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Best Substitutes For Cheddar Cheese

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Cheddar cheese is a type of hard cheese. It is made from cow’s milk and has a smooth texture and a tangy, slightly nutty flavor.

Cheddar cheese is typically aged for several months to several years, which can affect its texture and taste.


But sometimes cheddar can be hard to find. Whenever cheddar goes on sale, people like to purchase a lot to stock up, leaving you without any to complete your meal. So, what’s the best substitute for cheddar cheese?

Luckily there are plenty of cheddar substitution options. Whether you need a substitute for a sandwich or lasagna, you have options like gouda, American, and colby that can replace cheddar perfectly.

Cheddar Substitute Comparison

1 Cup (Shredded)CaloriesFatCarbsProteinSodiumRatio
Swiss41030.02 g5.81 g29.08 g207 mg1:1
American38129.44 g7.84 g21.4 g1466 mg1:1
Gouda38530 g2.4 g27 g885 mg1:1
Colby44536.28 g2.9 g26.85 g683 mg1:1
Edam40031.1 g1.6 g28 g909 mg1:1
Havarti41933.54 g3.15 g26.26 g633 mg1:1

What Does Cheddar Cheese Taste Like?

Traditional cheddar is a semi-hard cheese with salty and earthy flavors. Sometimes a strong odor accompanies the flavor, but that’s completely natural. Bitter peptides, which are similar to proteins, give cheddar its unique flavor and scent profile.

Young cheddar usually has a sweeter, milkier taste, and aged cheddar has a sharper flavor. As the aging process occurs, bitter peptides become more pronounced. These compounds give aged cheddar its intense and distinctive taste.

Since there are varieties of cheddar with different flavors, it’s among the most versatile and widely used cheeses.

Whether you put cheddar on a morning breakfast sandwich or bake it into bread, you can put cheddar into almost anything.

Cheddar Cheese Nutritional Value

Cheddar, like all cheeses, is high in calories, fat, salt, and protein. Although we all love cheese, it’s calorie dense, so we should be wary of how much we put into a dish because it quickly raises the fat and calorie content.

One cup of shredded cheddar cheese contains:

45537.45 g1.45 g28.14 g702 mg

Even though cheddar is high in fat and calories, it has some benefits. Cheddar contains high quantities of calcium and vitamin A.

Calcium helps keep your bones strong, while vitamin A is essential for cell function, vision, and your immune system.

Substitutes For Cheddar Cheese

  1. Swiss
  2. American
  3. Gouda
  4. Colby
  5. Edam
  6. Havarti

1. Swiss

Best Substitutes for Cheddar Cheese

Known primarily for its identifiable holes, Swiss cheese can be a game changer when substituted in cheddar’s place. Although cheddar has a sharper, saltier flavor, Swiss is a delightful substitute in certain dishes.

Swiss is aged less than cheddar, which results in a softer cheese that contains significantly less sodium. Due to the different aging techniques and sodium use, Swiss cheese has a creamy and nutty flavor.

Another reason for the flavor difference is the cheese’s water content. Cheddar contains much less water than Swiss, which is the primary reason for Swiss cheese’s softer texture. Its squishy texture makes it an ideal cheese for melting.

You can replace cheddar for Swiss in almost anything you put cheese on. Swiss is a pleasant addition to sandwiches, or you can add it to macaroni and cheese for a creamier flavor.

2. American

Best Substitutes for Cheddar Cheese

American cheese is a processed kind of cheese that differs from cheddar, but you can use it in many of the same recipes.

Manufacturers create American cheese by combining four different types of cheese—cheddar, colby, curd, and granular cheeses.

Out of all of those cheeses, cheddar has the most pronounced flavor. Due to cheddar’s strong flavor, some think American and cheddar cheese taste similar. But the similarities stop with the taste.

Cheddar is semi-hard, but American cheese is soft, salty, and creamy. Due to the manufacturing process, American cheese has a rubbery texture before it melts.

With its creamy texture, American cheese is ideal for dishes that require melted cheese.

American cheese is an ideal substitute for two dishes that contain cheddar—burgers and melts. Its saltiness makes it an ideal choice for grilled cheese sandwiches, while its creamy flavor is a great addition to any burger.

3. Gouda

Best Substitutes for Cheddar Cheese

Gouda and cheddar have very similar textures, but their flavors differ greatly. Originating in the Netherlands, gouda is a semi-hard cheese that has a pronounced nutty flavor.

If you buy fresh gouda, you’ll be able to recognize it by its distinctive red or orange rind.

