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12 Best Handy Substitutes for Velveeta Cheese in a Recipe

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I’m quite famous in my family for changing the menu at the last minute or at least adding to the menu. But, if that menu addition happens to be macaroni and cheese or Rotel dip and that needed package of Velveeta becomes elusive, what will make a good substitute?

American cheese and Cheez Whiz also are the best substitutes for Velveeta due to their similar texture. Since Velveeta is processed cheese that is soft and creamy, any substitute, to be effective, must have the texture of melted cheese. Cheddar cheese is the also a popular replacement because of its taste.

Here is the list of cheeses that can be used as substitutes for Velveeta. I am sure there are many more, but these are the cheeses that I am most familiar with.

1. American Cheese

White and Yellow American Cheese

American cheese, which was patented by J.L. Kraft in 1916, came into existence before Velveeta and was marketed as a less expensive cheese. It is readily available in most groceries and supermarkets and is often less expensive than Velveeta, making it a good and even an economical choice as a substitute for Velveeta. 

Since it is also a processed cheese product made from whey, milk, and milk fats combined with ground cheddar and Colby cheese, the texture of American cheese, although a little gummier, is almost the same as Velveeta, and it is a simple matter to add a small amount of milk or an emulsifier to American cheese to duplicate the consistency of melted Velveeta. It is especially good for making macaroni and cheese and Rotel dip.

American cheese can be used quite successfully on a 1:1 basis in any recipe that calls for Velveeta.

2. Cheez Whiz

Jar of Cheez Whiz

Cheez Whiz is another processed cheese product that is the closest in taste to Velveeta, and while they both are smooth and creamy in consistency, Cheez Whiz comes in a jar in liquid form, while Velveeta is in solid form, a rectangular block that is almost identical in appearance to a block of American cheese.

Cheez Whiz can be used in any recipe that calls for Velveeta and is the best substitute as a sauce or for dipping. However, Cheez Whiz is not the best choice for adding to recipes for breads or casseroles as its texture may result in those foods being undercooked or watery. This can be corrected, however, with the addition of extra flour or starch.

While Cheez Whiz is the best choice as a substitute for Velveeta because of its taste and consistency, Cheez Whiz is even less healthy than Velveeta, which is very high in sodium and fat. This makes any of the cheeses mentioned in this article a much healthier choice as a substitute for Velveeta.

Cheez Whiz can be substituted for Velveeta on a 1:1 basis.

3. Cheddar Cheese

Homemade Queso Made with Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese is readily available at all stores that sell dairy and, in most instances, is less expensive than Velveeta. The fact that cheddar is real cheese, not a cheese product, and is healthier with significantly less sodium and fat than Velveeta is a big drawing card for many as a substitute for Velveeta. 

Cheddar is not a processed cheese and does not have the same texture as processed cheese. It is made by a traditional cheese-making process, but with the addition of a small amount of milk to thin it, cheddar melts well, although its consistency is not as ideal as Velveeta, American, or Cheez Whiz to use as a dip. Any cheddar cheese products will make a good substitute for Velveeta, but a mild cheddar will be closer in taste to Velveeta.

All cheddar cheeses, mild, medium, or sharp, and any other type of cheddar, such as white cheddar, are very versatile and excellent when sliced for sandwiches, shredded for pimento and cheese, or as an addition to casseroles, are amazing in lasagna, and when melted as a sauce over vegetables.

Cheddar cheese can be substituted for Velveeta on a 1:1 basis.

4. Colby

Colby is made by a similar process to that used in making cheddar, and while there are many similarities between Colby and cheddar, Colby is softer and moister, and along with its mild flavor, these qualities make it a good substitute for Velveeta.

Colby can be used in most recipes that call for Velveeta, and it melts well to make sauces and dips that are quite similar to Velveeta, but the dishes are much healthier when made with Colby or any of the cheeses.

5. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is very close in taste and texture to Velveeta and can be used as a substitute for Velveeta, especially in casseroles. However, by melting cream cheese and adding a little grated cheddar cheese to melt and combine with the cream cheese, you could have a passable cheese sauce or dip in a pinch.

Cream cheese can be substituted for Velveeta on a 1:1 basis.

