According to Wikipedia, the product commonly (and in that article) called "American cheese" is

generally manufactured from ingredients such as one or more cheeses, milk, whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, saturated oil(s), emulsifiers, and salt.… American cheese can not be legally sold under the name (authentic) "cheese" in the US. Instead,… laws mandate that it be labeled as "processed cheese"… or "cheese food"…. As a result, sometimes even the word "cheese" is absent, altogether, from the product's labeling in favor of, e.g., "American slices" or "American singles".

It seems from Wikipedia that there is no actual cheese that may be labeled "American cheese". Yet, the product in my refrigerator labeled "white American pasteurized process cheese" has as its first ingredient "American cheese". Specifically, its ingredients are:

American cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, cream, sodium citrate, salt, sorbic acid (preservative), olive oil.

What is that "American cheese" the label refers to? Is it available on the market? Can I use it in substitution for, perhaps, American slices, or maybe instead of Cheddar or something?

  • Could it be as simple as your product being made of actual cheese from America? Jan 22, 2015 at 7:45
  • The most famous such product in the US is Velveeta, which has been around for a long, long time. Nowadays it is a "processed cheese product".
    – user3169
    Jan 23, 2015 at 3:19

1 Answer 1


American cheese isn't real cheese, but a processed cheese product made partially from cheese, but with loads of extra stuff added in to make it pliable and melt easily. The "American Cheese" you see in the ingredients is the real cheese part of it, although the American part of it is probably for marketing purposes.

It's not a substitute for cheddar or other cheese from a flavor, texture, or melting point perspective, although it can be used in many of the same things. If you want a cheese that tastes good then use real cheese, if you want something that looks and tastes a bit like cheese and melts quickly and evenly use american cheese.

  • 1
    I think this is it. The package is very confusing: "American cheese" is normally used as the name for the processed slices themselves, not for their ingredients. We can't guess why the manufacturer chose to apply it to the base cheese, maybe because he wanted to evoke patriotic feelings, or because he had no better name for the generic cheese they are made from.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 22, 2015 at 11:30
  • Does the "it" in your second paragraph refer to the processed stuff or its actual-cheese base? If it refers to the processed stuff, then I don't see how this post answers my question, which was about the availability and utility of the actual-cheese base.
    – msh210
    Jan 22, 2015 at 14:50
  • The method described isn't the only way to make American cheese. Jan 22, 2015 at 16:46
  • @msh210, I see what you are asking for now. It doesn't really come out in your question that you want to know how you can buy the "American Cheese" as stated in the ingredients. In this case it's just cheese made in America, it doesn't say what kind.
    – GdD
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:52

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