Best 6 Gruyère Cheese Substitutes
Originating in the Saanetal Valley in the Western Fribourg region of Switzerland, Gruyère cheese has been produced for over a thousand years following the same strict recipe. Similar to Emmental cheese because of its source material, raw milk, Gruyère is a matured cheese, covered in a thick, reddish-brown crust.
The crust is grainy in texture and is not edible. The cheese itself is hard, yellowish in color, and sometimes shows tiny glutamic acid crystals, a substance that develops during the maturation process and gives Gruyère its distinct salty taste.
Gruyère’s flavor differs according to the cheese’s aging profile.
A mild Gruyère (minimum 5 months old) is creamy and nutty in flavor, while a surchoix (minimum 10 months old) is spicy and fruity, with earthy hints of hazelnuts. In Switzerland, but also Europe, other Gruyère varieties are available, such as mi-salé (7–8 months), salé (9–10 months), vieux (14 months), and Höhlengereift (cave aged).
In 2001, Gruyère became an AOP (appellation d’origine protégée – A Swiss legal framework protecting the origin and quality of traditional culinary specialties that can only be produced in certain areas).
A very important aspect of the production of AOP cheese is the maturation process, which gives the cheese its specific taste and texture. Gruyère cheese must be matured in cellars with a climate close to that of a natural cave, with a humidity of 94% to 98% and a temperature between 13 °C (55 °F) and 14 °C (57 °F).
Gruyère cheese is recommended for baking as it has a specific taste that is not overpowering. It is mostly used in quiches, fondues (along with Vacherin and Emmental cheese), French onion soup, croque-monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich), and cordon bleu. Grated, it goes well with pasta and in salads.
But what is there to do when a recipe asks for Gruyère cheese, and there is none available, or the price is too steep? For such situations, both professional and amateur chefs recommend using Gruyère substitutes, as there are several other cheese types that come in close in terms of flavor, texture, and melting properties.
1. Kerrygold Irish Dubliner
Recommended by Reddit users @icanttho and @leftnewdigg2, Kerrygold Dubliner cheese is a very good Gruyère substitute as it is similarly nutty and has a distinct flavor. It is an Irish cheese, matured for over 12 months, with a hint of sweetness.
It is a versatile cheese, one of the best general-purpose products available in the U.S. It has a strong flavor that is best suited for Mac and Cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, cheese on baked potatoes, and fish pie. As it melts easily, it is also suitable for baked recipes, such as those that require Gruyère cheese. Amazon user @jkim describes it as a smoother version of Gruyère, and a cross between sharp cheddar and parmesan.
2. Fontina Val d’Aosta D.O.P.
An Italian cheese with a velvety texture, Fontina is recommended as a Gruyère cheese substitute by Reddit user @ljbc_4178, who read a recipe that says Fontina is a suitable replacement. Fontina is classically paired with Mozzarella di Bufala on pizza. It has a firm texture, which guarantees a nice melt when heated.
The flavor is reminiscent of Gruyère due to the tones of butter and roasted nuts. The cheese is traditionally made from unpasteurized milk and matured for three months in the humid grottos of the Aosta Valley in Italy. The taste is described as lightly pungent and dense, with flavors from wildflowers and herbs.
3. Swiss Emmental AOP
Emmental cheese is often better known as Swiss cheese. It is a mild-flavored cheese that uses the same bacteria as Gruyère for the maturation process, meaning that it melts just as easily as Gruyère. Because of this, Emmental cheese can be used in the same recipes that require melting the cheese.
However, Emmental cheese has a much milder flavor, therefore it will not provide a taste as strong as Gruyère. Reddit users @StephenCooks and @512maxhealth recommend using Emmental as a substitute for Gruyère, more precisely for French onion soup recipes, noting that any cheese with a mild flavor and a melting and caramelizing texture is suitable.
4. Jarlsberg Cheese
Jarlsberg is a Norwegian cheese that is currently produced both in the U.S. and Ireland under license from Norway. It is a mild-flavored cheese made from cow’s milk, has a buttery texture and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, which resembles Gruyère but on a milder note.
