Cheese sandwich
Grated cheese in a bread roll
Main ingredientsCheese, bread
VariationsGrilled cheese, cheese dream, cheese toastie

A cheese sandwich is a sandwich made with cheese on bread. Typically semi-hard cheeses are used for the filling, such as Cheddar, Red Leicester, or Double Gloucester. A Guardian article called the cheese sandwich a "British lunchtime staple".[1] Using a pie iron or frying pan can transform the cheese sandwich into a cheese toastie.

When a meat sandwich is prepared, the cheese becomes the accompaniment, and the sandwich is known by other names such as ham sandwich, tuna sandwich, etc. If the cheese is melted on such a sandwich, the term melt sandwich is used.


While the original invention of the cheese sandwich is not known to be documented, some interpretations of William Shakespeare's 1602 play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, report that the line "I love not the humour of bread and cheese" was the first written reference to a cheese sandwich.[2][3][4]

In January 1889, in Greenville, Pennsylvania, Henry Hoffman, George Smith and Teddy Atkins took part in a cheese sandwich eating contest. Hoffman won the contest, eating 16 sandwiches in 15 minutes.[5]


Popular British variants include the cheese and pickle sandwich, the cheese and tomato sandwich and the cheese and onion sandwich.[6][7]

Grilled cheese is a popular American cheese sandwich, in which the sandwich is heated until the cheese melts.[8] In the southern United States, the pimento cheese sandwich is a traditional favorite.[9]

An Italian variation is the carrozza, a mozzarella cheese sandwich coated in egg and flour and fried.[10]


By 2014 the cheese sandwich was declining in popularity in the United Kingdom. A survey of 2,000 adults' eating habits by YouGov in December 2014 found that 55% of British adults had not eaten a cheese sandwich during the previous week.[11][12] In response, in 2015 Anchor Cheddar launched a campaign, using a bus designed to look like a cheese sandwich, to encourage the consumption of this type of food.[13][14]

In 2017, a survey by YouGov found that 36% of British people said that cheese is their favourite sandwich filling,[15] and in 2018, a survey of 2000 British people, found that a plain cheese sandwich was the most popular type of sandwich.[16] By 2020 however, a similar study showed that the plain cheese sandwich had become less popular and the bacon sandwich was the favourite.[17]

Health warnings

In 2008, the Food Standards Agency warned that one cheese sandwich contains more than half the recommended daily amount of saturated fat.[18]

In 2012, Action on Salt campaigned for cheese sandwiches to come with a health warning. The group reported, that the high quantities of salt, contained in the main ingredients of a cheese sandwich, could lead to children consuming an excessive amount.[19][20] In response, the Dairy Council said that it was wrong to say that cheese sandwiches are not good for you.[21] Action on Salt later withdrew the press release, citing an error.[22]


A study by Len Fisher at the University of Bristol in 2003 found that the optimum thickness for the filling in a cheese sandwich is dependent on the type of cheese used, and that the sandwich should be made with a light spread of butter or margarine to enhance the flavour of the cheese.[23][24] This research has drawn criticism for being "frivolous".[25]

In popular culture

The 1903 British short silent documentary film, called The Cheese Mites, features a man making a cheese sandwich and examining it with a magnifying glass as its main storyline.[26][27]

See also


  1. ^ Tony Naylor (May 5, 2015). "How to eat ... a cheese sandwich". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Sam Knight (November 24, 2017). "How the sandwich consumed Britain". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Who invented the sandwich and how?". October 19, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Merry Wives of Windsor". Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  5. ^ "Cheese sandwich eating contest". The Shippensburg Chronicle. Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. January 10, 1889. Retrieved December 31, 2020 – via
  6. ^ Kazmier, Penny (January 19, 2016). "In the U.K., the Branston Pickle adds crunchy, savory kick to sandwiches". Daily Herald. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  7. ^ Punch. 1987. p. 57. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  8. ^ Marty Meitus (January 3, 1999). "Old faithful grilled cheese, a depression-era standby, has returned". Rocky Mountain News. During the Depression, when Sunday Night Suppers became a popular way to entertain, the cheese dream began to appear on dining tables from coast to coast.
  9. ^ Pimento Cheese: It's A Southern Thing Retrieved on December 5, 2023.
  10. ^ White, M.; Friedman, A.; Keller, T. (2013). Classico e Moderno: Essential Italian Cooking (in Italian). Random House Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-345-54553-4. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  11. ^ Christina Pullam (February 6, 2015). "The decline of a British favourite". The Mirror.
  12. ^ "Arla farmers get on board to save the British cheese sandwich". Arla Foods. February 9, 2015.
  13. ^ Claire Farrel (February 2, 2015). "Cheese sandwich bus to tour the country". The Grocer.
  14. ^ News Desk (February 6, 2015). "Cheese sandwich bus heads for Exeter". Exeter Daily.
  15. ^ Mathew Smith (May 19, 2017). "The great sandwich debate: rectangles or triangles?". YouGov.
  16. ^ Olivia Petter (May 18, 2018). "Britain's favourite sandwich filling revealed in new survey". The Independent.
  17. ^ Lorraine King (May 20, 2020). "Nation's favourite sandwich has been confirmed - and it's a bacon butty". The Mirror.
  18. ^ "Cheese sandwich warning". Marie Claire. March 3, 2008.
  19. ^ Ruki Sayid (November 29, 2012). "More salt in a cheese sandwich than a packet of ready salted crisps". The Mirror.
  20. ^ "Cheese Survey". Action on Salt. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  21. ^ "Dairy Council Calls Salt in Cheese Study 'Misleading'". The Ribblesdale Cheese Company. November 29, 2012. Archived from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  22. ^ Mark Astley (December 5, 2012). "CASH retracts cheese salt claim after admitting 'error'". Dairy Reporter.
  23. ^ "Scientists 'perfect' cheese sandwich". BBC News. October 7, 2003.
  24. ^ Len Fisher (September 24, 2003). Optimum Use of Cheese in a Cheese Sandwich (Report). British Cheese Board.
  25. ^ Denise Winterman (September 24, 2009). "Is there any point to 'frivolous' academic research?". BBC News.
  26. ^ Brooke, Michael. "The Cheese Mites". BFI Screenonline Database. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  27. ^ Rohrer, Finlo. "Cheese mites and other wonders". BBC News Magazine Database. Retrieved April 24, 2011.