Cheddar cheese is a go-to snack, but it also has a well-deserved place in grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, nachos, chili, and so much more. So it was high time we took a trip to the store and tested all the big brands of cheddar we could find.
We're sharing our thoughts on all eight cheeses, as well as our favorite national brand of cheddar in the bunch. Want to see our top pick?
How We Selected the 8 Brands
I selected a variety of well-known national brands of cheddar cheese that can be found at most grocery stores across the country. I opted to stick with yellow cheddar, and stayed away from locally produced cheese. All the brands included were found from visiting three major grocery stores in New York City.
How We Set up the Blind Taste Test
I purchased eight varieties of cheddar, cut each block into bite-sized pieces, placed them on paper plates, and assigned each one a letter. I then lined the plates up on a table.
As people dove into the cheese, I asked everyone in the office to give me their thoughts on all eight brands.
The Taste Test Results
I admit that when it comes to buying cheddar cheese, I've always been a creature of habit. I've never noticed just how many different brands and varieties are out there — it was really surprising!
Narrowing down the lineup was tough — mostly because I wanted to include everything — but to make an even playing field, I kept it at yellow sharp cheddar cheese, resisting the urge to include Irish or Scottish cheddar.
There have only been a few other taste tests that my officemates have been so excited about. They tasted with gusto and were not shy about going back for seconds (and sometimes even thirds).
Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (8 oz./$4.99)
Even from a quick glance, this cheese looked more sharp than the other brands in the lineup. It had a drier texture and was more crumbly than some of the other cheeses. This cheddar got a big thumbs-up from the crowd.
Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheddar Cheese (8 oz./$6.69)
This was the cheddar cheese of my childhood, so I was curious to see how it stacked up, and if any of the taste testers recognized it from their youth. This cheddar was softer and certainly more mild-tasting than some of the others. One tasters noted that "this cheese tastes processed, but I love it because it reminds me of my childhood cheese."
Foodtown Sharp Cheddar Cheese (8 oz./$3.99)
This generic store-brand cheese might not have had a distinctive sharp taste that set it apart from the pack, but it got a lot of praise for being "super smooth and creamy."
Great Lakes Sharp Cheddar Cheese (7.99/lb./$.62 to $4.95)
For a sharp cheddar, this cheese was on the mild side and well-balanced, with a smooth creaminess that made it really delightful. While it wasn't voted as the office favorite, this cheese was definitely enjoyed by almost everyone. "It's sharp, but not too sharp; it's just right and I love it."
Kraft Sharp Cheddar Cheese (8 oz./$5.39)
Since Kraft is widely known for its single slices of American cheese, it might not be surprising that this was noted as "the most mild" of all the cheeses in the lineup. The texture was notably soft, and even though the flavor didn't quite stand out, one officemate noted: "This is what I want on a cracker."
Land O'Lakes Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (8 0z./$3.99)
Land O'Lakes cheddar had a softer texture and was as dry or crumbly as the other extra-sharp cheeses in the lineup. Tasters were torn between this cheese having a "creamy and super-milky taste" to others who found this cheese to have a "very strong flavor."
Tillamook Medium Cheddar (8 0z./$3.79)
Tillamook cheddar was light in both color and taste. Less sharp than some of the other selections, the flavor was smooth and delightful. One taster noted that this is the kind of cheese that "would be great in a grilled cheese sandwich." Others like it because it felt like "a good everyday cheese."
Cheddar Cheese: The Office Favorite
While all of these brands came out well in our taste tests, one stood up as the favorite.
Trader Joe's X-tra Sharp Cheddar Cheese ($5.99/lb/$.61 to $3.65)
Trader Joe's has once again delivered a quality product, and a near-universal favorite among everyone in the office (also my personal favorite). This cheese had all the qualities you want in a slice of sharp cheddar: it was flavorful with good bite and balance, and had a hint of dryness without feeling too crumbly. And of course, there's the low price point and solid value we've come to know and rely on with Trader Joe's.
Taste Tester Quotes
- Best-tasting and sharpest.
- Sharp. I went back for seconds.
- I'd buy this.
- My favorite — no question.
Do you have a favorite brand of cheddar cheese? Any brand we missed that we have to try? Let us know in the comments!