Cheesesteaks are a classic sandwich that typically features thinly sliced ribeye steak topped with delicious melty cheese. While this popular Philadelphia sandwich is super tasty in pretty much any form, there’s some debate on which type of cheese is best.
Slices White American and provolone are known to be the best and most popular choices for Philly Cheesesteaks. Many cheesesteak purists say that White American is the way to go for an authentic experience, while many prefer the taste of provolone.
In my opinion, this is the best cheese for a Philly. It can be found on the Amazon market and is specifically designed for melting.
Of course, this is all a matter of taste, but here are ten choices that are worth giving a whirl. Each adds its own twist but don’t worry if you can’t decide right now. My advice is to queue them up and try them all!
The 10 Best Types of Cheese for Cheesesteaks
I remember the first time I visited Philadelphia and ate at the famous Tony Luke’s. I never knew a sandwich could taste that could. Since then, I have tried just about every type of cheese under the sun, trying to find that perfect taste. My verdict? They are all equally good, just different!
Note: For your convenience, all of the images in this article come from the Amazon Grocery. Feel free to click them to see the listing to have my recommended cheese choices delivered to your door!
1. White American Cheese
Many people exclusively feature American cheese on their cheesesteaks. While this seems quite plain compared to other options, the choice is a purposeful one. American cheese is a little salty, super creamy when melted, and the yellow version of the cheese has a little tang to it.
Alternatively, there is also yellow American cheese, which has a little more punch than its white counterpart. Even so, it still offers a unique flavor when paired with the steak that is worth trying out.
Provolone is an excellent cheese choice for a Philly. It typically comes in two varieties, regular or smoked. Both offer a beautifully creamy, melty experience, which is an absolute necessity atop the steak.
The smoked version of provolone provides a deep, smoky flavor that is present in this delicious white cheese. White cheeses tend to pair best with the ribeye because their slightly milder flavor enhances the overall sandwich.
Moreover, provolone is one of the few white kinds of cheese that can come in a “sharp” option. Sharp cheeses pack a little more punch behind their flavor profiles. Some deli counters have excellent sharp provolone to pick from!
3. Cheez Whiz
Philadelphians will argue that some of the city’s tastiest cheesesteaks come from the stands that slap Cheez Whiz on them. This is also the version of the sandwich most dear to my heart.
What exactly is Cheez Whiz? It is a processed cheese product that comes in a spreadable form in a glass jar or a spray can. When melted, it oozes quite nicely over the meat.
However, the taste of this cheese is usually not loved by everyone. It has a sharpness to it, and perhaps the flavor in it really comes from the Worcestershire sauce in its ingredient list. It’s on this list because it is a traditional choice for Philadelphians who swear by its taste paired with the meaty sub. I tend to agree with them.
By the way, it’s a popular misconception that Cheez Whiz is the authentic way that a cheesesteak is made in Philadelphia. It was actually only implemented by busy restaurateurs to speed up the sandwich-making process. Quicker prep means more sales.
Most people associate mozzarella with Italian pasta dishes. However, it can be a scrumptious option atop juicy, hot ribeye.
The ideal type of mozzarella to use for these sandwiches would be the low moisture, whole milk shredded variety. This type melts easier, especially when shredded. Fresh mozzarella has a great texture and taste; however, it just doesn’t melt like classic low-moisture mozzarella.
Another great thing about this cheese choice is that it can also come in a smoked variety like provolone. There is something truly divine about that smokey undertone when combined with this classic sub!
Everything is better with cheddar, we all know this. It’s used on mac and cheese, grilled cheese, the list could literally go on and on.
Even so, while cheddar is a less conventional pick for a cheesesteak, it can hold its own on this list. Mild yellow cheddar or sharp cheddar can be awesome to try, but the real winner on this sandwich is sharp white cheddar.
Once again, white cheeses and ribeye pair perfectly like chocolate and peanut butter. They were literally made for each other. Sharp white cheddar adds a nice cheesy tang to the meat. It can be purchased pre-shredded; however, getting a thick block and shredding it manually can add some freshness. As they say, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!
6. Baby Swiss
Baby swiss is a velvetier choice over standard swiss cheese. It still has a hint of that swiss tang but is generally a little milder in taste, making it an excellent topping on a Philly. Its soft white color, velvet melty texture, and slightly sweet taste really can complement the saltiness of these sandwiches.
If you like swiss, imagine it oozing onto your hand as you close your eyes and bite into an ooey-gooey cheesesteak topped with it. Okay, now I’m so hungry I almost need to stop writing and run to the kitchen.
Gouda is a cheese that most people probably wouldn’t consider for a cheesesteak. However, it can run with the others on the list with its melt-in-your-mouth buttery taste.
As you know, Gouda is a pale yellow cheese that comes with an outer rind. Much like fontina, it must be removed from its rind to harvest its creamy center. With only a little bit of heat, gouda can pair quite well with the ribeye in these sandwiches. It is known for its lush texture that has subtle nutty hints of flavor. It is can also come in a sharp variety that can really add a bite pleasant to the sandwich.
Now, let’s talk about a few kinds of cheese some of you may not have even heard of, but that can make you a hit as a host if you serve them up at your next get-together!
Typically, gruyere is found on a cheese board but is known for its ability to melt beautifully. It is often made into cheese sauces for pasta, which makes it perfect for this type of sandwich as well.
This particular kind of cheese has notes of nuttiness, sweetness, and a little bit of an earthy backdrop. When meshed with the traditional ingredients on a Philly sub, like onions, peppers, and ribeye, it is a match made in heaven.
This “fancier” cheese proves that it is perfect in just about any dish!
Ready for a walk on the wild side?
For sandwich makers who are a little more daring, this pungent cheese provides a rich, creamy texture to any cheesesteak. It is a semi-hard cheese that comes thickly sliced and is meant to be prepared in a certain way.
The cheese is left whole and melted as-is so that the melted part can be scraped onto the dish that it is complementing. It is considered an intense variety of Swiss, but it is super creamy when melted and is a cheese lover’s dream! A Philly cheesesteak that has a slab of this gooey cheese on top would be bite after bite of savory deliciousness.
For those looking to dress up their cheesesteaks a little bit, fontina is a unique choice.
Fontina is a whitish-yellow cheese with a bit of added kick, some nuttiness and fruitiness, and a buttery back note of flavor. When removed from the rind and melted down, it has just the right flavor profile to fit into a cheesesteak. Moreover, cheeses like this one and gruyere make these classic sandwiches feel a little more out-of-the-box.
Fontina is one of the few rind kinds of cheese that can be melted into a creamy pool of cheesy goodness.
I hope this list has inspired you on which type of cheese to melt over your next Philly. I just can’t stand it anymore. I am headed to the grocery to pick up the ingredients I need to make a Philly. Hope to see you there!
For more, don’t miss 8 Most Suitable Substitutes for White American Cheese.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.