I know, I know – the very idea of Cheez Whiz and Velveeta are the very anti-thesis of real food, that good-for-you, nourishing, feel-good food that leaves you wanting more. Even typing their names makes me feel a little like I'm writing heresy.
But since I keep seeing recipes from people I love and respect who swear “it's just better with Velveeta” – everything from queso dip to broccoli casserole to swearing that a Philly cheese steak just ain't a Philly without squeeze cheese AND since I am so so passionate about providing easy ways for people to stop eating processed food, I figured it was time to figure out a real food version of these highly processed foods. 🙂
So, I prepared myself for a complicated process (those “foods” do have about a gazillion ingredients, after all), but surprisingly, both of these projects take less than 10 minutes and a very small handful of ingredients: cheese, milk, gelatin, and salt (and a touch of cream, if desired). Super, super easy.
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I was thinking of adding cream of tartar, since it adds the lovely squishy consistency to homemade play dough, but after I used it in my first batch of homemade Velveeta, I decided the extra bit of squishy texture wasn't worth the chalky texture that came with it, so I left it out and the subsequent batches worked just fine.
(UPDATED to add: I should Google these things before I try developing new recipes! I realized many many other people have thought of using cream of tartar in their homemade Velveeta too – and some leave it in, some skip it. That would have made my life so much easier….)
So, first things first – does homemade Velveeta actually melt and act like store-bought Velveeta? Answer: You bet. It melts beautifully, firms up beautifully, and just basically acts like you want homemade Velveeta / Kraft singles / basic processed cheese product to work.
Secret to the wise: If you're making queso dip or any other nacho-like pourable/dippable sauce, don't go the extra step of making homemade Velveeta so you can just turn around and melt it again. Use the homemade Cheez Whiz recipe below instead and don't wait for it to firm up before adding the other ingredients – it's just so much simpler!
So, with that, let's take a look at our ingredients. You'll notice that not only are homemade Velveeta and homemade Cheez Whiz not garbage, but they're actually nourishing. Exactly the way we want it….
Gelatin: The Secret to Success in Homemade Velveeta & Homemade Cheez Whiz
I've written before about why gelatin is such a desirable ingredient in a healthy diet and why it's important to use grass-fed bovine gelatin, so it's no surprise that I'm thrilled that gelatin is the ingredient that makes homemade Velveeta and homemade Cheez Whiz work. Gelatin provides the velvety texture, the ability to melt and rechill, and it increases the protein content.
What's even better is that it really does make some recipes simpler. For example, I came up with a pretty delicious stovetop macaroni & cheese when I wrote my book, The DIY Pantry, but I hadn't yet discovered homemade Velveeta, which honestly makes homemade macaroni & cheese even easier. Makes me want to go make some macaroni and cheese just so I can use more homemade Velveeta….
What's your favorite dish that uses either Velveeta or Cheez Whiz?
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
- 2 teaspoons grass-fed gelatin (see where to buy grass-fed gelatin)
- 12 ounces cheddar or Colby cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Lay plastic wrap in 4″ x 9″ loaf pan and set aside. (Yes, plastic wrap. Like with marshmallows, there are a few times when even a natural mama is happy for plastic wrap. See where to buy PVC, BPA, and plasticizer free plastic wrap, if desired.)
Pour milk and cream (if using) in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over to soften. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then heat slowly over medium-low heat until steaming, but DO NOT BOIL.
Meanwhile, shred cheese and pulse in a food processor with the salt. When the milk is hot, turn on the food processor and with the motor running, slowly pour the milk-gelatin mixture over the cheese and process until completely melted and very smooth, 30-60 seconds. Scrape into prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least three hours. Keeps up to one week in the refrigerator.
Homemade Cheez Whiz
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon grass-fed gelatin (see where to buy grass-fed gelatin)
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pour milk in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over to soften. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then heat slowly over medium-low heat until steaming, but DO NOT BOIL.
Meanwhile, shred cheese and pulse in a food processor with the salt. When the milk is hot, turn on the food processor and with the motor running, slowly pour the milk-gelatin mixture over the cheese and process until completely melted and very smooth, 30-60 seconds. Pour into prepared containers and chill for at least 1 hour. Keeps up to one week in the refrigerator.