Popular Cheese Brands Ranked Worst To Best

Cheese is the perfect accompaniment to just about anything. Netflix and chill? Cheese and crackers. Girls' wine night? Charcuterie board. Backyard barbecue? Cheddar cubes and pickles. Dinner party? Baked brie. Casual Tuesday night at home? Mac and cheese. We could go on, but you get the point. If you like cheese, which we're assuming you do since you're here, you probably have a favorite or two. But maybe you're looking to branch out. We took inventory of some of the most popular brands of cheese sold in the US that you should easily be able to find at your grocery store. 

When it comes to cheese, there's a whole world of wonderful choices out there. The growing number of small-scale, independent, and artisan cheesemakers in the US is constantly growing, and we couldn't be happier to see it. While some of these brands started small, they're all large enough to be found nationwide, or even internationally. We figured out which were the best, and which you should probably pass on. 

Whether you're a diehard cheddar fan or curious about blue, there's a brand here for you to try. So, grab your favorite cheese pairings and find out which cheese brands you've got to try next.

13. Velveeta is a classic, but is it real cheese?

It's not that we don't have a warm spot in our hearts for Velveeta; we do. It's that, even though it's sold on the dairy aisle, Velveeta isn't really cheese. It's more like stabilized milk and oil, dyed that brilliant yellow-orange color and marketed as a cheese product that melts unlike any other cheese (which it does). There are six different "flavors" of Velveeta cheese loaves, including Original, 2% Milk, Queso Blanco, Jalapeno, Mexican, and Sharp Cheddar, as well as shredded cheese, sliced cheese, and macaroni varieties.

While Velveeta cheese may be infused with different flavors for a bit of variety, ultimately, it's all basically the same cheese. And that is what you're looking for when you're buying Velveeta, after all. 

While you might assume that American cheese is the most popular cheese in the US, you'd be wrong. According to Cheese Market News, mozzarella cheese is the most produced cheese in the US, followed by cheddar. You might also be surprised to know that "American cheese" doesn't just mean the processed cheese product slices used for sandwiches, but Colby, Monterrey, and jack cheeses as well. So, even though it's wildly popular, and while we'd never dream of taking your Velveeta from you, shopping data shows that it just doesn't compare when it comes to natural cheeses.

12. Land O' Lakes is reliable, but limited when it comes to cheese

If you buy most of your cheese in the deli section of the grocery store, then you've likely at least tried some Land O' Lakes cheeses, if not enjoyed them regularly. While most of the deli cheeses they offer are American cheeses, Land O' Lakes also makes Swiss and provolone cheese options. But whichever Land O' Lakes cheese you choose for your sandwich, you're likely to get a tasty, consistent, tender, and not aggressively cheesy option.

With that said, you're not going to find blocks of cheese that you can slice for your next cheese board or even shred to make a gourmet macaroni and cheese dish. While Land o' Lakes produces notable sliced deli cheeses, that's about as fancy as it gets. What they're really known for is their extensive line of dairy products. As a matter of fact, they're the best-selling brand of butter in the US, according to Food & Wine. They've also got a full line of milk, cream, eggs, margarine, and spreads that are widely available almost everywhere. So, while this cheese might be great for sandwiches, we wouldn't call it a go-to for all your cheese-based recipe needs.

11. Sargento is a convenient and tasty cheese choice

Sargento has been pioneering cheese products since 1953, when it launched the first pre-packaged sliced and shredded cheeses on the dairy aisle. Today, they're just as competitive as the other big brands like Kraft and Borden, offering an extensive line of shredded, sliced, and snack cheeses.

At this point in our cheese brand rankings, we're starting to see cheesemakers break out of the mostly-American cheese category and developing several styles of cheddar, as well as mozzarella, gouda, parmesan, and international cheese blends. Not to be left off of your next grazing table, Sargento even produces pre-cubed cheese.

When it comes to the flavor and texture of Sargento cheese, you're going to find cheese that is easy to eat — nothing too hard, and nothing too gooey. Flavor-wise, none of the cheeses are aggressive in flavor or smell, with many of them — like the mozzarella, provolone, and Swiss — all having a similar innocuous flavor profile and textures. Our favorite cheeses in the Sargento line include the snack bites and snack sticks, which are ultra-convenient to carry around on a long day out, road trip, or pack for lunch.

10. Borden cheese is economical and reliable

Not to be outdone in the variety department, Borden has 18 different flavors of cheese in their collection. Like the other cheesemakers in their category, Borden produces cheese in slices, chunks, shredded cheese, and snack sizes. We like the wide variety of cheese options, which include Oaxaca and Queso Fresco cheeses that are becoming more popular in the US, alongside Italian, Mexican, and flavored cheddar cheese blends. Borden products also tend to be priced just below competitor pricing, which helps our bottom line when buying groceries for the whole family for the week.

