30 Best Cheeses Ranked According to Cheese Connoisseurs

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Odette Published: October 27, 2021 Modified: November 10, 2021

If you’re a true cheese lover, then you definitely have asked for more cheese once or twice from the waiter. We mean, we can’t blame you. It’s that good! Now, for cheese lovers and connoisseurs, the next big adventure does not only lie on the dinner table. You can also find joy in finding the best cheeses the world has to offer.

From the best-known kinds like Parmigiano Reggiano to the most pungent blue cheeses like Roquefort, the feel-good effect of this food is a business we take seriously. And don’t even begin on how we choose the cheeses to include for our charcuterie board! It’s a challenge we will gladly take on.

However, among all the types of cheese, it’s not surprising even the most ardent foodies are still on the lookout for their top ten favorites. If you’re one of them, hop on and learn more types you can try on your next food adventure!

Did You Know?

There are more than 1,800 different types of cheese in the world!


30 Best Cheeses According to Cheese Connoisseurs

Can’t go around the world to look for the best cheeses out there? Not to worry. In the meantime, make do with our list of best cheeses ranked by cheese connoisseurs. We’re sure you’ll be filling those top favorites in no time!

Pecorino Romano

Pecorino RomanoCountry of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Sheep

Flavor: Salty, grassy, earthy

Texture: Hard, flaky, crumbly

Best For: Grating cheese for pasta dishes like Cacio e Pepe

Even beginner cheese lovers know this very famous cheese, and rightly so. Ranked as one of the best cheeses by cheese connoisseurs, this pungent, piquant and hard flaky cheese is a perfect grating cheese for any pasta dish. But of course, nothing beats cacio e pepe. After all, Pecorino Romano is the main ingredient for this simple yet intense pasta recipe.

Buy Frank and Sal Genuine Locatelli Pecorino Romano on Amazon.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Sharp and complex nutty/fruity taste, savory

Texture: Gritty, grainy, crumbly

Best For: Pasta dishes, risotto, classic carbonara

Like Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano is another Italian cuisine staple as a table cheese or as a cooking cheese. It’s called King of Cheese for a reason. Its nutty aroma and complex flavor profile also sets Parmigiano Reggiano apart from the rest. Its notable savory, nutty, and fruity taste allows for wide-range use in the kitchen. Thus, solidifying its name even among common households.

Buy Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese on Amazon.

Raclette

Raclette

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Slightly nutty, salty, slightly sweet

Texture: Firm, smooth, creamy

Best For: Grilled or boiled potatoes, vegetables, meat, steaks

Raclette comes from the French word racler which means to scrape. True to its name, raclette is served by scraping melted gooey cheese directly on a plate of steak and grilled potatoes. You can also enjoy this pungent cheese with vegetables and other cured meats like prosciutto. If you want a true raclette experience, visit Swiss restaurants where raclette wheels are melted beside a fire until bubbly and gooey.

Buy igourmet French Raclette Cheese on Amazon.

Mozzarella

mozzarella

Country of Origin: Southern Italy

Milk Source: Water buffalo

Flavor: Delicate, tangy, milk-like freshness

Texture: Soft, moist

Best For: Pizza, grilled cheese sandwich, Pommes aligot

Meet the most popular cheese in the world: mozzarella. At this point, you don’t have to ask why. You automatically think round dough topped with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and more!  Thanks to pizza, mozzarella is popular throughout the world.

Not only does it have superb melting quality perfect for any pizza recipe, but it also offers an incredible cheese pull that pizza patrons love. Its mild and delicate flavor also complements other toppings well. Beyond pizza, mozzarella is a versatile cheese you can add to other dishes.

Buy Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella on Amazon.

Parmesan

Parmesan

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: fruity, nutty

Texture: hard, gritty

Best For: Pasta, carbonara, soups, risottos

You know Parmesan from your favorite dishes like carbonara and the all-time favorite chicken parmesan. It’s also often associated with Parmigiano Reggiano. But are they the same thing? Actually, no.

