I put together this list of cheddar cheese substitutes and cheddar alternatives out of necessity because cheddar is not always available where I live in France. Some are similar to Cheddar, some are not but work just as well if not better for recipes that call for Cheddar cheese.
Cheddar in France isn’t widely used
“Cheddar Is NOT Real Cheese,”
-said the Frenchman.
A real statement from a good friend of mine.
Franck is my daughter’s best friend’s father. He’s your typical French guy.
When I say typical, I mean he represents a good majority of the French population regarding his views.
He’s proud, almost to a fault, when it comes to French customs, culture and cuisine. I say this with the utmost respect because I’ve learned so much about French culture thanks to my French friends.
Franck believes you should have a variety of cheeses on hand to eat after meals, but Cheddar cheese is not one of them because it’s NOT A REAL CHEESE.
In other words, he believes it’s beneath French standards. Not my words.
Cheddar isn’t produced in France either. It’s imported, usually from the UK.
Some of my French friends don’t even know what Cheddar cheese tastes like, while others jokingly tell me Cheddar is “fade” or “sans goût” (tasteless), compared to Emmental, Camembert and Raclette, three of some the most consumed cheeses in France.
It’s not their fault. Most of their experience with Cheddar cheese is limited to eating Cheddar cheese on a burger or American cheese (that flat square cheese) on a McDonald’s hamburger.
Yes, some French people do love their McDonalds. It’s easy to find a McDonald’s restaurant in France and they are always crowded.
You might be interested in reading about how the French love McDonald’s.
Cheddar is also hard to find in France.
There is also a lack of cheddar in French stores and shops in France.
Don’t believe me?
Walk into any decent-sized grocery store in France and head to the cheese section.
You’ll see whole aisles dedicated to hundreds of cheese varieties. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Now try to find Cheddar cheese “FROMAGE CHEDDAR“; France’s least favourite type of cheese.
Look closely! You’ll see one, maybe two small blocks of aged white cheddar cheese from the UK or Ireland if you’re lucky.
A popular brand of Cheddar cheese you might see is Wyke Cheddar.
Sometimes you can find small bags of shredded orange cheddar or packages of sliced orange Cheddar for sandwiches.
It just depends on the store and location.
I can find Cheddar at the Monoprix at one location here in Montpellier but not another. At Auchan, they never have any aged cheddar where I live, just the orange sliced cheddar cheese.
In bigger cities like Paris, you’re more likely to find a wider variety of Cheddar, but it’s still hit or miss depending on the store.
Our local fromagerie doesn’t usually carry cheddar either.
Cheddar cheese alternatives I use in France
But I digress. It is what it is, and I can’t nor do I want to change how the whole of France looks at cheese.
What I really want to talk about are the cheddar cheese substitutes you can use.
First of all, I’m not a cheese expert, and I rarely ate cheese before moving to France in 2011, except when I ate out at a fancy restaurant with my husband.
Since moving to France, I’ve sampled plenty of cheeses I didn’t even know existed and loads of stinky cheeses.
With cheese being such a big part of French culture, I’ve grown a new appreciation for it and the art of cheese making, which dates back to the time of the Egyptians over 7,000 years ago in present-day Croatia.
I ALWAYS include a
About these Cheddar cheese substitutes
None of the cheddar cheese alternatives on my list taste exactly like Cheddar, and a few taste nothing like Cheddar, but they still work well for recipes which call for Cheddar.
You might be interested in reading about French vegan cheese recipes
Cantal (the cousin of Cheddar cheese)
Out of all the cheeses on this list,
It has the same texture and meltability
It’s believed the Romans brought
Edam vs Cheddar Cheese
The interesting thing about
Edam cheese just gets harder and harder as it ages, which is kind of weird.
Texture-wise, Edam is similar to young, non-aged Cheddar cheese and tastes slightly salty but can also taste nutty.
BabyBel is a miniature version of
If you’ve ever tried BabyBel, you’ve already tried
BabyBel was created by Groupe Bel, a French company in the Jura region of France.
They just don’t call it
Mimolette vs Cheddar Cheese
Sometimes called “Boule de Lille” or “Vieux Hollande.”Edam.
Mimolette is a semi-hard French cheese with a deep orange colour and nutty tang that grates and melts similar to Cheddar.