Much like Sargento before them, Borden cheeses all tend to have a similar texture. Not too hard, not too soft, and a tad rubbery. It's an easy texture to eat on a sandwich, shred onto a salad or mix into a casserole, and melts easily without instantly breaking. But rest assured that it's actual cheese and not just a processed cheese product. Borden's got a reliable smoothness to it, but if you're looking for more nuanced cheeses, you'll need to keep reading.

9. Kraft cheese has noticeable flavor and variety

Thanks to iconic products like Kraft Singles and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the "blue box," Kraft is one of the largest dairy companies in the world (via Dairy Foods). As is the case with Velveeta cheese, the popular American cheese slices can't really be classified as cheese, but Kraft makes a wider selection of cheeses available in slices, chunks, deli blocks, shredded cheeses, and snacks.

When it comes to the core favorites in the Kraft cheese lineup, including the cheddar cheeses, Monterey Jack, and mozzarella, we found that these cheeses also had a wider range of textures and flavors than the Borden and Sargento counterparts. The sharp cheddar is a little denser and crumblier, with a stronger cheddar flavor, and it's very different from the creamier Monterey Jack that's got a milder flavor and softer texture. In a blind tasting, you may even be able to fool some of your friends into thinking that the Kraft two-year aged natural cheddar cheese is fancier than the label may have you think.

8. Organic Valley cheese is award-winning and eco-conscious

With the larger selection of organic cheeses and dairy products on the market these days, you've got more choices than ever when selecting a delicious cheese snack. Since the first cartons of organic milk hit the shelves in grocery stores, the Organic Valley company has expanded to include a full line of dairy products, eggs, cheeses, and an ever-growing collection of meats.

We tasted the Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese and were immediately impressed with how crisp and authentic it tasted. That shouldn't have come as a surprise, given that it won the Bronze medal at the Los Angeles International Dairy Competition in both 2012 and 2017. While the cheeses Organic Valley produces are generally the same types of cheese produced by their competitors, we could tell the quality of the cheeses had gone up a notch. With a handful of cheese awards under their belt, it's clear that Organic Valley is interested in refining the popular cheese market, if not adding a little creativity to it.

7. Cracker Barrel cheese is bold and versatile

We'll admit that we were surprised when biting into the first slice off the block of Cracker Barrel Aged Reserved Cheddar. Could this possibly be made by the same Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and restaurants found near interstate exits all across America? It turns out that no, there is no affiliation, and the cheese brand is actually owned by Kraft Foods, which has been producing it since 1954

Once we cleared that up, it started to make sense that Kraft was saving its higher-end cheeses for its higher-end cheese line. The line of Cracker Barrel cheese bars has about a dozen different flavors, including several cheddars, gouda, asiago, and Swiss. They also produce macaroni and cheese, sliced and shredded cheeses, as well as spreads and snacks, but some of those products were harder for us to find in stores. 

The bars are clearly created with the intention of slicing and serving as a cheese course. The Cracker Barrel website even offers cheese pairings for those interested in making their own arrangements. While not the world's most exclusive cheese, we like that they're accessible, crowd-friendly, and enjoy the textures and bold flavors of the cheeses. We also appreciate the guidance for pairings for those interested in learning how to incorporate cheese into their dining and entertaining experiences.

6. Bel Brand cheeses have a French flair

You might not be familiar with the Bel Brand company specifically, but there's a good chance you've had one of their cheeses, which include Laughing Cow, Babybel, and Boursin. Like tiny wheels of cheese wrapped in little wax packages, Babybel cheese is nearly irresistible. 

Originally created in the Jura region in France in 1921, the Laughing Cow brand has since circled the globe. And of course, the garlic & herb cheese spread created by Boursin is usually the first thing to go on a grazing board at any party (just buy three next time). Bel Brands also produces several other cheese spreads that can be widely found.

While none of these cheese products fit into classical cheese categories, they're all made with authentic cheeses or cheesemaking techniques. And more than anything, we absolutely couldn't get enough of them while tasting them, proving that cheeses don't have to be 100% artisan or creative to be delicious.

5. 365 from Whole Foods is an upscale yet approachable cheese brand for all diets

The Whole Foods store brand 365 Organic has nearly 100 different cheese options, covering a wide range of cheeses from soft to hard, including blue, fresh goat, and even plant-based cheeses. As one of the first major retailers to enter the plant-based cheese market on such a large scale, the prices are even surprisingly approachable.

