The Philly Cheesesteak – a culinary symbol of Philadelphia’s rich food culture – is much more than just a sandwich. It’s an experience, a combination of textures and tastes, all coming together in an orchestra of flavor. The melty cheese, the sizzling steak, the crunchy onions – every element has a role to play. However, there’s often one point of contention: the choice of cheese.
So, What is the best cheese for a Philly Cheesesteak?
The best cheese for a Philly Cheesesteak tends to be American cheese, provolone, or Cheez Whiz. These options are widely accepted because of their excellent melting qualities and complementary flavors to the meat and other ingredients in a cheesesteak. Among these, many people recommend white American cheese for its neutral flavor.
The Historic Trio: American, Provolone, or Cheez Whiz
Historically, there are three primary choices: American cheese, Provolone, and Cheez Whiz. While each cheese brings its unique charm to the table, the choice ultimately depends on your preference.
American cheese is a processed cheese known for its superior melting qualities. Its mild flavor profile doesn’t overpower the steak but melts beautifully into it, creating a creamy, oozy layer. It’s smooth, easy to work with, and melts with impeccable consistency. White American cheese is a classic choice for those who like their cheesesteak flavors to blend harmoniously.
Next in line is provolone, an Italian cheese that’s a traditional choice for Philly Cheesesteaks. Its mild flavor, coupled with excellent meltability, makes it a popular pick. When choosing provolone, opt for the soft deli variety. Aged provolone can taste quite strong and doesn’t melt as well as its softer counterpart.
Lastly, we have Cheez Whiz. Now, you might raise an eyebrow at this, but Cheez Whiz has a place in Philly Cheesesteak history. This cheese product sold in jars boasts a shelf-stable life, an oozy texture, and a unique flavor that many cheesesteak aficionados swear by.
Thinking Outside the Box: Other Cheese Options
While the aforementioned trio reigns supreme, don’t let that restrict your cheese horizons. After all, the best Philly Cheesesteak is the one you love most!
Some recipes suggest using sharp cheddar. Its strong, tangy flavor adds a whole new dimension to the cheesesteak. Plus, grating a block of extra sharp cheddar allows you to adjust the cheese volume to your liking.
Swiss cheese offers a nutty, sweet flavor that can complement the savory steak and onion combo. Its meltability is also commendable, leading to an enticingly gooey cheesesteak.
Craving a spicy kick? Look no further than Pepper Jack. Its creamy texture and spicy flavor make it a daring yet delightful cheese option.
While not a traditional choice, mozzarella’s excellent melting properties and mild flavor make it a viable alternative for those looking to experiment.
If you’re someone who loves strong, bold flavors, blue cheese could be your match. The rich, creamy, and slightly pungent cheese adds depth to your cheesesteak. Keep in mind, though, that blue cheese can easily dominate other flavors, so use it sparingly.
Monterey Jack is known for its buttery and mild flavor which makes it a good option for those who prefer a more subtle taste. It also melts exceptionally well, enveloping the meat and onions in a blanket of creamy goodness.
Gouda cheese has a unique, slightly sweet flavor that can add an unexpected twist to your cheesesteak. It’s also a fantastic melter which ensures a smooth, cheesy texture in every bite.
1. Is provolone cheese a good choice for a Philly Cheesesteak?
Yes, provolone cheese is a traditional choice for a Philly Cheesesteak. It offers a mild flavor and excellent meltability that pairs well with the savory steak. When using provolone, it’s recommended to use the soft deli kind as it melts better and provides a more even spread across the steak.
2. Can I use other types of cheese for a Philly Cheesesteak?
While American cheese, provolone, and Cheez Whiz are the most common choices, other types of cheese can be used depending on personal preference. Swiss, cheddar, and mozzarella are also occasionally used. However, it’s crucial to consider the melting characteristics and flavor compatibility with the steak and other ingredients in a cheesesteak.
3. Is Cheez Whiz acceptable on a Philly Cheesesteak?
Yes, Cheez Whiz is indeed an acceptable choice for a Philly Cheesesteak. Despite being a processed cheese product, its smooth texture and meltability make it a popular choice for many cheesesteak enthusiasts. However, like other cheese options, its use depends on personal preference.
4. Are there specific cheeses to avoid when making a Philly Cheesesteak?
When making a Philly Cheesesteak, it’s generally advised to avoid strong, aged cheeses, like aged provolone. These cheeses can overpower the balance of flavors in the sandwich. Also, cheeses that do not melt well may not be suitable for a Philly Cheesesteak as they may disrupt the texture and overall eating experience.
The Best Cheese: A Matter of Preference
Having explored various cheese options, it’s clear that the “best” cheese for a Philly Cheesesteak largely depends on personal preference. Every cheese option imparts a different character to the sandwich, and what one person finds appealing might not work for someone else.
Choosing the right cheese for your Philly Cheesesteak isn’t about finding the most expensive or gourmet cheese on the market. It’s about what works best for you, your palate, and the flavors you want to create.
Do you enjoy the classic, creamy American cheese, melting seamlessly into the sizzling steak? Or do you prefer the traditional, mild flavor of provolone, complementing the steak rather than overpowering it? Perhaps you’re a fan of the offbeat yet effective Cheez Whiz? Or maybe you prefer venturing into the realms of tangy cheddar, spicy Pepper Jack, or even pungent blue cheese?
The final decision is up to you. After all, a Philly Cheesesteak is a canvas, and the cheese is your paint. So go ahead, mix, match, experiment, and find your perfect combination. Happy cheesesteak making!
Best Cheese for Your Philly Cheesesteak
- American Cheese
- Cheez Whiz
- Swiss Cheese
- Pepper Jack
- Blue Cheese
- Monterey Jack
- Cook thinly sliced beef and onions in a skillet or on a griddle until beef is fully cooked and onions are tender.
- Add the cooked steak and onions to a hoagie or sub roll.
- Top the meat and onions with sliced or shredded cheese such as provolone, Cheez Whiz, American, mozzarella or Swiss.
- Place the loaded sub roll open-faced under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Optionally, you can also melt the cheese in the pan with the meat for 30 seconds before adding it to the roll.
- Once cheese is melted, remove from heat and top with desired condiments like sautéed peppers, mushrooms, ketchup, mayo.
- Close the roll and serve the cheesesteak immediately while hot and melty.
- For an authentic Philly style, use provolone or Cheez Whiz for that iconic cheese flavor.