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By Sarah Caron

Just in case anyone needs an excuse to whip up one of the greatest food inventions ever: April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. Sure, you could celebrate with your favorite version of the iconic sandwich, but why not experiment with these innovative, mouthwatering, totally unexpected spins?

Pumpkin grilled cheese with apples and cheddar


Pumpkin in a grilled cheese sandwich? Yes indeed, the combo works beautifully—especially when you layer the sweet squash with sharp cheddar, peppery arugula and crisp apple slices. If you have trouble finding pumpkin in the spring, you can easily substitute butternut squash or similar varieties that are easier to get year-round.

Pepperoni pizza grilled cheese


This brilliant mash-up turns pizza into a double-cheese grilled cheese sandwich piled with zesty pepperoni slices—and pizza sauce, of course.

Grilled cheese with spicy peanut chicken


If you love chicken satay, this spicy, overstuffed grilled cheese sandwich is for you. It combines the best parts of the peanut-spiked Thai dish with fresh avocado, cilantro, hot sauce and tangy cheddar.

Grilled cheese with caramelized balsamic onions


Onions sautéed in balsamic vinegar, then layered with fresh kale leaves and sharp cheddar, bring a texture and flavor upgrade to the classic sandwich.

Chocolate, pumpkin butter and Brie grilled cheese


Serve this sandwich as an extra-decadent lunch or a surprising dessert. Either way, the recipe couldn't be easier: Just slather pumpkin butter, creamy Brie and dark or milk chocolate on crusty bread, and heat in a hot skillet until everything melts into a decadently gooey concoction.