Home Articles Best Cheese for Philly Cheesesteaks (10 Great Options)

Best Cheese for Philly Cheesesteaks (10 Great Options)

The best cheeses for Philly cheesesteaks range from provolone to American to cheddar. And of course, let’s not forget that Cheez Whiz also makes for a delectable sandwich!

While beef is the leading man of this delicacy, cheese is the real showstopper.

Homemade Philly Cheesesteak with Bell Peppers and Cheese

Get ready to take your tastebuds on a sizzling journey through the streets of Philadelphia. As always, the battle of the best cheese for Philly cheesesteaks rages on.

You honestly can’t go wrong with any of these delicious cheeses!

Cheese Selection Criteria 

Picking the right cheese for a Philly cheesesteak is crucial. It can make or break the experience. The cheese’s texture, melt potential, and flavor it brings all matter.

First off, there’s the texture. Cheese should be smooth and creamy. It should spread evenly like a blanket.

Next, think about flavor. Cheese needs to be a team player and enhance the beef without stealing the limelight. Mild cheese is your friend. It lends that extra taste dimension without overpowering the beef.

Now, let’s talk melt-ability. It’s the cheese’s job to smoothly coat the steak, distributing itself evenly. If it doesn’t melt right, you’re left with clumps, and nobody wants a patchy cheesesteak.

Finally, are you a traditionalist or a risk-taker? Classics like Provolone, Cheez Whiz, and American cheese have stood the test of time. But you can also experiment with non-traditional picks like Swiss, Pepper Jack, or Gouda for a twist.

Best Cheese for Philly Cheesesteaks

1. Provolone

Whole and Slice Provolone Cheese on Table

Provolone is a go-to cheese for a classic Philly cheesesteak. This Italian cheese has a mild flavor and a stellar melting quality. Melty provolone hugs the onions and peppers, adding a touch of lusciousness to the sandwich.

It’s a semi-hard cheese, so you can easily grate or shave it onto your cheesesteak. You can also place provolone slices atop your steak instead.

Provolone comes in two varieties: regular and smoked. Both are wonderfully melty. But smoked provolone adds a smoky flavor that pairs well with steak.

And if you love a flavor punch, sharp aged provolone varieties won’t disappoint! 

2. Cheez Whiz

A Bottle of Cheez Whiz on White Background

Some may argue this next item isn’t real cheese. They’d be right. But who cares? Cheez Whiz for the win!

True, it’s not actually cheese. But its smooth, creamy texture and unique tangy zing pair incredibly with steak. Cheez Whiz is a processed cheese spread that blankets steak like a warm, cheesy hug when melted.

Fast-paced restaurant owners introduced it to streamline the sandwich-making process. More speed equals more sales!

3. American Cheese

Six Slices of American Cheese on a Parchment Paper

Up next is American cheese, another processed player in the Philly cheesesteak game. American cheese was born in the early 1910s from a blend of cheeses like Colby and cheddar. It comes in handy slices perfect for burgers and sandwiches.

It shines when it melts. It turns into a creamy, flavorful wonder, enhancing anything it touches, including pasta and pizzas.

You can choose between white or yellow American cheese. The white variant is milder, while the yellow is tangier. Both versions blend well with steak.

4. Cheddar 

Whole and Grated Cheddar Cheese on a Parchment Paper

Ah, cheddar, the quintessential cheese. This hard, natural cheese is available in off-white or orange hues. Both offer a sharp, tangy, and distinctly salty taste.

The flavor profile of cheddar changes with age. A young cheddar tends to be milder. An aged one, particularly those matured for at least 15 months, boasts a pungent tang.

Now, cheddar might not be your go-to choice for a cheesesteak, but don’t count it out just yet. Sharp white cheddar, in particular, goes perfectly well with ribeye. It lends a delightful cheesy tang to the meat. It creates a depth of flavor that’s simply irresistible. Be mindful, though, as the robust flavor of this cheese can sometimes dominate the meat. 

