When it comes to comfort food, American cheese has always been a favorite ingredient for its creamy, melty goodness. Whether it's a classic grilled cheese sandwich, a juicy burger, or a gooey mac and cheese, you really can't go wrong with this classic. However, if you're looking to switch things up, have dietary restrictions that limit your cheese choices, or just don't have American on hand when you need it, there are lots of incredible substitutes for American cheese that will work equally well.
What Is American Cheese, Anyway?
Did you know that American Cheese is technically not cheese? Even the stuff you buy from the cheese counter (and not wrapped in individual plastic sleeves) is unable to claim itself as 100% cheese. That's because American cheese is actually a blend of real cheese and other ingredients to produce different textures and flavors. These other ingredients may include different types of cheeses, whey proteins, milk proteins or emulsifying salts. Blending the cheese in this way is the reason it is able to melt so well without turning greasy
When looking for the best American cheese substitutes, you'll want to try to match some of the qualities of the classic, such as a mild flavor, low melting point, and a creamy cheese texture. Below are 27 great substitutes for American Cheese.
1. Cheddar Cheese
Start with a classic! Cheddar cheese is a popular choice for an American cheese alternative. It has a sharper flavor than American cheese, but the taste is similar and it goes well with many of the same types of dishes you'd typically use a slice of American cheese slices on. For a similar alternative to American, look for young cheddar, which will have a bit of a milder flavor than aged cheddar.
2. Swiss Cheese
Swiss cheese has a nutty flavor and slightly sweet notes which makes it a good alternative to American and popular cheese variety that's easily found in your local grocery store. It's a healthier option than American cheese and is a great substitute when used on sandwiches or in casseroles.
3. Provolone Cheese
Provolone provides a mild, creamy texture and a subtle, buttery flavor. Its soft texture makes it a great option for when you want a melty cheese sandwich or a milder flavor for your dish. Provolone is also great on Italian subs, like this viral Tik Tok Grinder Sandwich.
4. Monterey Jack Cheese
Known for its great melting ability, Monterey Jack is a versatile choice for cheese lovers. It's a great option for sandwiches, but can also work well in a variety of dishes, such as burgers (try it on this Sweet And Spicy Bacon Smash Burger) , nachos, burritos, or casseroles.
5. Colby Cheese
Milder and slightly sweeter than cheddar, Colby cheese is perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches.
6. Pepper Jack Cheese
Add some spice to your dishes with pepper jack cheese's fiery kick. Pepper Jack cheese is similar to Monterey Jack, with a mild flavor but a spicier kick thanks to added spicy peppers. (Try pepper jack cheese on this Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwich.)
7. Gouda Cheese
Gouda offers a creamy, buttery texture with a hint of sweetness. It's an excellent choice for Mac n Cheese, but can also hold its own on a cheese board.
8. Havarti Cheese
Havarti cheese has a creamy, mild flavor and is a great sub to use in grilled cheese sandwiches or mac n cheese dishes.
9. Muenster Cheese
Muenster cheese boasts a mild, slightly tangy flavor and a smooth texture. Made from cow's milk, muenster cheese may be the best choice as an American cheese substitute because the taste and textures are so similar. It's a great option when you have your heart set on American cheese melts.
10. Fontina Cheese
This Italian cheese is perfect for melting and has a rich, earthy flavor. It tastes slightly sharper than American cheese but comes in a wide range of flavors and textures so you're sure to find a version that works well in place of American cheese.
Brie is a creamy, buttery cheese made from cow's milk. It's a great option when used on sandwiches, melted into pasta, or in mac and cheese.
Similar to Brie, Camembert offers a creamy texture and a mild, earthy flavor. It's a mild cheese that works well on its own or spread onto bread or crackers.
13. Goat Cheese
Goat cheese adds a tangy and earthy twist to your dishes. It's extremely soft and spreadable, making it a great option for sandwiches, casseroles, and appetizers.
14. Blue Cheese
For a bold flavor, try blue cheese with its sharp, tangy taste. While this will have a very different flavor than your typical American cheese, it can still create a creamy texture and some added bite to sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. Use it in dishes where a stronger flavor is desired.
15. Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is best when crumbled and has a tangy, salty flavor. It's a great option for Greek dishes and is often used as a garnish in salads (my favorite!), omelets, pasta, casseroles (like this Spinach, Feta and Rice Casserole) and many other dishes.
16. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is creamy and perfect for lasagnas and stuffed pasta dishes. It has a very mild taste and is slightly thicker and creamier in texture than a standard cottage cheese.
17. Cottage Cheese
While it might not work well on a sandwich, cottage cheese can be used in other meals where American cheese may be used, such as omelets or casseroles. It has a mild flavor and a lower fat content than most cheeses, making it a slightly healthier option.
18. Vegan American Cheese
For those looking for dairy-free American slices can try vegan American cheese alternatives available at many grocery stores. These dairy-free options have the same creamy texture and mild flavor as natural cheeses and are a great option for vegan cheese lovers.
19. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is another option for vegans. Mixing it with other ingredients like coconut milk, tapioca flour, and spices creates a delicious cream sauce that's great on quesadillas, nachos, pizzas, or sandwich melts.
20. Cashew Cheese
Cashew cheese may sound strange, but it's a surprise winner when it comes to an American cheese substitute. Using just a few ingredients and a blender, you can have a delicious cheese-like sauce that's perfect as a dip for chips, on nachos, or in mac n cheese. Cashew Cheese is one of the best replacements for vegans wanting the taste of natural cheeses.
One of the great things about tofu is its ability to take on different flavors and textures depending on how you cook it. Silken tofu can be blended to create a creamy, dairy-free cheese substitute. Or, marinate the tofu in the fridge for a few days for a remarkably similar feta-style cheese.
22. Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella cheese is a good option to use in dishes that don't require strong flavors. It's great for melting and can be used on pizzas, in pasta, lasagna, or in casseroles. It's also great in Italian sandwiches.
23. White Cheddar Cheese
Similar to regular cheddar cheese listed above, white cheddar cheese has a sharp flavor and the same melty texture as cheddar cheese. In fact, there is really no difference between white cheddar cheese and regular cheddar cheese, except for the annatto coloring that is added to yellow cheddar.
24. Cream Cheese
This may not be the best option, but if cream cheese is all you have on hand, it can be a good substitute for American cheese. It will have a similar salty taste and texture, and of course is extra creamy, perfect for casseroles, soups, or as a spread for sandwiches.
25. Oaxaca Cheese
A white, Mexican cheese, Oaxaca is a great substitute to use in quesadillas, tacos, or burritos. It's a semi-hard cheese that's low in fat and has a very mild flavor, similar to that of American cheese.
26. Velveeta Cheese
Okay, so technically, Velveeta cheese doesn't meet the "real cheese" requirements. In the United States, a product has to be more than half cheese for it to be called "true cheese". However, if it's all you have on hand, Velveeta cheese is actually a great substitute for your standard yellow American cheese. Known for its ability to melt well, its mild taste, and its ultra-creamy texture, it's a great option for cheese sauces (especially when drizzled on top of nachos!).
27. Kraft Singles
The classic yellow cheese we all knew and loved as kids. Like Velveeta Cheese, Kraft singles are a processed cheese product and can't technically be called true cheese because they contain less than 51% curds. However, this American classic is still an excellent substitute for American cheese and maybe the closest-tasting option of all the cheeses and cheese alternatives listed here. Try one of these American cheese slices on a burger or a turkey sandwich.
As you can see, there are plenty of delicious alternatives to American cheese that can suit a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences. Whether you're a cheese enthusiast or looking to try something new, these 27 American cheese substitutes will add depth and flavor to your favorite dishes. Experiment, get creative in the kitchen, and discover the perfect cheese substitute that suits your palate. Happy cooking!
Did you try any of these substitutes for American Cheese? Let me know what you think in the comments. And share any new options you've discovered! And follow me @frontrangefed on Instagram to learn more tips and recipes!
27 Best American Cheese Substitutes
- Cheddar Cheese
- Swiss Cheese
- Provolone Cheese
- Monterey Jack
- Colby Cheese
- Pepper Jack Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Blue Cheese
- Feta Cheese
- Ricotta Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
- Vegan American Cheese
- Nutritional Yeast
- Cashew Cheese
- Mozzarella Cheese
- White Cheddar Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Oaxaca Cheese
- Velveeta Cheese
- Kraft Singles
- Sub any of the above cheese for American cheese in a 1:1 ratio.