Velveeta and cheddar are two of the most popular types of cheese in American cooking. But what exactly sets them apart?
Both options work well in cooking applications from grilled cheese sandwiches to mac and cheese. But which one makes the better choice for your needs?
When comparing Velveeta vs cheddar nutrition, you'll notice some key differences:
Per 100 grams:
- Calories: Velveeta has 303 kcal while cheddar contains 410 kcal
- Fat: Velveeta provides 22g fat compared to cheddar's 33.82g
- Carbs: Velveeta has 9.8g carbs, cheddar only 2.13g
- Protein: Cheddar wins here with 24.25g protein over Velveeta's 16.3g
- Calcium: Cheddar offers 711mg calcium vs 466mg in Velveeta
Key Takeaway: Velveeta contains less protein and calcium than real cheddar cheese. However, it also boasts far more carbs, sodium, and fat per serving.
Cheddar and Velveeta also differ significantly in their ingredient lists:
Cheddar gets made from just three basic ingredients:
- Rennet (to curdle the milk)
The process also utilizes cheese cultures to develop flavor. But otherwise, authentic cheddar relies on simple whole food ingredients.
Meanwhile, Velveeta offers a lengthy list of artificial additives and preservatives:
- Whey protein concentrate
- Milk protein concentrate
- Sodium phosphate
- Calcium phosphate
- Sorbic acid
- Sodium alginate
- Apocarotenal (artificial coloring)
- Annatto (artificial coloring)
- Cheese culture
So while Velveeta does contain some dairy components like milk and milkfat, it also boasts stabilizers, thickeners, and emulsifiers to create its signature smooth consistency.
Velveeta and cheddar offer similar affordability, with just a small difference in price. At most grocery stores:
- A 32 oz block of Velveeta costs around $5.99
- Two 8 oz bags of shredded cheddar cost approximately $5.76
So per ounce, cheddar usually proves slightly more budget-friendly. Larger blocks of cheddar can further reduce the per-ounce cost. And since authentic cheeses last longer in the fridge, you avoid waste from spoilage.
Flavors range significantly between different types of cheddar. Young, mild cheddars offer butter, cream, and slight nutty notes. Sharp varieties deliver a fuller, tangier punch of flavor.
Velveeta provides a uniform mild taste every time. Customers continue buying it to obtain that familiar, nostalgic flavor.
So for dishes where cheese plays a primary role, artisanal cheddar products allow for more complexity. But Velveeta offers reliability for family favorite recipes.
Thanks to its emulsifiers, Velveeta delivers a flawlessly smooth and creamy texture. It melts without clumping or separating.
Cheddar offers more variation in consistency. Softer aged and processed cheddars melt smoothly as well. But harder cheeses become stringy when cooking.
So again, Velveeta guarantees reliable results. Cheddar ranges from stringy to smooth depending on variety and age.
- Queso dips
- Mac and cheese
- Grilled cheese
- Stuffings and fillings
Mild cheddars work well in most of the same applications. But they also serve equally well on sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and cheese boards.
Sharp cheddar varieties even hold up on their own as snacks. The more pronounced flavors complement fruit, meat, and crackers.
In a pinch, mild and young cheddar cheeses make suitable substitutions for Velveeta. For best results, opt for a highly processed or "American style" cheddar. You want sufficient emulsifiers for smooth melting.
To replace cheddar with Velveeta, use a 1:1 substitution ratio in recipes. But keep in mind the difference in saltiness and flavor.
For strict diets like keto or vegan eating plans, try substituting non-dairy cheese alternatives. Look for products WITHOUT fillers or stabilizers for the most natural nutrition profile.
Unopened Velveeta lacks refrigeration requirements. It stores safely in the pantry due to all the preservatives.
But real cheddar cheese requires fridge storage to prevent spoilage and mold growth. It also lasts longer when you maintain cooler fridge temperatures below 40°F.
Once opened, both Velveeta and cheddar keep for about 1-2 months in proper fridge storage. Tightly wrap or cover leftover cheese to prevent drying out.
Making Homemade Cheese Sauces
Don't have the right ingredients on hand? With a few simple kitchen staples, you can emulate the smooth, creamy properties of Velveeta right at home.
For a quick cheese sauce:
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat
- Slowly whisk in 1 tbsp flour to make a roux
- Continue whisking for 1-2 minutes
- Gradually pour 1 cup milk while continuing to whisk
- Add 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Whisk vigorously until cheese fully melts
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, spices
The flour thickens the milk to prevent curdling. And the butter adds creaminess while also helping the cheddar melt smoothly.
Key Takeaway: For best results, avoid pre-shredded bagged cheeses. The cellulose coating prevents proper melting. Shred blocks of cheddar yourself instead using a grater or food processor.
Making Homemade Velveeta
Making Homemade Velveeta Cheese Recipe
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups cubed colby or swiss cheese
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Simply combine everything in a slow cooker or double boiler. Cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally, for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Then pour into containers and refrigerate until firm.
Research continues investigating potential harm from frequently consuming ultra-processed foods like Velveeta cheese.
While occasional enjoyment poses no problems for most people, eating too many processed foods may contribute to:
- Weight gain/obesity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Early death
So aim to limit ultra-processed foods to rare treats. Emphasize wholesome, home-cooked meals focused on lean proteins, produce, whole grains, beans and legumes instead.
Is Velveeta real cheese?
No. Velveeta classifies as a "pasteurized prepared cheese product" according to FDA guidelines. While it contains some dairy elements like milk proteins and fat, the numerous additives make it highly processed.
Is Velveeta gluten free?
Yes. Velveeta contains no gluten ingredients, so it fits gluten free lifestyles. Always check labels to confirm no cross-contamination.
What gives Velveeta its smooth texture?
Sodium phosphate and sodium citrate act as emulsifying salts to give Velveeta a thick, creamy consistency that melts smoothly.
Can you freeze Velveeta cheese?
Yes! Simply cut into chunks and tightly wrap blocks to prevent freezer burn. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
Does Velveeta need to be refrigerated?
Unopened packages last at room temperature for 9-12 months. But refrigeration extends shelf life even longer. Refrigerate opened packages.
Is homemade Velveeta healthier?
Yes! Homemade Velveeta relies on simple, real food ingredients for the same creamy texture. Avoid all the additives and preservatives.
Velveeta and cheddar both deliver mouthwatering, comforting cheese flavor.
Cheddar takes the win for nutrition thanks to its naturally nutritious milk origins.
Homemade Velveeta makes for a healthier alternative by avoiding additives.