Substitutes for American Cheese

Best 12 Substitutes for American Cheese

Everyone enjoys classic American cheese, right? This yellow cheese is a must in many dishes, whether it’s melted on a burger or in a grilled cheese sandwich. It tastes yummy and gives you protein and calcium.

But sometimes you might want a change or can’t find American cheese. Many alternatives to American cheese can still provide that classic flavor.

But what if you need substitutes for American cheese? Let’s explore some alternatives here.

What is American Cheese?

American cheese comes in white, yellow, or orange colors. Crafted from cow’s milk, this cheese boasts a gentle, creamy taste profile. You’ll often find it in pre-sliced packs, perfect for sandwiches or grilled cheese. It melts well, so it’s great on burgers or nachos.

Although American cheese isn’t exactly like cheddar, it has similar qualities. American cheese is lower in fat and calories, making it a popular choice for those watching their intake.

What’s the Taste of American Cheese Like?

American cheese has a mild, salty, and milky flavor. It’s made by blending semi-hard cheeses like Jack or cheddar with milk or cream, creating a smooth and velvety texture. Then, the presence of emulsifying agents helps the cheese melt in a steady and gratifying manner without becoming too greasy.

After pasteurization, the processed cheese is chilled, sliced thin, and then wrapped. This final product, known as “American cheese,” has a low melting point. Placing it on lightly toasted bread and a burger creates an excellent sandwich.

Despite its low melting point, American cheese rarely burns. Many cooks use it for grilling hamburgers or making macaroni and cheese.

Substitutes for American Cheese

1. Colby Cheese

Colby cheese, a kind of American cheese, stands out with its firm texture and gentle taste. Crafted through a washed-curd method involving an acidic solution in milk before curdling, it reduces lactose content by washing away some whey.

Colby Cheese - Substitute for American Cheese

This cheese is a go-to for grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, and macaroni and cheese, thanks to its adaptable flavor that complements savory and sweet toppings. Its sturdy texture holds up well when boiling.

  • Characteristics: Colby cheese has a slightly sweet flavor and softer texture, often blended with cheddar.
  • Use Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of Colby cheese for American cheese. Adjust based on personal preference and desired flavor.

2. Cheddar Cheese: An Alternative

Cheddar, often used in making American cheese, is a great alternative. Cheddar cheese has been around since the 12th century and originated in the English countryside.

Cheddar cheese - American cheese substitute

Young cheddar is very mild, smooth, and creamy, with a buttery and melty quality. It’s versatile and suits various recipes. On the other hand, aged cheddar has a nuttier, crumblier, and sharper taste. It’s best used as the main ingredient in a recipe, as its flavor can dominate other ingredients.

Cheddar comes in different colors, ranging from milky white to bright orange.

3. Gouda Cheese: Another Choice

Gouda cheese is one of the oldest cheeses, originating in the Netherlands in the early 1100s.

There are various types of Gouda, each with its distinct flavor. Young Gouda is mildly sweet, while aged Gouda develops a nuttier, tangier taste with hints of caramel.

To replicate the American cheese flavor, steer clear of smoked Gouda, as it has a strong smoky taste that might overpower your recipes (unless you’re a fan of smoky flavors). When sliced and exposed to heat, Gouda melts beautifully, like American cheese, perhaps a bit more stretchy than creamy.

4. Monterey Jack Cheese: A Flavorful Choice

Monterey Jack cheese hails from Central America and is made from cow’s milk, offering a mild, buttery taste. It’s commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes and can be shredded for salads or pizzas.

  • Characteristics: Monterey Jack cheese has a mild, slightly tangy flavor with a smooth, creamy texture, making it versatile for various dishes, especially melts.
  • Substitution Tip: Swap an equal amount of Monterey Jack cheese for American cheese, adjusting to taste preferences.

5. Swiss Cheese: A Versatile Option

Swiss cheese refers to various cheeses from Switzerland, like Jarlsberg and Emmental. They all share common traits: large holes, smooth texture, and a semi-hard consistency.

Swiss cheese has a mild, buttery flavor because it’s slightly aged. Although it doesn’t melt as well as American cheese, its gentle taste makes it a fantastic replacement.

6. Muenster Cheese: A Close Match

Muenster cheese is mild with a soft, smooth texture and a distinctive orange rind. Its taste is very close to American cheese, but its texture is more like natural cheddar rather than processed.

Muenster Cheese - American cheese alternative

Similar to other natural cheeses, Muenster develops a bold, robust flavor as it ages. It’s also renowned for its strong aroma when fully matured.

7. Havarti Cheese: A Must-Try

Havarti cheese is a must-try for cheese lovers. It’s semi-soft with a milky, velvety, and stretchy texture. With its buttery and delicious taste, Havarti impresses from the first bite, offering a perfect balance of mellow and rich flavors.

Besides traditional Havarti, there are various options for those wanting to try something different. Dill-infused or horseradish Havarti adds a fragrant twist to dishes.

While Havarti’s flavor may differ from American cheese, it’s still a great substitute, especially for melting. Its buttery and creamy texture makes it perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese dishes.

8. Mozzarella Cheese: A Familiar Choice

Mozzarella Cheese - Alternative of American Cheese

Mozzarella is a type of Italian cheese made from buffalo or cow milk. It has a mild taste and a gentle smell, which is good for those who prefer milder flavors. Mozzarella is great for melting, so it’s perfect for pizzas, nachos, or pasta dishes. While Italians enjoy putting mozzarella on sandwiches and paninis, it doesn’t taste or feel like American cheese when sliced.

9. Fontina Cheese: A Tasty Choice

Fontina, an Italian cheese with a washed rind, is made from cow’s milk. It’s rich, creamy, and perfect for melting. It’s a tasty choice if you’re after more flavor than American cheese. Fontina offers a nutty, earthy taste without being too strong.

If you’re okay with a more robust flavor, you can use this Italian cheese in sandwiches, sauces, and pasta dishes. It melts well and can be used as a 1-to-1 substitute for white or yellow American cheese.

10. Velveeta (Processed Cheese): A Close Match

Velveeta is a processed cheese product that tastes and feels like American cheese. It’s made from milk, whey, water, milk protein concentrate, modified starch, and other ingredients. Even though it’s not considered “real” cheese, it melts and tastes much like American cheese, making it a top choice as a substitute.

11. Oaxaca Cheese

Oaxaca cheese is a fantastic substitute for white American cheese. This Mexican cheese is stringy and melts easily, with a mild, slightly salty, buttery taste. It’s ideal for making quesadillas, tacos, and other fillings. You can use Oaxaca cheese as a 1-to-1 replacement.

12. Provolone Cheese

Provolone is a classic cheese from Italy, showcasing the country’s rich cheese-making history. It comes in two main types: mild (Provolone Dolce) and sharp (Provolone Piccante).

Its slightly soft texture and tangy flavor make it popular, especially in sandwiches or melted-on dishes. As it ages longer, its flavor becomes sharper and more pronounced, making it a versatile cheese for many different recipes.

See Also – 16 Delicious Mozzarella Substitutes Worth Trying

Wrapping Up

There are numerous alternatives to American cheese, offering various tastes and textures to suit your recipe. When choosing a substitute, consider two main factors: taste and recipe compatibility.

Firstly, consider the taste profile. If you desire a smooth, mild flavor like American cheese, options like Colby are ideal.

Secondly, assess the recipe you’re preparing. For sandwiches, cheddar or Gouda are excellent choices, while Monterey Jack works well for mac and cheese.

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