What’s the Difference Between Cheddar and American Cheese?

Cheddar vs. American Cheese Featured Image - CheeseOrigin.com

In the world of cheese, two popular contenders often find themselves in a flavorful face-off: Cheddar and American.

Each has its own distinct qualities, culinary uses, and fan base. But what really sets these two apart?

If you’ve ever found yourself staring at the dairy aisle, pondering whether to reach for that block of cheddar or the slices of American cheese, this blog post is for you.

Cheddar CheeseAmerican Cheese
OriginEnglandUnited States
ProcessTraditional cheesemaking processProcessed cheese product
TasteRobust, sharpMild, creamy
TextureFirm, crumblySmooth, melts easily
Nutritional ContentHigher in fat and proteinLower in fat, less protein
Best Used InCheese platters, sandwichesGrilled cheese sandwiches, cheeseburgers
Calories per ounce115114

Also read: Cheddar: The Global Favorite in the World of Cheeses

The 4 Key Differences of Cheddar and American cheese

Cheddar and American cheese, while both popular, have several key differences in their origins, production methods, flavors, textures, and nutritional profiles:

1. Origin and Production Method:

Cheddar originates from England and is a natural cheese made from cow’s milk that’s been coagulated with rennet, an enzyme that separates curds from whey. On the other hand, American cheese, also known as processed cheese, is a product often made from a blend of cheeses (most commonly Colby and Cheddar), milk, and other dairy ingredients, which are then heated with emulsifiers to create a uniform, smooth product.

2. Flavor and Texture:

Cheddar has a firm texture and a sharp, robust flavor that intensifies with age. American cheese has a mild, slightly salty or tangy flavor, and a creamy, smooth texture that melts very well.

3. Nutritional Profile:

Cheddar is typically denser in nutrients and therefore higher in calories, protein, and fats, while American cheese contains more carbohydrates.

4. Uses:

Both cheeses are versatile and can be used in various dishes. Cheddar is excellent for baking, grating over dishes, and adding to cheese boards due to its distinct flavor. American cheese, with its exceptional melting quality, is often used in sandwiches, burgers, and macaroni and cheese.

Which is better American or Cheddar Cheese?

Taste and Texture:

Cheddar cheese offers a robust, often sharp flavor and a crumbly texture. It’s considered a “real” cheese, made from 100% cow’s milk and aged to enhance its flavor.

On the other hand, American cheese has a milder taste and a smooth, creamy texture, making it popular for dishes like grilled cheese sandwiches.

Nutritional Differences:

In terms of nutrition, American cheese is lower in calories and fat compared to cheddar cheese.

For instance, 1 cup of shredded cheddar has around 400-450 calories and 30-40 grams of fat, while American cheese is slightly less. However, cheddar is richer in protein.

Cooking Uses:

If you’re looking for a cheese that melts well, American cheese is an excellent choice due to the whole milk added back during its processing.

Cheddar, while it can be melted, maintains a bit more structure and is great for dishes where you want the cheese to stand out, like cheese platters or sandwiches.

Ultimately, the “better” cheese boils down to the specific taste, texture, and nutritional preferences of the individual, as well as the particular culinary application.

Also read: What Pairs Well with Cheddar: The Ultimate Guide

Does McDonald’s Use American or Cheddar?

McDonald’s uses a unique blend of cheese for their products. This blend is made up of approximately 60% cheddar and other ingredients, including processed American cheese (source).

The cheese is specifically made and packaged for McDonald’s, ensuring a consistent flavor across their menu items.

For their breakfast items, McDonald’s uses a mix of this processed American cheese slice and real cheddar cheese.

In some specific dishes like the McSkillet Burritos, they use a combination of cheddar, jack, and American cheese.

Please note that the composition of the cheese might vary in different regions due to the taste preferences of customers and local regulations.

>> Click here to read our in-depth guide on American cheese


Whether you prefer the creamy consistency of American cheese or the robust flavor of Cheddar, it’s safe to say that both have their own rightful places in the world of cheese.

Your preference will likely come down to the specific uses and flavor profile you’re seeking. Enjoy the cheesy goodness!

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