Parmigiano Reggiano undergoes a specific process of cheesemaking that follows DOP laws, or Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin in English). Parmesan, on the other hand, is not regulated and is more commercially accessible than its Italian counterpart. Nevertheless, parmesan still packs a lot of flavor that’s a great addition to your favorite Italian dishes, just as well as its Italian cousin.

Buy Milano’s Parmesan Cheese on Amazon.

Buffalo Mozzarella

Buffalo MozzarellaCountry of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Italian Mediterranean buffalo

Flavor: Creamy, slightly tangy, and salty

Texture: Soft, semi-elastic

Best For: Pizzas, salads, bread

Can mozzarella get any creamier and softer? The answer is a clear and resounding yes—in the name of buffalo mozzarella. It is a supple cheese that sources its milk not only from any buffalo but from Italian Mediterranean buffalo which makes the finest mozzarella. Compared to the well-known mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella is creamier, softer, and has a more complex flavor profile.

Buy Il Parco Buffalo Mozzarella DOP on Amazon.

Fior di Latte

Fior di Latte

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Intensely milky, slightly floral

Texture: Smooth, semi-soft, slightly tight

Best For: Lasagne, pizza, bruschetta, penne con olive e pomodoro fresco

Though sometimes confused together, fior di latte or flower of milk is completely different from mozzarella. But it is a cheese that follows mozzarella-style cheese making. The difference lies in its ingredients. Fior di latte uses fresh cow’s milk instead of water buffalo.

Buy Agerola Fior di Latte Mozzarella on Amazon.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage CheeseCountry of Origin: Europe

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Mild, creamy

Texture: Non-homogenous, soupy, slightly grainy

Best For: Dips, breakfast bowls, pancake, waffles

Reminiscent to ricotta, cottage cheese has a vague origin. But one thing is clear, this cheese has a versatile use in the kitchen thanks to its mild and creamy flavor that fits all kinds of cooking styles.

This versatile cheese can be added to desserts like this cottage cheese pie or savory gratin recipes. Add to that, we also gloss over that it’s low-fat. So it’s easier to sneak it in in any diet. For this very reason, cottage cheese deserves a spot on every cheese lover’s list of best cheeses.

Buy Upstate Niagara Cottage Cheese on Amazon.

Greek Feta

Greek Feta

Country of Origin: Greece

Milk Source: sheep or mixture of sheep and goat milk

Flavor: Milky, tangy

Texture: Soft, crumbly

Best For: Greek salad, pastry, cheese boards

Greek feta, not to be confused with feta-style cheese, is a DOP cheese that’s been aged for two to six months. Its mildly acidic aroma, milky, tangy flavor and soft, crumbly texture suit well with salads like this authentic Greek salad recipe.

Buy igourmet Authentic Barrel-Aged Greek Feta DOP on Amazon.

Roquefort

Roquefort

Country of Origin: France

Milk Source: Sheep

Flavor: Sharp metallic tang, sweet burnt-caramel

Texture: Soft, crumbly, moist

Best For: Cheese boards, salads, blue cheese pasta

Roquefort is notably one of the world’s best-known blue cheeses. And just like Parmigiano Reggiano and Greek feta, its name is protected by law. Again, it must be made and aged in a specific region. In this instance, this cheese is specifically made from unpasteurized sheep milk that’s been aged in the Combalay caves of Roquefort-Soulzon in France.

Does Roquefort stink? They do! All cheese does, except for a select few. Roquefort has a very strong pungent smell that stays with you if you ever come near it. So, is it worth trying? Of course. It’s good for snacking along with pears, figs, crackers, and a bottle of whisky.

Buy Papillon Black Label Roquefort AOP on Amazon.

Aged Gouda

Aged Gouda

Country of Origin: Netherlands

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Buttery, caramel-like, slightly nutty

Texture: Semi-hard to hard

Best For: Sandwiches, crackers, mac and cheese and other pasta

It’s no surprise that cheese gets better with age. But even more so with Gouda which is probably the reason why there’s a second variety called Aged Gouda. As it ages, it becomes harder and darker. The flavor also becomes stronger with an aroma that’s dense and springy. It becomes nutty and buttery suited for dishes such as this fried mac and cheese recipe and even chili con carne.