5. Swiss Cheese

Slices of Swiss Cheese on a Wooden Cutting Board

Swiss cheese stands out with its unique round shape speckled with holes, or ‘eyes.’ These are formed due to the release of carbon dioxide during the manufacturing process.

With its delicious nutty and salty flavor, Swiss cheese is perfect for a Philly.

It’s milder than Cheez Whiz or American cheese, allowing the meat’s flavors to take center stage. The creaminess it adds makes the cheesesteak feel even more indulgent.

Pro-tip: The larger the holes, the more flavorful the cheese is.

6. Monterey Jack

Four Slices of Monterey Jack Cheese on a Wooden Table

Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese crafted from cow’s milk. It has a delicate balance of saltiness and subtle sweetness.

Unlike Cheez Whiz and American cheese, Monterey Jack is an authentic, natural cheese. It’s mainly known for its excellent melting properties. It coats steak and caramelized onions well, adding an exquisite layer of flavor to your Philly.

It comes with an age-related flavor spectrum. Younger ones add a mild, creamy, and subtly salty note without overpowering the meat. Matured ones pack stronger flavors, providing a delightful contrast to the meaty filling.

But the joy of Monterey Jack doesn’t end there! Varieties like Pepper Jack, Dry Jack, and Colby Jack offer nuanced flavors.

7. Mozzarella

Slices of Mozzarella Cheese with Herbs and Spices on a Wooden Cutting Board

Mozzarella on a steak sandwich? It’s unconventional, sure, but surprisingly delightful, believe me!

This Southern Italian cheese boasts a distinctively soft texture due to its high moisture content. Unlike Cheez Whiz or American cheese, mozzarella won’t completely melt and blanket the meat. 

However, it contributes a unique saltiness and creaminess. It enhances the dish while allowing the steak’s rich flavors and spices to take center stage.

Tip: If you’re using mozzarella in a Philly, skip the fresh variety. Despite being delicious, it doesn’t melt well. Opt instead for shredded whole milk, low-moisture mozzarella for that perfect texture. 

8. Gouda

Two Chunks of Gouda Cheese with Thyme on a Wooden Cutting Board

You wouldn’t usually think of Gouda when choosing cheese for a cheesesteak, but it’s worth considering. That buttery taste when it melts is pure bliss.

Gouda is recognized by its pale yellow hue and outer rind. It offers a delightfully creamy core once the rind is removed. 

If you’re after an unexpected punch, try sharp Gouda. It adds a wonderful bite.

9. Fontina 

Slices of Fontina Cheese and Thyme on a Wooden Cutting Board

Fontina is another unconventional choice, but it offers an innovative twist to the classic cheesesteak. 

It’s an off-white cheese with a beautiful combination of flavors. You’ll detect a hint of nuttiness, fruitiness, and buttery goodness. Once the cheese is melted, it provides the perfect texture for a cheesesteak.

It’s one of those rare cheeses that transform into a creamy, dreamy pool of cheese upon melting. 

10. Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese and Thyme on a Parchment   Paper

Wrapping up this list, we’re diving into uncharted territory with blue cheese. It’s indeed a bit of a wildcard for a cheesesteak!

Blue cheese can transform your Philly just like it can elevate a simple cheeseburger. It’s renowned for its bold, tangy flavor and crumbly texture. Though not melty, it imparts your sandwich an unmatched richness and depth. 

If you’re all for a unique, flavor-packed experience, blue cheese might be your new cheesesteak champion!

Best Cheese for Philly Cheesesteaks (10 Great Options)

From cheddar to provolone to American, this list of the best cheese for Philly cheesesteaks is full of tasty winners!


  • Provolone

  • Cheez Whiz

  • American Cheese

  • Cheddar

  • Swiss Cheese

  • Monterey Jack

  • Mozzarella

  • Gouda

  • Fontina

  • Blue Cheese


  • Select your favorite cheese.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a Philly cheesesteak in 30 minutes or less!
Best Cheese for Philly Cheesesteaks

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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