This Spicy Grilled Cheese is loaded with gooey cheese and a delicious Arrabiata Sauce!
One of my all time favourite pasta sauces is an Arrabiata. I love it’s simplicity and fiery flavour. And, turns it out it works incredibly well in a grilled cheese. Follow me…
What is Arrabiata Sauce?
‘Arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’ in Italian, which with regards to this sauce tends to suggest ‘spicy’. A traditional arrabiata sauce is made up of a few, but good quality ingredients. The stars of the show are typically garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and of course chilli.
Here I’ve added in a few other goodies – Basil and Tomato Paste. The paste adds a deeper tone to the canned tomatoes and helps thicken the sauce, whilst the basil… Well, who doesn’t love tomatoes and basil!?
Simmering the sauce
It’s really important to give this sauce a nice longer simmer to reduce it right down. Because we’re putting it in a sandwich we want it nice and thick. The long simmer will also deepen the flavours and marry them together.
How spicy is this sauce?
As per the recipe below, it gives you a moderate kick of spice. However, this is completely in your control. If you’re at all weary start off with less chilli and adjust at the end.
Process shots: Fry garlic (photo 1), fry chilli flakes (photo 2), add tomato paste (photo 3), fry (photo 4), add tomatoes, basil and s&p (photo 5), simmer to reduce (photo 6).
What Bread to use?
You want something nice and sturdy like a Sourdough. Soft bread won’t be able to contain the filling as efficiently.
What Cheese to use?
We’re adding mozzarella for an epic cheese pull. We’re also adding in parmesan to pack in a bit of flavour too. Plus is it even legal to not shower a tomatoey pasta sauce with parmesan?!
Process shots: butter bread (photo 1), flip (photo 2), add mozzarella (photo 3), add sauce (photo 4), add parmesan (photo 5), add bread butter side up (photo 6).
Arrabiata Grilled Cheese
When it comes to grilling the sandwich, a sneaky little tip is rubbing the bread with garlic once it’s fried. Kinda like you do with Bruschetta. It gives the vibes of Garlic Bread, which as we know is a heavenly pairing with a tomato pasta sauce!
Process shots: add sandwiches to pan (photo 1), fry then flip (photo 2), rub with garlic (photo 3), fry then add garlic side down and rub the other side with garlic (photo 4).
Serving an Arrabiata Grilled Cheese
Can I make the sauce ahead of time?
Absolutely! Just allow to completely cool then tightly store in the fridge or freezer. Allow to come to room temp before adding to the sandwich.
These sandwiches are awesome by themselves, but if you want something on the side I recommend Spicy Wedges for some extra spice! They’re also perfect to scoop any sauce that spills out. For a milder side consider some Garlic Parmesan Fries or Marinated Olives.
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this arrabiata grilled cheese shall we?!
How to make Arrabiata Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Full Recipe & Video)
Arrabiata Grilled Cheese (Spicy Tomato Grilled Cheese)
- Large Pan & Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Fine Cheese Grater (for parmesan)
Arrabiata Sauce (makes big batch)
- 2x 14oz/400g cans of good quality Chopped Tomatoes
- 3 cloves of Garlic, peeled & very finely sliced
- 3 tbsp Tomato Paste (Tomato Puree in UK)
- 2 tbsp finely diced Fresh Basil
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to taste
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- 8 large slices of Sourdough, or other 'firm' bread
- 10.5oz / 300g Fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 clove of Garlic, peeled & left whole
- Butter, as needed
- In a large pan add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and sliced garlic with the heat OFF. Turn on heat to low medium and gently fry for a couple of mins. Add in chilli flakes and fry for another minute or so, or until the garlic has softened and has a very light tinge of golden.
- Stir in 3 tbsp tomato paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Add in chopped tomatoes and swill out the cans with a splash of water, then add in basil and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bring to a very gentle simmer and cook for 30-40mins, or until the sauce is very thick. You want it a similar texture to tomato paste/tomato puree. Too thin and it'll turn the sandwiches soggy.
- At this point you can either scrape it into a bowl, wash out the pan and use it for the sandwiches, or, keep it in the pan and use a separate pan. Either way allow the sauce to cool for 5mins or so, at least until it stops steaming.
- Butter one side of each of your slices of bread. Flip half of them over so they're butter side down. On those slices, add mozzarella, followed by a few spoonfuls of sauce (don't feel like you have to use it all), followed by a few pinches of parmesan. Top with a second slice of bread butter side up.
- Fry the sandwiches on both sides over medium heat until golden, with the cheese nice and gooey in the centre. You may need to do this in batches.
Your Private Notes:
For more similar sandwiches check out these beauties:
Italian Inspired Sandwiches
- Italian Sausage Grilled Cheese
- Spaghetti Grilled Cheese
- Tomato Grilled Cheese
- Bolognese Grilled Cheese
If you loved this Spicy Grilled Cheese Recipe be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below!