Food & Drink

The Most Over-the-Top-Southern Grilled Cheese Ever

Makes 4 sandwiches

Pimento cheese, collard greens, fried chicken, and pickles make an appearance in this monster sandwich

Photo: Colin Price

Earthy slow-cooked greens, tangy pickles, crunchy fried chicken, and classic pimento cheese left an impression on the chef and author Eric Greenspan. While traveling the South for his National Geographic show, “Eric Greenspan is Hungry,” he learned about each of those foods, and wanted to combine them for his new cookbook, The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic.

The result is this behemoth of a sandwich that reads like a Southern greatest-hits playlist. Greenspan’s new book shares a more in-depth version including homemade fried chicken, home-pickled cukes, and made-from-scratch pimento cheese, but we’ve simplified the process here (because everyone in the South has their favorite store-bought varieties or family recipes for pickles, chicken, and pimento cheese).

You’re going to need to break out the napkins for this one—and serve with a side of antacids.


    • 8 slices white bread

    • 8 oz. pimento cheese (homemade or your favorite variety)

    • 12–16 bread and butter pickle slices

    • 2 bunches collard greens, cooked down (optional)

    • 16–20 fried chicken tenders

    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter


  1. Line up half of the bread slices on a work surface. Spread each slice with pimento cheese. Divide the chicken tenders evenly among the slices. If adding greens, top each sandwich with ¼ cup. Arrange 3 or 4 pickle slices on top. Close the sandwiches with the remaining bread slices.

  2. Line a large platter with paper towels. In a skillet over high heat, melt 1 tbsp. butter. Turn down the heat to low, add 1 sandwich, and cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp on both sides and the cheese is melted. Transfer to the prepared platter to blot the excess grease. Repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches.

  3. Cut the sandwiches in half, plate, and serve.

Recipe from The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic by Eric Greenspan