What Are the Differences Between Cheddar and American Cheese?

Deciding between Cheddar and American cheese involves more than just taste preferences. Cheddar, originating from Somerset, England, is known for its robust flavor and slightly crumbly texture.

In contrast, American cheese, developed in the United States, offers a mild, creamy taste and smooth consistency. These differences extend to their production methods, nutritional profiles, and melting properties.

Curious about which cheese might suit your next culinary creation best? Let’s delve into these aspects in more detail.

Key Takeaways

  • Cheddar cheese is made from 100% cow’s milk using traditional methods, while American cheese is a processed blend of dairy products and additives.
  • Cheddar cheese offers a range of flavors from mild to sharp, whereas American cheese has a consistently mild and creamy taste.
  • Cheddar cheese has a firm, slightly crumbly texture, while American cheese is smooth and creamy.
  • Cheddar cheese is richer in calories, fat, and protein compared to American cheese.
  • American cheese melts smoothly at lower temperatures, making it ideal for gooey dishes, while Cheddar can become grainy but provides a richer flavor.

Cheese Origins

Cheddar cheese hails from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset, while American cheese was developed in the United States in the early 20th century. Understanding the origins of these two cheeses gives you a glimpse into their unique characteristics and the historical backdrop that shaped them.

Cheddar cheese’s roots can be traced back to the Roman Empire, reflecting its longstanding tradition. This cheese is made from 100% cow’s milk and undergoes a traditional cheddaring process. This involves stacking and turning the cheese curds to acidify them, which helps create Cheddar’s distinctive flavor and texture. The historical method reflects a time-tested approach that has been refined over centuries, catering to a growing demand for flavorful and textured cheese.

In contrast, American cheese was a more modern creation, developed in the United States during the early 20th century. This cheese arose to meet the demand for an easily producible and longer-lasting dairy product. Unlike Cheddar, American cheese is a blend of unfermented dairy, whey, emulsifiers, and preservatives. Its origins reflect the industrial era’s need for convenience and mass production, making it notably different from its traditional counterpart.

Manufacturing Process

Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process of American cheese involves blending natural cheese with emulsifiers, artificial coloring, and additives to achieve a smooth, consistent texture. This processed cheese typically contains at least 51% real cheese, with the remainder comprising fillers and preservatives that aid in its melting properties and uniform appearance.

In contrast, cheddar cheese is a natural cheese made from cow’s milk using traditional methods. The process begins with culturing the milk to form curds, which are then cut and stacked repeatedly in a process known as cheddaring. This step helps expel moisture and develop the cheese’s unique texture. The cheese is then aged for a period ranging from a few months to several years, during which it develops its distinct flavor profile.

Understanding these differences is important for several reasons:

Health Considerations: Processed cheese, like American cheese, often contains additives and preservatives that may be a concern for some individuals.

Flavor Complexity: The natural aging process of cheddar cheese results in more complex flavors compared to the relatively uniform taste of American cheese.

Texture Preferences: The natural texture of cheddar cheese contrasts with the smooth consistency of American cheese, providing different culinary experiences.

Flavor and Texture

American cheese

When comparing cheddar and American cheese, you’ll notice distinct differences in flavor and texture. Cheddar ranges from mild to sharp with a firm, slightly crumbly texture.

In contrast, American cheese is consistently mild, creamy, and smooth, ideal for those who prefer a uniform experience.

Taste Profile Comparison

Cheddar’s flavor profile ranges from mild to sharp, making it ideal for those who enjoy a pronounced cheese experience.

In contrast, American cheese is known for its smooth texture and subtle flavor, appealing to those who prefer a milder taste.

Texture and Consistency

Cheddar’s firm and crumbly nature makes it ideal for slicing, shredding, or grating, as it maintains its shape well, making it versatile for various recipes.

In contrast, American cheese’s smooth, creamy consistency is due to added emulsifiers, which help it melt uniformly. This makes American cheese perfect for dishes requiring a gooey, melted texture, like grilled cheese sandwiches or cheeseburgers. Unlike cheddar, which can become grainy when melted, American cheese remains creamy and smooth.

Cheddar cheese’s texture evolves with aging, becoming more crumbly and developing a complex flavor profile over time. Meanwhile, American cheese maintains a consistent texture due to its added ingredients, ensuring a mild and uniform taste in every bite.

When choosing between American cheese and cheddar, consider whether you need a firm, crumbly option or a smooth, creamy one for your culinary needs.

Nutritional Content

When comparing the nutritional content of cheddar and American cheese, you’ll notice significant differences. Cheddar cheese has about double the calories, fat, and protein compared to American cheese, making it a richer source of essential nutrients like protein and calcium.

If you’re looking for a cheese that aligns with a low-carb diet, cheddar is the better choice due to its lower carbohydrate content.

