Whether you're team butter or mayonnaise to achieve a perfectly golden crust, or shredded cheese or slices to create the ultimate cheese pull, nothing says American comfort food quite like a grilled cheese sandwich.
The addition of tangy, slightly spicy and salty kimchi takes the sandwich to the next level in both flavor and texture.
While kimchi is typically served as banchan -- small side dishes often served with rice and a protein or another main dish -- it can be used in a multitude of recipes from fried rice and ramen to the filling in dumplings, or mandu.
Korean-born American cookbook author and wildly popular food YouTuber Maangchi has become an online authority on all things Korean fare. She first shared her recipe for the now-viral Korean-American mashup on TikTok back in March 2021, but food creators across platforms have since hopped on the trendy kimchi grilled cheese train en masse.
The recipe search term has racked up over 1.5 billion views on TikTok alone.
For those looking to try their hand at kimchi rather than buying it from a store, Joanne Molinaro, "The Korean Vegan" cookbook author and YouTuber, recently shared a video for homemade kimchi while recalling memories of her maternal uncle's wife teaching her to make it properly, salting the napa cabbage leaves individually to ferment properly and tearing versus chopping the leaves to keep them intact.
While most of the highly viewed concoctions on TikTok go for a traditional pan cooked method, quickly searing off the kimchi first to take the chill off, some creators tried their hand at the trend using other techniques.
Nicole Keshishian Modic, cookbook author, food creator and founder of KaleJunkie, regularly tests out trending recipes and shared her spin with "Good Morning America," using an air fryer instead of a skillet and store-bought kimchi. Check out her full recipe below to recreate it at home.
“I kept seeing grilled cheese sandwiches made with kimchi all over my TikTok and Instagram feeds, with people raving about the flavor combination," Modic told "GMA" of the initial inspiration. "I’ve been eating kimchi on its own for many years, mainly straight from the jar, as a way to support my gut health, and I also love the flavors in kimchi. So what could be better than combining my favorite comfort food—grilled cheese—with kimchi? Turns out it’s amazing."
Air Fryer Kimchi Grilled Cheese
"You get that gooey cheesy flavor combined with the tangy-ness from the kimchi, for an unbeatable flavor explosion," Modic described. "You can keep this interesting by using different kimchi varieties for slightly different flavor combinations. Don’t sleep on this one!”
2 slices sourdough bread
3 slices cheddar cheese
1/2 cup kimchi
Butter or vegan butter, melted
Add cheese and kimchi to one slice of the bread. Cover with the other side. Brush both sides with melted butter. Air fry at 400 for 10 minutes flipping at the 5 minute mark. Cut in half and enjoy!
Editor's note: This was originally published on Jan. 17, 2023.