What's The Difference: Cheddar Cheese Vs. Quick-Melting Cheese

Which one do you like better?

IMAGE Shutterstock
ILLUSTRATOR Louis Miguel Talao

What do nachos, grilled sandwiches, and a simple and creamy macaroni pasta all have in common that makes each dish super delicious and irresistible? Cheese! It is what it's all about when you talk about the gooey, and deliciously creamy dairy product made from fresh milk. 

Did you know that Cheddar is a town in England? The town became famous for its "cheddaring" process of making cheese. The process transforms the curds from milk into a kind of cheese that lasts longer than other cheese. This process is all about layering the formed curds on top of one another, turning and piling the formed curds, until the curds turn into one big mass and most of the liquid (the whey) has been squeezed out. This is cheddaring.

The solid curds are then cut and salted to draw out even more moisture and also flavor the resulting cheese. This is the base cheese that many kinds of real Cheddar cheese are made. 

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This is different from quick-melting cheese, the melty cheese that many of us grew up with. This is the cheese we used for many of our Italian-inspired dishes that required a cheese that would melt. Not all processed cheese melts easily. In fact, many melty processed cheese are labeled as "cheddar", too. Both quick-melting cheese and real cheddar cheese melt well when heated.

So, what makes them different? 

Cheddar cheese is an English cheese.
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1 Quick-melting cheese is processed cheese. Cheddar cheese is a natural cheese. 

Did you know that quick-melting cheese is a cheese created to easily melt? This means that it can be made from any kind of cheese since its main purpose is to melt well. It is labeled this to distinguish it from the other processed kinds of cheese that don't melt quite as easily. Quick-melting cheese has ingredients such as flavorings and emulsifiers that are not added to more naturally-made cheese. 

Cheddar cheese (the real stuff, not processed "cheddar" cheese) on the other hand is what is considered a natural cheese. This means it contains fresh milk, salt, a coagulating agent, and usually nothing else. If the color of the cheese is more yellow-orange, it may contain annatto or atsuete oil which is added just to enhance the color of the cheese and make it more appetizing. It adds little to no flavor at all and is considered a natural food coloring. 

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Quick-melting cheese was made to easily melt, even at room temperature.
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2 Quick-melting cheese melts at room temperature. Cheddar cheese needs more heat. 

There's a good reason why quick-melting cheese is so hard to grate! It's because you don't have to grate it. This cheese was made to melt easily, even under a little heat such as our room temperature, so even if you don't have a grater, you can break up the cheese into small pieces and still be able to cover a layer of lasagna pasta with the creamy cheese. This ability to melt even easier and faster with just a little bit of heat is the big difference between this and other processed cheese. 

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Cheddar cheese is a cheese that melts but it's not as melty as quick-melting cheese. It's much easier to work with since slicing it is easy. In fact, you can grate room temp Cheddar cheese. (Yay, right?) This is what makes it great for grilled cheese sandwiches! 

Use quick-melting cheese on top of lasagna for an extra creamy layer on top!
Photo by Roselle Miranda
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3 Quick-melting cheese is extra creamy than Cheddar cheese. 

For those of us that grew up on quick-melting cheese, you know what it tastes likes: it's salty like cheese but also silky creamy in both taste and texture. It looks similar to a cheese spread when heated! Cheddar cheese is not as creamy as quick-melting cheese but instead, it's more mellow in taste, and it has a nutty flavor to it, too! 

Whatever cheese you choose, the good news is that you can substitute either for any dish that needs a cheese that tastes delicious and melts under the heat. 

*** 

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