In Defense of American Cheese: It has a bad reputation, but sometimes American cheese is exactly the cheese you want. When it comes to a few key recipes, I'll choose it over fancy, expensive cheese any day of the week. I'ts gooey meltiness is unrivaled! WHO'S WITH ME?! | macheesmo.com
Easy Eats

In Defense of American Cheese

It’s best to admit when you are wrong. I went through a phase where I looked down on American cheese. I think this is because, for a large part of my childhood, I didn’t really know there was other kinds of cheese. Most cheese was American cheese and it came wrapped in thin plastic.

Of course, as I grew up I learned that there are many different kinds of cheese and, in fact, some people don’t even consider American cheese to be cheese. So, as I was learning about new delicious cheeses, I came to hate plain old American cheese.

You can call it cheap or fake or whatever you want to call it, but the truth is that American cheese is hard to beat for certain applications. Sure, there might be some $20/pound cheese that beats it, but realistically it’s hard to beat!

Here’s how I learned to love this thing called American cheese!

What is American Cheese?

Let’s get this out of the way. American cheese is processed cheese. It has to be labeled as such, in fact. It can be made from mixing a lot of different cheeses together and that can result in a different quality of American cheese depending on who is making it. (I think Boar’s Head makes a pretty good one that’s available in most places.)

Most American cheeses though are known for being fairly bland in flavor, but they all have a very low melting point.

How to Buy American Cheese

The single biggest thing you can do to become an American cheese fan is stop buying it in pre-packaged singles and start buying it from your deli.

It’ll be there, way in the back, or you may have to ask for it.

Deli American Cheese

Way in the back!

Get them to slice it fairly thick for you. I like to say “nickel thick” which gets the idea across just fine. This thickness is pretty much perfect for anything you’ll be using American cheese to make.

American Cheese

Nickel thick.

Comparing the Difference

Let’s just take a minute to compare the difference between a deli slice of American cheese and a pre-packaged slice of american cheese. It’s not even close.

American Cheese

See the difference?

If all you can find is the slices, then I recommend doubling them up to get close to the same thickness. It won’t have quite the same flavor though.

Three Reasons American Cheese Is Great

Quick Breakfast Sandwiches

American Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Good breakfast.

If you’re in a hurry and need a quick breakfast sandwich, American cheese is your friend. Check out my coffee mug breakfast sandwich, for example. It melts perfectly in the microwave in just a few seconds and you’re on your way out the door!

A Great Grilled Cheese

I’ve made dozens of grilled cheeses over the years and I’m known to use fancy cheeses on occasion. If what you care about though is that perfect melty cheese, it’s hard to beat American cheese.

It melts quickly so you don’t have to worry so much about burning the bread before it’s melted. It’s a gooey, delicious treat.

American Cheese Grilled Cheese

Don’t over think it.

The Only Cheeseburger Cheese

Again, fancy cheeses are fine, but if you’re talking about a good, simple cheeseburger then you need American cheese. I like to make smaller patties (about 2 oz. each) and make them really thin. Sear them in a skillet and top them with slices.

Stick the whole thing on a toasted bun and you’re in cheeseburger heaven.

American Cheese Cheeseburger

Double decker!

Granted, American cheese isn’t something I would stick on a cheese plate with crackers, but if you are looking for something that will melt easily, it doesn’t get much better!

Alright, I’ve put my position out there. Any other American cheese lovers with me on this one?!

In Defense of American Cheese: It has a bad reputation, but sometimes American cheese is exactly the cheese you want. When it comes to a few key recipes, I'll choose it over fancy, expensive cheese any day of the week. I'ts gooey meltiness is unrivaled! WHO'S WITH ME?! | macheesmo.com

9 comments on “In Defense of American Cheese

  1. If you look next to the “singles” there is also a better kind of American cheese. You’ll know you’ve found it because instead of saying something like “processed cheese food” it will say process American cheese. There is a huge difference in flavor. I only mention it because not all grocery stores have a deli–mine included. Also, the best American cheese IME is the kind from Aldi, much better than the stuff from Kraft or whomever. Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar is always going to be my fave cheese though. ;-)

  2. I love American cheese! But like you I agree there are only a few times i use it: definitely grilled cheese and DEFINITELY on cheeseburgers. For nostalgic purposes i also love 2-3 slices of american cheese sandwiched between some sort of white bread and mayo. Hard to believe anyone would like this but I guess it reminds me of my childhood.

    And who knew that you could buy american cheese at the deli counter? !? you’ve just opened my eyes man

  3. I agree- best for egg sammies, grilled cheese, and definitely cheeseburgers! Whenever I use cheddar or another fancy cheese on a burger, I can barely taste it! I like Land O Lakes sliced from the deli section, or Kraft Deli Deluxe will do in a pinch. Definitely not Kraft singles (though they do hold some nostalgic charm!) It’s also super good with a nice fresh sliced apple.

  4. By law, American Cheese must contain at least 2 types of cheese. And since it’s 2 types of cheese (at minimum) blended, it must be called “processed cheese.” Nothing wrong with that in general. Good American cheese like the stuff the article talks about in the deli counter is great in many things.

    Now, that vile, evil, plastic wrapped monstrosity of a creation commonly called “singles” should never be used for anything you want to taste good. They can’t even be called “processed cheese” because they contain less than 51% cheese. Even as a child I hated that stuff.

    And BTW, I just discovered this site today (I was looking up pasta sauce and came upon the article comparing jarred to homemade here), I’ve been enjoying going through the articles/recipes so far and hope to try some out soon.

  5. Try Kraft Deli Deluxe American cheese. It is much better than the slices wrapped in plastic!

  6. American cheese is awesome. I will say that I prefer it in applications where the cheese is a side note to the dish, not the main event; I would never make, say, mac and cheese, or grilled cheese, with American cheese. But I will not hesitate to put it on omelets, sandwiches, or 3am drunk nachos. Those especially.

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