10 Cheddar Cheese Substitutes I use in France

Need a cheddar cheese alternative? Here’s a list of cheddar cheese substitutes & alternatives I use for recipes that call for cheddar cheese.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
slices of cheddar cheese on a black granite slab
slices of cheddar cheese on a black granite slab

Cheddar isn’t always an option where I live in France, so I’ve put together this list of cheddar cheese substitutes for white and orange cheddar and some cheddar alternatives.

Some are similar to Cheddar, and some are not but work just as well, if not better than cheddar cheese.
substitute for white cheddar cheese

Cheddar in France isn’t widely used

“Cheddar Is NOT Real Cheese,”

A real statement from a good friend of mine who is French.

a lot of cheese in the cheese section of a French supermarket

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.

Cheese section in a French grocery store

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 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 Mcdonald’s. 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. 

Cheese aile in a French grocery store in France: Cheddar was nowhere to be found

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. 

Wyke cheddar cheese on a shelf

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.

Cheddar Cheese substitutes: Cheeses you can use in place of Cheddar

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. 

Times change!

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 cheese board with a variety of hard and soft cheeses on my cheese and charcuterie boards whenever I host a dinner party or apero at my house. 

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

1) Cantal (the cousin of Cheddar cheese)

Cantal Cheese, a cousin to Cheddar and a great alternative to Cheddar

Out of all the cheeses on this list, Cantal is probably the most like Cheddar. Real Cheddar. Farmhouse cheddar, aged Cheddar—the good Cheddar.

It has the same texture and meltability 

Cantal is also one of the oldest cheeses in France, pre-dating Roquefort (11th century) and is even considered a cousin to Cheddar cheese.

It’s believed the Romans brought Cantal to England, where it eventually became Cheddar cheese.

2) Edam vs Cheddar Cheese

Edam cheese from Hollande as an alternative to cheddar cheese

Edam is a semi-hard cheese originally from Edam in the Netherlands.

The interesting thing about Edam is it never goes bad inside of its red wax outer shell.

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 Edam cheese:

If you’ve ever tried BabyBel, you’ve already tried Edam cheese because the BabyBel brand of cheese is the same as Edam cheese.

BabyBel was created by Groupe Bel, a French company in the Jura region of France.

They just don’t call it Edam for reasons unknown to me.

baby-bel-panné crusted babybel cheese
Here’s a recipe for breaded Edam cheese (in French).

3) Mimolette vs Cheddar Cheese 

Mimolette cheese from France as an alternative to 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 Mimolette cheese.

The secret to the earthy, nutty taste and its textured crust of Mimolette cheese are microscopic cheese mites that live on the surface of most aged cheeses, chowing down on the microscopic moulds that grow there.

These tiny bugs are a nuisance for most aged cheese and get gently brushed away. For Mimolette cheese, mites are encouraged. YUM.

Mimolette is France’s version of Dutch Edam cheese. 

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 Edam cheese, and they did.

That is how Mimolette cheese was born.

mac-et-mimolette: Cassolette de macaronis au bacon et à la mimolette
Here’s a Mac, bacon and Mimolette recipe (in French).

4) Aged Gouda vs Cheddar

Aged Gouda Cheese, a cousin to Cheddar and a great alternative to Cheddar

Another popular Dutch cheese in France is Gouda Vieux, literally «old Gouda» (aged Gouda.)

Gouda is named after the Dutch town.

I had had Gouda in Canada, but it tastes nothing like the aged Dutch Gouda I get here in France. 

Aged Dutch Gouda is a semi-hard cheese and is so much richer and more flavorful than the Gouda you find in North America. 

It has a rich, nutty taste with a slightly more crumbly texture than parmesan. 

The interesting thing about aged Dutch Gouda is the satisfying crunchy crystal texture in every bite. 

Out of all the cheddar substitutes on this list, aged Gouda is my favourite. 

It’s excellent on grilled cheese sandwiches.

In some French restaurants, you’ll find Gouda is a cheese option for burgers, but so is Blue Cheese. 


HelloFresh France, the meal-kit company, featured a Gouda burger on its menu.

If you’re interested in learning about HelloFresh, I did a video unboxing which you can watch here.

5 + 6) Swiss Cheese (Emmental & French Gruyere) vs Cheddar Cheese

Emmental-Gruyere-Cheese, a cousin to Cheddar and a great alternative to Cheddar

People often get confused between French Gruyere and Emmental.

They’re often interchangeable in recipes, so I included them together.🙏

Although neither Emmental nor French Gruyere tastes anything like Cheddar, I included them on this list as Cheddar alternatives mainly because of their meltability that’s right up there with cheddar. 

Both Emmental and French Gruyère are baking cheeses that melt extremely smooth.

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 kinds of 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 its 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 Emmental too. 

Do you know what “Croque Monsieur” means? Mister Crunch. Sounds better in French, doesn’t it?

Croque Monsieur French grilled cheese sandwich which uses Gruyère

Tasty has a quick video that shows you how to make a Croque using Gruyère cheese.

More French recipes that use Gruyere or Emmental (Swiss cheese).

  • Cheese Fondue
  • French Onion soup
  • Quiche
  • 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). Brie would not be considered hard cheese, for example. 

7) Tomme de Savoie:

wedge of tomme de savoie cheese

 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 sheep milk.

Ossau Iraty is a little firmer than Manchego and 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. 

9) Etorkiround block of Etorki cheese

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.

10) Morbier

Wedge of Morbier Cheese

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 that are economical and work well. 

Examples of cheese I would use for foods that typically call for Cheddar

  • Mac and cheese– I use Gouda & Cantal with a bit of Blue cheese.
  • Tacos– I mix shredded Gouda, Edam and Mimolette together.
  • Sandwiches– Swiss, sliced Mimolette, Cantal, Gouda, Edam or any cheese I want to try.
  • FajitasMimolette + Gouda.
  • Omelettes- I don’t particularly like Swiss cheese or Emmental in omelettes, but all the other cheeses on this list go well inside an omelette.

Good luck and Bon appetit.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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