Dietary recommendations suggest decreased consumption of SFA to minimise CVD risk; however, not all foods rich in SFA are equivalent. To evaluate the effects of SFA in a dairy food matrix, as Cheddar cheese, v. SFA from a vegan-alternative test meal on postprandial inflammatory markers, a randomised controlled cross-over trial was conducted in twenty overweight or obese adults with metabolic abnormalities. Individuals consumed two isoenergetic high-fat mixed meals separated by a 1- to 2-week washout period. Serum was collected at baseline, and at 1, 3 and 6 h postprandially and analysed for inflammatory markers (IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-17, IL-18, TNFα, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1)), acute-phase proteins C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid-A (SAA), cellular adhesion molecules and blood lipids, glucose and insulin. Following both high-fat test meals, postprandial TAG concentrations rose steadily (P < 0·05) without a decrease by 6 h. The incremental AUC (iAUC) for CRP was significantly lower (P < 0·05) in response to the cheese compared with the vegan-alternative test meal. A treatment effect was not observed for any other inflammatory markers; however, for both test meals, multiple markers significantly changed from baseline over the 6 h postprandial period (IL-6, IL-8, IL-18, TNFα, MCP-1, SAA). Saturated fat in the form of a cheese matrix reduced the iAUC for CRP compared with a vegan-alternative test meal during the postprandial 6 h period. The study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov under NCT01803633.