White American Cheese vs. White Cheddar Cheese

White American cheese and white cheddar cheese may look similar at first glance, but they actually have some key differences when it comes to their flavor, texture, uses, and even nutritional value.

White American Cheese vs. White Cheddar Cheese

What Is White American Cheese

White American cheese is a smooth, creamy processed cheese known for its very mild flavor and salty undertones. It has a lower fat content than other cheeses, giving it a drier, slightly crumbly texture that is easy to slice and melt.

Here's some background on white American cheese:

  • Origin: White American cheese was invented in America in the early 1900s. It was designed to be affordable, convenient, and have a longer shelf life than traditional cheeses.
  • Flavor: White American cheese is known for having a very mild, salty, subtle flavor. It does not have a sharp or tangy flavor.
  • Texture: Softer and creamier than cheddar, but still sliceable. It has a slightly crumbly texture.
  • Uses: White American cheese is a classic choice for grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, panini, and other melty applications like quesadillas. It also works well in cooking applications like macaroni and cheese or cheese sauce.

Key Takeaway: White American cheese is a processed cheese known for its mild flavor, salty undertones, creamy yet crumbly texture, and meltability.

What Is White Cheddar Cheese

White cheddar cheese is a natural, unprocessed cheese made from cow's milk. Like traditional orange cheddar, it has a firmer texture and more pronounced flavor than American cheese. The only difference is that annatto, an additive that gives cheddar its yellow/orange color, is not added to white cheddar.

Background on white cheddar cheese:

  • Origin: White cheddar originated in England alongside traditional orange cheddar cheese. It's made using the same "cheddaring" process.
  • Flavor: Compared to very mild white American cheese, white cheddar has a sharper, more tangy and complex flavor.
  • Texture: Firmer and slightly crumbly compared to creamy American cheese. Still meltable.
  • Uses: White cheddar is excellent in pasta, sandwiches, burgers and works well as a snacking cheese with fruit or crackers. At picnics and parties, it is sometimes served in a cheese ball or dip.

Key Takeaway: White cheddar is a natural, tangy cheese that has a more pronounced flavor than white American. It has a firmer texture yet still melts well.

Comparing Taste and Texture

The most noticeable difference between white American and white cheddar cheese is the flavor and texture.

White American cheese is known for its very mild, slightly salty taste that doesn't overpower other ingredients. It has a smooth, creamy texture when melted that enhances sandwiches, burgers, and dips.

White cheddar has a tangy, sharp cheddar flavor even though it lacks the annatto coloring. It melts well but maintains a firmer, slightly crumbly texture compared to ultra-smooth American cheese. White cheddar adds a more pronounced cheesy flavor to dishes.

So in terms of taste and texture:

  • White American: extremely mild, salty flavor. Smooth and creamy when melted.
  • White Cheddar: sharp, tangy, complex cheddar flavor. Firm yet meltable texture.

Key Takeaway: White American has a very subtle taste and creamy texture compared to tangy white cheddar with a firmer chew.

Nutrition Comparison

There are some small nutritional differences between white American cheese and white cheddar to be aware of.

White American cheese is lower in calories, fat, protein, and sodium compared to most types of cheddar cheese. Per ounce, white American also contains more calcium and carbohydrates.

However, since white American is highly processed and contains additives like milk protein concentrate and food starch, some people find it less desirable than all-natural white cheddar cheese. Cheddar has the advantage of retaining more vitamins and minerals from the milk during production.

Here is a comparison of the basic nutrition facts:

White AmericanWhite Cheddar
Calories60 per slice (25g)113 per oz (28g)
Fat5g per slice9g per oz
Carbs1g per slice<1g per oz
Protein2g per slice7g per oz
Sodium260mg per slice180mg per oz
Calcium15% DV per slice20% DV per oz

As you can see, white cheddar cheese packs a more well-rounded nutritional profile thanks to its natural production process. For those limiting calories or fat intake, white American can be the lighter choice.

Key Takeaway: White American cheese is lower in calories and fat compared to white cheddar, but white cheddar offers more protein and vitamins from the milk.

