Home » Comparison » White American Cheese vs Yellow: What’s the Difference

White American Cheese vs Yellow: What’s the Difference

Maria Foster
Last Updated on
by Maria Foster

If you’ve ever pondered which type of American cheese to get at the deli counter — white or yellow — and if it would actually matter, you are not alone. We’ve lately had the same issue, but what’s the difference between the two?

After extensive research, we discovered that these two kinds of cheese vary in terms of flavor, texture, nutritional value, and a host of other factors other than their color.

Let’s see if we can make deciding between white and yellow American cheese easier and help you out the next time you’re grilling some burgers.

White and Yellow American cheese
White and Yellow American cheese

Difference Between White American Cheese vs. Yellow American Cheese

The main difference between white American cheese and yellow isn’t their color but rather their fat content. Yellow American cheese is fattier than white American cheese, and as a result, it has a considerably softer texture and richer flavor. Both of them are members of the American cheese family, and they’re both processed.

They are typically marketed in a variety of shapes: shredded, wrapped in slices, blocks, and spreads.

Whatever shape they take, we adore them for their creamy cheesiness, and they will always be our go-to ingredient for sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and hotdogs. Now let’s look at their differences in more detail.


These two varieties of cheese are categorically different in color — one is white, while the other is yellow. This is due to the different methods of how each cheese is made.

When making white American cheese, the milk is briefly processed with citric acid prior to getting drained and curdled, giving the cheese a whiter appearance. It also contains calcium chloride, which is a coagulant that adds a yellowish color typical of white American Cheese.

In contrast to white cheese, yellow American cheese is yellow because the whey has been drained away. The beta-carotene in the whey leaches out during processing, giving the food its yellow hue. The beta-carotene content comes from the vegetables and grass the cow eats.


Many people believe that American cheese, both white and yellow, tastes the same. In reality, although similar, they have distinct flavors.

White cheese is lower in fat and thus has a mild and salty taste. Yellow American cheese, on the other hand, is fattier and has a significantly more potent and tangy flavor. 

Additionally, white American cheese just contains salt, which contributes to its mild flavor. It also doesn’t contain any other seasonings. On the other hand, yellow American cheese has more spices, giving it an even fuller flavor.


If you’ve ever eaten American cheese, you might have noticed that the white and yellow varieties have different textures.

Yellow American cheese is velvety and rather smooth. This characteristic is brought about by the extended drying time and higher fat content. However, the stickier texture might make spreading yellow American cheese more challenging.

White American cheese is less smooth and silky than yellow American cheese because it dries more quickly and contains less fat. It’s rather dry and crumbly, so it’s much easier to spread without the need for butter or oil.


While white American cheese melts and holds its form better, yellow American cheese doesn’t. Also, after melting, it may become runny very rapidly.

As a result, white cheese is frequently used in lasagna recipes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even in burgers and hot dogs. This is possibly owed to the milder flavor resulting from the pairing of white cheese and carbohydrates. Moreover, due to the fat content, it tends to keep its form better than yellow cheese.

Yellow cheese will work well with meats; consider adding it to hot dogs, steaks, meatloaf, burgers, and other savory American favorites.

White American Cheese vs. Yellow American Cheese Comparison Table

CategoryWhite American CheeseYellow American Cheese
How is it made?Eliminate and drain any extra whey liquidRemove any excess liquid from the curds
Drying timeShorter drying timeLonger drying time
Fat ContentLess fattyMore fatty
ColorWhite/pale yellowYellowish-orange
What makes their color?Citric acidBeta-carotene
FlavorMild & saltyStronger & tangy
Extra seasoning?Only saltA variety of spices
TextureCrumbly & dryVelvety & soft
UsePasta, grilled cheese, sandwichesHotdogs, burgers, sandwiches
PriceMore expensiveLess expensive

Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?

The healthier option of the two types of cheese is white American cheese since it has less salt and fat. Its lower fat content is specifically due to the quicker draining of the curds.

On the other side, yellow American cheese wins the prize for having higher levels of fat and salt. It isn’t inherently harmful to you, but if used frequently, it can significantly alter your dietary needs.

Another notable distinction is that while you may still eat white cheese if you have a dairy allergy, you should definitely avoid yellow cheese since it contains more milk.

White American Cheese vs. Yellow: Nutritional Profile

Category (1 slice)White American CheeseYellow American Cheese
Cholesterol15 mg15 mg
Sodium230 mg270 mg
Calcium290 mg150 mg
Vitamin D1 mcg0 mcg
Vitamin A60 mcg60 mcg

Can I Substitute White American Cheese for Yellow & Vice Versa?

Yellow Cheese sandwich
Yellow Cheese sandwich

White American cheese may be a perfect substitute for yellow cheese, but yellow American cheese might not be able to deliver the same flavor and texture as a substitution for white American cheese.

That being said, the recipe determines everything. White American cheese can be substituted for yellow American cheese in sandwiches, hamburgers, or hot dogs. Yellow American cheese might not be the best choice if you’re cooking lasagna or a tasty pasta dish with pesto and want a cheese that is easier to spread.

However, there are many different American cheese substitutes[1] , such as Gouda or Monterey Jack, as yellow American cheese is not only less spreadable than white, but the stronger flavor may overshadow your meal.


Which American cheese is better for you, white or yellow? To help you out, consider all the attributes of each variety of cheese that we listed above.

White American cheese is less fatty and hence healthier. The texture is spreadable, and the flavor is moderate and salty — perfect for lasagna! However, white American cheese costs a little more.

While yellow American cheese is not the best choice for individuals with severe dairy allergies since it’s fattier, it’s ideal for those seeking a richer and tangier flavor to their burgers!

Still can’t decide? Experiment, then! Purchase both of them and taste the differences firsthand! Good luck!

link to American cheese substitutes

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
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *