30 Different Types of Cheese, Explained

Comment author avatar
Kaye Modified: September 13, 2022
30 Different Types of Cheese, Explained
Table Of Contents
'

Learning about the different types of cheese is the best way to start your foray into its vast and wonderful world. But before everything else, what is cheese? By definition, it’s a dairy product derived from milk curds. Although it’s not clear how it was first invented, the earliest evidence suggests that it has been around since 1200 BCE.

You might be wondering: how is cheese made and what is it made of? Milk, salt, cultures, and rennet or animal enzymes are the main ingredients of cheese dairy. Lactic acid is produced in the process, solidifying the liquid into curds for pressing. 

Apart from that, cheesemakers may use different ingredients and employ a range of techniques in the cheese-making process. As a result, the end products may have differences in protein, fat, and moisture content, as well as in the total amount of calories. They can vary in terms of appearance, texture, and overall flavor as well. No wonder, people are confused as to how many types of cheese there are. But to answer your question, there are around 1,800 different kinds of cheese in the world! 

Now, since you already know that not all cheeses are created equal, how do you decide which is the best cheese? Fortunately, we have this types of cheese list where we break down the most popular names according to their core characteristics. You can refer to this cheese chart for a quick summary, or feel free to dive directly below to learn more about them.

an overview of the different types of cheese


Types Of Fresh Cheese

By definition, fresh cheese is different from regular cheese because it doesn’t go through the standard aging process or the equivalent artificial processing. Most cheeses under this category are soft, crumbly, and best consumed almost immediately. Check out the most popular and different kinds of fresh cheese below.

Fresh Mozzarella

Mozzarella cheese slices with red cherry tomatoes on a wooden board

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Buffalo, cow, or a mixture of cow and goat’s milk
Aging: None

We’re starting this list of cheeses strong with this popular Italian cheese traditionally made using the special pasta filata technique. This process involves heating, spinning, and forming the white curds of buffalo milk to form the cheese. Though some cheesemakers use either cow’s milk alone or with a portion of goat’s milk to produce other types of mozzarella cheese.

Thanks to this method, the product achieves a distinctly smooth and uniform shape and color. Overall, fresh mozzarella is creamy and stretchy with mildly tangy tasting notes. They are also good for melting and one of the best types of cheese for pizza, salads, and even pasta dishes.

Ricotta Cheese

ricotta cheese on top of a wooden board with slices of bread

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: cows, sheep, goats, or water buffalo
Aging: None

Similar to mozzarella, ricotta is also one of the popular Italian cheeses. It is soft and creamy with a slightly grainy texture; often used in pizzas or a quick crockpot lasagna. Ricotta, which translates to “re-cooking”, is traditionally made from the leftover milk whey of other cheeses. Cheesemakers often make other cheeses and using the remaining whey, they reheat and mix it with acid to make a batch of ricotta cheese. 

Due to popularity and demand, the usual ricotta cheese from the market is often made with whey but mixed with whole milk to make it creamier.

Cream Cheese

Person spreading cream cheese on a halved bagel

Country of Origin: United States of America
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: None

Is cream cheese actually cheese? Well, it passes as one based on FDA standards! Originating from New York, this dairy product mainly consists of milk and cream. Unlike other traditional kinds of cheese, it isn’t aged so it doesn’t have a funky quality. It’s soft at room temperature, uniformly white in color, and has a mildly tangy flavor. 

This cheese is commonly used in baking desserts like this ube cheesecake recipe. However, other types of cream cheese also vary from sweet or savory, perfect for pasta, and many more.

Mascarpone Cheese

creamy mascarpone cheese in a bowl

Country of Origin: Lombardia, Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: None

Mascarpone is another Italian fresh cheese that is similar to cream cheese, but made with heavy cream instead. This cheese is a key ingredient for a tiramisu cake because of its spreadable, milky, and slightly sweet flavor perfect for desserts. 

You can easily make a mascarpone with only two ingredients: heavy cream and citric or tartaric. The acid added to heated heavy cream helps the cheese to form and solidify. 

Cottage Cheese

Plate of cottage cheese, with a drizzle of olive oil on top

Country of Origin: United States of America
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: None

Cottage cheese stands out among other types of cheese because of its unique curd-like appearance. Its creamy and crumbly texture, coupled with a delicately salty and tart flavor makes this cow’s milk product a delicious add-on for a range of food items. Have it in sweet fruit bowls, as well as savory dishes. Also, this ingredient is one of the best cheeses to incorporate into a low-fat diet.

