Philly Cheesesteak Showdown: Cheez Whiz vs Traditional Cheese

Cheez Whiz or Bust: The Truth About Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks!

Real Philly cheesesteaks often include Cheez Whiz alongside traditional options like American or Provolone cheese. Cheez Whiz, popularized in the 1950s for its creamy texture, has become synonymous with the iconic sandwich, although the original Philly cheesesteak did not feature any cheese. Preferences vary, and while some purists insist on Cheez Whiz, others opt for different cheeses.

Is Cheez Whiz a Part of a Real Philly Cheesesteak?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes a real Philly cheesesteak is the only thing that hits the spot!

And, of course, that melty cheese topping is the thing that adds to the whole taste and texture of this iconic snack!

But what are your thoughts about Cheez Whiz, should it be part of a Philly cheesesteak?

Let’s look at the history of the cheesesteak first to see if it gives us any clues!

Surprisingly, the original Philly cheesesteak didn’t have any cheese at all.

It was invented around 1930 by Pat Olivieri, who ran a hot dog stand in South Philadelphia.

Legend has it that he was cooking his lunch, a steak sandwich, on the grill when a taxi driver was attracted by the smell and asked if he could have one too.     

Before long, Olivieri was inundated by orders and had to open a shop to accommodate all the customers.

But at this point, cheese was not on the menu, it was a later addition, and it’s unclear whether Olivieri himself thought of it or if it was his rival, Joe Vento, the founder of Geno’s shop.

So, Cheese Whiz was not a part of a real Philly cheesesteak in the early days!

The original shop still exists, Pat’s King of Steaks, and is still owned by the same family.

🥖🧀 The Evolution of the Philly Cheesesteak 🧀🥖

1930sOrigin of the Cheesesteak
1950sIntroduction of Cheez Whiz
Modern DayGlobal Popularity and Variations
Brought to You by

Is Cheez Whiz the Best Topping for a Philly Cheesesteak?

Cheez Whiz has a runny texture which makes it ideal on top of a Philly cheesesteak.

However, some may see it as simply a processed product or junk food and would prefer real cheese.

In fact, over the years, the actual cheese content in Cheez Whiz has been reduced.

But, with a Philly cheesesteak, you don’t want the cheese to be overpowering; it should be mild and have a lovely melting quality.

Options would include American cheese or provolone.

Both of these melt easily and would give that gooey texture we love in a Philly cheesesteak.

Occasionally, you might find pepper jack or Swiss cheese on the menu.

When ordering your cheesesteak, you would simply start your preference as Whiz, American, or provolone, so there is no confusion, and your order can be processed quickly.

However, you do also have to mention whether you want griddled onions or not!

For me, it’s not a real Philly cheesesteak without onions, but I do understand if you don’t like them! 

The cheesesteak should be served in a long, crusty roll, and only rib-eye steak is good enough. 

And basically, that’s all that you need; crusty bread, sauteed steak, freshly griddled onions, and a generous topping of Cheez Whiz!

Oh, and a pile of napkins for that gooey mess!

Some places serve other optional toppings, too, such as mushrooms or peppers, and nobody is going to argue if you add ketchup.

An elegant restaurant setting

The Cheesy Revolution: Cheez Whiz in Philly Cheesesteaks

When we delve into the savory world of Philly cheesesteaks, the question of “when was Cheez Whiz invented?” becomes crucial to understanding this dish’s evolution.

Introduced in the early 1950s, Cheez Whiz quickly revolutionized the cheesesteak experience.

Its creamy texture and unique flavor profile made it an instant hit among cheesesteak enthusiasts.

The term “Philly cheesesteak whiz” evokes images of mouth-watering sandwiches generously slathered with this gooey, golden cheese.

It’s not just about the cheese itself, but the way it seamlessly blends with thinly sliced, perfectly cooked beef, harmonizing with the soft, fresh roll.

This combination is what makes a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz not just a meal, but a culinary experience.

In Philadelphia, the debate over authentic cheesesteak cheese rages on, yet Cheez Whiz holds a special place.

Its ease of use and distinctive taste ensure its continued popularity. Whether you’re a traditionalist or a culinary adventurer, trying a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz is a must for any food enthusiast, offering a taste of Philadelphia’s rich and cheesy history.

The Best Philly Cheesesteak Recipe

Final Thoughts

  • Philly Cheesesteaks traditionally include thinly sliced beef, a long roll, and cheese, commonly Cheez Whiz, Provolone, or American.
  • Cheez Whiz gained popularity in the 1950s for its creamy texture and distinct flavor, becoming synonymous with many cheesesteak recipes.
  • Some purists argue that real Philly Cheesesteaks must have Cheez Whiz, while others prefer Provolone or American cheese.
  • The choice of cheese can vary based on personal preference, with each type offering a unique flavor profile to the sandwich.
  • Iconic Philly cheesesteak spots, like Pat’s and Geno’s, have popularized Cheez Whiz, but also offer other cheese options.

Cheez Whiz is a popular topping on real Philly cheesesteaks.

Other cheese options include American, Swiss, or provolone.

The cheese has to be mild in flavor and be able to melt easily over the steak.

The original Philly cheesesteak, invented by Pat Olivieri in 1930, didn’t have any cheese on it at all.

Whether you prefer Cheez Whiz or not, you can’t beat a real Philly cheesesteak!

Of course, some cheese is too expensive to use as a topping, and in this article, you can find out why provolone costs so much.

What’s your take on the great cheesesteak debate?

Will you stick with the classic Cheez Whiz, or are you tempted to try something different?

How does this variety in cheese options reflect the authenticity and evolution of regional dishes in American cuisine?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

A rustic outdoor setting with a cheesesteak sandwich on a wooden table


  1. What is the traditional cheese used in Philly Cheesesteaks?
    • While Cheez Whiz is popular, traditional cheeses also include Provolone and American.
  2. When did Cheez Whiz become popular in cheesesteaks?
    • Cheez Whiz gained popularity in the 1950s due to its creamy texture and flavor.
  3. Are there cheesesteak purists who prefer only Cheez Whiz?
    • Yes, some purists insist that real Philly Cheesesteaks must have Cheez Whiz.
  4. Can I choose different cheeses for my Philly Cheesesteak?
    • Personal preference plays a big role, and options like Provolone or American are common.
  5. Do famous Philly cheesesteak spots only use Cheez Whiz?
    • Iconic spots like Pat’s and Geno’s offer Cheez Whiz, but they also provide other cheese choices.

1 thought on “Philly Cheesesteak Showdown: Cheez Whiz vs Traditional Cheese”

Leave a Comment