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BEST Substitutes For Velveeta + 1 To Avoid

I personally taste-tested various Velveeta cheese substitutes to find the best one for every occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.

The best way to imitate the velvety consistency of Velveeta cheese is to mix a standard cheese, such as cheddar, with sodium citrate. This will emulsify the cheese and ensure it melts smoothly. You can also use American cheese or a traditional homemade cheese sauce.

The Experiment

I made a batch of this Velveeta-Rotel dip to put several Velveeta cheese substitutes to the test. (I also have a great article on tried and tested Rotel substitutes).

Velveeta is a soft, processed cheese product. It is well-known for its smooth and creamy texture and its mild, slightly sweet flavor with a touch of tang. It’s a favorite for a variety of American comfort foods, from creamy mac and cheese to velvety queso dip.

I was on the hunt for a substitute that offered the same creamy flavor and meltability as Velveeta. Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesSubstitute NotesVerdict
Sodium Citrate + Your Choice of CheeseBest option10/10
American CheeseMelts similarly9/10
Cream CheeseMixed with another cheese8/10 
Cheese SauceBest with evaporated milk8/10 
Homemade VelveetaCan slice or melt8/10
Daiya Cheese SauceVegan option9/10
Cheez WhizSofter texture7/10
ProvelHard to find outside the Midwest6/10

Top melting cheeses

Most of the substitute options require you to pick a ‘regular’ cheese to use. You can use pretty much any cheese, as long as it melts! Cheddar is a safe and accessible option.

But other, higher-fat cheeses melt better such as Emmental, Gruyere, Gouda, or Fontina. For more depth of flavor, try smoked Gouda. Or for something milder, consider Monterey Jack or Colby.

If you can find some Mexican Oaxaca, this is similar to mozzarella and is famous for how well it melts. And if you don’t mind an unconventional option, I highly recommend Brie. It’s super creamy and tastes amazing in mac and cheese.

Sodium Citrate + Your Choice of Cheese

Sodium citrate is the magic ingredient in Velveeta cheese that’s responsible for its unrivaled ability to melt into a smooth and creamy sauce. Add some sodium citrate to any meltable cheese and you’ll turn it into Velveeta.

How does it work? The sodium citrate binds to proteins in cheese, helping it emulsify without becoming greasy or separated. You can buy sodium citrate easily online – it’s cheap and a little goes a long way. 

Here’s a basic method to create your Velveeta alternative:

  1. Dissolve a teaspoon of sodium citrate in about 1 cup of liquid (water, milk, broth, beer, etc) over medium heat.
  2. Add in about a pound of your chosen grated cheese, stirring until completely melted. Ideally, you’d use an immersion blender to get a super smooth finish, but a whisk is fine too.

How much liquid you use determines the thickness of the sauce, so adjust this as you wish. Here is a helpful calculator to help you calculate how much water and sodium citrate you need depending on what dish you’re making.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with a mix of cheese and sodium citrate.

American Cheese

If the idea of using a strange-sounding food additive doesn’t appeal to you, you can get some American cheese instead (or Dairylea cheese if you’re in the UK) instead. It’s slightly less processed than Velveeta cheese and doesn’t have the same ‘chemically’ taste some people complain Velveeta has – it has to be at least 51% real cheese and the flavor is mild and creamy.

But American cheese still contains sodium citrate, which means it will melt just as smoothly as Velveeta. You can use the American cheese on its own with a touch of milk or cream to thin it out if necessary, or you can mix it with another type of cheese to get more flavor. 

The sodium citrate in the American cheese will mix with the ‘new cheese’ and help it melt nicely.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with American cheese.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese by itself can be a good substitute for smaller amounts of Velveeta in recipes like dips or spreads because of its creamy texture. Or you can use it as a melty ‘base’ to which another cheese can be added (I mixed it with cheddar for my Rotel-based dip).

The end result wasn’t as smooth as the original Velveeta-Rotel dip, but this is a decent option using ingredients you might already have in the fridge. You can play around with ratios depending on the thickness you want, but a good starting point is one part cream cheese to two parts shredded cheese. You can also mix in some milk or butter for added richness.

Psst… you can also use Boursin, which is flavored with garlic and herbs so would add extra depth to your recipe.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of cream cheese and another good-melting cheese.

Cheese Sauce

Most recipes call for you to melt the Velveeta into a gooey sauce. If this is the case with your recipe, you can replace it with a traditional, homemade cheese sauce.