Buy Beemster 26 Month Extra Aged Gouda on Amazon.

Edam

Country of Origin: Netherlands

Milk Source: Cow/Goat

Flavor: Mild, slightly salty, and nutty

Texture: Semi-hard, springy

Best For: Potatoes, sandwiches, bread, charcuterie board

Edam might sound foreign to some, but we bet you can recognize this red round cheese because of its rind made of paraffin wax. That’s right, we’re talking about queso de bola (a common moniker used in former Spanish colonies) and Babybel (a brand of cheese products in the United States). Edam is what you call a snacking cheese. It’s best paired with cheese fruits like pears and apples, along with bread and crackers.

Buy Dutch Edam Four Pound Ball on Amazon.

Halloumi

Halloumi

Country of Origin: Cyprus

Milk Source: Goat and sheep, sometimes cow

Flavor: Mellow, feta-like, tangy

Texture: Semi-hard

Best For: Salads, casseroles

Halloumi is a popular meat substitute for vegetarians. Compliments to its high melting point, halloumi can be grilled and fried without melting. For that, it’s also categorized as one of the best cheeses for its versatility in the kitchen. As for the smell, don’t be surprised if it’s as pungent as other blue cheeses!

Buy Le Bedouin Halloumi on Amazon.

Brie De Meaux

Brie de Meaux

Country of Origin: France

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Sweet, buttery, with almond undertones

Texture: Soft, slightly sticky paste

Best For: Bread paired with wine, cheese boards

Here’s some news you should hear: Brie De Meaux is different from Brie you often find in the US market. Like most law-protected cheeses in Italy and France, Brie made outside the Brie region in France is barely the real deal. The real Brie has a refined, more elegant flavor than the generic kind. It also has a softer texture that pairs well with morsels found in a charcuterie board.

Buy Brie De Meaux Cheese (Whole Wheel) on Amazon

Burrata

Burrata

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Milky, buttery

Texture: Soft, buttery paste

Best For: Salads

Now, this cute cheese pouch resembles buffalo mozzarella in appearance as well as texture on the outside. But they are different. Burrata features a thin layer of a solid cheese case. Open the cheese case and you’ll find a soft, buttery cream that goes well with this strawberry burrata salad and other Italian dishes.

Buy Mamma’s Cheese Burrata on Amazon

Époisses de Bourgogne

Epoisse Cheese

Country of Origin: France

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Meaty, sweet, salty, buttery

Texture: Soft, almost paste-like

Best For: Sauces, sourdough, or any crusty bread

It doesn’t look like it, but Époisses de Bourgogne (or simply Époisses) is classified as a stinky cheese. It’s said to have a very strong, funky sausage smell. And speaking of sausage, it’s also one of the few best cheeses that come with a meaty flavor.

With undertones of salt, butter, and sweetness, this cheese has a perfectly balanced flavor perfect for crusty bread. The contrast in texture between the meltingly soft cheese and crusty bread is a harmony every cheese lover craves during snack time.

Buy Époisses along with other cheeses in this French Cheese Assorted Gift Box on Amazon.

Emmental

Emmental CheeseCountry of Origin: Switzerland

Milk Source: Dairy cattle

Flavor: Sweet with undertones of ripe fruit and hazelnuts

Texture: Semi-hard to hard

Best For: Fondues, grilled cheese sandwich, gratins

This cheese is probably familiar to you from its countless appearances in cartoons. Yes, the “cartoon cheese” you see in Tom and Jerry is this Swiss-type cheese known as Emmental.

Also called Emmentaler and Emmenthal, this cheese has a sweet flavor with undertones of ripe fruit and hazelnuts. Its semi-hard to hard texture is also easy to grate for dishes like easy cheese fondue with eight ounces of Emmental cheese.

Buy igourmet French Frantal Emmental on Amazon.

Camembert

Camembert

Country of Origin: France

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Earthy, nutty, buttery, and Brie-like

Texture: Moist, soft

Best For: Dips, charcuterie board, baguette, ciabatta

Lined up as one of the best cheeses in the world is this Camembert cheese that rivals another famous cheese, Brie. Camembert is described as earthy, nutty, and almost Brie-like. However, Camembert has a stronger, more intense flavor and aroma. It’s also more earthy compared to Brie.