Compared to cheddar, gouda has a much weaker flavor. Gouda has a sweet and nutty cheese, while cheddar is sharper and saltier. Gouda is also softer than cheddar, which makes it harder to slice and grate.

Another reason gouda tastes different is the fat content. As a percentage of weight, gouda has more fat than cheddar.

Its higher fat content changes the flavor and texture, resulting in a creamier cheese that can feel oily to the touch.

Gouda can replace cheddar in various dishes, but it’s ideal for cheese sauces. Gouda melts evenly, which helps it cook faster without burning.

People commonly use gouda in dishes like macaroni and cheese, fondue, and grilled cheese.

4. Colby

Best Substitutes for Cheddar Cheese

Colby cheese is one of cheddar cheese’s primary rivals in America’s grocery stores. Colby was named after the town of Colby, Wisconsin where they first produced the cheese.

Colby’s flavor is similar to cheddar, but the two have very different manufacturing processes.

Colby’s flavor is almost identical to mild cheddar. It has a salty, sweet flavor that lacks some of the acidity that cheddar has.

The primary reason for the flavor difference is that the two use different methods for processing cheese curds.

As cheese curds form, acidic compounds attach themselves to the curds. Colby cheese manufacturers wash their curds before production, which removes the acidity from the cheese. That’s why colby cheese has a sweeter taste than cheddar.

Colby also contains more moisture, which adds a creamier flavor compared to cheddar. Although they have their differences, you can use the two types of cheese interchangeably. Colby melts even better than cheddar, so it’s a good addition to sauces or melts.

5. Edam

Best Substitutes for Cheddar Cheese

Edam and cheddar have similar flavor profiles, which makes it a great choice if you don’t have any cheddar in your fridge.

Generally, edam has a sweeter flavor than cheddar, whereas cheddar has more pronounced salty notes.

Unlike many other kinds of cheese, edam has a dry texture similar to cheddar. Cheddar is crumbly, while edam is drier.

Both kinds of cheese are ideal for slices and shredding because they’re firm, and edam is even easier than cheddar because it crumbles less.

Edam is one of the best substitutes for cheddar cheese for more reasons than taste. It also melts well.

Combined with its ease of slicing, edam is perfect for melts, sandwiches, soups, and cheese sauces. Some people even add it to fully-loaded baked potatoes instead of cheddar.

6. Havarti

Best Substitutes for Cheddar Cheese

Havarti is the creamiest cheese on this list, which makes it very distinct from the strong flavor of cheddar. In comparison to cheddar, havarti has a buttery flavor that pairs well with the cheese’s smooth texture.

Havarti’s texture and flavor are very similar to Swiss. Havarti is soft and buttery, whereas cheddar is hard and crumbly.

Since havarti is semi-soft, It can be difficult to slice and shred it. If you slice havarti, it melts excellently and works well on any dish with melted cheese.

Havarti can replace cheddar when that intense cheddar flavor isn’t required. It’s perfect in dishes like pizza and grilled cheese, but it also pairs well on a cheese plate with wine.

There are plenty of dishes that use cheddar cheese, but we don’t want to give you basic ideas like grilled cheese and sandwiches. Here are three popular recipes that call for cheddar cheese.

1. Macaroni And Cheese

Who can say no to a fresh bowl of mac and cheese? The beloved dish has many variations, and this one adds tender kale to give the dish an extra layer of flavor.

The recipe uses both mild and sharp cheddar. If you don’t have any cheddar, you can substitute mild cheddar for Swiss or havarti, and you can substitute sharp for gouda.

2. Crispy Potato Skins

Potato skins are one of those dishes that you only ever eat at a restaurant, but why? They’re not too hard to make, and they’re filled with cheesy goodness!

These potato skins use fresh chives, sour cream, and bacon for flavor. But the main source of flavor comes from the eight ounces of cheddar filling the skins.

If you don’t have cheddar, any of the cheese substitutes work perfectly, although edam, gouda, and colby will give you the closest flavor.

3. Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are great plain, but cheddar only makes them better. Whether you plan on having them for breakfast or dinner, these biscuits are sure to impress your friends and family.

This simple recipe uses extra sharp cheddar to add flavor and bite to an ordinary buttermilk biscuits recipe. If you’re all out of cheddar, gouda’s intense flavor is an awesome substitute.


So, what’s the best substitute for cheddar cheese? It all depends on what you’re using the cheese for. If you need something to melt quickly, such as grilled cheese, American or colby cheese is your best bet.

Other cheeses, such as Swiss and havarti, are perfect for adding a creamy texture to sandwiches, soups, or just about anything else. And if flavor is what you want to add, you can’t go wrong with gouda or edam.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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