwich for another 2 minutes. Then turn over to grill the other side.
- When your sandwich is golden and crispy, it is ready to eat. Cut it in half. Enjoy your grilled cheese sandwich!