Grilled braaibroodjies loaded with melted cheese and chutney, before seared over high heat. Discover how to make this South African braai classic today!
A classic of South African braai cooking, braaibroodjies (pronounced ‘braa-ee-bru-kee’) is a spin on grilled cheese sandwiches that offer so much more. Stuffed with cheese, onion, and sliced tomatoes before searing over high heat on a braai-style grill, this South African staple is sure to become one of your favorite grilled sandwiches.
Best of all, they’re really easy to make! From chutneys to cheeses, learn how to make perfect braaibroodjies.
A braaibroodjie is something that will bring together BBQ obsessives and cheese lovers alike, as it is essentially a grilled cheese cooked on the braai (a South African grill or BBQ that traditionally uses wood).
Yes, it is every bit as good as it sounds. The sandwiches are usually layered with tomatoes, onions, cheese, and chutney but once you get the hang of it, there’s no stopping you from playing around with flavors. Being cooked over flames imparts the perfect amount of char to the outside of the sandwich and lends that delicious smokey flavor to the finished project. You know if these are pulled out at a South African braai, there will be people lining up for them.
It’s pretty tricky to ascertain when braaibroodjies first came into being. South African braai culture is informed by the multicultural nature of the country, with people of all different races and backgrounds influencing the dishes we know and love today. It’s likely though that these popular grill snacks have probably been around for a while as they use simple ingredients and would have provided sustenance if meat for grilling was scarce.
If you ever find yourself at a BBQ or grill wishing you had something to help soak up the beer (let’s face it, a potato salad won’t always cut it) these smokey sandwiches are the answer to your problem. Can you honestly think of a better comfort food to tuck into when you’re a few drinks in than a delicious grilled cheese?
Now getting onto those perfect fillings, each household will have its own way of preparing this national treasure of a dish but the usual staples are sliced tomatoes and onions, cheese, and chutney. Now the chutney is where you’re going to come up against the die-hards. In South Africa, Mrs. H.S.Ball’s Original Chutney is king (or queen, as it were) but if you can’t get hold of the original, try and find a chutney that has a good balance of sharp and sweet – mango works well.
The cheese is usually a simple cheddar, as with grilled cheeses, a cheaper cheddar with good melt and stretch is great. You could absolutely play about with the fromage though, blue cheese would be delicious with a fig chutney or you could even try mozzarella for a proper cheese pull when you dig in.
The traditional extras are tomatoes and onions but you could absolutely swap them for different fruit and veg if you’re trying out new flavors. Kimchi will give a great pop of spice and flavor and sliced pear or apple would work perfectly with a stronger, salty cheese.
How to Make Braaibroodjies
- Spread slices of bread with chutney and layer with cheese, tomatoes, and onion. Add another layer of chutney-coated bread on top to create a sandwich.
- Butter both the outside layers of bread
- Place the sandwiches in a braai or grill grid
- Cook over medium heat until the outside is toasted and the inside is gooey
- Slice and serve to waiting guests
Braaibroodjies are the perfect dish to pass around to guests on a board or arrange on a platter and let people help themselves. You can serve them with extra chutney for dipping but most people will enjoy them as they come.
Times & Temperatures
Like when you make grilled cheese, getting the temperature right in the cooking of a braaibroodjie is key. You want to toast (and actually in this case lightly char) the bread on the outside whilst making sure it’s not so hot that the bread burns before the filling has gone all gooey. Although it’s hard to get a precise temperature, somewhere between 350-400°F (175-205°C) will be perfect.
As you’ll know if you’ve cooked over flame before, the times aren’t so exacting and you’ll instead cook by eye and see how the bread’s looking and if the cheese has melted inside. Be sure to keep an eye on them though, they can turn quickly!
- The best thing to cook a braaibroodjie in is a braai or grill grid (like this one on Amazon) as it will help hold the sandwiches together. You can also use butcher’s twine (soaked in a little water beforehand) to individually tie each sandwich together.
- If you’re cooking over wood or coal, let them burn down until your braai, grill or BBQ reaches a medium heat