Buy Fromage Marquis Camembert Le Bocage on Amazon.

Swiss Cheese

Swiss Cheese

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: sweet, mild, nutty

Texture: Smooth to medium-hard

Best For: Cheese sauces, pasta, sandwiches

If you want to give Alpine cheeses a shot, try their most famous one yet: Swiss Cheese.

This one greatly resembles Emmental cheese. And for a reason too. They’re both Swiss-type cheeses or Alpine cheese. Like Emmental, Swiss Cheese also features a semi-hard and firm texture with holes. Swiss Cheese is milder and has a more nutty taste.

Buy Deppeler’s Baby Swiss Cheese on Amazon.

Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar

Country of Origin: England

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Sharp, milky

Texture: Hard

Best For: Mac and Cheese, charcuterie board, sauces

This widely popular cheese is only second to mozzarella when it comes to popularity in the U.S. And it comes in many varieties too. Some of the few you can find in the U.S. are mild, white, extra sharp, sharp cheddar, New York-style, and Vermont.

No matter the type though, you can always count on cheddar cheese to incorporate savory, salty, and rich creamy taste in your mac and cheese and nacho cheese sauce. 

Buy Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese on Amazon.

Gruyère

Gruyere

Country of Origin: Switzerland

Milk Source: Dairy Cattle

Flavor: Rich, creamy, nutty, salty

Texture: Dense and flaky to grainy

Best For: Cheese fondue, pommes aligot, gratins, pasta

Many of the best cheeses out there have varying flavors depending on their age, and Gruyère cheese is one of them.

Gruyère at its young age has a distinct creamy and nutty flavor. As it gets old, the nuttiness gets stronger and it tastes somewhat earthy while still maintaining the saltiness, with a strong, earthy and pungent aroma.

Celebrated for its rich creamy taste, this cheese is well-suited for gratins like in this potatoes au gratin recipe.

Buy Caputo’s Market Gruyère AOC on Amazon.

Provolone

Provolone

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Mild to sharp

Texture: Semi-hard

Best For: Pasta, salads, casseroles, sandwiches

Provolone is another cheese that gets better as it ages. Even so, mild or sharp, provolone proves it’s just as good as Emmental and Cheddar as a snacking cheese and melting cheese. Therefore, it can be put to almost anything with cheese like casseroles, sandwiches, pasta, and more.

Buy Vantia Sharp Provolone Cheese on Amazon.

Comté

Comte Aged CheeseCountry of Origin: France

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Fresh butter, dried apricots, caramel

Texture: Semi-hard

Best For: soufflé, quiche, omelette, gougères

Comté is an underrated cheese that people often overlook in favor of the American-made parmesan. But Comté is one of the most popular cheeses in France. It rivals the popular Swiss-made cheese, Gruyère, in terms of texture and flavor.

However, Comté has features others might not like: the more it ages, the more its flavors become bolder and stronger. Aging Comté renders it a more fruity, spicy, and nutty flavor that’s perfect for desserts and savory dishes. Interestingly, its smell resembles that of fresh butter or caramel and even hazelnuts.

Buy PastaCheese Comte French Aged Cheese on Amazon.

Cashel Blue Cheese

Cashel Blue CheeseCountry of Origin: Ireland

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Sharp and salty

Texture: Semi-soft and creamy to crumbly

Best For: Cheese platters, dips, burgers, salads

If you’re an ardent cheese lover, then you’ll love blue cheese! And for cheese lovers and cheese connoisseurs, no charcuterie board is complete without this stinky cheese. But don’t be fooled! Depending on the variety, blue cheese is actually a creamy cheese you can add to your dessert like this blue cheese cheesecake recipe.

Buy Cashel Blue Cheese on Amazon.

