How To Make Homemade “American” Cheese

homemade american cheese

I have made my own yogurt, and I’ve made my own butter….but I have never attempted to make my own cheese. It’s been on “my list” of things I want to eventually try, but fairly far down because I figured it was pretty complicated. That was until I ran across a recipe for American Cheese that sounded quite easy! Besides, I was really craving a good grilled cheese sandwich…so I decided to go for it.


processed cheese

I don’t know about you, but when I think of “American Cheese” I think of something like Kraft Singles. But Kraft Singles aren’t really “cheese”…they are a “pasteurized prepared cheese product” and contain a highly processed mixture of ingredients such as water, milk, milkfat, milk protein, whey, food coloring, flavorings, and emulsifiers.

Doesn’t sound very appetizing does it? So how come they are so dang delicious in a grilled sandwich or melted over a cheeseburger? I’ll tell you why…because American cheese has great MELTABILITY! (completely made up word there.)

Luckily there is a way to make your own “processed cheese” with just a few pantry items and some “real” cheese thrown in that is every bit as gooey delicious as its Kraft counterpart but much better for you.


homemade american cheese

Homemade American Cheese

Adapted from a recipe at America’s Test Kitchen

Makes 1 pound

Homemade “American” Cheese


  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 12 ounces Colby cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk


homemade american cheese

Line 5 x 4-inch disposable aluminum loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing excess to hang over sides. (I only had a bread loaf pan available, so I ended up doubling the recipe and using that.)


homemade american cheese

Mix water and gelatin in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.


homemade american cheese

Combine cheese, milk powder, salt, and cream of tartar in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until combined.


homemade american cheese

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat, then stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.


homemade american cheese


homemade american cheese

With the food processor running, slowly add hot milk mixture to cheese mixture until smooth, about 1 – 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.


homemade american cheese


homemade american cheese

Immediately transfer cheese mixture to prepared pan. Wrap tightly and chill at least 3 hours.


homemade american cheese

Then when you unwrap it a few hours later……..


homemade american cheese

…….get ready for the best grilled cheese sandwich of your life!


homemade american cheese

By the way….the cheese can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 month.


homemade american cheese

I can’t wait to make it again and add some coarse ground black pepper….or maybe some jalapenos! :-)


Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter6Pin on Pinterest5,024Google+0

Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Jillee's FREE email newsletter and receive more great tips and ideas!



  1. Jaunnette says

    Jillee, do you think this would work with no food processor, and any suggestions on how I might go about it?

      • CTY says

        I have not made this recipe before and am only talking in theory at this point.
        If you don’t have a food processor or blender–why not try buying a super fine shredded Colby (or hand shredded on a fine grate) and mixing everything up in a free standing mixer like Kitchen Aid. I would avoid the whisk paddle & go with the batter paddle.

      • Jaunnette says

        CTY, I would, IF ONLY I had a free standing mixer! It’s on my list of WANT, right along with a food processor. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and break out the blender, see if I can’t turn out something edible.

      • Jaunnette says

        Well! I finally got around to trying this with a blender, and it worked! At least, I think it did, my cheese hasn’t had time to chill, but it tasted wonderful and got all nice and mixed together. I couldn’t really “blend” the dry ingredients with the cheese, so just ended up shaking it up together in the blender before adding my hot milk and gelatin. I followed your recipe exactly except I used 2% (didn’t have whole thawed out). My son is not a big fan of the “melty” block cheeses, but he was pretty impressed with this.

    • Kandy says

      I have done this on the stove and the trick is you need to whisk it and don’t have it on high. You want to just get the cheese to melt and combine with the liquids. I have only used cheddar too, but it still works good.

  2. Riana says

    Since we don’t get Colby cheese in South Africa, I’m going to try this with Cheddar or Gouda. I miss that meltable cheese :-) Thank you!

    • Almarie says

      I was wondering what to use in the place of Colby cheese. I just love melted cheese, on anything.

  3. Terri S says

    yippee!! i stopped buying ‘plastic’ cheese products years ago, but sure have missed that american grilled cheese—this is terrific! now, where do i find whole milk powder? i’ve only seen the non-fat at the grocery store.
    i just heard about using mayo to grill the sandwich instead of butter last month in janell’s “saving you dinero” blog–we tried it and love it–it doesn’t add a mayo taste, just a richness that’s hard to describe–it’s delicious!
    thanks, jillee.

    • Debbe says

      Jillee said she used the nonfat and it worked jsut fine.

      “1 tablespoon nonfat powdered milk (recipe called for WHOLE fat powdered milk but this is what I had on hand and it worked just fine)”

    • Rosemarie says

      I too stopped using plastic chees many years ago, it just so awful and full of junk.
      this looks so yummy, I need to try it, I think grilled cheese is on the menu for today.

      Thank you Jill, you must know we appreciate al the things you fond for us. I just love all the soaps and the orange cleaner etc etc etc…

    • Ellen says

      We’ve been using mayo instead of butter or margarine on grilled sandwiches for years. Spread it as thinly as possible. We also sprinkle it lightly with Cajun blend seasoning before grilling and it adds tons of flavor but its not hot or spicy. We call it a “Deli-Grill”.

  4. Kathy Simkins says

    You might try a place that sells food storage and survival items. I think Morning Moo and some of the other dried milk products have a higher fat content than what you typically get in the grocery store. I wonder how evaporated milk would work in this recipe? I will have to try it. This looks so much easier to make than the cheddar cheese my mother in law used to make. Probably tastes much better, too. Wouldn’t rennet work as well in getting the cheese to set up as the Real cheese?

  5. Shari says

    Instead of the Colby cheese, you might try a “Mexican” blend, or a Pepper Jack, for that little kick of jalapeno….