Grilled Cheese with Urfa Biber Chile

Urfa Biber chile and toasted pinon (pine) nuts make a great grilled cheese sandwich | #grilledcheese #urfabiber


Recently, I read an article about grilled cheese sandwiches and after reading the article I skimmed through the comments where it became quickly apparent that there are a number of people that think it’s sacrilege to add anything to a grilled cheese other than cheese.  Well, I’m not one of them. 🙂  Personally, I find a grilled cheese sandwich with ONLY cheese to be rather boring. However, it doesn’t take much to change that. One or two additional ingredients can take a grilled cheese from boring to downright exciting.  And downright exciting is what you get with this grilled cheese with roasted urfa biber chile and toasted pinon nuts.

I first introduced you to urfa biber chile powder last February when I used some in my Valentine Fiery Chocolate Shots. Remember those sweet and spicy shots of liquid chocolate!? Now, thanks to my friends at Fords Fiery Foods and Plants I have had the privilege of tasting the fresh red urfa biber chile.  I received a package this weekend with both fresh urfa biber and Aleppo chiles.  Tuesday was chile roasting day, so while I was roasting some New Mexico green chile, I threw a few of the urfa biber chiles on the grill as well.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them until Bobby asked for a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  Normally I would have used NM green, but for these grilled cheese sandwiches I chose the roasted urfa biber, then added toasted pinon (pine nuts) and some fresh thyme from the garden.  What a lovely grilled cheese sandwich!  Gooey, crunchy, herby, and red chile sweet with a bit of a kick.

To learn more about urfa biber chile and how to get some for yourself, check out my Kitchen Notes below.


Red urfa biber chiles and green New Mexico chiles | #chile #chiles

Urfa Biber (red) and New Mexico Green chiles


Grilled Cheese with Urfa Biber Chile Recipe

Makes one sandwich
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes or less (10 minutes if you already have the chiles roasted)

Recipe Author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen


2 slices of bread*
A few slices of Monterey Jack cheese or other mild white cheese
1 – 2 roasted and peeled urfa biber or other roasted red chile, chopped*
1 Tbsp. toasted pinon (pine) nuts
Fresh thyme leaves


  1. Heat up a cast iron griddle.
  2. Spread the pinon nuts on the griddle and toast lightly.  Once toasted, transfer to a glass dish.
  3. Melt a thin slice of butter on the griddle.  Place one slice of bread on the griddle to soak up the butter.  Repeat with the second slice.
  4. Place one slice of bread, buttered side down on the griddle.  Top with 2 to 3 slice of cheese.
  5. Top the cheese with the chopped chile and pinon nuts, followed by a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.
  6. Top with 2 to 3 more slices of cheese, then the second piece of bread (buttered side up).
  7. Heat the sandwich on the griddle, turning once, until both sides are toasty brown and the cheese has melted.

*See Kitchen Notes



Urfa Biber chile and toasted pinon (pine) nuts make a great grilled cheese sandwich | #grilledcheese #urfabiber


Kitchen Notes

Urfa Biber Chile or Chili or Chilli – In case this is your first time being introduced to urfa biber chiles, let me say that they are a chile you really should seek out.  They are a sweet and smoky chile pepper from Turkey.

  • The powder form has a raisin or date sweetness with a spiciness that I would rate as medium to medium hot. It can be in just about any recipe that calls for red chile powder and is a wonderful complement to chocolate; therefore, it’s in those chocolate shots I mentioned previously as well as a sweet and spicy chocolate pudding.
  • The roasted fresh red chiles tasted to me like a sweet, earthy pimento. Like most fresh chiles, some of the chiles that I roasted had a nice medium spicy kick to them, while some were relatively mild.  I personally preferred these chiles roasted rather than raw, but then I love most all of my chiles roasted.  I can easily see these being the primary peppers in a Spicy Sweet Red Pepper Soup. or Grits and Green Red Chile.
  • I also have a bottle of Urfa Chili Flakes from Season with Spice.  These flakes were made from the urfa chili after it had gone from red to purple.  The drying method for urfa flakes yields a very rich, smoky, chocolate raisin flavor, a flavor completely different from the powder or fresh.  The drying process also concentrates the heat for a medium hot chile flake.  I substituted these for red chile powder in my Braised Red Chile Chicken and Vegetable dish. It added a sweet smokiness which was delicious!

