Best Cheese for Melting and when to use them (Ranked)

Why do we all love the ultimate comfort food of melted cheese recipes so much?

Is it the fun way melted cheese gives us the classic cheese stretch or the way melted cheese gives a unique texture and flavor profile that can enhance the overall taste of a dish?

Melted cheese compliments a wide variety of foods, from pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, casseroles, grilled cheese sandwiches, garlic bread, to pizza, burgers and Mexican dishes.

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What makes a cheese great for melting?

Higher fat cheeses with rich and creamier flavors tend to be better for melting also because fat plays a key role in the melting process, helping to create a smooth and even texture.

Best cheeses for melting are higher moisture cheeses with a low melting point. They are made using a technique called pasta filata, which involves stretching and kneading the curds to create a smoother texture.

This process helps to trap in moisture for high-moisture cheeses, which makes the cheese more pliable and easy to melt!

Fresh cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese also have a high moisture content, but they are not good for melting because they are too soft and do not hold their shape when heated. Semi-soft cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, or gouda have a higher moisture content, but have a denser texture and can hold their shape when heated, making them ideal for melting.

What are the best cheeses for melting?

1. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese is versatile good melting cheese adding a creamy tangy flavour to dishes and it comes in many different varieties such as the cheddar in my delicious John Wayne casserole.

John Wayne casserole on a white plate.

Younger cheddars are a more mild cheddar. There is sharp, and and extra sharp white cheddar from England too.

Cheddar cheese can be coated in a red wax to help protect it during storage and to prevent the cheese from drying out.

What is the best melting cheese for Mac ‘n Cheese?

Cheddar cheese is the best melting cheese for Mac ‘n Cheese or Macaroni and Cheese in what many people feel is their ultimate comfort food.

Close up image of macaroni and cheese on a fork.

It is also the best melting cheese for nachos, or nacho cheese sauce, best cheese for cheese fries and cheddar cheese melt recipes!

It is a great choice for melting in broccoli and cheese pasta dishes, cheddar cheese sauce for pasta and vegetables like my Paula Dean’s Corn casserole with cheese.

Cheddar is a must-have in Paula Dean’s Southern green bean casserole, cheese and bacon, or beef pasta bake recipes.

Twice baked potto with cheese, sour cream and bacon on a white plate with a fork.

We love cheddar on cheese burgers!! It’s the best melting cheese for sandwiches, garlic bread and on top of my twice baked potatoes with sour cream.

2. Mozzarella

Mozzarella cheese is a cows milk Italian mild cheese that is a great example of a milk protein melting cheese. Known for its stretchy, gooey, stringy texture, it is an easy-melt cheese that is one of the best melting cheeses for baked pasta recipes.

Melted mozzarella is perfect as best melting cheese for casseroles that have a lot of sauce like my baked ziti recipe and my beef cannelloni with spinach.

Perfect for melted mozzarella cheese dishes like Mac N Cheese mixed cheese blend, tomato pie, lasagna, chicken parmesan, and grilled cheese blend mix.

Texas toast sloppy joes on a white plate with a fork.

Also delicious on cheese stuffed garlic bread, cheese burgers and an amazing melted topping for my Texas toast sloppy Joes!

Mozzarella is also one of the best cheeses for pasta and for melting into sauces, making it another versatile melting cheese.

3. American Cheese

American cheese originated from the United States is made from a blend of cheeses, usually cheddar and colby. It is a popular choice for melting because it has a creamy texture and melts easily and evenly.

What is the best cheese for grilled cheese?

Since it is a quick melt cheese American cheese and is the best cheese to use in grilled cheese to give it that satisfying gooey cheese stringy texture we all love!

Grilled cheese on a white plate.

While the best cheese combos for grilled cheese are cheddar & American, mozzarella & provolone, gouda & harvarti and brie & gruyere!

With Its smooth texture and mild flavor American cheese is also the best cheese for cheese burgers!

A great choice in a variety of dishes like a cheese sauce for and macaroni and cheese, breakfast sandwiches and melted on top of nachos.

Cheddar vs American Cheese?

Cheddar cheese originated in England, depending on its age can have a mild, creamy, tangy flavour or with extra sharp cheddar it will have a harder texture with more sharp, tangy flavor.