Calorie and Fat Comparison

When comparing the nutritional content of American cheese and cheddar cheese, there are several factors to consider. A slice of American cheese contains 60 calories and 5.9 grams of fat, including 3.4 grams of saturated fat. In contrast, a slice of cheddar cheese has 69 calories and 7.1 grams of fat, with 4 grams being saturated. This minor difference in calorie and fat content might influence your choice based on your dietary goals.

Additionally, other nutritional factors like sodium and protein should be considered. Cheddar cheese has a lower sodium content (137mg) compared to American cheese (317mg) but offers more protein per slice (4.9g versus 3.6g). Therefore, if you’re monitoring your sodium intake or aiming for higher protein, cheddar might be the preferable option.

Here are three key points to consider:

  1. Calorie Count: American cheese has fewer calories per slice.
  2. Fat Content: Cheddar cheese has more fat and saturated fat.
  3. Sodium and Protein: Cheddar cheese is lower in sodium and higher in protein compared to American cheese.

Your choice between the two should depend on which nutritional factors are most important to you.

Protein and Calcium Levels

Cheddar cheese sliced

When evaluating nutritional content, cheddar cheese stands out with its higher levels of protein and calcium compared to American cheese. Cheddar cheese contains 7 grams of protein per serving, making it a robust option for increasing protein intake. In contrast, American cheese offers only 3.6 grams of protein per serving, underscoring cheddar’s superior protein content.

Calcium is another area where cheddar cheese excels. A serving of cheddar provides 20% of the daily value (DV) for calcium, supporting bone health and various physiological functions. In comparison, American cheese supplies just 10% of the DV for calcium per serving, making it less beneficial for meeting calcium needs.

Despite its lower protein and calcium content, American cheese can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, for those looking to boost their protein intake and ensure adequate calcium consumption, cheddar cheese is the superior choice.

Melting Properties

American cheese excels in melting smoothly, making it ideal for gooey, comforting dishes like grilled cheese and burgers. When melted, it retains a smooth texture and gooey consistency due to its lower melting point, ensuring a reliable creamy melt.

Cheddar cheese, by contrast, melts at a higher temperature and doesn’t achieve the same smooth consistency as American cheese. However, when melted, cheddar offers a rich and intense flavor, making it perfect for sauces and casseroles where its distinct taste can shine through, even if it doesn’t achieve the same gooey consistency.

Culinary Uses

grilled cheese sandwich

Each cheese’s distinct melting properties offer unique advantages for various culinary applications. Cheddar cheese, known for its robust flavor, is versatile and ideal for pasta dishes, baked goods, and cheese platters. It can be sliced, shredded, or grated, adding depth and complexity to meals. Aged varieties of Cheddar, in particular, deliver a rich flavor profile perfect for cooking and baking.

American cheese, with its creamy texture and excellent meltability, is a staple in fast food and casual dining. It’s ideal for burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and macaroni dishes, ensuring a gooey, satisfying experience. Whether making a classic grilled cheese sandwich or topping a juicy burger, American cheese provides the perfect melted consistency.

In pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, a blend of both cheeses can achieve the best of both worlds: Cheddar for depth of flavor and American cheese for a creamy, smooth melt.

Understanding these culinary uses will help you choose the right cheese for your next meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is American Cheese Just Mild Cheddar?

American cheese isn’t just mild cheddar. It’s a processed blend of natural cheeses combined with emulsifiers and other ingredients. While cheddar is a pure, natural cheese, American cheese is specifically formulated for creaminess and meltability.

What Cheese Does Mcdonald’s Use?

McDonald’s uses American cheese in their cheeseburgers and various other menu items. This cheese melts smoothly and provides a consistent, creamy flavor, contributing to the iconic McDonald’s taste.

How Is Cheddar Different From Other Cheeses?

Cheddar cheese is characterized by its crumbly texture and a spectrum of flavors, ranging from mild to sharp. Unlike some other cheeses, it doesn’t contain emulsifiers, which causes it to separate when melted. This unique property contributes to its distinct taste and versatility in various recipes.

Is Land O’ Lakes American Cheese Real Cheese?

Land O’ Lakes American Cheese is a pasteurized process cheese, comprising at least 51% real cheese, mixed with milk, cream, and other ingredients. Its production is regulated by the FDA to ensure safety and quality.


Cheddar and American cheese each bring unique qualities to the table. Cheddar’s robust flavor and crumbly texture make it ideal for adding depth to dishes, while American cheese’s creamy, mild taste and smooth melting properties are perfect for gooey comfort foods.

Understanding their origins, manufacturing processes, and culinary uses helps you choose the right cheese for any dish. So, next time you’re cooking, you’ll know exactly which cheese to use!