The cheese & onion sandwich is a classic British recipe that primarily calls for grated cheese. Although the name may suggest equal parts cheese and onion, it’s definitely the cheese that’s the main focus.
Still, you may not want to consume too much cheese, because it is usually loaded with calories and saturated fat.
Also, all cheese is not equal. The different brands of cheese & onion sandwich do vary in the cheeses they use, such as Cheddar and Red Leicester, and in their ratios too.
Whether you’re a cheese lover or a cheese minimalist, here’s the info you’ll need to find your perfect blend.
Amount of Cheese in Cheese & Onion Sandwiches
We surveyed 13 cheese & onion sandwiches on the market. Unfortunately, only 11 state their percentage cheese in their ingredients, which means the amount per pack is also otherwise not determinable.
The Waitrose and Sainsbury’s cheese & onion sandwiches are both 28% cheese, making them joint winners when it comes to the highest percentage cheese. The Waitrose version is mostly Cheddar with some Red Leicester, while the Sainsbury’s version is equal parts medium mature Cheddar and Red Leicester.
As for the total amount of cheese per pack, it’s the M&S cheese & onion sandwich that comes out on top, with a total of 45.9g of cheese in each 170g pack. It’s mostly Cheddar with some Red Leicester.
Unsurprisingly, the budget Tesco Everyday Value cheese & onion sandwich is the one with the least amount of cheese, both by percentage and total amount per pack. It only contains 18.9g of cheese, which equates to just 13.5% of each 140g pack. It uses mostly red Cheddar with some uncoloured Cheddar.
Median Amount of Cheese
Reduced Fat Sandwiches
As you would expect, the Morrisons reduced fat cheese & onion sandwich contains less cheese (21% or 29.8g) than its standard counterpart (23% or 34.5g). Only some of this cheese (14% or 19.9g) is reduced fat cheese.
Sainsbury’s also sells a reduced fat version of its cheese & onion sandwich. While the standard version contains 28% or 42.0g cheese, the reduced fat version contains 23% or 33.1g in reduced fat white and red cheese. However, this does not count an extra ingredient of reduced fat soft cheese in the reduced fat sandwich, the amount of which is not declared.
Types of Cheese in Cheese & Onion Sandwiches
Cheddar cheese is the main grated cheese used in virtually every cheese & onion sandwich. It’s named after Cheddar, Somerset, the village where it originated.
The 85p Tesco Everyday Value sandwich also uses Red Cheddar, where annatto is added to give the cheese a red colour, but Red Leicester (see below) is more common for this.
Red Leicester cheese almost always accompanies the Cheddar cheese to add colour. The red colour comes from annatto, but the colour does not change the taste of the cheese.
Most sandwiches use Red Leicester, but there are two exceptions. The Tesco Everyday value uses Red Cheddar as a cheaper substitute for Red Leicester. Also, the Greggs sandwich does not use a red cheese at all but instead adds colour with sliced carrot.
The reduced fat variants (Morrisons NuMe and Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself) use reduced fat cheese. Note that the fats eliminated from this cheese are not just saturated fats but good natural fats as well.
The Sainsbury’s reduced fat version also uses a reduced fat version of cream cheese or soft cheese. Although no other brands use cream cheese, the taste and texture of the grated cheese and mayonnaise blend is comparable to that of cream cheese.
Vegetarian cheese refers to cheese that does not use calf stomach rennet. The sandwich from The Co-operative Food is the only one that is explicit about using vegetarian cheese.
Nutrition of Cheese
Cheeses such as Cheddar and Red Leicester are high in calories and saturated fat, but are also a good source of protein and calcium. The energy content is 402kcal per 100g.
Find out more about the nutrition of cheese & onion sandwiches here.
The Full Picture…
Here’s a comparison table where you can compare each sandwich’s cheese type, its percentage cheese and the equivalent amount of cheese per pack.
|Sandwich||Cheese Type and Percentage||Cheese Type and Amount Per Pack||Total Percentage Cheese||Total Cheese Per Pack|
|Average||Most Frequent: Cheddar and Red Leicester (5 of 13)||Most Frequent: Cheddar and Red Leicester (5 of 13)||Median: 24%||Median: 39.3g|
|Waitrose Cheese & Onion||Cheddar (18%), Red Leicester (10%)||Cheddar (28.4g), Red Leicester (15.8g)||28%||44.2g|
|Sainsbury’s Cheese & Red Onion||Red Leicester (14%), Medium Mature Cheddar (14%)||Red Leicester (21.0g), Medium Mature Cheddar (21.0g)||28%||42.0g|
|M&S Cheese & Onion||Cheddar (18%), Red Leicester (9%)||Cheddar (30.6g), Red Leicester (15.3g)||27%||45.9g|
|Asda Cheese & Onion||Mature Cheddar (14%), Red Leicester (12%)||Mature Cheddar (22.7g), Red Leicester (19.4g)||26%||42.1g|
|The Co-operative Cheese & Onion||Vegetarian Medium Mature Cheddar (18%), Vegetarian Red Leicester (7%)||Vegetarian Medium Mature Cheddar (28.3g), Vegetarian Red Leicester (11.0g)||25%||39.3g|
|Tesco Cheese & Onion||Cheddar (12%), Red Leicester (12%)||Cheddar (20.6g), Red Leicester (20.6g)||24%||41.2g|
|Morrisons Cheese & Onion||Cheddar (17%), Red Leicester (6%)||Cheddar (25.5g), Red Leicester (9.0g)||23%||34.5g|
|On the Go! Cheese & Spring Onion||Red Leicester (11%), Mature Cheddar (11%)||Red Leicester (18.5g), Mature Cheddar (18.5g)||22%||37.0g|
|Urban Eat Cheese & Onion||Cheddar, Red Leicester||Cheddar, Red Leicester||22%||34.5g|
|Morrisons Reduced Fat Cheese & Onion||Reduced Fat (14%), Red Leicester (7%)||Reduced Fat (19.9g), Red Leicester (9.9g)||21%||29.8g|
|Tesco Everyday Value Cheese & Onion||Red Cheddar (10%), Cheddar (3.5%)||Red Cheddar (14.0g), Cheddar (4.9g)||13.5%||18.9g|
|Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself Cheese & Red Onion||Reduced Fat White (13%), Reduced Fat Red (10%), Reduced Fat Soft Cheese||Reduced Fat White (18.7g), Reduced Fat Red (14.4g), Reduced Fat Soft Cheese|
|Greggs Cheese & Onion||Cheddar||Cheddar|