Cheddar cheese is also crumbly in texture that can be easily grated or sliced and is often used in Mac n Cheese, nachos and cheddar cheese melts.

American cheese is a processed cheese that is made from a blend of natural cheese, milk, and other ingredients. It has a mild, creamy flavor with a smooth, plastic-like texture that melts easily.

American cheese is often used in cheese burgers, best melting cheese for grilled cheese and American cheese melts.

Cheddar cheese is for those who enjoy a sharp, tangy flavor while American cheese is for those who prefer a milder, creamier flavor that is an easy melting cheese.

4. Gruyere Cheese or Swiss Cheese

Swiss and gruyere cheese are both an Alpine cheese that have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor with gruyere having a stronger flavor and each melt beautifully.

Macaroni and cheese with tomatoes in a blue and white casserole dish.

They are the perfect cheese to create a molten top on French onion soup. Also used in fondue, Swiss cheese Mac ‘n Cheese and it is a great melty cheeses on deli sandwiches like ham & swiss or a ham & potato cheese bake. And my favorite Easter side dish easy cheesy scalloped potatoes!

What is the best cheese for French Onion Soup?

Gruyere cheese is the best as no other cheese adds the essential French bistro flavor to true French onion soup recipes with a golden brown crust.

French onion soup in a bowl wth a blue and white napkin.

Tips for Swiss melted cheese!

When using Swiss cheese for melting, it can have a tendency to become oily or greasy if it’s overcooked or heated too quickly. It is best to melt Swiss cheese slowly over low heat.

5. Gouda Cheese or Smoked Gouda

Does gouda melt?

Gouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese from the Netherlands, with its mild taste, smoky, nutty flavor and smooth and creamy texture. Making it one of the excellent melting cheeses ideal for dishes that require a melting flavorful cheeses.

Grilled cheese sandwich on a blue plate with melty cheese.

Young Gouda has a higher moisture content with one of the low melting points and a softer texture, which allows it to melt more easily and evenly.

Aged Gouda which is a harder and drier cheeses, which makes it more difficult to melt smoothly.

Gouda is terrific for melting on a unique gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, to create a rich creamy sauce for Mac n Cheese, creamy cheese fondue, quiche, cheesy potato dishes (sure to impress any quests), decadent cheese burgers and on pizza.

What is the best cheese for cheesy potato dishes?

Smoked gouda’s smoky, nutty flavor pairs well with the creamy texture of potatoes. It creates a depth of flavor that is complex and rich, that makes you come back for more. Our favourite Thanksgiving holiday side dish!!

Smoked gouda au gratin potatoes in a white casserole dish with a wooden spoon.

5. Provolone Cheese

Provolone cheese is a semi-hard Italian cow’s milk cheese that is known for its sharp and delicious tangy flavor. Provolone cheese is one of our favorite cheeses, and one of the good melters with a good cheese stretch!

What is the best cheese for cheese steak?

Sliced provolone from the deli is the best cheese melted on a cheese steak. Simple delicious melted on meatball subs, an Italian sausage hoagie or really melted on top of sandwiches with any deli meat.

It is also terrific on baked pasta dishes, chicken cutlet recipes, eggplant parmesan, grilled meat, pizza or grilled cheese and even fondue!

Steak and cheese sandwich with melted provolone cheese.

Provolone vs Swiss?

Provolone and Swiss cheese are great options for melting on sandwiches, deli meat, pizza and baked dishes but of course they have different flavors and textures.

Provolone is an Italian cheese that is semi-hard with a mild, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of smokiness.

Swiss cheese is a semi-soft Alpine cheese with distinctive holes or eyes. It has a mild, nutty flavor with a slightly sweet taste.

7. Brie Cheese

This classic French cheese is soft and creamy and melts beautifully when heated. It’s a great choice for one of the best melting creamy cheeses in a melted cheese wheel recipe like a baked brie dish with walnuts and sweet fruit.

Melted baked brie in a cast iron skillet.

Brie cheese is also terrific in a grilled cheese brie, brie and tomato soup and for melting on crackers or bread and of course baked brie recipes!

What does Brie cheese taste like?