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack

Country of Origin: United States of America

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Mild, slightly sweet

Texture: Semi-hard, smooth

Best For: Burgers, sandwiches, baked potatoes

Does Monterey Jack ring any bells? Together with Colby, this cheese makes another American cheese called Colby Jack (a kind of semi-hard marbled cheese).  Monterey Jack on its own is mild and slightly sweet. This semi-hard cheese works well with crackers, apples, pears, and vegetables, pretty much anything on a simple cheese platter.

Buy Monterey Jack Cheese Loaf on Amazon.

Manchego

Manchego

Country of Origin: Spain

Milk Source: Ewe

Flavor: Sour cream, grass, hay, fruit

Texture: Firm, compact, with a buttery texture

Best For: Grilled and baked dishes, sandwiches

When some cheese matures, flavors get bolder and stronger like Comté, Gruyère, and Gouda. For Manchego, it’s the other way around. The flavors become mellow and caramelly, with a smell similar to that of delicious roasted lamb.

Buy Don Sancho Del Molino Manchego on Amazon.

Mascarpone

Mascarpone

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Cream cheese-like, slightly sweet and acidic

Texture: Spreadable

Best For: Cheesecakes, topping for desserts

Considered as an Italian cream cheese, mascarpone is made using pasteurized cow’s milk or heavy cream along with an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar. The acid will thicken the curd and will prevent it and the whey from separating. Once it thickens, the cheese achieves a creamy texture that’s well suited for desserts such as cheesecakes, tiramisu, and tarts from which it is often associated.

Buy Zerto Mascarpone on Amazon.

Saint-Nectaire

Saint-Nectaire

Country of Origin: France

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Hint of hazelnut and unique fruity sweet flavor

Texture: Semi-soft

Best For: Hard-crusted bread, cheese plates, quiche

When one thinks of cheese boards, people would count on mozzarella, Brie, and cheddar. Saint-Nectaire is somewhere on the last page, sometimes even non-existent. But little do they know that it’s actually a good cheese for snacking, with an aroma similar to that of ripe nectarine!

Buy Auver Mont Saint Nectaire PDO on Amazon.

Pecorino Toscano

Pecorino Toscano

Country of Origin: Italy

Milk Source: Ewe

Flavor: Nutty, salty, savory, sweet

Texture: Firm

Best For: Bread, pasta, cured meats, and vegetables

Characterized as sturdy, nutty, with waves of savory and sweet, Pecorino Toscano is perfect for cured meats like mortadella, prosciutto, and salami. Don’t be surprised with its aroma as it smells like fresh grass and herbs.

Buy Pecorino Toscano Whole Wheel on Amazon.

Jarlsberg

Jarlsberg

Country of Origin: Norway

Milk Source: Cow

Flavor: Mild, nutty, buttery, sweet

Texture: Semi-firm

Best For: Gratins, pies, quesadillas

Jarslbeg is a cow milk cheese from Norway that’s reminiscent of Switzerland’s Emmental. Like all the other Swiss-type cheeses, Jarlsberg also has a semi-firm to firm texture with high melt-ability that’s perfect for gratins and quesadillas.

Buy Jarlsberg Cheese on Amazon.

How to Pick the Best Cheese

how to pick best cheeses. chees

Before we wrap up, we’ll leave you a few small tips to help you get started in picking the best cheeses.

The first tip: don’t buy thoughtlessly! Ask your local cheesemonger for samples and information about where they came from. You should also learn if the milk is pasteurized or not.

Next, use your nose. Then, close your eyes and taste with your tongue. Savor the flavors in your mouth. Lastly, ask yourself this: does it have the balance of flavors that I want?

Now that you know the essentials, you won’t be as clueless as when you first ventured on your cheese adventure. With a few tips and complete cheese descriptions above, we’re sure by now you have a favorite in mind!

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Odette

Odette is a content writer and proofreader by day, and living her inner artist as a poet and singer by night. She's also a former member of a publication who she now mentors from time to time. She likes how sharing a tiny bit of her life and her journey can help others in return. And because she is a curl embassador, she finds joy in empowering fellow curlies to embrace their natural curls. She also loves doing random acts of service to people she loves by cooking for them during her free time. This girl loves anything pasta and French cuisine though she just went through her Japanese and Korean cuisine phase.

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