Gruyère cheese is a Swiss cheese that is typically melted down and used for ooey-gooey comfort dishes like a grilled cheese sandwich. However, it’s equally as tasty as part of a charcuterie platter.
It provides a flavor sensation with a taste that is equal parts creamy, nutty, rich, and even slightly salty – leaving your taste buds craving more.
Despite the amazing taste, this type of cheese can cost a pretty penny per pound.
And if you only need a small amount of this cheese for a particular recipe you’re not going to want to pay all that money!
Fortunately, there are a couple of relevant substitutes that match the flavor profile and texture of Gruyère cheese that you could consider instead. These are tasty, meltable, and pretty affordable.
If you’re looking for a cheese that provides the same effect as Gruyère when melted or added into a particular recipe but without the excessive cost, you should try one of these glorious substitutes instead!
What Is Gruyère Cheese?
Before you consider a suitable substitute for Gruyère cheese it’s important that you understand exactly what this cheese is all about.
As we have established, this type of cheese is native to the town of Gruyères, located in Switzerland, which is where it gets its name.
The cheese is pretty firm in comparison to other cheeses available in the market and is typically a pale yellow color.
It is characterized by the small holes in the cheese that form due to the gas bubbles that are released by the bacteria used during the cheese production process.
Unlike other cheeses, Gruyère has much smaller holes meaning the flavor might be a little less intense. This depends on the maturation process.
Many recipes might call for the addition of this wonderful cheese. This includes the following:
- A topping for French onion soup
- In quiche (savory flavor)
- Fondue recipes (the cheese melts well)
- A pasta topping
- Toppings for croque madame or croque monsieur
What Is Gruyère Cheese Good For?
Gruyère cheese is rich in protein, fat, and calcium.
A single slice of Swiss cheese will make up roughly around 30% of your daily fat allowance so you should try to stick to only having a couple of slices, despite how tempting the flavor might be.
Though Gruyère cheese is a delicious addition to any meal, it has a couple of disadvantages. The main one is that it is expensive to buy.
You can expect to pay upwards of $18 for a pound of this cheese. If you’re only after a little bit of Gruyère for a recipe, it’s a lot to fork out!
This is when you can consider the following viable options as a substitute for Gruyère cheese.
1. Emmental Cheese
If it’s a fondue cheese you’re after, look no further than this incredible substitute! Emmental cheese originated from Emmental in Switzerland and is a smooth, medium-hard cheese.
It uses the same bacteria as Gruyère during its maturation process which means it possesses a similar melting power as Gruyère.
As a result, it’s a popular substitute for Gruyère cheese in recipes that require melted cheese.
However, there are a few key differences that set these two types of cheese apart.
To begin, Emmental cheese has an aging time of anywhere between 2 and 18 months, depending on the exact type of cheese you’d prefer.
It has a mild, buttery flavor that can also edge on a full-flavored fruity taste. Again, this depends on how long it’s left to mature.
And unlike Gruyère, Emmental cheese has larger holes. This means it will provide a flavor that is a little more intense (and no less delightful) than Gruyère.
This is a core reason why Emmental is such a brilliant substitute for Gruyère!
2. Jarlsberg Cheese
Jarlsberg is another tasty traditional Swiss cheese that originates from the 1800s. It is currently produced in the US and Ireland under license from Norway.
This versatile cheese is characterized by classic holes and its semi-firm outer layer. You can tell the age of Jarlsberg cheese by the size of its “eyes” (its holes), but it is usually matured for at least three months.
It’s a semi-soft cheese with a very creamy texture that is made using cow’s milk and also comes with a milder taste.
It shares its nutty flavor with Gruyère and is quite sweet which resembles Gruyère but on a slightly milder note.
This means you can use it in place of Gruyère in many snacks including ham and cheese sandwiches, or even a cheese plate. It’s also great for melting in recipes featuring fondue.
You must keep in mind that Jarlsberg cheese is coated in wax and the rind must be cut off.
3. Comté Cheese
Our next Gruyère substitute originates from the Franche-Comté region of France, situated along the border with Switzerland. It can only be made in this area.
This is a semi-firm French cheese that shares a similar taste to Gruyère and a texture that is just as creamy.
This means it also melts just as easily as Gruyère – so much so that it is considered to be Gruyère’s French cheese twin!
This cheese is made from raw milk and is matured in extraordinary caves to get the unique taste, color, and texture that it is renowned for.
It must be ripened from around four months to about 24 months to achieve this flavor profile and appearance.
It has a pale yellow center and a dusty brown rind which sets it apart from other cheese.
Comté possesses fantastic melting properties which makes it especially suitable for the French classic Croque Monsieur or a simple fondue.
This, along with a delightful nutty aroma and sweet and brown-butter notes, are what makes this cheese such a great substitute for Gruyère.
