Colby-Jack Vs. Colby: What's The Difference?

Most people love cheese, but when it comes to narrowing down which cheese is your favorite, things can get a little more complicated. For example, did you know there are three different types of cheddar cheese and one melts better than the others (per Wisconsin Cheese)? Confusingly, certain cheeses are often clumped together for their similarities, such as parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Grana Padano — do you know the differences between these three? Due to their similar yellow hue, Colby and cheddar cheese often get mistaken for each other, although there is actually a small difference between the two. 

Today though, the cheese conundrum we're going to investigate is the difference between Colby and its cousin, Colby-jack. According to The Spruce Eats, Colby is a great choice for anything that requires cheese melting, including grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, and burgers. Colby-jack has similar strong melting capabilities, although WikiCheese notes that it also pairs well with cold sandwiches, salads, casseroles, and soups. According to, both Colby and Colby-jack are rindless cheeses made from cow's milk in Wisconsin. So what puts the "jack" in Colby-jack?

Colby is mixed with Monterey Jack to make Colby-jack

The purer of the two, Colby cheese is a solid yellow or orange and is essentially a milder, sweeter version of cheddar (via Wisconsin Cheese). Colby-jack, however, is the love child of Colby and Monterey Jack; the two kinds of cheese are combined before pressing, which creates a yellow-and-white marbling effect, a semi-soft texture, and a light, creamy flavor, reports

According to Cheesemaking, Colby was invented in 1885 by Joseph F. Steinwand. It was originally made to be an offshoot of cheddar cheese. Tweaking the cheddar-making process slightly, Steinwand stopped the acidification early by washing his curds in cold water, according to Wisconsin Cheese, which made the cheese sweeter. Combining Colby with Monterey Jack then made it even lighter and softer.

This makes sense if you're familiar with Monterey Jack, according to The Spruce Eats. Monterey Jack is a light yellow, mild cheese that comes from California, melts easily, and canoodles well with other ingredients — it's also used to make Pepper Jack. The history of Monterey Jack, however, is dreadful, as California businessman David Jack took land from Spanish missionaries — the original creators of Monterey Jack – and sold their cheese under the name "Jack's Cheese" (via AllRecipes). 

Years later, the light flavor of Monterey Jack would be combined with the milder version of cheddar (Colby) to get a gentle, crowd-pleasing chunk of cheese.