Thailand Toasties: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.
If you’re like me when you reminisce about your travels through Thailand, the source of your longing does not begin with the beaches, the endless jeweled temples or elephant treks. It’s not the night markets, or the cheap massages that have you desperate for Thailand’s borders to open up in a post pandemic era. It’s something more, something profound, the beating heart of backpacker budgeted bliss. The 7-11 Thailand cheese toasty.
Did I travel 8,000 miles to eat a grilled cheese from a 7-11? No, but I’m sure glad I did.
If you’re not familiar with the Thailand toasty, it’s pretty simple. A grilled cheese lovingly prepared by your local 7-11 attendant, but let me paint a clearer picture of what makes this dirt-bag delicacy so iconic.
While toasties are absolutely essential when visiting Thailand, you won’t find them on any cooking show or list of Thai foods on any food blog you read. Strange, right?
Picture this, you’ve just woken up at the wrong hostel…again. Shamelessly, you have begun your walk home. The mid-afternoon sun is hot, you’re hung over, hungry and then magically! Ding dong, those doors slide open. You cross the threshold and you’re instantly soothed by the sensation of Thailand’s best air conditioning. Cool air delivers the savory smells of the hot food options well up into your nose holes. Hard left to avoid the crowded line at the counter and you’re standing (queue angels) face to face with a wall of packaged sandwiches waiting for their turn to become a toasty. The true pride of Thailand.
I once heard the cheese toasty combined with a beer and the morning after pill referred to as “the breakfast of champions.” Albeit by a girl, who had likely overstayed her welcome at a particularly party-centric hostel somewhere in Sukhumvit.
Alright, I’ll come clean: It’s me, I’m that girl.
I understand if you’re still reading this it’s likely you don’t need me to explain the importance and culture surrounding 7-11’s in Thailand, but for those unlucky few who happened upon this article by accident, here’s some perspective. There are 19 times more 7-11’s in Bangkok than Starbucks in New York City and that equals a shit ton of toasties.
Here’s your guide to choosing the Thai toastie that’s right for you.
Types of Bread: Croissant vs Regular
A polarizing debate between backpackers and toasty lovers, Croissant crust or Regular?
Truth is, it really depends on when and where you are going to eat them.
The classic toasty consists of two slices of what could be compared to white wonder bread, a slice of ham and a thick slice of creamy processed “cheddar” cheese. If you’re new to Thailand toasties, this is the crowd pleaser. No fuss, no mus and the heavier bread keeps it’s composure if you have to walk a few humid blocks back to your hostel.
While I tend to side with team croissant crust on this one, the argument can be made that the flakey buttery puff pastry can make quite the mess. So if you’re planning on eating this one hot off the press, it’s the best option. Not only will you avoid getting crumbs all up in your hostel bunk, the delicate pastry doesn’t travel as well and nothing is worse than a soggy toasty.
7-11 offers the most popular flavors of their famous toasties in both regular and croissant crust. But more adventurous palettes will have to make the hard call for some of their more unique combinations.
Ham and Cheese Toasties
This tried and true staple is the closest thing you are going to get to a standard grilled cheese sandwich. Ham, cheese slice perfectly pressed between two slices of white bread at the cash register. Available in croissant crust, khop khun ka!
Deluxe Ham and Cheese Toasties
Same, same but a little bougier. Sandwiched between a pair of slightly more luxurious bread slices, you have ham and a little extra cheese. While the extra cheese is a nice touch, the deluxe toasty includes the addition of a mystery “special sauce.”
Not quite sweet, not spicy – not really tomato and not my favorite.
Mashed Potato & Ham Cheese Toasties
A favourite among toasty connoisseurs, the slightly peppery mashed potato puree makes a delicious accompaniment to the ham and cheese. This variety serves up a major “cordon bleu” vibes and the added filling keeps the toasty, warmer, longer. Making it the practical choice for those on a munchie mission for the masses.
Sausage Cheese Toasties
All the things processed pork dreams are made of. This traditional toastie gets an upgrade with the addition of sausages. In layperson terms, that’s a hot dog sliced up between bread. Sodium satisfaction soars with this one and there’s rumors a spicy tom yum version exists.
Other Common Types of Toasties
Shredded Pork With “Salad Cream”
Shredded pork is NOT pulled pork and salad cream is just mayo. If you don’t know what shredded pork “floss” is don’t put this one on the top of your hit list. Pork floss is dehydrated pieces of pork that have been shredded into a sort of meat cotton candy. As you’d expect – it’s a little on the sweet side, drowning in kewpie mayo and texturally challenging for those not familiar.
Carbonara Danish Toasties
Disclaimer: “Danish” toasties are just regular ass croissant crust toasties, but with European inspired fillings like carbonara.
The carbonara danish toasty features ham pieces and mushrooms in a creamy-gooey what I think is intended to be parmesan sauce. Whatever it is, it’s a popular choice for those who venture outside of the ham and cheese varieties.
There’s also a spinach version and a shitake mushroom and cheese danish, although they can be tough to find. If you’re lucky enough to see these rare toasties, snatch them up.
You could even sell these elusive collector toasties online…
Check out the link at the bottom of this article.
Tuna salad toasties in Thailand are weird to say the least.
Maybe it’s the sweet Asian-style mayo or maybe it’s the addition of carrot that makes it so specifically…I don’t know, inappropriate?
Truthfully, I want to love this toasty – I love tuna and there are a few varieties to choose from including tuna and salmon, tuna corn salad on whole wheat and pumpkin tuna.
Breakfast Inspired Cheese Toasties
I have a hard time getting down with processed eggs, period.
Not even my love for Thai toasties can shake my distaste for a rubbery misplaced slab of gelatine. If that doesn’t bother you so much, there is a selection of breakfast toasties that feature American-style egg patties. But, if you’re like me and looking for breakfast to go, I’d recommend a simple bacon or sausage and cheese on croissant crust.
Until recently, outside of the desert selection, toasties didn’t offer many meat-free options. However, now it’s possible to find a straight up cheese sandwich or even the tortilla cheese which suspiciously doesn’t resemble a quesadilla as you’d imagine, is the tortilla inside the bread? What’s with the outside sauce? Inquiring minds need to know.
Another option for the veggies, the humble garlic toastie.
There’s no filling to be found but it is a particularly good piece of garlic bread and it seems to be catching on and crossing over. Now there’s a ham and scrambled egg garlic toastie, despite my objection to processed eggs, it sounds pretty good! I’d give this one a shot.
Toasties For The Brave
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, with the exception of sweet butter bread, the majority of these toasties fall in the realm of acquired taste.
- Sweet Butter Bread
- Red Bean Matcha
- Pandan Coconut Sandwich
- Strawberry Lover
- Banana Cream Chocolate Cake Sandwich
I can’t give much insight on this handful of questionable toasties — I either hate the ingredients outright and avoided them or just didn’t have the guts to try the outrageous combinations.
- Chicken With Spicy Salted Egg Yolk Sauce Whole Wheat Sandwich
- Hawaiian Pizza Toastie
- Crabstick And Corn
If you’re a brave soul, tell us about the craziest combo you’ve tried in the comments below.
PS: If you’re miles from Thailand and need to get your hands on a toastie, you can find people online selling them. The prices are premium but some dealers offer buy 10 get one free deals like this guy: Introducing The Toastie Dealer!