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese block with olive oil on a silver plate

Country of Origin: Greece
Milk Source: Sheep, or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk
Aging: Three months

A block of crumbly feta preserved in olive oil is probably among the most recognizable white cheese types out there. Cheesemakers typically use sheep or goat’s milk, but the former is more traditional. After aging for at least three months, this sheep milk cheese acquires its signature sour and briny flavor. Enjoy this cheese on salads, pasta, and soups.

Queso Fresco

Queso fresco on granite

FoodBev Photos | Flickr

Country of Origin: Spain
Milk Source: Cow, or a mixture of cow and goat’s milk
Aging: A few days

Although queso fresco is one of the different kinds of cheese often used in Mexican recipes like these tasty quesabirria tacos, its origin country is believed to be Spain. It’s similar to feta cheese in terms of appearance and taste since it’s also white and crumbly with a supple blend of sour and salt. The cheese milk used to make this can either come from cows or goats, and it’s aged only for a few days tops.


Types Of Blue Cheese

Blue cheeses are produced with the help of a special mold called Penicillium — this is responsible for the green and/or blue marblings on these fancy cheeses. Though they have an infamous reputation for their pungent odor, blue cheeses offer a unique experience that you wouldn’t want to miss. Here are some of the most popular blue-veined cheese types to try:

Gorgonzola

Slice of gorgonzola cheese

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Three to four months

You can easily identify this Italian cow’s cheese with its crumbly pale body that’s adorned with streaks of green and blue mold. It tastes and smells as bold as it looks since it’s pungent yet creamy with a full-bodied salty and earthy flavor. On the whole, it’s a good cheese wine since it can stand up to bolder red wine types like pinot noir. Gorgonzola is also an ideal option for dessert cheeses.

Roquefort

Slice of roquefort Cheese

Country of Origin: France
Milk Source: Sheep
Aging: Three to five months

Roquefort is gorgonzola’s sharper and tangier cousin from the south of France. This type of cheese is made of sheep’s milk that’s been left to age for three to five months. To identify it, check if it has a moist and crumbly cheese body that’s spattered with streaks of blue mold. And here’s a tip from us: make a sauce out of this dairy product and serve a fancy Steak Roquefort!

Stilton Cheese

stilton cheese with crackers on the side

Country of Origin: England
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Four to eight months or longer

Stilton is a British blue cheese that boasts a crumbly yet soft texture. Its exterior is similar to any other blue-veined cheese. However, it has an intense and rich flavor unlike the others. The finest stilton cheeses produced are also creamy with a subtle nutty and salty flavor. 

Throughout the years, Stilton cheese has remained to be one of the most loved blue cheeses in the world. In fact, the cheese was protected by a certification trademark stating that it can only be produced in certain parts of England with the use of traditional recipes to maintain its best quality and flavor. 


Types Of Soft Cheese

Nothing beats having a gooey and soft white cheese to balance out your grazing board. As the name of this umbrella term implies, soft cheese pertains to types that you can easily cut into. Soft cheeses often have a shorter aging period, leaving behind a moisture content of 50 to 65 percent. They also commonly have a tart and creamy flavor profiles. Check out this brief soft cheese list, and take your pick of soft-ripened cheese for your next party.

Brie Cheese

Sliced brie cheese on a wooden board

Country of Origin: France
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Five to six weeks

Brie is a soft and mild cow milk cheese that originates from northern France. After being left to age for five to six weeks, this round cheese develops a skin of edible white mold that encases the pale-colored gooey and buttery cream inside. It’s also good for cooking and baking, as well as for a fabulous charcuterie board.

Cambozola

cambozola on top of a wooden board with grapes and crackers on the side

Country of Origin: Germany
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: minimum of two months

Cambozola is a German soft-ripened cheese boasting a combined flavor of Camembert and Gorgonzola. It mixes the buttery and earthy taste of camembert with the slightly sharp blue cheese flavor of gorgonzola. 

On the outside, a cambozola cheese may look similar to a brie cheese which is smooth. But once sliced, it displays its blue veins similar to blue cheese. Cambozola is creamy and smooth but it is more mellow in terms flavor when compared to other blue cheeses. 

Camembert

Sliced camembert cheese on a wooden board

Country of Origin: France
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Four weeks

As quite similar types of French cheese, brie and camembert are often confused for one another. Though in essence, the latter is different since it’s made using warmed cow’s milk that’s aged for a shorter four-week period. This creamy cheese also has a white rind, but with a more yellowish interior compared to brie. Try it out on garlic bread, and it’ll impart notes of earthy, nutty, grassy, and fruity goodness to your dish.

