Skip to Content

16 Perfect American Cheese Substitutes

Looking for an American cheese substitute? Here are 16 perfect options whether you’re in a pinch or need a less processed alternative!

Need a good American cheese substitute?

Here are 16 easy ways to substitute for American cheese whether you’re in a pinch or simply don’t like processed cheese foods!

This post includes the best substitutes for both the white and yellow varieties, a simple recipe to make your own, and delicious sandwich ideas to test out your favorite replacements!

American Cheese 101 

Slice of American cheese on a hamburger with lettuce, mayo, and ketchup.

American cheese is known for its creamy texture, incredible melting ability, and salty flavor. And the soft texture is great for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, burgers, nacho cheese sauce, omelets, macaroni, and more.

However, there is some debate as to whether American cheese should legally be considered real cheese at all.

Many claim it is real cheese. But it’s technically a processed cheese product made from cheddar and/or Colby with milk and milk fats or whey protein along with other additives.

Because of that, many brands don’t include the term “cheese” on their labels. Instead, they call their products singles or slices. A great example of this is Kraft singles.

There are also two kinds of American cheese: white American cheese and yellow cheese. But they’re virtually the same. The only difference is that the yellow version has added annatto for coloring.

While American cheese is certainly a classic and readily available in grocery stores, it’s not the most healthy cheese option.

This type of cheese is notoriously high in preservatives, sodium, and fat, and often contains vegetable oils.

So, if your grocery store runs out, or you want a healthier alternative, try one of the easy substitutes below!

NOTE: 1 pound of American cheese = 4 to 5 cups shredded

Best American Cheese Substitutes

1. Swiss Cheese

Four triangular swiss cheese wedges with a cheese knife and sprig of thyme.

If you’re looking for a healthy American cheese substitute, swiss cheese might be the way to go! It has a mild flavor and firm texture, and you can’t miss the signature holes.

It’s a great substitute for sandwiches, casserole dishes like this creamy mushroom swiss chicken bake, and party dips like this toasted almond and swiss cheese dip.

Use swiss cheese as a 1-to-1 substitute for American cheese.

2. Velveeta Cheese

Small white bowl filled with Velveeta nacho cheese with tortilla chips and jalapeno slices.

Here’s a great substitute for American cheese in mac and cheese — Velveeta! It’s also a processed cheese, so if you need a substitute for health reasons, you should opt for something else.

But its ultra-creamy texture makes it great for sauces, casseroles, pasta dishes, dips, soups, and nachos.

You can use it anywhere you would melted American cheese as a 1-to-1 substitute.

3. Mozzarella Cheese

Several slices of mozzarella cheese on a wooden kitchen table with blue and white towel.

Mozzarella is a great substitute if you don’t like strong flavor. This mild cheese is perfect for recipes that require melting. And it’s great for sandwiches and pasta dishes like pesto pizza pasta salad and creamy pasta bake.

You can also use it for casseroles like lasagna zucchini boats or lasagna made with cottage cheese. And it’s great for fillings and stuffings too.

Use mozzarella as a 1-to-1 substitute for white American cheese.

4. Colby Cheese

Several slices of yellow and white Colby cheese on wooden cutting board.

Colby cheese is commonly used to make American cheese. It has a milder flavor and it’s readily available in grocery stores.

And you can use it anywhere you would American cheese, 1-to-1.

5. Mild Cheddar

Cheddar cheese block and shreds with parsley on wooden cutting board.

If you’re looking for an American cheese substitute in UK countries, there’s nothing better than classic cheddar. Cheddar is the most popular cheese in the UK and it has a rich buttery flavor. Just be sure to use young, soft cheddar for the best texture.

Cheddar is also an ingredient in American cheese so you can use it for the same dishes.

It’s a good substitute for nachos, grilled cheese, and recipes like dill pickle ditalini pasta salad, Crock Pot chili cheese dip, chili relleno casserole, and cheesy kielbasa pasta.

RELATED: 18 Awesome Ways to Substitute for Cheddar Cheese (White and Yellow)

6. White Cheddar Cheese

Several cubes of sharp white cheddar cheese on a stack of crackers.

Here’s a great, white American cheese substitute for queso, sandwiches dips, and sauces. White Cheddar is the same as yellow cheddar, just without the annatto.

Use white cheddar as a 1-to-1 substitute.

7. Cheez Whiz

Cheese whiz spread over a piece of toast on a white plate next to breakfast foods.