6. Edam

Edam cheese has a mild flavor similar to cheddar but with a nutty taste. However, Edam is a very smooth cheese that is great for slicing and adding to sandwiches, grating to add to casseroles and sauces, and is always a great addition to any cheese or charcuterie board. It melts well and can be added to sauces and macaroni, and cheese.

Edam can be substituted for Velveeta on a 1:1 basis.

7. Gouda

Gouda is another cheese that melts well, and even though it is thinner than most cheeses, it is still thicker than Velveeta but can be used as a substitute in most recipes calling for Velveeta. There are many different goudas ranging in flavor from mild to strong. In fact, the word “gouda” means cheese made in the Dutch way. So since Velveeta has a mild flavor, a milder version of gouda will make the best substitute.

Gouda cheese is especially good cubed on a charcuterie board, sliced for sandwiches, chunked or melted as part of pasta dishes, included in casseroles, and melted as a sauce, dip, or fondue.

Because its taste is stronger than Velveeta, if substituting gouda for Velveeta, it is best to thin the melted gouda with a small amount of milk and use slightly less gouda than the amount of Velveeta called for in the recipe.

8. Gruyere

Gruyere Cheese is primarily used on sandwiches, in casseroles, on a cheese board, and as a topping for soup. Gruyere has a stronger and more unusual cheese flavor and would not make the best substitute for Velveeta, but it does melt relatively well and could be used instead of Velveeta in a casserole or as a sauce for vegetables. And, even though the taste is quite different from Velveeta, it could create a unique and delicious flavor in a pan of mac and cheese.

If substituting gruyere for Velveeta, using slightly less than the recipe calls for would be best because of its strong flavor. I would recommend using ¾ cup of gruyere for every cup of Velveeta called for in the recipe.

9. Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is another cheese that would make a good substitute for Velveeta because of its mild taste. Plus, it melts well and makes a tasty addition to all Mexican dishes, such as nachos and quesadillas.

Monterey Jack cheese can be substituted for Velveeta by using a 1:1 ratio.

10. Mozzarella

Mozzarella is another cheese that would make a good substitute for Velveeta because of its mild flavor and its melting properties. It can be used successfully on sandwiches and creates delicious casseroles.

Mozzarella can be substituted on a 1:1 basis for Velveeta.

11. Pepper Jack

Pepper Jack cheese is very similar to Monterrey Jack but contains peppers that give it a spicy kick of flavor. This cheese also melts well and is excellent in Mexican dishes and in sauces and dips.

Pepper Jack can be substituted for Velveeta by using a 1:1 ratio.

12. Swiss Cheese

Swiss Cheese is made by traditional cheese-making processes, but it is one of the cheeses that melts well and does not separate and become watery. This makes swiss cheese one of the better substitutes for Velveeta, especially in casseroles. It does, however, have an entirely different taste because this particular cheese is made by soaking it in brine which gives it a salty and much stronger flavor than other cheeses and is an entirely different taste than Velveeta.

Swiss cheese is much too thick to be successful as a dip, but it can be thinned somewhat by adding milk or an emulsifier, making a good sauce for certain foods or as an ingredient in casseroles. It is also one of the best cheeses for slicing to add to sandwiches or cubing for adding to a cheese tray.

Swiss cheese can be substituted for Velveeta on a 1:1 basis.

Is There A Vegan Substitute For Velveeta?

If your reason for seeking a substitute for Velveeta is due to dietary restrictions such as following a Vegan diet, there are several cheese options on the market today that are Vegan friendly and can be used as a substitute for Velveeta. 

Here are a few of the dairy-free cheeses that are getting rave reviews:

  • The Vevan company is making cheeses that are plant-based, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy free. They are making Vegan versions of Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Cream cheeses that are being made by cheesemakers, and these products not only look like cheese, but they taste and melt like cheese.
  • Nature’s Fynd is making products from Fy, a sustainable protein, and are providing new meat-free and dairy-free products that are perfect for a Vegan diet.

What Is Velveeta?

To better understand just what Velveeta is and how it is made will help to find the best substitutes. Velveeta has been around since 1918, and although it is not technically a cheese made by a traditional cheese-making process, it is a “cheese product,” and the recipe for this cheese product has changed significantly over the years.

