What is white American cheese? It’s famous for its creamy texture and mild flavor. But how is it made, and what makes it unique? Here’s everything you need to know!
Similar to its sibling, white American cheese is a processed chese made from a blend of cheeses, such as cheddar, colby, and other mild, young cheeses. It typically doesn’t contain added food flavoring, which is why it has a pale, ivory-white color.
The term “processed” doesn’t mean that it’s plastic; it refers to the fact that the cheese undergoes additional steps during production to ensure a consistent texture and flavor. These steps often involve mixing and adding ingredients to make the cheese melt smoothly and taste mild.
White American Cheese vs. Yellow American Cheese
White and yellow American cheeses are popular processed cheese types in the US. They’re similar but differ in color and flavor.
As the name suggests, white American cheese is white or pale ivory in color. It gets its color from the absence of additives like annatto, a natural dye from achiote seeds. While yellow American cheese is orange or yellow due to the additives.
White American cheese is creamy with a hint of tangy flavor, making it great for dishes like grilled cheese, subs, and macaroni. Yellow American cheese, colored with annatto, has a similar flavor with a possible subtle earthy note.
White American cheese and yellow American cheese typically share similar textures. They are smooth, creamy, and soft, which makes them versatile for various culinary uses like melting in sandwiches, burgers, or as a base for cheese sauces.
White American cheese is great for dishes where cheese color doesn’t matter much, like grilled cheese or deli sandwiches, as it melts smoothly without changing the dish’s color. On the other hand, yellow American cheese is often chosen for dishes where the cheese’s color is important for presentation, like cheeseburgers and nachos.
Both white and yellow American cheeses have excellent melting properties. They’re known for their ability to melt smoothly and evenly, making them ideal for applications like cheese sauces, cheese dips, and toppings.
White American Cheese vs. White Cheddar Cheese
White American cheese and white cheddar cheese are also distinct varieties with differences in taste, texture, and melting properties.
As the name suggests, it is white. In the absence of the food coloring annatto, its appearance is consistently uniform and creamy. While white cheddar cheese is also naturally white, its exact shade can vary slightly based on the milk source and processing.
White American cheese is mild and slightly tangy due to its processed blend of cheeses and dairy. White cheddar has a distinct flavor that deepens with age; young cheddars are milder, while aged ones become sharper, sometimes with nutty or earthy notes.
White American cheese is soft and creamy. White cheddar’s texture changes with age: young cheddars are softer, while aged ones become crumbly with crunchy bits called calcium lactate crystals, which cheese lovers often treasure.
White American cheese, with its creamy texture, is preferred for grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. White cheddar can be used in sandwiches, crumbled in salads, melted in mac ‘n’ cheese, or eaten with crackers.
White American cheese melts smoothly without turning oily, perfect for creamy sauces and dips. White cheddar, while flavorful, can get stringy or oily if overheated.
|Category||White American Cheese||Yellow American Cheese||White Cheddar Cheese|
|Color||White or pale ivory (No additives)||Orange or yellow (Additives like annatto)||Naturally white, shade can vary based on milk source and processing|
|Flavor||Creamy with a hint of tangy flavor||Similar to white but with possible subtle earthy note due to annatto||Distinct, deepens with age. |
Young: mild, Aged: sharp with nutty or earthy notes
|Texture||Smooth, creamy, and soft||Smooth, creamy, and soft||Varies with age. Young: soft, Aged: crumbly with crunchy bits (calcium lactate crystals)|
|Usage||Grilled cheese, deli sandwiches||Cheeseburgers, nachos||Sandwiches, salads, mac ‘n’ cheese, crackers|
|Melting Properties||Melts smoothly and evenly||Melts smoothly and evenly||Melts but can get stringy or oily if overheated|
Ways to Use White American Cheese
Though not gourmet, white American cheese melts well and is versatile for many dishes. Here are ways to use it:
- Grilled cheese sandwiches. The melt of white American cheese makes this sandwich a comfort food favorite.
- Macaroni and cheese. White American cheese ensures this dish is creamy and delightful.
- Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Traditional cheesesteaks often use white American cheese, which complements the steak and onions superbly.
- Cheese soup. Incorporating white American cheese can elevate a soup, especially favorites like broccoli cheese.
- Nachos. With its superior melt, white American cheese provides a gooey base for nachos.
- Cheese sauce for vegetables. This is a delightful way to make vegetables more appealing, especially for those who might be hesitant about them.
- Dips. A melted white American cheese base for dips can be a hit at gatherings and parties, especially when mixed with ingredients like salsa or jalapeños.
The bottom line
While it may not hold the prestige of aged European cheeses, white American cheese’s creamy texture and superior melting ability have earned it a steadfast place in many American kitchens.
A staple in numerous households, this cheese stands as a testament to its practicality and favored taste in everyday cuisine. Its distinctive properties make it suitable for a broad range of culinary uses, from the comforting grilled cheese sandwich to serving as a creamy dip base.