If you would like to purchase some fresh Turkish, Italian and Syrian pods, contact Fords Fiery Foods and Plants either through its website or Facebook page.  Currently, Fords is selling the fresh pods and some seeds.  In the spring and early summer, it sells plants for your garden so you can grow them at home.

A yeasty bread cooked in a horno or clay oven | mjskitchen.comThe Bread – Last weekend when I was in Santa Fe, I picked up a loaf of Pueblo Indian Bread, also called Horno Bread because it’s made in a horno.  An horno is a clay or adobe oven and can be seen on the reservations and pueblos throughout New Mexico.

Whenever Bobby and I drive through the Jemez Mountains, I always keep my eye out for a roadside stand, hoping to be able to bring a loaf home.  The bread is a basic white yeast bread that I love eating fresh, but it also makes a great grilled cheese and is quite good for French toast as well.  This is the bread I’ve been using for our urfa biber grilled cheese sandwiches this week.  It yields a really nice crisp which is one of the textures I love about grilled cheese sandwiches.  There needs to be a little crunch when you bite into them.

If you’re looking for another grilled cheese with chile, then check out this Green Chile Grilled Cheese (aka Albuquerque Turkey).



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68 Responses to “Grilled Cheese with Urfa Biber Chile”

  1. Bill October 31, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    I’m so with you on grilled cheese sandwiches, MJ. I almost always add something besides cheese. This recipe has my mouth watering and I can just imagine the bite from the peppers with delicious melted cheese. Another winner!

    • mj November 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

      Thanks so much bill!

  2. nipponnin October 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m not familiar with that particular chile but very interesting. The bright red color is attractive!

    • mj October 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      It is a pretty red isn’t? thanks!

  3. Jodee Weiland October 7, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    MJ, there is nothing boring about this grilled cheese sandwich, that’s for sure. If this sandwich doesn’t add spice to your life, then nothing will…I love this sandwich! What a great idea to make grilled cheese more exciting! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • mj October 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

      You got that right – this sandwich is NOT boring. 🙂 So glad you like it! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Carol at Wild Goose Tea September 29, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    I am on your train about toasted cheese sandwiches, which I love. I can remember the first time I had one that had just tomato in it with lemon pepper. That was decades ago, but it still makes an impression. So one with a little snap to it joins an exulted roster of el supremo toasted cheese sandwich ideas, as far as I am concerned.

    • mj September 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

      Thanks Carol! You have such a wonderful way with words. 🙂

  5. Sissi September 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Wow!!!! Urfa biber is I think the variety I have recently bought at an organic stall… They weren’t labelled and of course the vendors had no idea… but they are quite similar…
    Your grilled cheese sandwich looks heavenly. The chile is what makes it special. How could anyone skip it??? I have never had a grilled cheese sandwich, but if I ever prepare it, it will definitely be with fresh chile (I do make open grilled cheese and chicken sandwiches though and always add some chile jelly/paste or fresh chile; I couldn’t live without chiles…).

    • mj September 28, 2014 at 8:30 am #

      You’ve never had a grilled cheese sandwich?! Oh my goodness! What a difference in the cultures! Growing up, for a quick lunch, my mother use to slap a slice of cheese between two pieces of white bread and throw it on the griddle. Once I was old enough, I started making them myself for an afternoon snack. At times I would do what you do and leave it open-faced and throw it under the broiler. We called that “cheese toast”. Not until I became an adult did I start adding things and haven’t gone back to “just cheese” since. 🙂 Love that idea of chicken with chile jelly! Thanks my dear!

  6. Bam's Kitchen September 24, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    Oh my goodness would love to sink my teeth into that kicked up grilled cheese. I have never heard of this chile before so thank for the introduction and will keep my eyes open for it. I think my boys might go wild for these grilled sandwiches. Have a super day! Take care

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks Bam! I would imagine that this would be a winner for growing boys!

