Cheese is a beloved ingredient and food for many people. Its rich, creamy, salty, and umami flavors make it a tasty addition to sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pastas, appetizers, and more. While cheese can be high in fat and sodium, many varieties are also excellent sources of protein, calcium, and other important nutrients.
When following a low-carb or keto diet, cheese can seem like an ideal food. However, the carb counts in different types of cheese can vary. So, how many carbs are in an American slice of cheese?
What are American Cheese Slices?
American cheese slices refer to processed cheese products made from a blend of milk, milk proteins, whey, milkfat, salts, and food coloring. The cheese is produced by combining the ingredients into an emulsion. It is then poured into molds, cooled, and cut into individual slices.
Some key features of American cheese slices include:
- Soft, creamy, and melty texture
- Mild, tangy, salty flavor
- Bright orange color from added annatto food coloring
- Sold in thin, uniformly cut slices
- Common brands include Kraft, Sargento, and Land O’Lakes
- Used often for sandwiches, burgers, grilled cheese, and snacking
American cheese differs from natural cheeses in that it is processed and homogenized. The FDA defines American cheese as a processed cheese product made from at least two types of actual cheese. However, most American cheese slices also contain milk products, emulsifiers, preservatives, and stabilizers.
Nutrition Information in American Cheese Slices
The nutrition content of American cheese can vary slightly between brands. But in general, a 1-ounce slice (about 1 single slice) contains approximately:
- Calories: 90
- Total fat: 7g
- Saturated fat: 4.5g
- Cholesterol: 25mg
- Sodium: 330mg
- Total carbs: 1g
- Dietary fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 1g
- Protein: 6g
- Calcium: 200mg
As you can see, a single slice of American cheese is high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol compared to other cheese varieties. It also provides calcium and protein.
Importantly, an American cheese slice contains just 1 gram of total carbohydrates. This makes it a low-carb friendly choice for restricted carb eating patterns like the keto diet.
Carb Count of American Cheese vs. Other Cheeses
How does American cheese compare to other popular cheese choices in terms of carbs? Here is an overview:
A 1-ounce serving of cheddar cheese provides about 0.4 grams of carbs. So cheddar contains fewer carbs than American cheese slices. However, cheddar is also higher in fat and calories than American cheese.
With about 1.4 grams of carbs per ounce, fresh mozzarella offers slightly more carbs than American or cheddar cheese. Part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella sticks are lower in carbs with about 0.7 grams per ounce.
With 0.5 grams of carbs per ounce, Swiss cheese is very low-carb. And it contains fewer carbs than either American cheese or regular mozzarella.
Crumbly and flavorful blue cheese clocks in at just 0.3 grams of carbs per ounce. So it’s one of the lowest carb cheese options.
Hard, salty parmesan cheese contains only 0.9 grams of carbs per ounce. Freshly grated parmesan has such little carbs that most labels even list it as 0g per serving.
Soft cream cheese is higher in carbs with about 1.6 grams per ounce. Whipped cream cheese tends to be lower with 0.8 grams per ounce.
How Slice Size Impacts Carb Content
When calculating the carbs in American cheese, the slice size matters. Here’s how the carb count changes based on slice size:
- 1 regular slice (1 ounce): 1g carbs
- 1 thick slice (1.5 ounces): 1.5g carbs
- 1 jumbo slice (2 ounces): 2g carbs
As you can see, thicker slices contain more total carbs. However, the carb density remains the same at 1 gram of carbs per 1 ounce of American cheese.
Carb Differences in Types of American Cheese
There are a few varieties of American cheese that have slight differences in their nutrition profiles:
Regular American Cheese Slices
The standard type of American cheese described earlier provides 1g carb per ounce.
2% Milk American Cheese
Sargento and some other brands make 2% milk American cheese. The lower fat content means this type contains about 0.7 grams of carbs per ounce.
Fat-Free American Cheese
You can also find fat-free, low-calorie American cheese. Kraft Fat Free Singles have <1 gram of carbs per slice. However, the taste and texture aren’t as creamy.
Organic American Cheese
Organic brands like Organic Valley make American cheese with organic milk and no artificial colors or preservatives. The carb count is the same as regular American cheese.