The flavor of Brie can vary depending on the age and ripeness of the cheese, but it has a mild, buttery flavor with a slightly earthy, nutty taste. As it ages, Brie can develop a stronger flavor with a slightly pungent aroma.

Melted brie cheese on a white board.

Why won’t my brie cheese melt?

It is essential to allow the wheel of brie cheese to sit at room temperature for at least twenty minutes before cooking allowing it to melt more evenly.

8. Fontina Cheese

Fontina cheese is an Italian cheese made from cows milk. Fontina cheese taste is defined as having a buttery, nutty flavor with a smooth and creamy texture, one of the great flavorful cheeses.

One of the best melting cheeses it is great for use in creamy pasta dishes or sauces, quiches, frittatas, grilled sandwiches, Mac ‘n Cheese and baked fortina dish.

Fontina mac and cheese in a small casserole dish with a fork.

What is a substitute for fontina cheese?

Sometimes fontina is not available at home or the grocery store for a creamy cheese melting recipe. These cheeses are great substitutes for fontina cheese:

Gouda has a similar nutty flavor and creamy texture that melts well and is similar to fontina cheese.

Havarti has a mild buttery flavor and a soft texture that also good for melting also a good fontina substitute.

Provolone has a mild tangy flavor that is a good option for a melting cheese recipe.

Gruyere has a nutty slight sweet flavor that is a good melting cheese.

9. Raclette Cheese

Raclette cheese is a semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland known for its distinctive flavor and its ability to melt smoothly.

Raclette cheese melting is a very popular in cheese fondue melting pot recipes, casserole and pasta dishes, grilled cheese, grilled meats, potatoes, pizza and sandwiches.

Melted cheese in a raceltte.

10. Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey Jack is a firm cheese and one of the best cheeses for melting due to its mild, creamy flavor and its ability to melt quickly and evenly.

Monterey Jack is one of the best cheeses to melt in nachos, quesadillas, cheesy taco pasta bake, casseroles, vegetable bakes and cheese dips.

Pepper jack cheese is made by combining Monterey Jack cheese with spicy chili peppers, like jalapenos or habaneros, great for Tex-Mex recipes.

Monterey Jack vs Mozzarella – What’s the difference?

Monterey Jack cheese is a semi-hard cheese that originates from the Monterey region of California. It has a mild, buttery flavor and a creamy texture making it a good melting cheese.

Monterey Jack cheese is often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes such as nachos, tacos, and quesadillas, as well as in grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers.

Mozzarella cheese is a soft, fresh Italian cheese with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It has a stringy, stretchy gooey texture when melted used in Italian recipes like pizza, lasagna, garlic bread and baked pasta with sauce.

11. Havarti Cheese

Melted havarti cheese on a slice of bread.

Havarti is a Danish cheese, that is an excellent cheese for melting due to its smooth, buttery texture and mild, creamy flavor similar to gouda.

Havarti is terrific as a melty cheese in grilled cheese sandwiches, omelets, quiches, quesadillas and pasta dishes like havarti macaroni and cheese.

10. Colby Cheese

Colby cheese is a firm cheese from Colby, Wisconsin in the United States which has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Colby is a great cheese for melting because it has a high moisture content.

Nachos in a bowl.

Colby is a terrific cheese for melting on macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos, quesadillas and casseroles.

13. Blue Cheese and Gorgonzola Cheese

What is the difference between blue cheese and gorgonzola cheese?

Blue cheese pasta in a white bowl with a fork to the side.

Blue cheese and Gorgonzola are both types of blue-veined cheeses. Blue cheese is a general term for any cheese can be made in the United States, England, France, and Italy. Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese that is specifically made in Italy.

Blue cheese has a sharp, tangy, pungent flavour that is crumbly with a creamy texture while gorgonzola has a slightly milder flavor that is softer and creamier.

They are both cheese that melt well for adding a bold flavor to blue cheese pasta recipes, burgers, quiches, sandwiches and blue cheese sauces.

Blue Cheese will literally melt like butter with its high fat content so its best to use a low heat to prevent it from burning or becoming too pungent.

14. Taleggio Cheese

Taleggio cheese melted in macaroni and cheese in a cast iron skillet.

Taleggio cheese is a semi-soft cows milk, washed-rind cheese that is originally from the Lombardy region of Italy. It has a pungent aroma and a fruity, tangy, buttery flavor that becomes more pronounced as the cheese ages.