A classic cheese sauce begins with a roux, which is a mixture of flour and fat (usually butter), cooked until golden and used to thicken the sauce. Once you have the roux, you mix in milk and then finally the shredded cheese.

Another way to make cheese sauce is to melt your cheese with evaporated milk and cornstarch (here’s a recipe). Evaporated milk has a high concentration of proteins, and these proteins are great emulsifiers. Cornstarch also helps stabilize the sauce.

Serious Eat’s famous 3-ingredient mac and cheese uses this ‘easy’ approach and utilizes starchy pasta water instead of cornstarch to get a super melty, cheesy sauce.

Pro tip: Whichever recipe you use, you can add in any extra spices you want like nutmeg, paprika, or cayenne pepper.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with homemade cheese sauce.

Homemade Velveeta

If you want to go a step further you can even make your own homemade Velveeta. It’s a similar process to making a cheese sauce but includes gelatin 

The use of gelatin helps to mimic the firm yet pliable texture of Velveeta when cooled. Here’s a recipe for a DIY Velveeta:


  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 packet (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
  • 16 ounces of freshly grated cheddar cheese (or a cheese of your choice)
  • 6 tablespoons of evaporated milk
  • Optional: a dash of smoked paprika or turmeric for color and flavor


  1. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving some hanging over the edge.
  2. Add the gelatin and evaporated milk to a blender. Add the boiling water and straight away start blending.
  3. Add the cheese and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into your loaf pan and cover the surface of the cheese with plastic wrap.
  5. Let the mixture set in the fridge for 12 hours and then use within 1 month.

This homemade version is great for slicing and melting, and it takes less than 10 minutes to make.

Psst… The only thing this homemade Velveeta isn’t good for is using in a slow cooker. The mixture doesn’t hold up well to prolonged cooking.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with homemade Velveeta.

Daiya Cheese Sauce (Vegan)

If you want a dairy-free alternative to Velveeta, Daiya offers a range of vegan cheese products that are designed to mimic the creamy texture of traditional cheese sauces and Velveeta.

The cheese sauce is made from ingredients including coconut oil, tapioca starch, and nutritional yeast (which provides the cheesy flavor). It’s very allergen-friendly, being free from dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs, so it can be enjoyed by most people.

Pro tip: This product doesn’t come cheap, so I recommend buying it in bulk to save on costs.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with Daiya cheese sauce.

Cheez Whiz

Cheez Whiz is another processed cheese product produced by Kraft, it’s more of a spread than a solid cheese product and it’s designed to be used straight from the jar. It will work great as a replacement in recipes where you melt the Velveeta, although the end consistency was slightly thinner.

If you’re trying to avoid the artificial cheese taste, cheez whiz isn’t a good choice. I found it tasted even more processed than Velveeta, and it was salty.

Not my favorite option, but okay in a pinch.

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese with 3/4 the amount of Cheez Whiz.


Provel cheese is a lesser-known but very effective substitute for Velveeta. It’s a hybrid of provolone, white cheddar, and Swiss cheeses, and it contains similar emulsifying agents ensuring it melts into a velvety sauce. It also has liquid smoke to give it a more edgy flavor.

The only, pretty big, downside to this substitute option is that it’s pretty hard to find outside of the Midwest, USA. It’s very popular in the St. Louis area, but the popularity doesn’t expand much beyond that.

If you happen to see a packet, snag it while you can!

How to substitute: Replace Velveeta cheese in a 1:1 ratio with Provel.

Substitute To Avoid

Lots of websites were suggesting individual cheeses like mozzarella or gouda as substitutes for Velveeta, but this won’t work. The whole point of Velveeta is that it melts into a sauce. Regular cheese won’t melt in the same way without some help (like adding sodium citrate).

Best Velveeta Cheese Substitutes + 1 To Avoid

I tested several different Velveeta cheese substitutes to find the best one. I was looking for substitutes that could replicate its flavor and excellent melting properties.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Substitutes for Velveeta, Velveeta substitutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 297kcal


  • 1 cup water boiling
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin 1/4 ounce
  • 16 ounces cheddar cheese grated
  • 6 tbsp evaporated milk
  • pinch smoked paprika optional, for color


  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving some hanging over the edge.
  • Add the gelatin and evaporated milk to a blender. Add the boiling water and straight away start blending.
  • Add the cheese and blend until smooth.
  • Pout the mixture into your loaf pan and cover the surface of the cheese with plastic wrap.
  • Let the mixture set in the fright for 12 hours and then use within 1 month.


Serving: 100grams | Calories: 297kcal

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