Is a grilled cheese sandwich high in carbs?

Quick Answer

A grilled cheese sandwich can be high in carbs, depending on the type and amount of bread and cheese used. Most grilled cheese sandwiches are made with white bread, which is higher in carbs and lower in fiber than whole wheat bread. The cheese and any additional ingredients can also impact the carb content. Generally, a basic grilled cheese made with 2 slices of white bread and 2 slices of cheddar cheese contains around 30-40 grams of net carbs. While not extremely high carb, it contains a moderate amount of carbs compared to other sandwich options.

What Are The Main Carb Sources In A Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

The main sources of carbs in a grilled cheese sandwich are:


Bread provides the bulk of the carbs in a grilled cheese. A typical sandwich uses 2 slices of bread. The carb content can vary significantly depending on the type:

– White bread: Around 15-20g net carbs per slice
– Whole wheat bread: Around 10-15g net carbs per slice
– Sourdough bread: Around 10-15g net carbs per slice
– Gluten-free bread: Around 15-25g net carbs per slice

So for a sandwich with 2 slices, you’re looking at 30-50g of net carbs just from the bread.


Cheese is generally low in carbs, containing around 1-2g net carbs per ounce. Regular sliced cheese contains around 5g net carbs per slice. So the cheese contributes a small amount of carbs.


Butter contains minimal carbs, around 0.1g per tablespoon. So while butter is commonly used to grill the bread, it does not add significant carbs.

Other Potential Ingredients

Add-ons like meat, tomatoes, onions, or condiments can increase the carb count slightly. For example, 2 slices of ham may have 2-5g carbs. But these ingredients are minor sources compared to the bread itself.

Carb Count Based On Different Bread Types

Here is the approximate net carb count for a basic grilled cheese sandwich made with 2 slices of bread and cheese:

Bread Type Net Carbs
White Bread 30-40g
Whole Wheat Bread 20-30g
Sourdough Bread 20-30g
Gluten-Free Bread 30-50g

As you can see, whole wheat and sourdough provide less carbs than white bread. But gluten-free bread often has just as many or more carbs than white.

Tips For Reducing The Carbs In A Grilled Cheese

Here are some suggestions to make a grilled cheese sandwich lower in carbs:

Use Lower Carb Bread

Choose whole wheat, sprouted grain, or sourdough bread instead of white bread. Look for options with at least 5g fiber per slice. This reduces the net carb count significantly compared to white bread.

Reduce Bread Slices To One

Cut the bread down to just one slice. Open-face grilled cheese sandwiches have around half the carbs compared to using two slices.

Substitute Lettuce Wraps

Use large lettuce leaves like romaine or iceberg instead of bread. The lettuce wraps are extremely low carb, while still holding the sandwich together.

Try Low Carb Tortillas

Look for high-fiber, low carb tortillas with around 5-8g net carbs. These create a grilled cheese with fewer carbs than regular bread.

Use Lower Carb Cheese

Choose low moisture, part-skim mozzarella instead of full-fat cheeses like cheddar or American. The lower fat cheeses are generally lower in carbs.

Watch Portion Size

Stick to 1 single sandwich instead of having 2. Avoid adding extra cheese or ingredients that increase the carb count.

Healthiest Low Carb Options

Here are some of the healthiest and lowest carb options for grilled cheese:

Lettuce Wraps

Using lettuce leaves instead of bread creates an ultra low carb sandwich with only 2-5g net carbs. This option removes all the carbs from the bread.

Open-Faced Whole Wheat

Go open-faced using just 1 slice of whole wheat bread. Choose cheese slices instead of full fat varieties to keep it lower carb.

Low Carb Tortilla

Look for a high-fiber tortilla with around 5g net carbs. Combine it with part-skim mozzarella cheese for an option with about 10g net carbs.

Mixed Greens Wrap

Wrap the cheese slices in a large leaf of lettuce or cabbage for crunch. Serve in a collard green or low carb wrap in place of bread.

Portobello Bun

Skip the bread and use grilled portobello mushroom caps instead. Stuff them with cheese to make a keto-friendly “bun”.

Are There Any Benefits To Choosing Low Carb Bread?

Using lower carb bread options like whole wheat or low carb wraps provides some potential benefits:

Fewer Refined Carbs

Replacing white bread with whole wheat or low carb alternatives reduces the amount of refined carbs. Refined carbs lack nutrients and fiber and can spike blood sugar.

More Fiber

Whole wheat bread and low carb wraps provide more fiber. Fiber slows digestion and promotes gut health. It also contributes to feelings of fullness.

Steady Energy Levels

The protein, fat and fiber in whole wheat bread and low carb wraps help sustain energy levels. Refined carbs can lead to crashes later.

Better Blood Sugar Control

Eating fewer refined carbs and more fiber improves glycemic control and insulin sensitivity for some people. This helps manage blood sugar.

Increased Nutrients

Whole wheat bread contains more B vitamins, iron and other minerals than white bread. Low carb wraps also provide fiber and protein.

So while grilled cheese will always be higher in carbs than a lettuce wrap, choosing whole grain options can provide some benefits.

What About Keto or Gluten-Free Grilled Cheese Options?

There are also low carb options for keto and gluten-free diets:

Keto Grilled Cheese

A keto grilled cheese uses very low carb ingredients like:

– Lettuce wraps or cloud bread instead of regular bread
– Full-fat cheese like cheddar or Swiss
– Small amounts of keto-approved add-ons like avocado or bacon

This removes almost all the carbs, creating a sandwich with around 2-5g net carbs total.

Gluten-Free Grilled Cheese

To make gluten-free, choose certified gluten-free bread. Look for a gluten-free loaf with around 10g net carbs per slice to keep carb counts lower. Stick to certified gluten-free cheese as well.

Making other simple swaps like using lettuce wraps or low carb tortillas can also create gluten-free options with fewer carbs.

Should You Avoid Grilled Cheese On A Low Carb Diet?

While grilled cheese sandwiches are higher in carbs, they can still fit into a low carb diet that allows 50-100g daily carbs. Some tips:

– Use the lowest carb bread option
– Watch your portions and stick to 1 sandwich
– Pair it with very low carb side dishes like a salad
– Save it for an occasional treat instead of every day

With smart modifications and portion control, an occasional grilled cheese sandwich can work for many low carb eating plans. Extremely low carb diets like keto may require additional modifications or avoiding grilled cheese more often.


A grilled cheese sandwich contains a moderate amount of net carbs, typically ranging from 20-40g depending on the type of bread used. White bread is highest in carbs, while whole wheat, sourdough, and low carb tortillas are better options. Further modifications like lettuce wraps or open-faced sandwiches can reduce the carbs to create healthier low carb versions. While not the lowest carb option, grilled cheese can be incorporated into a low carb diet in moderation. Making some simple swaps helps reduce the carbs to make it workable for regular low carb eating plans or options like gluten-free.

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