4. Appenzeller Cheese
Produced in the small Swiss canton called Appenzell – which is a small self-governing village-state – this type of cheese is renowned as being one of the greatest all-around traditional Swiss cheeses on the market. Its recipe dates back over 700 years ago.
Appenzeller cheese can be divided into three categories: mild, sharp, and then extra sharp.
Within these categories the provided flavors range from mild to extremely strong, depending on the length of time the cheese is left to mature.
Like Gruyère, a mild Appenzeller cheese is usually left to mature for anywhere between three and four months.
The sharp cheese is matured for about four to six months, and then the extra sharp cheese is left to mature for over six months.
Appenzeller cheese contains a lot more flavor than Gruyère because of the cider or wine that is applied to the wheels to preserve them and also help to form a rind.
Despite this, the two share very similar fruity and nutty flavors.
So, if you have a recipe that calls for Gruyère yet you are looking for a stronger flavor profile or a cheaper substitute, Appenzeller cheese is a great choice!
5. Raclette Cheese
We’re transported back to Switzerland for our next Gruyère substitute, Raclette.
This cheese is semi-hard, made from raw cow’s milk, and will typically mature for anywhere between 3 to 6 months. All of this cheese is edible, including its orange-brown rind.
The word ‘Raclette’ is derived from the French “racler” which translates as “to scrape.” This describes the cheese when it is served in its proper form as it features hot, melted cheese that is scraped onto your plate.
Like Emmental, Raclette melts exceptionally well and is usually served on top of boiled potatoes, in fondues, in grilled cheese sandwiches, and mixed with pasta.
Raclette can also be frozen for up to three months without losing its much-loved flavor or texture!
Raclette features small irregular holes, ivory to light yellow coloring, a floral aroma, and a spicy, fruity, and nutty flavor. However, its exact flavor profile depends on the origin of production.
While the flavor properties of Raclette have many similarities to Gruyère, the texture of aged Gruyère is much more grainy and earthy.
The downside is that this cheese can be quite expensive.
6. Gouda Cheese
Originating from the Netherlands, Gouda is a cow’s milk cheese that begins semi-firm but hardens as it ages.
It features a flavor range that is often anything from mildly sweet and buttery in flavor to caramelized and nutty.
Gouda is a pale yellow to deep orange color and is usually chosen for charcuterie boards and sandwiches for its striking appearance. It also pairs well with wine.
The longer Gouda cheese is left to mature, the more intense the flavors will be. This is something you must keep in mind if you opt to use it as a substitute for Gruyère.
Young Gouda cheese is best in sandwiches or as part of baked dishes like macaroni and cheese, casseroles, and quiches.
On the other side, an aged gouda will taste the best in dishes that don’t typically require any melting like on a cheeseboard (as mentioned above) or grated over pasta.
Due to its versatile flavors, Gouda makes for a brilliant substitute for Gruyère!
7. Fontina Cheese
If you love cheesy dishes you’ll want to get to know Fontina cheese. Originating from the Aosta valley in Italy, Fontina has a delightfully velvety semi-soft to hard texture.
Sourced from dairy milk, it has a milk fat content of around 45%, giving it the flavors that make it a brilliant substitute for Gruyère.
Fontina cheese is typically made from unpasteurized milk and then matured for three months in a humid Italian climate to get its unmistakable flavor.
Incredibly creamy and rich, the delightful flavors of Fontina cheese are both sweet and pungent, providing a delightful aftertaste of roasted nuts and butter as it lingers on your tongue.
Fontina is traditionally paired with Buffalo Mozzarella on a pizza as it has a relatively firm texture which ensures a classic melt when the cheese is heated.
As a result, this smooth, creamy cheese is great for melting and can be used in many recipes.
The nutty flavor of Fontina is best paired with savory foods like salads and grilled sandwiches. It can even be enjoyed by itself!
It’s also reminiscent of Gruyère due to the undertones of roasted nuts and butter.
8. American Swiss Cheese
If it’s the price you’re concerned about, American Swiss Cheese will prove to be a brilliant cost-effective substitute for Gruyère!
American Swiss is made using pasteurized cow’s milk and has much smaller “eyes” and a generally quite mild flavor.
Both Gruyère and this type of Swiss cheese have a flavor profile that becomes better and far more intense as it continues to age.
This makes it a pretty good choice for a substitute for Gruyère.
This cheese also closely resembles Emmental and can be found at just about any grocery store in any location.
It’s also a pretty common addition to cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, providing the melted cheese effect everyone knows and loves.
With a mellow flavor and a high melting rate, this cheese is pretty much completely interchangeable with Gruyère in any recipe!
9. Beaufort Cheese
Exclusively made using unpasteurized cow’s milk in the French Alps, this cheese is a much harder substitute for Gruyère than others on this list.