Chevre

Leaf-wrapped chevre cheeses in a wooden board

Ms. Glaze | Flickr

Country of Origin: France
Milk Source: Goat
Aging: Four weeks or longer

Apart from cow or sheep cheese, there are also different types of goat cheese — like the chevre from central France. This particular type involves aging goat milk for at least four weeks, producing a soft and buttery white cheese in the process. Those that are aged longer tend to be more crumbly and tangy.


Types Of Semi-Soft Cheese

A semi-soft cheese is relatively easy to cut into, but not as runny and gooey as soft cheeses. These cheese types often have a moisture content of around 44 to 49 percent. The different kinds of cheese under this category can have varying milk sources, so discover which types to try below.

Gouda

Sliced wheels of gouda cheese on a wooden surface

Country of Origin: Netherlands
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: One to 36 months

Gouda is a good-melting yellow cheese from the Netherlands. It has a rich flavor that’s often likened to caramel. Made from cow’s milk, this cheese can be aged anywhere between one to 36 months. There are also cured cheese varieties of this product, aged for an average of four to nine months. Take your pick, and use it to make everything, most especially fondue!

READ ALSO: 12 Best Fondue Pot Sets To Get In 2021

American Cheese

American cheese slice on a burger

Country of Origin: United States of America
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: 60 days

Though also available in large blocks, this is the generic cheese square that you’d often find in supermarkets. In general, an American cheese block consists of milk, fats, and whey concentrate that are processed instead of aged like the rest. Some varieties are naturally pale, while others are seasoned with natural dye from annatto seeds to produce a brighter yellow hue. Despite being on the cheaper end of the cheese spectrum, it offers a distinctly rich and salty flavor that you can’t really compare to other popular kinds of cheese. This is perfect for a Philly cheesesteak recipe and other all-American favorites.

Muenster Cheese

Sliced muenster cheese

Norm Wright | Flickr

Country of Origin: French
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Five to seven weeks

Muenster is a French white cheese with a fantastic mild buttery flavor. It’s made from cow’s milk that’s been aged naturally between five to seven weeks. This cheese type also has a washed rind that’s made of paprika, so the exterior of the cheese has a red-orange color. A good-melting smooth cheese such as this one is ideal for savory dishes like pizza and burgers.

Havarti

Slice of havarti cheese

Amanda Nicole | Flickr

Country of Origin: Denmark
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Three months

Havarti is a Danish cow’s milk cheese that offers a distinctly buttery and slightly tart taste combo. This is typically aged for three months, afterward achieving a smooth pale yellow appearance. And although it’s technically not a type of Swiss cheese, havarti is peppered with small and irregular holes throughout. Its texture is creamy and perfect for melting in this sirloin burger recipe.

Fontina Cheese

thin slice of fontina cheese with small holes or eyes

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Three months

In between the semi-soft to semi-hard cheese classification is this rich and creamy yet pungent Fontina cheese. It is produced in the Valle d’Aosta region along The Alps, home to some of Europe’s best cheeses. 

Fontina is typically made in wheels that are about 3 inches tall and has an orange rind with “eyes” or holes inside. Enjoy the earthy, buttery, and nutty flavor of fontina, and try making some irresistible spinach cheese fondue à la Melting Pot-style! 


Types Of Semi-Hard Cheese

Semi-hard cheeses are those that have a moisture content of anywhere between 36 to 43 percent. Discover the different kinds of semi-hard cheeses to try in this section.

Cheddar Cheese

Slice of cheddar cheese with red cherry tomatoes, lettuce, basil leaves, and whole black peppercorns

Country of Origin: England
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Two months or longer

Cheddar is a popular cheese from England, and it’s among the most recognizable kinds of yellow cheese out there. From cubed cheese, and cheese curds, to cold pack varieties, different types of cheddar cheese are available. And like American cheese, its color can range from pale yellow to bright orange, so a lot of people tend to confuse the two. However, the main difference is that cheddar is made from cow’s milk and aged naturally. It’s quite firm, with a sharp and earthy flavor that’s perfect for mac and cheese!

READ ALSO: 12 Best Cheese Grater For Cheese Loves This 2021

Gruyere Cheese

Slices of gruyere cheese on a plate

Country of Origin: Switzerland
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Three to six months

Gruyere is often considered one of the best cheeses in the world to date. This is a type of washed-rind Swiss cheese made from whole cow’s milk that’s been aged between three to six months. It has a pale yellow color with a few small holes. And despite being a semi-hard cheese, its texture is quite creamy.

READ ALSO: What Is Gruyere Cheese And How to Use It

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack Cheese

Like_The_Grand_Canyon | Flickr

Country of Origin: United States of America
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Three to six weeks

This is a type of cheese that’s native to the Monterey country of California. It’s made using cow’s milk and aged between three to six weeks. Its unique production process results in a pale yellow product that boasts a mild buttery flavor and delicate sweetness—perfect for making grilled cheese sandwiches. You can often use it as a combination with other varieties of cheese, such as Colby to make the popular white and yellow cheese called Colby Jack.

