America produces hundreds of superb cheeses, but the term “American cheese” will always belong to the single-wrapped creamy, processed cheese squares known for their melty, gooey consistency. It’s the most common addition to a burger, and it’s usually made from cheddar, granular cheese, and Colby cheese.
However, regardless of how tasty it is, you might be craving something new or simply can’t find American cheese in your local grocery store.
In that case, the best substitutes for American cheese are Monterey Jack, Colby, cheddar, Gouda, Muenster, Swiss cheese, and havarti. Let’s learn more about them.
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The flavor of American cheese is mild, salty, and milky. It’s made by combining semi-hard cheese, such as Jack or cheddar, with milk or cream. This combo is what gives the cheese a smooth and velvety texture.
Then, there’s the presence of emulsifying agents that help the cheese melt in a steady and gratifying manner without becoming too greasy.
Following pasteurization, manufacturers chill the processed cheese and cut it into thin slices before wrapping it.
This finished product, known as “American cheese,” has an extremely low melting point, so putting a piece of American cheese over lightly toasted bread and a burger will make for an excellent sandwich.
Additionally, despite its low melting point, American cheese rarely burns, so many cooks include it while grilling hamburgers or making macaroni and cheese.
One slice of American cheese contains:
- 96 calories;
- 7.39g fat;
- 23 mg cholesterol;
- 368 mg sodium;
- 1.97g carbs;
- 0g fiber;
- 5.37 protein;
If cheeses were superheroes, Jack would be American cheese’s creamy sidekick.
Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese from California. It has a high fat and moisture content allowing it to melt as easily as American cheese. Additionally, the mild flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
Monterey Jack is a mainstay of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines thanks to its excellent melting qualities. It is also delicious when grated on top of tomato soup, melted into dips, and, of course, sprinkled on top of mac & cheese.
The best Monterey Jack brands you should definitely try are:
- Blaser’s Habanero Ghost Pepper Monterey Jack;
- Shullsburg Creamery – Colby Jack Cheese;
- Pepper Joe’s Ghost Pepper Monterey Jack Cheese;
Colby can get along with everyone, but it will particularly win over cheese aficionados who favor moderate taste characteristics.
Given that Colby cheese is often one of the primary components of American cheese, it is the closest substitute you can find.
Colby cheese has an orange color and a mellow, sweet flavor; in fact, its flavor is so delicate that it won’t actually give a dish any sharpness as other cheeses might.
Its taste blends well with both salty and sweet additions. You can put it on top of lasagna or mac and cheese or even grill it and use it in quesadillas and cheese sandwiches.
If you do opt for this alternative, the finest Colby cheese brands to try are:
Cheddar is also frequently used to produce American cheese, so it only makes sense to add it as an alternative on our list.
Cheddar dates back to the 12th century and was first produced in the English countryside.
Young cheddar is extremely mild, smooth, and creamy. It has a somewhat buttery, juicy, and melty quality. It really is an adaptable recipe-pleaser.
Aged cheddar, on the other hand, has a nuttier, crumblier, and sharper flavor. Avoid aged cheddar if it’s not the main ingredient in a recipe as it might overwhelm the other ingredients.
You can get it in a range of hues, from milky white to bright orange. Some of the best cheddar brands are:
Gouda may be one of the oldest cheeses in the world, first created in the Netherlands in the early 1100s.
There are several variations of Gouda, each with a distinctive flavor profile. Gouda that’s only a few weeks old is mildly sweet, but matured Gouda gains more nuttiness, tang, and overtones of caramel.
If you want to mimic the flavor of American cheese, then avoid the smoked Gouda variety. These have a smoky taste that might dominate your recipes (unless you absolutely love smokey-flavored cheeses).
Once you slice it up and expose it to heat, Gouda will melt beautifully, very similar to American cheese, maybe a bit more stretchy rather than creamy.
The best Gouda cheese brands to search for are:
Muenster cheese is the cheese that can do it all. It has a mellow, nutty-buttery taste, but it’s not quite as meltable as the other alternatives.
Made from pasteurized cow’s milk, muenster is smooth, yellow cheese with an orange rind — the trademark rind is caused by the vegetable coloring applied during the cheesemaking process.
Its flavor is likely the closest to that of American cheese, although its texture is not as sticky. When properly matured, it may produce a strong flavor with a rich aroma, making it less similar to American cheese.
Nevertheless, it can make every American cheese recipe a bit creamier and oh-so-tasty. It goes well with sandwiches, mac & cheese, and cheeseburgers.
Muenster must-try cheese brands are:
As kids, when we looked at the moon, we thought it was a round block of Swiss cheese. Swiss cheese has all the characteristics of an alpine-style cheese: mild, sweet, and nutty.
A gorgeous slice of Swiss will immediately catch your eye with its slightly golden hue, and upon tasting it, you will be mesmerized by its buttery smoothness.
When compared to American, Swiss cheese is firmer in texture and doesn’t melt as easily. Still, it’s great for sandwiches, burgers, and casseroles.
The best Swiss cheese brands to try are:
- Hook’s Swiss Cheese;
- Deppeler’s Baby Swiss Cheese;
- Edelweiss Creamery Emmentaler;
- Carr Valley Aged Swiss;
Simply said, Havarti is an absolute must-try. The texture of this semi-soft cow’s cheese is milky, velvety, and stretchy.
You’ll be impressed by how buttery and delicious Havarti is on the first bite — perfectly mellow but never dull.
Aside from traditional Havarti, there are many varieties for those looking to shake things up. For example, dill-infused Havarti or horseradish Havarti will lend a fragrant flair to any dish.
That being said, in terms of flavor, Havarti cheese may not be comparable to American cheese. Depending on the variety, it may taste more acidic.
However, in terms of melting, it is an excellent substitute. Because of its buttery and creamy texture, Havarti cheese goes well on grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese dishes.
The best Havarti cheese brands are:
American cheese is simple to use in creamy dishes due to its mild and adaptable flavor. Here are the most well-known recipes that call for American cheese.
Any cheeseburger is known to include American cheese, but we wanted to point out our favorite — the Juicy Lucy Burger. It calls for beef patties, melted American cheese, tomatoes, and onions.
The ingredients are layered on a soft bun and drizzled with a combination of mayo and mustard. You’ll be biting into one of the greatest burgers you’ve ever tasted in less than 30 minutes.
A delicious grilled cheese sandwich is one of the easiest and most gratifying meals you can prepare. For the ultimate cheesy treat, try the Fried Bologna Sandwich — toasted and buttery and encased by molten American cheese.
The best part? It calls only for three more ingredients: mayo, bologna, and canola oil.
In many homes, scrambled eggs are a traditional morning mainstay. They are great as-is, but there are ways to spice them up. Nothing beats adding a few slices of American cheese.
The cheesy, creamy pleasure these cheese wraps can give goes well with the fluffiness of the scrambled eggs. The recipe is super simple — just what you need for a morning wake-up!
As you can see, there are many alternatives to American cheese. Hopefully, you were able to choose one that best suits your recipe.
In a nutshell, there are two factors to think about while selecting an alternative to American cheese.
First, think about the taste. American cheese has a smooth, mild taste. Select a cheese kind with a comparable flavor profile if you don’t want to alter the flavor of your meal. For instance, Colby is a great fit in that regard.
And second, have a look at the recipe. If you’re making a sandwich, cheddar and Gouda should do the trick. Additionally, Monterey Jack is great for mac and cheese.
To sum it all up, all of the substitutes we listed can be switched in a 1:1 ratio without altering any recipe too much. Have fun cooking!