Cheddar cheese isn’t always available where I live in France, so I’ve found a few alternatives. 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
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, French people do love their McDonalds.
You might be interested in reading about how the French love McDonald’s.
Where’s the Cheddar in France?
Walk into any decent-sized grocery store in France and head to the cheese section.
You’ll see a myriad of cheese varieties that will 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
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, 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.
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 is the cheeses you can use instead 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.
Since moving to France, I’ve sampled cheeses I didn’t even know existed, and I’ve grown a new appreciation for the art of cheese making, which dates back to the time of the Egyptians over 7,000 years ago in present-day Croatia.
About these Cheddar cheese substitutes
None of the cheeses on my list taste exactly like Cheddar, and a few taste nothing like Cheddar, but they still work well in many of my 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’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
BabyBel was created by Groupe Bel, a French company in the Jura region of France.
If you’ve ever tried BabyBel, you’ve already tried
They just don’t call it
Mimolette vs Cheddar Cheese
Sometimes called “Boule de Lille” or “Vieux Hollande.”Edam.
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 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—they weren’t happy about the ban.
Colbert ordered the region’s farmers to produce their own Frenchified (better version) of
That is how
Aged Gouda vs Cheddar
Another Dutch cheese popular throughout France is
Gouda Is a semi-soft cheese with a distinctive crunchy crystal texture that is oddly satisfying to bite into.
In some French restaurants, you’ll find
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 on this list.
Although neither Emmental nor French Gruyere tastes anything like Cheddar, I included them on this list as a Cheddar alternative mainly because they’re used to make the famous French Croque Monsieur which is France’s version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with Bechamel sauce.
- Emmental cheese is a Swiss cheese recognizable around the world thanks to its holes. You probably know this cheese simply as Swiss cheese because that’s what it’s called in the US and Canada.
- French Gruyere cheese is France’s version of Swiss Cheese and also has holes.
Oddly enough, Swiss Gruyere has no holes.
The holes in swiss type cheese are called “Eyes”.
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.
Here are some other 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, mainly that they are 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.