Manchego

Slice of manchego cheese

Michael F. Weinberg | Flickr

Country of Origin: Spain
Milk Source: Sheep
Aging: Two weeks to a year

Manchego is a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk that is aged between two weeks to a full year. It comes in different hues from white to yellowish, and it has a firm crumbly body. Its taste is rich, zesty, and salty with varying degrees of sharpness. Regardless of the type you have, you can use it to spruce up your empanadas recipe.

Emmental

Sliced emmental cheese wheels

Coxinelis | Wikimedia Commons

Country of Origin: Switzerland
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Two to eight months

Emmental or emmentaler is among the most popular types of Swiss cheese. Its unmistakable pale yellow color and a plethora of large “eyes” set it apart from the other types of cheeses with holes. Made from cow’s milk and aged for two to eight months, this cheese is quite hard at room temperature. Nonetheless, it melts well when subjected to heat. Coupled with a delicious display of buttery and fruity flavor, this mild cheese is delicious in Cuban sandwich recipes.

Halloumi Cheese

slices of halloumi cheese on top of a wooden board

Country of Origin: Cyprus
Milk Source: Goat and sheep
Aging: One to two months

If you are unfamiliar with Halloumi, it is a traditional Cypriot cheese known for its chewy texture and tangy flavor. It is considered a grilling cheese because of its high melting point which helps in preserving its shape even after heating. 

While it may look similar to mozzarella, Halloumi cheese is semi-hard. It is produced using goat or sheep’s milk and preserved with brine for months giving it a salty flavor. You’ll find that this cheese is often used in Greek recipes


Types Of Hard Cheese

Technically speaking, these hard cheeses have 32 percent moisture left after an extensive aging period. Due to their crumbly and gritty nature, hard cheeses are often best for melting or grating on top of food. Explore this hard cheese list to learn your options.

Parmesan Cheese

Slice of parmesan cheese with grated bits

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: 12 months or longer

One of the most popular cheeses on this list is parmesan. It’s also among the most common types of cheese that you’d find in supermarkets. Essentially, parmesan is a more accessible version of the Italian hard cheese called Parmigiano-Reggiano. Made of skim milk and aged for at least a year, it achieves a nutty taste and pale gritty body, perfect for grating on top of this Italian sausage pasta.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

Parmigiano-Reggiano slice with grated bits and a metal grater on a plate

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: 12 to 40 months

Think of these following cheeses as the more authentic types of parmesan cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano, in particular, is an Italian cheese type that’s exclusively produced in select areas of the said country. With an aging period of 12 to 40 months, you’ll find that this cheese is available at different ages. Younger types offer a tangy and fruity taste, with a crumbly and delicate texture. They develop a more complex flavor, and they get firmer and grittier with age. Use it for garnishing or melt it into dishes.

Pecorino Romano

Sliced Pecorino Romano

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Sheep
Aging: Five months of longer

Pecorino Romano is one of the many types of Italian cheese on this list. This sheep milk cheese has a relatively shorter aging period of at least five months. So compared to other hard cow’s milk cheeses with longer aging periods, pecorino has a crumblier texture. The color of its body may range from white to pale yellow, with a tough natural rind. Explore this buttery and spicy cheese type on this roasted cauliflower dish.

Asiago Cheese

cubed and sliced asiago cheese on top of a wooden board

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Four months up to more than a year

Asiago is a very versatile cheese. It can have a variety of tastes and textures depending on its aging. It’s sweet and nutty and the longer it is aged, the harder and more flavorful it becomes. The variety that is commonly sold in the market often has a mild taste and is best for cooking. Meanwhile, harder asiago cheeses which are sharp and crumbly are best for charcuterie boards.

Grana Padano

Grana padano truckle

Country of Origin: Italy
Milk Source: Cow
Aging: Nine months or longer

Grana Padano traces its roots back to northern Italy. It consists of cow’s milk, with an aging period of at least nine months. As with other hard cheeses on this list, this pale yellow cheese type has a crumbly and grainy texture. We recommend this variant if you want a grating or melting cheese that isn’t overpowering, as the Grana Padano has a delicately buttery and slightly nutty flavor.

Read Next: What is Sumac Spice? Uses, Substitutes, and Recipes to Try

Kaye

Kaye is a writer and a recent oat milk convert. With a background in Language Studies, she has founded a deep appreciation of cultures, traditions, and the power of words. In her spare time, she enjoys testing some of the trendiest and most accessible recipes on the internet.