  7. Liz September 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    I am ALL for jazzing up a grilled cheese! My sister, who lives in Colorado, introduced me to urfa powder. Now I’m hoping I have the chance to sample the fresh chiles one day, too.

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      Thanks Liz! It’s a great flavor, isn’t it? You can still get fresh urfa from fords.

  8. swathi September 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    Delicious I need this one for my breakfast MJ Loving every bit of it.

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

      Thanks Swathi and thanks for pinning!

  9. Carole from Carole's Chatter September 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Great pic, MJ. Cheers

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

      Thanks Carole!

  10. Terra September 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    I love learning about chilies from you. This grilled cheese has everything I would love, and sounds so delicious! Perfect meal I wish I had right now! Yum, Hugs, Terra

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      Thanks so much Terra! I still have a lot to learn, but when you enjoy something as much as I enjoy chiles, it’s easy to learn. 🙂

  11. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz September 24, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    I so agree with you on grill cheese needing other stiff, unless is has several amazing cheeses. Now I want one. And lucky you getting these chiles fresh. Who has a chile roasting day??? You 😉 Great recipe.

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

      Oh yes…this time of year I have several chile roasting days. I have another one scheduled for Saturday. 🙂

  12. Vicki Bensinger September 24, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    I’ve never heard of these although I feel like I’ve seen them but never bothered to pick them up. I love the sound of both the whole and powdered version, with the latter giving me ideas for my next batch of chili.

    I love grilled cheeses and yes I’m happy with a plain boring one but it’s also fun to kick it up a notch and be creative with them.

    I will definitely look for these when I go to the store to experiment with. Thanks for the heads up.

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! I’m sure the powder would definitely be a great addition to your chili. My mouth is already watering thinking about it.

  13. Ramona September 24, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    MJ, you are my chile guru!! I finally tried Hatch Chiles and made a couple of recipes with them. Now you have me very intrigued with another beautiful chile that I want to try. 🙂 Oh and spicy grilled cheese….. YUM!!!!

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

      Thanks so much Ramona! I hope you enjoyed the hatch chile!

  14. Helene D'Souza September 24, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    haha I never knew that. I always add something else to my grilled cheese sandwich, kind of a compulsion since grilled cheese alone can be boring as you mentioned too.
    I do’t know these chiles but I need to soon! Wish I could get seeds here to try growing them. Wonder if they would like the humid hot climate.

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

      Thanks Helene! I know you could order the seeds from Fords and since they are out of Portland, I would say that humidity isn’t a problem. Not sure about the heat.

  15. Amy (Savory Moments) September 24, 2014 at 4:43 am #

    I am also NOT one of those people – these look super delicious!

    • mj September 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

      Based on the comments I’m receiving in this post, a fancy grilled cheese wins! 🙂 thanks!

  16. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania September 23, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    I agree that grilled cheese sandwich is just too boring…addition of something extra like you did here, really makes the grilled cheese very exciting. Loved this post!

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      Thanks so much Purabi!

  17. Shashi @ runninsrilankan September 23, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    This is my first time hearing about an urfa biber chile – I am fascinated by your description of it’s smoky, date/raisin type sweet taste! MJ- love how you have amped up an otherwise boring grilled cheese sandwich – with color and texture!

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

      Thanks Shashi! I hadn’t heard of urfa biber either until last year. It’s become one of my favorites.

  18. minnie@thelady8home September 23, 2014 at 6:03 am #

    I am totally in your boat….these additions I love.

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Thanks Minnie!

  19. Katerina September 23, 2014 at 2:42 am #

    Just like all grilled things, grilled cheese has such a profound flavor compared to plain. I loved this the minute I saw it in pinterest and I also pinned it!

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Thanks so much Katerina!

  20. Hotly Spiced September 22, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    I’ve never heard of this kind of chile but it sounds great with the smoky flavour and so I will look out for them. I love the look of your cheese sandwich and I agree, a cheese sandwich doesn’t just have to be all about cheese! xx

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

      Thanks so much Charlie!