You will be able to easily identify this cheese due to its signature concave shape which gives way to a charming origin story.
This unique shape is said to make it much easier for French farmers to transport Beaufort cheese down the mountains by winding rope around the wheels.
It provides a unique aroma and a delightful buttery (almost caramel-like) flavor that closely resembles Gruyère cheese, except for the holes and moisture of Gruyère.
If you’re only substituting a small amount of cheese in a recipe by using Beaufort, you likely won’t be able to tell the difference at all!
The interior of Beaufort cheese ranges from pale yellow to white depending on when and where it is produced.
It’s typically left to mature for anywhere from 2 to 12 months to achieve the perfect flavor.
One thing about Beaufort cheese is that it has amazing melting properties, much like the other cheeses on this list.
It quite literally melts in your mouth – and that’s without being heated up!
10. Graviera Cheese
This is yet another melt-in-the-mouth substitute for Gruyère cheese. Graviera cheese is of Greek origin and is produced all over the country.
Graviera is a hard cheese based on sheep’s milk (or sheep’s milk mixed with a small amount of goat’s milk) with a light to deep yellow color, small and irregular holes, a harder rind, and a flavor ranging anywhere from nutty to spicy to slightly sweet.
A younger Graviera tastes buttery and sweet while an aged Graviera tastes more like burnt caramel or cheese with increased nuttiness. The flavor closely resembles Swiss Gruyere and ages typically from 5–12 months.
Because of this, Graviera is an excellent substitute for Gruyère.
This means you can give a variety of dishes a classic Greek twist including mac and cheese, a salad, or even cheese fritters to add a little bit extra texture to your food.
11. Kars Gravyer Cheese
Kars Gravyer can be defined as a hard Turkish cheese that is very similar in many ways to Gruyère.
It’s typically made with pure cow’s milk but you may find some variations that use both goat and cow’s milk to achieve the flavor.
The artisanal Kars Gravyer was invented in 1878 by a producer of Swiss cheese called David Moser who was traveling around the Turkish region of Boğatepe where it is still produced today.
This cheese is also yellow, semi-hard, and has a very distinctive aroma with many bright holes.
And though its name suggests Gruyère, Kars Gravyer cheese is closer to Emmental in texture, color, and appearance: palest yellow with large and irregular holes, savory, mildly nutty, and not too salty.
Despite this, it makes for an excellent substitute for Gruyere cheese.
12. Engelberg Cheddar Cheese
Engelberg has one of the closest flavor profiles to Gruyère. It’s aged for a similar period (five months) in salt and water and is made in the traditional Swiss cheese method.
It’s considered to be one of the highest quality Swiss cheeses out there.
The complex aging process of this cheese produces a complex-tasting cheese with a rich and earthy flavor profile that also features a hint of citrus.
Its pronounced flavor resembles that of an aged Gruyère but it tends to work well as a substitute for this type of cheese in many recipes, including quiches.
The best part about Engelberg Cheddar cheese is that it can also be used as a substitute for young Gruyère in certain recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does Gruyère Cheese Taste Like?
Gruyère cheese is mostly known for its creamy, salty, rich, and entirely nutty flavor. One thing to keep in mind is that the flavor of this particular cheese type will vary depending on its age.
A young Gruyère will have a pronounced nuttiness and creaminess whereas an aged Gruyère will have developed a more complex earthiness that gives it a richer depth of flavor.
What Can I Substitute For Gruyère Cheese In A Quiche?
You can substitute Jarlsberg, Emmental, or Raclette cheese in place of Gruyère in a quiche.
These Swiss cheeses are ideal as they provide very similar flavor profiles to Gruyère which means you won’t be able to taste a noticeable difference.
However, the exact type of cheese you are looking to use will depend entirely on the quiche recipe that you are attempting to follow.
Can I Use Parmesan Instead Of Gruyère?
Gruyère is sweet but a little bit salty which gives it a flavor profile that varies wildly depending on its age. Because of this, you can’t substitute Gruyère for parmesan by itself.
If you are certain that you want to use Parmesan, you can opt for a combination of Parmesan and Fontina.
The Parmesan possesses consistency and zip while the Fontina gives a rich flavor profile that makes it a delightfully creamy substitute.
What Is The Best Substitute For Gruyère Cheese?
There’s no exact answer to this question as it depends on the recipe that you’re planning to use the Gruyère substitution in!
If you only need to add a small amount of cheese to your recipe then any of the above cheeses will work well!
Gruyère may be king in terms of its delicious flavors, but there are plenty of premier cheeses in the court for you to try.
Sample any one of these in a recipe or on its own and you may just find your new favorite.
Each of these substitutes offers a different flavor profile and texture, so it’s in your best interest to experiment with each one to work out which substitute you prefer.