If you’re not worried about eating processed foods, Cheese Whiz is a great substitute for soup recipes like this simple cheesy vegetable chowder and dips. And you can even use it for sandwiches.

Cheese Whiz has a very similar taste to American cheese. And the texture makes it great for saucy, melty dishes.

A 16 ounce jar of Cheese Whiz is equivalent to 1 and 3/4 cups of melted American cheese.

8. Monterey Jack Cheese

Close up view of large pile of white shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Monterey Jack cheese has a creamy, mild flavor. And it’s great for sandwiches and burgers as well as mac and cheese, dips, and casseroles.

Use Monterey Jack as a 1-to-1 substitute anywhere you would American cheese.

9. Cream Cheese

Vegan cream cheese sour cream substitute in wooden bowl next to large metal spoon.

If you’re really in a pinch, you can use cream cheese to substitute for American cheese. It’s not the best option, but it has a similar salty taste and a creamy texture.

It’s a common ingredient in dips, and you can use it to add flavor and creaminess to sandwiches and sauces.

Substitute cream cheese to taste.

RELATED: 6 Grocery Store Ingredients To Substitute For Cream Cheese

10. Muenster Cheese

Several thin slices of muenster cheese fanned out on parchment paper.

Muenster cheese is the closest in taste to American cheese. And it has a soft and smooth texture that melts very well.

You can use Muenster cheese anywhere you would American cheese as a 1-to-1 substitute.

11. Havarti

Close up view of several slices of white havarti cheese with holes.

This semi-soft, white cheese made from Danish cow’s milk, is a great substitute for grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, salads, sandwiches, and fondue.

Havarti cheese has a mild, sweet flavor. And you can use it as a 1-to-1 substitute for white American cheese.

12. Fontina Cheese

Partial wedge of fontina cheese with a name label on a wooden table.

Fontina cheese has an earthy nutty flavor. And it’s stronger than American cheese.

If you don’t mind the bolder taste, you can use this Italian cheese for sandwiches, sauces, and pasta dishes.

It’s great for melting and a good 1-to-1 substitute for white or yellow American cheese.

13. Mild Gouda

Gouda cheese wedge and cubes on wooden cutting board with cheese knife.

Young or mild gouda cheese has a mild, sweet flavor and soft texture. And it’s great for sandwiches and crackers and melts well for casseroles and dips.

Use young gouda cheese as a 1-to-1 substitute for American cheese.

14. Oaxaca Cheese

Shredded Oaxaca cheese on a wood cutting board next to red tomato.

Here’s another great white American cheese substitute. Oaxaca cheese is a stringy Mexican cheese that melts really well. And it has a mild, slightly salty, buttery flavor.

It’s perfect for quesadillas, tacos, and various fillings.

Use Oaxaca cheese as a 1-to-1 substitute.

15. Provolone Cheese

Small stack of thinly sliced white provolone cheese on parchment paper.

Provolone has a similar texture and taste and appearance to white American cheese. It has a mild flavor, great for sandwiches, casseroles, and pizza.

Use Provolone as a 1-to-1 substitute.

How to Make Your Own

Several slices of homemade yellow American cheese on a round wooden plate.

If you really like American cheese, but wish it was more healthy, you can make your own. It’s a simple process and only requires a few ingredients.


  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons whole milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin
  • 8 ounces mild orange cheese, grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Get the full recipe here: Homemade American Cheese.


Is Velveeta and American cheese the same?

Velveeta and American cheese are not the same product. However, they do have a similar taste and texture. They are both processed cheese foods and you can use them for similar recipes. Velveeta makes a great substitute for American cheese in grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, and dips.

Where can I find white American cheese?

White American cheese is readily available in grocery stores like Walmart and Target, or Kroger’s family of stores under brands like Kraft, Land O Lakes, and Boar’s Head.

But, if you can’t find it, you can use yellow American cheese, instead. They have the same flavor and texture. Yellow American cheese just has added annatto for coloring.

Easy Sandwich Recipes with Cheese

Here are some delicious sandwich recipes to try out your favorite substitute cheeses.

Italian-Style Mozzarella Stuffed Burgers

Mozzarella stuffed burger on bun with lettuce and tomato, all on wood plate.

The Best Monte Cristo Sliders

Two Monte Cristo sliders on white plate with fresh raspberries and raspberry jam.

Turkey Sandwich with Avocado, Bacon, and Special Sauce

Two turkey sandwiches with avocado stacked on each other sitting on wood cutting board.

Deluxe Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps

Grilled cheeseburger wrap cut in half surrounded by French fries on wood plate.