  21. Nami | Just One Cookbook September 22, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    My kids love grilled cheese and they don’t seem to mind even though I stuff in other ingredients I have in the fridge. With good quality ingredients, simple grilled cheese can turn into a delicious meal. I love to try yours with chile!

    • mj September 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks Nami! You sound like me. Just use whatever is in the fridge. 🙂

  22. Raymund September 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Seriously I want this for breakfast! look at that gooey cheese

    • mj September 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

      Well, you can have it for breakfast Raymund! 🙂

  23. Debra September 21, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    I am always looking for a new pepper for the garden. Thanks for the introduction. We are not grilled cheese purists ’round here. So I am loving this. Also going to remember to seek out this bread the next time we’re in NM.

    • mj September 22, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Thanks Debra! I’m with you. Next year I’m opening to have at least 4 types of chiles growing in the garden. I would have loved it this year, but the racoons had a different plan for me.:)

  24. Angie@Angie's Recipes September 21, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    I am smitten with that oozing out melted cheese and the combination of flavours is just unbeatable! A great sandwich, MJ.

    • mj September 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Thanks Angie! It’s hard to resist that oozing cheese isn’t it. 🙂

  25. Joyti September 21, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    I’ve only seen Urfa Biber chili in dried/powdered form. The fresh must be great! And I love that you use so many chilies in your recipes 🙂

    The sandwich sounds incredible!

    • mj September 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Thanks Joyti! Well, you know how much I do love chiles, and finding the urfa biber was icing on the cake. 🙂

  26. Choc Chip Uru September 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Only you can make a grilled cheese sandwich look so decadent 😀
    Got to try it!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks Uru!

  27. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef September 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    You folks know how to make a sandwich! I don’t know much about those chiles but I do know pine nuts. I think I’d be happy eating anything that had pine nuts in it but your sandwich is oh so much more than that!

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

      Thanks Maureen! I’m with you – I could eat anything with pinon. In fact whenever I toast them for a dish, I have to toast extra because Bobby and I will sit there and eat them right out of the toasting skillet. 🙂

  28. Janet September 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Fantastic idea. My own favorite grilled cheese has sliced home-grown tomatoes in it. Now I have two great versions for fall.

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks Janet! How did your tomatoes do this year? How did you garden grow? 🙂 Hope you’re doing well! Time for lunch?

  29. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles September 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Love this MJ! I can relate in every way to the ‘add’ concept… I completely get that some don’t like to mess with the classics but I’ve always been… willing ;-). I often add tomatoes and olives to grilled cheese but roasted pepper? (swoon) I have yet to experience… and the pinon – such a great idea in tandem with the melty cheese and Urfa Biber chile — the varying textures and flavors hitting all the senses :). I bet Bobby was one happy customer. I must get some fresh herbs planted into the ground!!

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      Oh I knew you were one to mess with the classics. 🙂 It’s hard not too! My mother didn’t have all of the choices we have available today, so the classics were always the same, time and time again. Now we have a plethora of choices which can be wonderful, but sometimes intimidating (which is what Bobby says about my pantry :)). Of course when I make him sandwich like this, he doesn’t complain. 🙂 And yes, you need to plant some herbs!

  30. Jen @ Baked by an Introvert September 21, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    I’m loving the grown up grilled cheese! It looks so flavorful.

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

      Thanks Jen! You’re the second person to comment it as being an adult grilled cheese, so I’m guessing kids would find it too spicy?

      • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles September 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

        for the record, my kids would *love* this grilled cheese (we just stopped for dinner on our way home from an out-of-town soccer game and the boys ordered jalapeno burgers – extra hot!) 🙂

        • mj September 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

          I bet YOUR kids would love this grilled cheese! I would have too as a kid. I used to eat pickled jalapeno for a snack. 🙂 I can see your boys smacking down on this sandwich.

  31. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen September 21, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    You are one hot lady, MJ! This is quite THE Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

      Thanks Peachy! 🙂

  32. Claire September 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Oh my, now here is an adult grilled cheese! I can’t wait to try the new flavor combination.

    • mj September 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks Claire! Yes, I guess it is an “adult” grilled cheese. 🙂


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