Pesto Grilled Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes

$2.45 each
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.75 from 8 votes
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I went all Splurgy McSpurgison on this Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich, but you know what? It was so worth it. And still a fraction of what it would cost to buy a fancy schmancy sandwich like this at a deli. So here it is. When you need a little splurge in your life, or you just have some leftover pesto that needs to be used up, make this Pesto Grilled Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes. You won’t regret it.

Two halves of a Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich stacked with cut sides facing the camera. Blue background.

What Kind of Pesto Should I Use?

I used my homemade Kale Pesto for this sandwich, but it works just as well with store-bought pesto, of any flavor. 

What Kind of Cheese Should I Use?

I used fresh mozzarella because I love the way it melts, but you can use block or grated mozzarella in its place (that’s usually more affordable as well). Other types of cheese that would work great with pesto are: smoked mozzarella, gruyere, swiss, brie, or white cheddar. 

What Kind of Bread Should I Use?

You definitely want to get some sort of sturdy, crusty bread for this sandwich. Pesto is fairly oily in nature, so it will soak right through a delicate sandwich bread. Go for something thick, robust, and sturdy. If you want to make your own, try my No Knead Bread.

Add-Ins for Your Pesto Grilled Cheese

I added some sun dried tomatoes to my Pesto Grilled Cheese, which added a nice sweet-tart pop of flavor against the creamy cheese and salty pesto. The sun dried tomatoes are totally optional, but they do take things to the next level. Some other add-in ideas are: fresh spinach, fresh tomatoes, avocado, roasted red peppers, olives, or ham. OMG, I’m totally drooling right now.

Two hands pulling the pesto grilled cheese sandwich in half, with the cheese pulling between and sun dried tomato pieces exposed.
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Pesto Grilled Cheese

4.75 from 8 votes
Whether you're using up leftover pesto or just want to treat yourself to something special, this Pesto Grilled Cheese is next level!
Two hands pulling the pesto grilled cheese sandwich in half, with the cheese pulling between and sun dried tomato pieces exposed.
Servings 1
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 slices hearty bread ($0.75)
  • 1 Tbsp butter ($0.13)
  • 2 Tbsp pesto ($0.42)
  • 2 sun dried tomato pieces ($0.55)
  • 2 oz. mozzarella ($0.60)

Instructions 

  • Spread 1/2 Tbsp butter over one side of each piece of bread. Spread 1 Tbsp pesto over the opposite side of each piece of bread. The butter sides will be facing out on the sandwich and the pesto sides facing in.
  • Cut the sun dried tomatoes into small pieces. Sprinkle them over one of the pesto coated surface of bread. Add the mozzarella on top of the sun dried tomatoes (shred or break the mozzarella into small pieces to facilitate fast melting). Place the other piece of bread on top, pesto side facing in.
  • Place the sandwich in a small skillet and heat over medium-low until golden brown on one side. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, and the cheese is melted on the inside (about 3-5 minutes each side). Serve hot.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 424kcalCarbohydrates: 34.4gProtein: 21.6gFat: 40gSodium: 1141.9mgFiber: 2.7g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
Two stacked pieces of pesto grilled cheese next to a bowl and small knife with pesto on it.

How to Make Pesto Grilled Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Pesto being spread onto two slices of bread, a bowl of pesto on the side.

Smear 1/2 Tbsp of butter over one side of two pieces of bread. Flip the bread over and spread 1 Tbsp pesto on the opposite sides. The butter sides will be facing out on the sandwich, and the pesto sides facing in.

Sun dried tomato pieces added to pesto on bread.

Cut two pieces of sun dried tomato into small pieces, then sprinkle them over one half of the sandwich.

Add mozzarella to sandwich, in small pieces.

Add 2 oz. mozzarella on top of the sun dried tomatoes. If you’re using shredded mozzarella, add as-is. If you are using slices, break them into small pieces so they’ll melt faster.

Cooked Pesto Grilled Cheese in the skillet

Close the sandwich by placing the second piece of bread on top, pesto side facing in. Place the sandwich in a skillet and cook over medium-low until the bread is golden brown. Flip the sandwich and cook on the second side until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted on the inside. I find that cooking on a slightly lower heat (medium-low instead of medium) gives the inside time to heat and melt the cheese before the outside burns.

Hands holding a stacked pesto grilled cheese facing the camera.

Serve while the pesto grilled cheese is still hot and melty!! (And no, I didn’t plan my nail color to match the toothpick! Happy accident!)

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  1. I was skeptical of this tasting even “alright” because of a few reasons:

    1. The cheese I was using was frozen. (microwaved to defrost)
    2. Didn’t have any fresh bread on hand, so I had to use expired bread out of the freezer. (microwaved)
    3. The sun-dried tomatoes were a couple months old, oil packed. 

    However, this turned out absolutely amazing! I don’t think listing the sun-dried tomatoes as optional does justice to how much they impact the taste of this sandwich. You’re seriously a genius!!

  2. Excellent!! I brought all the ingredients plus some chicken to make in my office for lunch this week. It probably took about 12 minutes with our very old toaster. I halved the amount of pesto, butter, and cheese for my own dietary needs (and added cooked chicken breast). I used a pretty hardy, dry bread, and I think it’s possible it would have held up to being assembled at home and kept in the fridge a few days, even (provided the pesto is halved to make it a bit drier). But excellent recipe and I bet it’s even better as written!

  3. Great tasting combo!!  Tip:  to make this type of sandwich a little less messy, I assemble the sandwiches, then butter one side of the bread, put it into the skillet, then butter the other side.  Makes for easier clean-up of your work surface. 

  4. i order this exact sandwich a lot when i go out to eat, so when i tried the recipe and realized i could make it myself at home, i was excited. it’s a quick and easy recipe, with the total price of ingredients equalling the price of buying the sandwich once. i used italian bread and found it to be satisfyingly crunchy.

  5. Confession: I don’t even care for grilled cheese but this was so good. I added a few rings of red onion! Perfect sharp contrast to the rich cheese/pesto and tangy sun-dried tomato. 

  6. Made this tonight for dinner.. loved it and so did my husband! Definitely a keeper! Thank you :)

  7. It was fantastic! I put it in a low (50 Celcius) oven instead of a pan, because of the pre-baked ciabatta i used.

    It came out perfect and delicious. I will make this more often!

  8. Beth! You have outdone yourself here. I know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow.

  9. GREAT idea. I love tomato grilled cheese. Never thought to add pesto, but I will give it a try–right after I make some of your kale pesto. It is next on my list of things to try. We are moving next week and will finally have a stove again. I have had to subsist on my micro wave skills for a while now. But will try this s one of the first things I make on my stove. I have been drooling over grilled cheese for 3 months. So soon, very soon, now…. You have the most amazing food ideas. Thanks

  10. Wait, grilled cheese and pesto? We love both of those but never thought to add them together. Oops. I am going to have to give this a try but it looks amazing!

  11. Grilled cheese is a favorite around here and we frequently add pesto but oh my goodness…..sun dried tomatoes? TOTALLY adding this to the meal plan next week! I may even have to try out the kale pesto recipe too!