The BEST American Cheese Substitutes To Use

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Are you looking for a delicious and easy American cheese substitution for your favorite recipe? Look no further! In this article, we will share some of our favorite swaps for American cheese. These subs are sure to add flavor and creaminess to your dish, to the point you won’t even miss the American cheese! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start cooking!

What Is American Cheese?

In a nutshell, American cheese is a type of cheese that was first created in the United States around 1910. It’s also known as processed cheese. It is typically made with cheddar, Colby, or other similar types of cheese. It’s not like natural cheese, which is made from milk.

American cheese is typically white or yellow in color and has a mild flavor. It is often used as a sandwich spread or melted on top of hamburgers and other dishes. It has a low melting point, which is a huge selling point for making grilled cheese sandwiches, mac’n’cheese, and even hamburgers.

What Does American Cheese Taste Like?

If you’ve ever had a processed cheese product like Velveeta or Kraft Singles, then you know what American Cheese tastes like!

It’s smooth, creamy, and slightly salty with a mildly sweet flavor. As I mentioned earlier, American Cheese was made from a blend of cheddar and Colby cheeses. Today, it’s usually made from just cheddar cheese. The key to its flavor is in the manufacturing process.

American Cheese is made by heating the cheddar cheese to about 85–90 °C. This breaks down the cheese’s protein structure, making it smoother and more spreadable. It also gives it that characteristic mild sweetness. So next time you’re enjoying a slice of American Cheese, remember that its unique flavor comes from its method of production, not just the ingredients!

American Cheese Substitutes

Below we will go over 5 of the best substitutes for American Cheese, and these will also work for white American cheese. I mention in the headings whether they are processed or natural.

American Cheese Substitutes

Velveeta (Processed Cheese)

Velveeta is a processed cheese product that’s similar in taste and texture to American cheese. It’s made from milk, whey, water, milk protein concentrate, modified starch, and several other ingredients.

While Velveeta does not technically qualify as “real” cheese, it melts and tastes similar to American cheese, making it one of the best substitutes on this list.

Colby (Natural Cheese)

A second option is Colby cheese! Colby is a semi-hard or firm cow’s milk cheese originating in the United States. It’s milder in flavor than cheddar cheese and has a softer, almost buttery texture. When melted, Colby cheese has a creamy consistency that makes it a good substitute for American cheese. It’s easily found in most grocery stores as well.

Mild Cheddar Cheese (Natural Cheese)

Cheddar is a hard cow’s milk cheese that originated in England. It comes in mild, sharp, and extra sharp. Its distinct flavor is more pronounced than that of American cheese. This is why I would recommend going for the mild version; for example, white cheddar would work great. But if you love sharp cheese (I know I do), then take a bold step and try it out!

Cheddar cheese does not melt as smoothly as American cheese, so it may not be the best choice for recipes that call for quick melty goodness, but it will work if you don’t mind it being a slower melt and not as googy.

Muenster Cheese (Natural Cheese)

I have to say it…I love me some Muenster cheese! Muenster is a mild, soft cow’s milk cheese originating in France. It has a slightly nutty and buttery flavor and smooth texture. Where Muenster really shines is its ability to melt. It gets soft, creamy, and gooey! Making it an excellent substitute for American cheese. 

Swiss Cheese (Natural Cheese)

I bet you did think about swiss! Swiss cheese is one of the most popular substitutes for American cheese. It’s a hard cow’s milk cheese that originates from Switzerland. Swiss cheese has large holes or “eyes” and a nutty flavor. When melted, Swiss cheese becomes creamy and makes an excellent stand-in for American cheese in recipes. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes when swiss melts, it can be a bit oily.

Substitute for American cheese infograph

Steer Clear from These Cheese as Substitutes for American Cheese

Some cheeses will just NOT work when substituted for American cheese. So, I want to close this post by going over several options that you might be tempted to try, but I want to encourage you to steer clear of them!

Remember, you are looking for a cheese that is mild in flavor, melts easily, and brings a creaminess to a dish.

Ricotta – As an Italian, I love Ricotta, but it does not work in this instance. This soft cheese is made from whey and has a very mild sweet flavor. It’s mostly used in desserts or as a filling. But works wonderfully in pasta dishes as well.

Parmesan – Parmesan is another Italian cheese that I adore, but it is not going to give you the results that you are looking for when substituting for American cheese. This aged hard cheese is distinct in flavor, and its texture is hard and easily crumbles.

Feta Cheese – This salty, crumbly Greek cheese is delicious but makes for a poor replacement for American cheese. It doesn’t melt well and has a very distinct salty, nutty flavor.

Cotija – Cotija is a Mexican cheese that is similar in flavor and texture to Feta or even parmesan. It’s firm, salty, and crumbling. Not your melty, gooey type of cheese. Once again, it does not make for a good replacement for American cheese.

Halloumi – Halloumi is a firm cheese originating from Cyprus. Almost similar to feta! It’s salty and has a distinct flavor that does not work well as a replacement for American cheese. Plus, Halloumi is not a fan of melting.

I hope sharing this list of no-nos has given you some clarity on what works and doesn’t work when replacing American cheese!

My Final Thoughts on American Cheese Alternatives

While many kinds of cheese can be used as substitutes for American cheese, some are better than others. Velveeta, Colby, Mild Cheddar, Muenster, and Swiss cheeses are all good choices because they melt well and have milder flavors that won’t overpower the other ingredients in your dish. If you’re looking for something with more flavor, sharp cheddar cheese is also a good option; just keep in mind that it doesn’t melt as smoothly as other types of cheese but is super tasty.

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