Taleggio cheese is best used in combination with other melting cheeses, such as mozzarella or fontina, to help create a smooth, creamy texture for use in pasta recipes like Mac n Cheese, grilled cheese, quiches, tarts and pizza.

What is a taleggio cheese substitute?

Brie has a soft creamy similar texture and a mild buttery flavor. Gorgonzola an Italian blue cheese has a creamy texture and a similar pungency to taleggio cheese.

15. Muenster Cheese

What does Muenster cheese taste like?

Muenster cheese is a semi-soft cheese that originated from the French region of Alsace then emigrated to the Wisconsin cheese makers in the late 1800’s . Typically made from cow’s milk and has a mild, buttery flavor, smooth and creamy texture with a slightly tangy finish.

Overall, Muenster is excellent for melting due to its high moisture content and creamy texture which make especially perfect where a melted creamy cheese is required.

Meunster cheese melted in a fondue pot.

Great in a variety of recipes that require melted cheese including cheese fondue melting pot, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, casseroles, and pizza.

16. Oaxaca Cheese

What is the best Mexican cheese for melting?

Oaxaca cheese is a semi-soft mild Mexican cheese that is often used in Mexican cuisine for its excellent melting properties.

Another Mexican cheese Queso fresco, is one of the fresh cheeses, and acid-set cheeses that also has a high-moisture content, which means it does not melt well. For best results and a better melt it is a good idea to use oaxaca cheese instead.

Oaxaca cheese melted in a bowl with bread on the side.

Oaxaca cheese melting is used in Mexican dishes such as quesadillas, chiles rellenos, and the best cheese for cheese enchiladas.

17. Velveeta Cheese

Velveeta cheese is a processed cheese product that is specifically designed to melt easily and smoothly. It does not have a custard-like texture when melted, it has a more of a creamy or velvety texture hence its name.

It is a great alternative melting cheese for velveeta macaroni and cheese, making cheese sauces, dips, and soups.

Velveeta mac and cheese in a bowl.

What is the best way to melt velveeta cheese?

  1. Cut the cheese into small pieces or cubes: To help the cheese melt more evenly.
  2. Use low heat not high heat: Velveeta cheese can scorch or burn easily, so it’s best to melt it over low heat, you can use a double boiler.
  3. Add liquid: Adding a small amount of milk or cream to the cheese can help it melt more smoothly. Start with a small amount add extra milk or cream as needed to reach your desired consistency.
  4. Stir frequently: Stirring the cheese constantly as it melts can help it to melt evenly and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Avoid overcooking: Velveeta cheese can become tough or rubbery if it is cooked for too long.

Velveeta cheese can be a great addition for melting on burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas and hamburger helper recipes.

What is the best vegan cheese for melting?

18. Shredded Vegetarian Cheese

Close up image of shredded vegan cheese.

One of the most challenging substitutes in vegetarian cooking was finding a suitable vegan good melting cheese, since most vegetarian cheeses do not melt very well as they lack casein proteins the makes cheese melt.

It is a great thing that has changed now that vegan cheese made from a network of proteins and fats that are plant-based are able to produce vegan cheddar, gouda, parmesan, mozzarella.

They are able to trap and retain moisture when heated and can be used in vegan recipes that require good melting cheeses.

Shredded vegetarian cheese like Daiya’s brand often in a mozzarella or mixed cheddar variety melts very well and are great for vegetarian based recipes.

It is the best vegan cheese for Mac n Cheese, best vegan cheese for grilled cheese, pizza, garlic bread and vegetarian style nachos – really any vegetarian recipe that requires a melted cheese!

What is the best cheese for tuna melt?

Tuna melt on a wooden board.

There is no one best melting cheese for a best tuna melt as there are several types of cheese that melt well and compliment the flavor of the tuna without overpowering it.

  1. Cheddar Cheese – Cheddar is a classic choice for a tuna melt, as it has a mild, slightly sharp flavor and melts easily providing a nice contrast in texture. We love tuna cheddar cheese melts!!
  2. Swiss Cheese – Swiss melted cheese has a mild, nutty flavor that complements the tuna well.
  3. Provolone Cheese – Provolone cheese is another good choice for a tuna melt, as it has a mild, slightly sweet flavor adding a nice creaminess.
  4. Gouda Cheese – Smoked gouda is an excellent choice for a tuna melt, as its smoky flavor pairs well with the savory flavor of the tuna.