Cooking Uses

White American and white cheddar cheeses both melt beautifully, making them staple choices for cooking, baking and snacking. Here is a comparison of how each cheese excels:

Best Uses for White American Cheese

  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Burgers
  • Panini
  • Quesadillas
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Cheese dips
  • Sauces
  • Casseroles
  • Anywhere you want a smooth, creamy melted cheese

White American is prized in the kitchen for its meltability. Its creamy texture and mild flavor allow other ingredients to remain the star while adding a lovely melted cheese quality.

Best Uses for White Cheddar Cheese

  • Pasta dishes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Soups
  • Panini
  • Sandwiches
  • Burgers
  • Cheese plates
  • Cheese balls
  • Dips

White cheddar brings its signature tang and Complex flavor to both cold and hot applications. It adds a sharper cheesy flavor compared to American. Aged white cheddar can be enjoyed straight-up as a snack.

So in summary:

  • White American excels when a smooth, creamy melted cheese is desired.
  • White cheddar is better for adding complex cheese flavor, even when melted.

Key Takeaway: White American melts smoothly for great grilled cheese; white cheddar adds tangy flavor to dishes like pasta.

Price Comparison

White American cheese is often cheaper than white cheddar cheese. As a highly processed cheese made from cheese byproducts and emulsifiers, American "cheese" can be mass produced at a lower cost.

Natural cheese like white cheddar requires more milk, labor, aging, and care during production driving the price up. However, many cheese connoisseurs consider the higher price tag worth it to enjoy the bolder, more complex flavor.

Here are some average prices:

  • White American cheese: $3 to $6 per pound
  • White cheddar cheese: $6 to $12+ per pound depending on age, quality, etc.

Specialty artisan white cheddar that has been aged over 1 year can cost significantly more.

For those on a budget, white American cheese delivers plenty of cheesy enjoyment at a friendly price point. White cheddar is viewed as more of a premium choice.

Key Takeaway: White American cheese is cheaper than white cheddar in most cases thanks to highly efficient mass production.


Is white American cheese real cheese?

Technically, no. By legal definition to be called "cheese", a product has to be at least 51% real cheese. White American cheese falls short of that requirement due to added milk proteins, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. So brands must use alternate names like "prepared cheese product".

What about deli white American cheese?

Deli-style white American cheese is typically real cheese, not the highly processed singles. Similar to American cheese sold from the deli counter, deli slices combine cheddar, colby, and other natural cheeses and can legally be labeled as just "cheese". The flavor is more authentic as well.

Can you substitute white cheddar for white American?

Absolutely! Just keep in mind that white cheddar has a sharper, more pronounced flavor so the overall taste of the dish will change. The texture also remains a bit more firm when melted. For best results, use high-quality white cheddar that melts well.

What’s the difference between yellow and white American cheese?

The only difference is that annatto is added for coloring to make yellow American cheese...well...yellow. Annatto does not alter the flavor at all. White American lacks this additive. So besides appearances, the two types of American cheese taste and perform exactly the same.

Is white or yellow American better for grilled cheese?

Both white and yellow American cheese make epic grilled cheese sandwiches! The mild flavor lets the buttery toast shine while adding deliciously smooth, creamy melted cheese. It's a matter of personal preference when it comes to color.


While white American cheese and white cheddar may seem interchangeable at first glance, they have distinct differences when it comes to their flavor, texture, nutritional value, uses, and pricing.

White American cheese is prized for its smooth, creamy meltability and very mild salty flavor. The highly processed nature also makes it quite affordable.

All-natural white cheddar cheese offers bolder cheese flavor with a firmer chew and higher nutritional quality.

Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀
Cheese Lover Chloe 🧀

I'm a total cheese fanatic! When I'm not busy studying to be a cheesemaker, you can find me scouring local farmers markets and specialty shops for new and exciting cheeses to try. Brie is my all-time fave, but I also love exploring aged goudas, funky blues, and rich creamy camemberts. Looking forward to sharing lots of melty, gooey cheese pics and reviews!