Carbs in American Cheese Slices vs. Blocks
American cheese is available both sliced and in solid blocks. Here’s the carb difference:
- Sliced cheese: 1g carbs per ounce
- Block cheese: 0.7g carbs per ounce
So in block form, American cheese is slightly lower in carbs, providing about 0.3g less per ounce. This minor difference is likely due to the manufacturing process of slicing.
Calories in American Cheese
In addition to looking at carbs, it’s helpful to know the calorie density of American cheese:
- 1 regular slice (1 ounce): 90 calories
- 1 thick slice (1.5 ounces): 135 calories
- 1 jumbo slice (2 ounces): 180 calories
- 1-ounce block: 80 calories
As expected, thinner slices contain fewer calories than thicker cut slices in a comparable serving size. Block American cheese is a bit lower in calories than sliced.
Is American Cheese Keto-Friendly?
The keto diet aims to get 70-80% of total daily calories from fat, 15-20% from protein, and just 5-10% from carbs. This ultra low-carb eating pattern can promote fat loss.
With just 1 gram of net carbs and 7g of fat per slice, American cheese can fit into a keto diet. However, some keto dieters may still prefer other cheese options for less processed options with more beneficial fats.
Here are some tips for fitting American cheese into a keto eating pattern:
- Count 1g net carbs per ounce of American cheese
- Measure portions carefully, as slices vary in size
- Limit to 1-2 slices per day to keep carb intake low
- Pair it with high-fat add-ons like bacon or avocado
- Choose block cheese over sliced for slightly fewer carbs
Low-Carb American Cheese Recipe Ideas
Here are some tasty recipe ideas showcasing melty, gooey American cheese while keeping carbs low:
Classic Grilled Cheese
Ooey, buttery grilled cheese is an American classic. Opt for thick, low-carb bread and add bacon or avocado for a filling low-carb meal.
Top beef patties with melty American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mustard for a fresh, low-carb burger.
Mix tuna salad with mayo and stuff into tomatoes or peppers. Top with sliced American cheese and broil until bubbly.
Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla
Fill a low-carb tortilla with shredded chicken, cheese, salsa, and jalapeños for a quick and easy keto quesadilla.
For a crispy, crunchy snack, bake sliced American cheese at 400°F until browned and crispy. Top with everything bagel seasoning if desired.
Cheese Taco Shells
Make taco shells from sliced American cheese to build delicious keto-friendly tacos. Fill with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and hot sauce.
Cheesy Broccoli Soup
For an easy, creamy soup, blend steamed broccoli with chicken broth, cream cheese, and American cheese. Garnish with crispy bacon.
Storing American Cheese
For food safety and quality, properly store opened and unopened American cheese:
- Unopened cheese can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 months past the sell-by date.
- Opened cheese should be tightly rewrapped and kept refrigerated for no more than 1-2 weeks.
- Check for mold before eating; moldy cheese should be discarded.
- For optimal flavor and texture, avoid freezing sliced American cheese.
- Block American cheese can be frozen for 2-3 months.
With proper storage techniques, American cheese slices and blocks will maintain quality and safety. Date labels can ensure you use up opened packages within the recommended timeframe.
To summarize key nutrition facts:
- One 1-ounce slice of American cheese contains 1 gram of carbohydrates.
- Cheddar, Swiss, blue, and parmesan cheeses contain slightly fewer carbs than American cheese.
- Thicker slices have more carbs, but the carb density per ounce remains 1g.
- Block American cheese is slightly lower carb than presliced.
- American cheese is moderately high in fat and sodium.
- The low carb count makes it reasonable to include in a keto diet.
So an American cheese slice can be enjoyed as an occasional low-carb option. Just be mindful of portion sizes to account for the carbs.
The Bottom Line
American cheese gets a bad reputation as an ultra-processed food. But with just 1g carb per ounce, it can be worked into low-carb meal plans. Moderation is key, as American cheese is high in sodium and lacks overall nutrition. But its melty, gooey deliciousness lets you satisfied low-carb cravings and enjoy classic American cheese-centric dishes.