Personal preference always comes into choosing a good melting cheese, try this tuna melt recipe to help find your favorite!

What is the best melting cheese for sauce?

When making a cheese sauce choose a cheese that melts smoothly and evenly without separating or clumping.

Melted cheese sauce in a saucepan with a wire whisk.
  1. Cheddar: This popular cheese has a rich, tangy flavor and melts smoothly, making it a great choice for macaroni and cheese, nachos, and other cheesy sauces.
  2. Gouda: This semi-hard cheese has a creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with pasta and vegetables.
  3. Fontina: This Italian cheese has a buttery, nutty flavor and a smooth, creamy texture that melts beautifully, making it a great choice for creamy pasta sauces.
  4. Monterey Jack: This mild, creamy cheese melts quickly and smoothly, making it a popular choice for Mexican dishes such as quesadillas and enchiladas.
  5. Mozzarella: This soft Italian stretchy cheese that melts easily and beautifully in sauces.
  6. Velveeta: With a creamy texture and mild, cheesy flavor, and it melts easily, making it a great option for cheese sauces

How to melt cheese?

How to melt shredded cheese or sliced cheese

Melting cheeses is a simple process, but needs to be done correctly to avoid burning or clumping of the cheese.

  1. Shred or slice the cheese into small, even pieces. This will help the cheese melt more evenly.
  2. Best method for melting cheese is on the stovetop, in the oven, or in the microwave.
  3. If you’re melting cheese on the stovetop, use a nonstick pan or a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat the pan over low to medium heat adding the cheese.
  4. Stir the cheese constantly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until it starts to melt. Do not eave the cheese unattended as it may burn.
  5. If you’re melting cheese in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cheese in a heatproof dish and bake for 5-10 minutes or until melted and bubbly.
  6. If you’re melting cheese in the microwave, place the cheese in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high in 30-second increments, stirring after each interval, until the cheese is melted and smooth.
  7. Once the cheese is melted, use it immediately in your recipe or serve according to your needs.

Some cheeses melt better than others, so you may need to experiment.

Pizza image close up with melted cheese.

What is cheese melting point?

The melting point of cheese varies as they all have different melting points depending on their composition, moisture content, cooking method and size or shape of the cheese. Melting point of classic cheddar cheese and others:

  1. Mozzarella – 130-140°F
  2. Cheddar – 150-160°F
  3. Swiss – 120-130°F
  4. Gouda – 130-140°F
  5. Brie – 90-100°F
  6. Provolone – 150-160°F
  7. Blue cheese – 100-110°F

Melting cheese slowly over low heat will help ensure that it melts evenly and does not burn or get stringy.

Why is my cheese not melting?

There are several reasons why cheese may not be melting properly. Here are some possible reasons:

  1. Dry cheese or moisture content: If the cheese is too dry, it will not melt properly. Cheese should be moist and high in fat for best melting results.
  2. Acidic ingredients: Cheese will not melt well in the presence of acidic ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or tomatoes, add them after the cheese has melted.
  3. Too much cheese: Using too much cheese can cause it to clump and not melt properly. Use a moderate amount of cheese and make sure it is evenly distributed.
  4. Wrong cheese: Some different cheeses are not good for melting like hard, aged cheeses such as Parmigiano reggiano or Pecorino Romano. Fresher cheese like cottage cheese or cream cheese that have a really high moisture content require another cheese to help them melt well. Use cheeses recomended in this quide.
  5. Pre-shredded cheese: They may contain anti-caking agents that can prevent it from melting properly. I find grating real cheese is the best for melting.
  6. Let the cheese rest: Allowing cheese to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature helps the casein protein temper.

Let’s Wrap it Up!

By following these tips and selecting the right cheeses, you can achieve the perfect melt and enhance the overall taste of your dish. Whether you’re making a classic grilled cheese sandwich, a hearty casserole, or a delicious pizza, the right cheese can make all the difference in creating a satisfying and delicious meal.

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