Originally, Velveeta was made from real cheese, ground and added to dairy and emulsifiers to give it the creamy texture that we all love. Today, however, the ingredients list for Velveeta contains whey, milk, milk protein concentrate, modified starch, canola oil, and cheese culture. The FDA now requires that Velveeta, because of its low cheese content, can no longer be labeled as a cheese spread but must now be labeled as a cheese product.

How Is Velveeta Made?

When first made back in 1918, Velveeta was made from ground cheese mixed with milk and emulsifiers to make a smooth, creamy texture that we all know and love, and even though it was not made by the traditional cheesemaking process, it contained traditionally-made cheese as an ingredient. 

However, over the years, many changes have taken place so that now the Velveeta that we buy as a shelf-stable product is no longer made from “real cheese” but instead is made from whey, milk, milk protein concentrate, modified starch, canola oil, and cheese culture. 

How Is Velveeta Different From Cheese?

While cheese is made by a traditional method in which a dairy product has certain things added, like salt and enzymes that react on the dairy and result in the cheeses that we enjoy, Velveeta is a processed food made from milk by-products to which other ingredients are added.

Why Is Velveeta Used In Certain Dishes?

Because many cheeses do not heat well and separate and become watery, and even those that do heat well are too thick to use as dips and sauces when heated, Velveeta makes the perfect cheese sauce and dip for such dishes as vegetables with cheese sauce, Rotel dip, and macaroni and cheese.

Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Eating Velveeta?

While Velveeta is high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, it is not necessarily bad for you if eaten in moderation. However, for those who are lactose intolerant, processed cheeses like Velveeta, which contains 9.3% lactose, are higher in lactose than cheeses. American cheese falls in the 0-14.2% lactose range.

The cheeses that are among the lowest in lactose are:

CheeseLactose Range
Muenster0-1.1%
Camembert 0-1.8%
Brie0-2%
Cheddar0-2.1%
Gouda0-2.2%
Blue0.2.5%
Parmesan0-3.2%
Swiss0-3.4%

Why Use A Substitute For Velveeta?

The primary reasons for using a substitute for Velveeta are as follows:

  1. Availability: If we are making a dish that calls for Velveeta and we cannot, for whatever reason, get that package of Velveeta to use is one of the main reasons for using a substitute.
  1. Health Concerns: The other primary reason for using a substitute for Velveeta is to make a healthier dish than when made with Velveeta which, incidentally, is quite high in sodium and fat.
  1. Dietary Restrictions: If we are following a particular eating plan, like the Vegan diet, that doesn’t allow for the use of dairy, then a Vegan-friendly substitute will be sought.

Jelly Grandma’s Version of Queso Dip

(Crockpot Version)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of American Cheese (Use Pepper Jack Cheese for an added kick)
  • Use either: 4-6 ounces of Medium or Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated, or 6-8 ounces of Mild Cheddar Cheese, grated.
  • 1 to 1&½ cups Milk
  • 1 10-ounce can Rotel Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, cooked and drained

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and drain well. (For those groups that like their food spicy, add taco seasoning to the drained ground beef.)
  2. Drain the can of Rotel tomatoes.
  3. Place all ingredients into the crockpot on high and cook for 2 to 3 hours until all the cheeses have melted. (I add 1 cup of milk at this point and check the consistency after all the cheeses have melted before adding the additional ½ cup.)
  4. Stir at least every 45 minutes to 1 hour to combine all ingredients well and prevent cheese from sticking to the sides of the crockpot.
  5. Once all cheeses have melted, and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, reduce heat to the lowest setting until time to serve the Queso dip.

I like to serve this queso dip with a variety of tortilla and corn chips.

Final Thoughts

If you should find yourself in need of a substitute for Velveeta, whether it is because you cannot get your hands on a package for the dish you are planning or whether it is to create a healthier version of your recipe, your choice for a substitute will depend primarily on 4 things: 

  1. The recipe you are making and how a substitute will fit into that recipe; 
  2. How close you want the taste to remain to that of the Velveeta taste; 
  3. The price of the substitutes you are considering; and 
  4. Whether the needed substitute is readily available to you.

The substitutes suggested in this article should give you the ranges in all these categories to allow you to make a decision with which you will be pleased.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss 10 Best Types of Cheese to Put on Nachos.

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