A Turkish toast is a thing of beauty! What’s more indulgent and comforting than a grilled cheese sandwich? Especially one with so much cheese that it binds everything together into a pile of melted goodness. If that’s your type of grilled cheese sandwiches, you should definitely check out this Turkish version!
I stuff my Turkish toast (kaşarlı tost) with juicy tomato slices, 2 different types of Turkish cheeses and fragrant thyme (kekik). Plus there is sweet red pepper paste spread on the inside of the warm and crispy toasted bread slices. I’m salivating while writing this and I JUST had one.
STREET FOOD OR HOMEMADE TREAT
A grilled cheese sandwich is a very common street food in Turkey, you can grab one pretty much anywhere. Or you can easily order one online through yemeksepeti (a sort of uber eats but the delivery drivers always work at the restaurants). The amount of times in a week I was using this food delivery service when I was living in Turkey is kind of embarrassing. It was so easy, so cheap, no dishes to clean up afterward, ah to be a student again!
But a Turkish toast is so quick and easy to whip up at home, you definitely don’t need to order it from anywhere or to go out get one. Homemade grilled cheese sandwiches are oftentimes far superior to bought ones, more filling, less greasy, steaming hot and you can pick exactly what you want inside. A Turkish toast is a meal on its own and it’s never served to accompany soups. So stuff it generously! You could use a toastie maker if you have one. To get the distinctive golden crust don’t forget to butter the outside of the sandwich or the appliance.
ULTIMATE COMFORT FOOD
My in-laws were always surprising me with a Turkish toast while I was staying over at their place and studying. I can so easily see them again, bringing me a plate with a sandwich, still warm from the toastie maker, next to slices of cucumber and a cold glass of ice tea. I never once asked for anything but they couldn’t stop themselves, watching over me, taking care of me, and feeding me (A LOT). Now, I always think of them adoringly when I eat a Turkish grilled cheese sandwich.
Now that I live in France and only go to a Turkish grocery store once a month, I always make sure to put aside some of the cheese I buy to freeze slices. This way, I can take out slices of Turkish cheese of the freezer and whip up a toastie whenever I crave it (or miss my in-laws).
DON’T SKIP THE SALÇA AND BUTTER
The use of salça (tomato or red pepper paste) or tomato slices depends on the tastes of whoever made the sandwich. However, for a Turkish toast to be truly delicious, the outside of the sandwich must have been toasted in a liberal amount of melted butter. It makes the bread so crispy, tasty and decadent! If you’re already gonna be savoring a toastie with heaps of melted cheese, what’s a bit more butter? I find the sandwich to be less soggy when made with thick slices of sourdough but a Turkish toast is traditionally made with soft white bread. If you want the true Turkish grilled cheese experience, do use soft bread!
TURKISH GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES
Most people only use fresh kaşar for their ‘tosts ’ but I like the combination of a cheese that melts really well with a bold-flavored cheese (like old kaşar). Sweet red pepper paste is the perfect condiment for me to spice up the cheese as I prefer to keep it vegetarian. You’ll find many types of cheese toasts in Turkey. Cheese-wise fresh kaşar is always used as a base for the tost but cured meats are often added. You can for example find;
- sucuklu kaşarlı tost: a Turkish toast with slices of grilled sucuk (spicy fermented sausage)
- pastırmalı kaşarlı tost: a Turkish toast with slices of pastırma (air-dried cured beef)
A grilled cheese sandwich is pretty versatile, feel free to experiment with whichever cheeses, cured meats or paste you prefer! As long as it’s hot (don’t burn yourself though), messy and overflowing with melting cheese, you got it right.
For a quick rundown of the needed Turkish cheeses for this recipe:
Taze kaşar (Fresh kaşar): Kaşar cheese is popular all over Turkey, but particularly so in Thrace. It can be made using the milk of cows or sheep but when it comes to taze (fresh) kaşar, you’ll mostly find the cows’ milk ones in shops. The milk curds are separated from the whey by adding rennet, which forces the milk proteins to curdle. The curds are then strained, boiled in salted water and shaped into molds. Fresh kaşar is a soft buttery cheese with a slight tang.
In Turkey, cheese is mostly consumed at breakfast and kaşar is no exception. However, you can also spot it being sprinkled on pretty much anything (like French people and grated Emmental) and it’s used a lot to make grilled cheese sandwiches (kasarlı tostu). In my opinion, you could substitute fresh kaşar with provolone dolce (not piccante) as they both have a mild, milky and creamy flavor profile.
Eski kaşar (Old kaşar): Old kaşar is fresh kaşar that has been aged and formed into wheels. Unlike fresh kaşar, old kaşar has a rind! When kaşar ages, air dries out the outside of the cheese, thus forming a crust. Eski kaşar is a mature hard cheese that can be aged from 6 months up to 2 years. It looks harder and darker than fresh kaşar, and has a sharper taste with peppery notes. Old kaşar is mainly eaten at breakfast, sliced and served with a cucumber and tomato salad, olives, fresh bread and lots of çay (tea)!
You could substitute eski kaşar with pecorino romano but I would advise using less than ⅔ cup as pecorino is saltier, sharper and overall more intense than eski kaşar. If you can’t find eski kaşar but still want to use a Turkish cheese, I sometimes make this tost with beyaz peynir (a semi-soft white cheese in a brine made from unpasteurized milk, similar to feta but creamier) or İzmir tulum (a crumbly mature cheese made with goat’s milk, kept in salt water). Beyaz peynir and İzmir tulum are both saltier than old kaşar so you should use less than ⅔ cup.
Looking for other cheesy recipes? Here are some of my favorites:
- Spinach borek (Ispanaklı börek)
- Paccheri with ricotta and tomato sauce
- Zucchini gratin (Tian de courgettes)
Check out this indulgent crusty Turkish toast stuffed with juicy tomato slices, 2 types of Turkish cheeses, sweet red pepper paste and thyme. This grilled cheese sandwich hits the spot every time and will 100% warm you up during the colder months!
- 4 slices of sourdough bread (or white bread to be more traditional)
- 1 big tomato
- 150g taze kaşar cheese (1 ¾ cup), or you can use provolone dolce
- 50g eski kaşar cheese (⅔ cup), or you can use a smaller amount of pecorino romano
- 3 tsp tatlı biber salçası (sweet red pepper paste), or you can use tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 30g butter (2 tbsp)
- Thinly slice the tomato and cheese. You could also grate the cheese with a box grater if you want it to melt faster. Spread the salça (or tomato paste) on one side of each slice of bread.
- Top two of the bread slices with an equal amount of tomato and cheese slices. Sprinkle with dried thyme. Top the toasts with the other slices of bread (the side with the paste should be in).
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Place the toasts in the skillet when the butter starts to melt.
- Press down on the toasts with a lid to flatten them and help the cheese melt while the toasts cook. Cook the underside for about 4 to 5 min, until the bread is nicely toasted with a deep golden brown color.
- Flip the toasts over with a large and sturdy spatula and rub them in the remaining melted butter. Squish the toasts with the lid again while they cook. Toast the bread until the second side is just as golden brown as the first and the cheese is completely melted, about 4 to 5 min.
- Transfer to a cutting board, cut in half and serve immediately.
My husband loves fridge-cold leftovers but I reheat mine wrapped in foil in an oven preheated at 180°C (350°F) for 15 min. You could use a toastie maker if you have one.
- Serving Size: 1 toast
- Calories: 802
- Fat: 44.3g
Keywords: grilled cheese sandwich, kasar cheese, turkish cheese, turkish cheese toast