The cheese counter at Whole Foods has been a pioneer in the grocery industry for decades, bringing cheeses that otherwise could only be found in specialty shops and fine dining restaurants directly to cheese lovers, at a price, of course. Since then, many grocery stores have followed suit, expanding their cheese selections to include international and local artisan cheeses. 

And if you've been looking for vegan cheeses to add to your cooking repertoire, the 365 brand also has you covered. According to Mashed writer Molly Harris, the texture and flavor of the 365 vegan cheeses aren't off-putting and should blend into your cheese-based dishes seamlessly.

4. Kerrygold is for stepping up your cheese game

You may recognize the Kerrygold brand from the butter section at the grocery store — those gold and silver foil packages of Irish butter are hard to miss. If you haven't tasted one of the 10 unique kinds of cheese they offer, there's no time like the present! The Kerrygold Aged Cheddar is a nice place to start if you're looking for something familiar. But after that, we'd suggest tasting the Dubliner cheese. A firm cheese that's got a few salty crystals interspersed throughout and a delicately sweet and nutty cheese, with an almost tropical finish.

The Cashel Blue Farmhouse Cheese is also a wonderful introduction to blue cheese if you're not sure where to begin. It's got a gentle tangy taste without the overwhelming moldy or ammonia flavor that scares some people away from blue cheeses. It's great crumbled on top of a salad, or served on a cheese board for a well-rounded presentation. If you needed a little more encouragement to try this blue cheese, know that it's been awarded the gold medal at the International Cheese Awards every year since 2009! You're definitely going to be stepping your cheese game up a notch with Kerrygold.

3. President is not just for award-winning brie

There's a good chance that your first foray into the world of international cheeses included a taste of President Brie. Whether it was in French club in high school or a holiday party for work, a wedge of brie is a mainstay on cheese boards everywhere. While grazing tables and cheese plates are getting more adventurous, you can never go wrong with a bloomy white rind double or triple cream brie and a few slices of baguette.

Even if you've had President Brie, you may not realize just how large of a cheese selection the company actually makes. Instead of the classic lineup provided by American cheesemakers, President produces a wide range of European-style cheeses, including Manchego, Feta, Camembert, Comte, Emmental, and a Roquefort-style blue cheese, among others. Many of these options are widely available, making it easier than ever to branch out in your cooking and cheese tastings. If you're not sure which one to try first, take a look at the extensive list of awards that President cheeses have won every year since 1996, and see what sparks your interest.

2. Tillamook provides intense cheese flavors

If you ever find yourself on a road trip through Oregon, we wholeheartedly recommend making a stop at the Tillamook Creamery Visitor's Center and Production Headquarters. There, you can taste several of the Tillamook cheeses, as well as mac and cheese, cheesy sandwiches, and Tillamook dairy ice cream. After you're stuffed full of the good stuff, you can catch a glance of the cheese factory floor and get a rare glimpse into how these fantastic cheeses are made.

If you're nowhere near Oregon, that's okay too. Tillamook is very likely in your local grocery store already and will taste just as wonderful in your own home. The collection of Tillamook cheeses is cheddar heavy, but also includes your favorites like mozzarella, parmesan, pepper jack, colby, and more. For an extra-special treat, you can even try one of the Tillamook Maker's Reserve White Cheddars that are sold by the vintage. To help decide which of these thoroughly American cheddars might be your next favorite, check out the Sharpness Scale on the website that provides tasting notes and serving suggestions for those who want to embrace their inner cheese nerd.

1. Cabot is a smooth and reliable cheesy treat

Direct from Vermont, we just can't get enough of the ultra-creamy, full-flavored cheeses that Cabot Creamery is making. Known for their large selection of Vermont and New York-style cheddar cheeses, even the firm 3-year aged cheddar smoothly melts on the tongue. If you're lucky enough to find the Cabot Clothbound cheddar at your grocery store or local cheese shop, we can't recommend it enough. The farmhouse funk imparted by the cloth binding gives way to a richly-textured and dynamic cheddar that really defines what it means to be a cheddar cheese (intense, right?).

Cabot's high-quality cheeses are also available in bars, shredded, sliced, and snacks. For the more adventurous cheddar lovers, Cabot has a line of flavored cheddars that includes peppercorn, horseradish, smoky bacon, garlic & dill, and habanero. If you find you like Cabot's cheeses, you may also want to try some of the yogurt, dips, and butter in the dairy line. Rest assured, there's hardly a wrong choice with Cabot cheeses.