Cheese mites are the secret to
The secret to the earthy, nutty taste and its textured crust of
These tiny bugs are a nuisance for most aged cheese and get gently brushed away. For
In 1675, during the French-Dutch war, Jean-Louis Colbert, the French minister who served King Louis XIV, prohibited the import of Dutch cheeses into France.
The people who lived in the northernmost region of France, which is now Belgium had strong cultural ties to Holland and loved Dutch cheeses. So they weren’t happy about the ban of Dutch cheeses, especially Exam cheese.
Colbert ordered the region’s farmers to produce their own Frenchified (better version) of
That is how
Aged Gouda vs Cheddar
Another popular Dutch cheese in France is
Gouda is named after the Dutch town.
I had had
It has a rich, nutty taste with a slightly more crumbly texture than parmesan.
The interesting thing about aged Dutch
Out of all the cheddar substitutes on this list, aged
It’s excellent on grilled cheese sandwiches.
In some French restaurants, you’ll find
If you’re interested in learning about
5 + 6) Swiss Cheese (Emmental & French Gruyere) vs Cheddar Cheese
People often get confused between French Gruyere and Emmental.
They’re often interchangeable in recipes, so I included them together.🙏
And they have a distinctive taste that isn’t too overpowering, which explains why there are so many classique French recipes that use these two cheese.
What’s the difference between
Emmental and Gruyere cheese?
- Emmental cheese is a Swiss cheese recognized around the world thanks to its holes. You probably know this cheese simply as Swiss cheese because that’s it’s generic name in many parts of the world including the US and Canada.
- French Gruyere cheese is France’s version of Swiss Cheese and also has holes.
- Swiss Gruyere has no holes.
The holes in swiss type cheese are called “Eyes”.
French recipes that use Gruyere,
Emmental or both.
Croque Monsieur which is France’s version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with Bechamel sauce uses Gruyere but some recipes use
Do you know what “Croque Monsieur” means? Mister Crunch. Sounds better in French, doesn’t it?
Tasty has a quick video that shows you how to make a Croque using Gruyère cheese.
More French recipes that use Gruyere or
- Cheese Fondue
- French Onion soup
- Gratin dauphinoise ( au gratin style potatoes)
- Cordon Bleu
- Gratin de Macaronis (French mac and cheese)
Other cheeses that may work well as a cheddar cheese substitute include:
I encourage you to try different cheeses that have a similar consistency to Cheddar.
Cheddar cheese substitute should be meltable and semi-hard (not too soft).
Tomme de Savoie:
An earthy semi-hard French cheese made from cow’s milk with a slight tang. It has a rubbery like texture and melts extremely well.
8) Ossau Iraty
This French white hard cheese from Occitan-Basque is made from sheep milk, and it tastes very mild.
It’s very similar to Spanish Manchego cheese which is also a sheep milk.
Ossau Iraty is a little firmer than Manchego, less nutty but it has a stronger flavour.
It’s super meltable too. I haven’t met a person yet, who doesn’t like it. At the World Cheese Awards, Ossau Iraty won the title of the best cheese in the world twice.
Etorki is a French Basque cheese in the Pyrenees from sheep’s milk.
The recipe hasn’t changed for over 4000 years and has a sweet earthy flavour that’s very mild.
Morbier is a semi-soft French cow’s milk cheese. The interesting thing is that the center of the cheese has an ash line down the middle that looks a bit like blue cheese but tastes nothing like Blue. The more aged, the stronger the taste.
Morbier doesn’t grate very well but I have cut it up into tiny cubes and melted it in a risotto.
You don’t have to stick with the cheddar cheese substitutes on this list. These are just the ones that I can easily find in France, are economical and work well.
Examples of cheese I would use for foods that typically call for Cheddar
- Mac and cheese– I use
Gouda& Cantalwith a bit of Blue cheese.
- Tacos– I mix shredded
Gouda, Edamand Mimolettetogether.
- Sandwiches– Swiss, sliced
Mimolette, Cantal, Gouda, Edamor any cheese I want to try.
Mimolette + Gouda.
- Omelettes- I don’t particularly like Swiss cheese or
Emmentalin omelettes, but all the other cheeses on this list go well inside an omelette.
Good luck and Bon appetit.