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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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