As a substitute for Gruyère, Reddit user @Guvmint_Cheese says that both Jarlsberg and Havarti cheeses can be used, although they give less flavorful dishes. Jarlsberg is coated in wax, and this is something to keep in mind when cooking with it, as the rind has to be cut off. Another difference is the fact that Jarlsberg has a creamier texture than Gruyère, therefore recipes must be adjusted accordingly.
5. Comte Cheese
Comte cheese is a semi-firm French cheese with a taste similar to Gruyère and a creamy texture that melts just as easily. Actually, Comte is considered as Gruyère’s French twin as it has a very similar taste and texture. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and matured for several months.
With its mildly sweet taste, Comte is suitable for using on French onion soup or croque monsieur, both traditional French recipes. Reddit user @rumbidzai considers Comte to be the closest cheese to Gruyère, adding that there is a slight difference in flavor between the two varieties.
6. Appenzeller Cheese
Produced in the small Swiss canton of Appenzell, a small self-governing village-state, Appenzeller cheese is renowned as one of the best traditional Swiss cheeses, made from a recipe preserved for 700 years. Appenzeller cheese comes in three categories, mild, sharp, and extra sharp, with flavors ranging from mild to very strong. Similar to Gruyère, the mild Appenzeller is matured for three or four months, the sharp cheese is matured for four to six months, and the extra sharp is matured for over six months.
The strong flavor of the Appenzeller cheese comes from the wine or cider that is applied to the wheels of cheese in order to preserve them and help with the formation of a rind. Therefore, Appenzeller cheese is more flavored than Gruyère, but it reveals the same nutty and fruity flavors. Reddit users @lmolari and @LifeIsOnTheWire suggest using Appenzeller as a substitute for Gruyère, especially for recipes requiring a stronger flavor.
Gruyère Cheese Recipes
Professional chefs recommend Gruyère cheese for traditional Swiss recipes, such as fondue, and for recipes from other geographic areas that manufacture cheese similar to Gruyère.
For a traditional Swiss fondue recipe, chef John O‘Neil recommends using Gruyère cheese. The recipe is for Boulevard Barrel Aged Quad Fondue and it requires several types of cheese: Gruyère, Emmental, Raclette, Gouda, Havarti, grated, and coated with flour or corn starch.
The coated cheese is added to a simmering mixture of beer, garlic, onion or herbs for flavor, and heavy cream. The resulting sauce must be stirred constantly until the cheese is melted, and then served from a fondue pot, with a side of food for dipping (vegetables or bread cut into bite-sized pieces).
Another Gruyère cheese recipe comes from chef Evo Rye, and it brings a vegetarian twist to a French gratin recipe. For Cauliflower Gratin, the Dutch chef recommends using cauliflower, carrot, potato, peas, and pasta, which are placed into a baking dish and topped with a roux, a white sauce made with melted butter, cooked together with flour, mixed with milk, and flavored with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Grated Gruyère cheese goes on top of the veggies and sauce, and the whole dish goes to a heated oven for 30-40 minutes until the cheese has browned and the sauce bubbles.
For a Greek recipe, chef Diane Kochilas recommends using Naxos Graviera cheese, a Greek hard, matured cheese with a distinctive flavor, made from cow‘s milk. The chef’s recipe is for Kalogeros – Beef Baked with Eggplants & Cheese.
The recipe is named for the mountain on the Aegean island of Naxos, Kolgeros. It is a typical Greek recipe, combining beef, eggplants, and cheese. Beef and cheese are traditional products of the island of Naxos, as the island is home to a unique breed of cows, hence the production of Graviera.
For the recipe, the beef (rump, chuck, or shoulder is recommended) is sprinkled with flour and then cooked in a skillet, adding olive oil.
After the meat is browned on both sides, it is added to onions and crushed tomatoes, and flavored with white wine, bay leaves, and cinnamon, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The mixture must then simmer for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender.
Separately, the eggplants, cut into rounds, are broiled for 8-10 minutes. For the last stage, the eggplant pieces and the meat are layered in an oven-proof dish, topped with crumbled feta cheese, tomatoes, a layer of Graviera Naxos cheese, and baked for 15-20 minutes, until the cheeses melts.