5 Fantastic Alternatives to Comté Cheese
Comté is famous French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and is a very hard cheese, though not as hard as Parmesan but harder than Cheddar.
It is produced in the Jura Massif region, where the cows graze on wonderful things such as clover, flowers, and a wide variety of herbs, all of which gives this French cheese its distinctly unique herbaceous and floral flavor. The cheese is made using traditional methods that have been passed down from generation to generation, including its long aging process!
As with most cheeses, the longer it is aged, the stronger the flavor and the firmer the texture. Comté is aged for a minimum of four months but up to 18, which gives it a unique crumbly, firm texture and bold flavor that is unique to Comté – nutty and sweet, with a slightly fruity, herby aroma.
The cheese has a creamy mouthfeel and Comté lovers describe a pleasant and surprising aftertaste of rosewater. The flavor and texture make Comté cheese a versatile cheese that can be served on its own or used as an ingredient in various dishes.
The production of Comté cheese is a tedious, delicate process. The milk is collected from the cows who eat naturally, no corn here, and then placed in large, specially made copper vats where it is then heated and mixed with rennet. Rennet is made from animal intestines so this cheese is not suitable for vegetarians. The curd is then cut and placed in large, plastic molds, where it is pressed for several hours. After that, the cheese is removed from the molds and salted, then left to age in a cellar for several months.
During the aging process, the cheese develops a natural rind that adds to its flavor and protects the cheese from drying. The temperature and humidity in the cellar are meticulously controlled to ensure that the cheese matures and doesn’t spoil. The result is a cheese that is rich in flavor and texture with a unique character that sets it apart from other cheeses.
It goes well with both red and white wines, particularly those with a fruity flavor such as a Gewurztraminer or Riesling. For more tips, check these guide on wine & cheese pairing tips.
Comté cheese can be enjoyed in so many different ways! For example, it can be served on a cheese board with crackers, bread, and fruits. It can also be used as a topping for pizza, melted in gratins, or used in soups. This lovely cheese can also be used in quiches, omelets, and sandwiches. The possibilities are endless!
Comté is very popular in Europe but can be hard to find elsewhere. You can sometimes find it at local, specialty cheese shops or at cheesemongers, but if you cannot attain it, here are some helpful Comte substitutes:
Gruyère is a hard cheese that originated in Switzerland. Gruyère has a lot in common with Comté!
It is nutty and earthy, with a soft, smooth finish. Like Comté, Gruyère is made from special milk from very special cows! Also, like Comté, Gruyère is covered in a natural, edible rind. As it ages, Gruyère becomes somewhat granular, with salt crystals developing a deeper, richer, saltier flavor.
A young Gruyère has a nutty flavor and a firm texture, much like Comté. It can be used in dishes that require hard cheese, such as fondue, sandwiches, or quiches. It can also be used as a substitute for Comté cheese on a cheese board as it stands well on its own.
2. Hard Cheeses such as Parmesan Reggiano, Romano, Pecorino, Grana Padano, or Asiago
Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese, made from cow’s milk, that originated in Italy. Like Comté, it has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, and it can be grated or shaved over pasta, salads, or soups. Parmesan is an excellent substitute for Comté in dishes that require hard cheese, such as gratins or quiches, or you can just eat it on its own if you feel like a treat!
Romano and Pecorino also make great alternatives to Comté. The former is American made and the latter is famous in Italy, but both are delicious and very flavorful! They may be made from different types of milk and have different nuances of flavor, but they hold their own on a cheese platter or as a subtle garnish for salads, soups, sandwiches, etc.
Asiago and Romano are both slightly creamier than the very firm Parmesan and are more similar to Comté. Asiago is also a great substitute if you’re on a budget, as both Pecorino and Parmesan can be quite expensive!
Like Comté, Grana Padano is always made from cow’s milk and has a very similar flavor profile. It is slightly drier and has a punchier flavor, but we think you will love it! Select any one of these hard cheeses as an alternative for Comté and your guests will love you for it!
3. Beaufort Cheese
Beaufort is a semi-hard cheese made in the French Alps. It has a rich, nutty flavor that is similar to Comté, and it can be used in a variety of dishes or served plain with a good, crusty, French bread alongside olives and cured meats!
Beaufort cheese can be tricky to find – even trickier than Comté – but if you can get your hands on some, we highly recommend giving it a try! It is a real treat!
4. A Really Good Cheddar Cheese
Like Comté, classic cheddar is made from pasteurized cow’s milk, so it has the same flavor profile. But cheddar is often not made with the same love and care as Comté, so it may not have the same nuances of flavor or depth.
Cheddar melts and grates like Comté, especially if you find a good quality, aged cheddar, and an aged cheddar will have the same sharp bite! While Comté is incredibly unique in both flavor and quality, a really great aged, high quality cheddar cheese does make a good alternative.
Manchego is kind of like Comté’s Spanish cousin! It is made from sheep’s milk and has a very strong, salty flavor as well as a grainy, crumbly texture that is the signature quality of beloved Spanish Manchego.
The only real difference between Comté and Manchego is the regions in which they are made. They are both praised for their exceptional quality and superior flavor profiles and unique aftertastes. Manchego is a delicious Spanish cheese that we think will soon become your favorite… after Comté that is!
Comté cheese can be considered one of the most popular and versatile varieties in the world. Its unique flavor profile, texture, and aroma have made it a staple of French cuisine for centuries. Today, however, it has become a favorite in many other countries, and it is appreciated by cheese enthusiasts worldwide. It’s easy to see why.
Comté is a cheese lover’s dream come true. Creamy, crumbly, zesty, milky, sharp, and subtle… this cheese has it all! The traditional methods used to make it and the fact that it is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk give it a distinct flavor. Comté can be enjoyed in various ways, making it a versatile cheese that can be added to any dish. If you have not tried Comté cheese yet, it is time to do so. You will not be disappointed!